Three days ago I came across an old, small, leather case amongst some things that had been passed on to me. When I opened the case I discovered a number of old cartridges inside. They were two different sizes. The larger ones were inscribed with 'DI 43' and had a diameter of 9mm and a length of 19mm. The shorter cartridges measured 25mm long with a 7mm diameter.
With the help of other WW2 enthusiasts and experts in the field of weaponry, we were able to identify the origin an...d use of the large cartridges first. The DI stands for Defence Industries, a Limited Company in Canada set up to produce munitions during WW2. It was based in Brownsburg, Quebec, but the company also had additional sites manufacturing other war materials elsewhere in the country. This particular cartridge was used for pistols like the famous Browning, and machine guns like the Sten Gun.
The smaller cartridge was used in civilian rifles.
Upon finding them, what became very clear, very quickly, was the need to report this find to the Police and arrange for their removal and safe disposal. As it is a criminal offence to be in possession of live ammunition without a fire arms license, the Police had to be informed. Alongside the legal issue of having live ammunition, there were also the general safety risks whilst they were in my possession. I had no idea what state the interior of the cartridges were in, nor how they had been stored over the years. They looked in good condition but for all I knew, the primers might have only needed minimal contact with something to set them.
The Police were very helpful, advised on safe storage overnight, and arranged collection the following day.
Having found this ammunition, I can understand the excitement of children who made discoveries like this just after the war as they hunted for souvenirs.
The risks and illegalities of keeping these relics as souvenirs today, without the proper certification, could result in a heavy fine or even a jail sentence.
Their extraction from collections and correct and safe destruction from the public in themselves, tell us a story about relics from many decades ago, and those who faced or had experience with them.
Sometimes wartime reflections grow from things that can neither be seen nor touched.