Hypothermia Probably not cause of most deaths

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Dec 2, 2000
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>>It is perhaps surprising that the White Star Line officers should have used such a fearsome weapon,<<

Doesn't surprise me. Think about it a bit. If a ship get's in some seriously deep doodoo, they don't have the option of dialing 9-11 and have the police show up minutes later. Out on the ocean, no matter how good your communications are, you are on your own, and the Captain has only a very few people he can really rely on when things start to go to hell.

If you're in an emergency situation and you find you're facing a panicked mob, you had better have the biggest stick in the woodshed to back you up if you want to keep a lid on things.
 

Tom McLeod

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That looks a lot like the gun I fired, I'll try to contact the owner get the specifics. It was of good size. Alas, do we still know what the Master at Arms where issued if anything? Plus would they have the weapons on them for a longer amount of time due to their role on the ship?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>So a super soaker wouldn't be a good idea?<<

Not unless it was a hose which was hooked up to the firemains.

>>Alas, do we still know what the Master at Arms where issued if anything?<<

Never seen anything in evidence. It may come as a shock but the Master-At-Arms seldom carried weapons. At least not a firearm. He probably had access or could be granted access to firearms if the Captain or Chief Officer thought it appropriate but on the crack express liners, it was seldom neseccery.
 

Tom McLeod

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Enter another Webley!! Well maybe with a little digging one (me) shall find out. Just an interest that likely could be tracked down.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Hello Tom,

If it is any interest, the revolver shown in my illustration is a Webley Mk.VI (serial No.308140) from the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Museum collection. It is very similar to a Mk.IV, and I suspect that, to a non-specialist, they would look pretty much the same. I think both versions were also supplied with shortened barrels.

I am surprised that you found the Mk.1V “hard to use”￾, and I wonder if, in fact, the weapon that you fired was a reject, or perhaps one that had been put together with spare parts? 45 Webleys were the standard British army pistols in World War I, and many thousands must have been produced.

They were obviously big guns but, as far as I am aware, they did not produce the huge “kick”￾ that might have been expected — they were, after all, designed to be fired in the traditional duellist fashion — the right arm being levelled at the target. Having said that, potential suicides would presumably had great difficulty when attempting to shoot themselves in the head. Did first officer Murdoch carry a 45 Webley?
 

Bob Godfrey

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The .455 Webley was indeed a very difficult weapon to use effectively, especially by the relatively inexperienced officers recruited in large numbers in wartime. That's why, after the Great War, the British army switched to the .38 model for preference, though there were still plenty of the larger calibres in use during ww2 and even later. If anybody wants to know what the Mk IV .455 looked like exactly as supplied to WSL here ya go:

http://www.nmm.ac.uk/collections/images/560/E/87/E8761.jpg
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Bob, for some reason, the link doesn't work.

While the Webley may have been designed to be fired one handed, it's not the sort of way I would want to do it, and I'm a fairly experienced shooter. I expect that it's weight would have made it managable, but it would still be too much for the novice. Especially if what they learned about pistol craft came from watching Dirty Harry movies. If you really want to be able to competantly handle the big bores which use the big rounds, you need to practice at it.

If you want to be able to competantly handle the big bores one handed in such a fashion that you can get it to do what you need it to do when things are going south on you, you need a LOT of practice.
 
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As I have said before, I suppose it is possible that, if a modern enthusiast fires a 45 Webley and discovers it to be a difficult gun to use with a massive "kick", the gun involved may be a reject - or one that has been cobbled together from spare parts. Alternatively, is it conceivable that the ammunition available today is more powerful than the rounds which would have been fired in World War I (?)

I have raised this question on another site (The Great War Forum), and the consensus of opinion is that the big Webleys were popular weapons with a surprisingly small "kick". One reason for this is that they were heavy guns firing (circa 1912) comparatively low-powered rounds; a "big round" in 1912 was not the same thing as a "big round" today. On the question of the modern "Dirty Harry" firing stance, it is said that this was introduced by SOE during World War II.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>On the question of the modern "Dirty Harry" firing stance, it is said that this was introduced by SOE during World War II.<<

I don't know if I'd call it modern but it's certainly not preferred by anybody who actually knows what they're doing. That's not to say it doesn't have a place but overall you get much better control and accuracy if you can shoot two handed as opposed to one handed.

Oh, and don't underestimate the power of a slow moving bullet fired from a big bore weapon. The .45 ACP has a muzzle velocity of around 850 feet per second but when that's backed up by a heavy bullet...say 280 grains...it has excellant knockdown power.
 

Tom McLeod

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Bob, Stanely and Michael,

I'm pretty sure the model I used was original and in pretty good shape considering it's age. I'll give the owner a call and the information on it. I believe it to be the only gun type issued on Officer Wilde's orders that night. Thanks for the added information you all posted concerning your knowledge on the gun. It was a fun thing to try having connection to something that happened on Titanic and therefore just understanding how such could be handled.
 

Tom McLeod

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Ok, I've got so more information on the Webley I fired. The one shown in Stanley's picture threw me a bit it appeared to my eyes to have a lighter colored barrel then the one I remember firing. Upon further examination of the picture posted it is just a trick of the color of light and the slightly yellow background, so my bad on that one. The Webley MK IV that my friend Bill (Bill is 75 years old) bought from a widow of a friend is described by him as follows. The history of the gun is not know. He was able to buy it about 15 years ago, from a friend of his who's husband passed on. It was a heirloom and the gentleman's uncle was said to say it had saved his life several times. In what context I don't know nor does he as the women passed away a few years ago (typical historical information loss problem) I did have him check the bottom of the stock to see if it said WSL and it did not (I tried)! Bill said the former gun's owner had taken care of the gun and it was in good condition for it's age. It was clearly fired many times in it's history, but also besides such firing wear and tear the original owner kept it in good working order. When Bill bought it, out of one of several old fire arms the former owner had collected, Bill knew of the Webley's and thought it would be a good collector's buy. Bill has serviced it as one with such knowledge "retired gun smith" could he told me without adding or changing any parts. He provided the following information, the gun is a Webley MK IV top break revolver,.38/200, with a 4 inch 100mm barrel. It has a black handle and a grey/silver barrel. The "kick" I felt was due to me being a novice user of the weapon. Bill thought that the weapon for it's "spects" to which it was made was well handling. But if someone like me were to fire it for the first time, it's a bit of a surprise. Due to a recent head and neck injury I can't fire any weapons til likely next year, but if I do get a chance to fire it again, I will see if Bill will grant me a picture to post here. Sorry if that was on the wordy side but with such injuries a question you all have raised gives me something to do, even though it takes awhile.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Webley revolvers had (and perhaps still have) an iconic status in the UK insofar as they are associated with adventurers, explorers and soldiers undertaking hazardous deeds in distant lands — it will be noted, for example, that Michael Caine and Stanley Baker use Webley Mk.VI pistols in the film Zulu although the Mk.VI was not available in 1879! They were also George Armstrong Custer’s favourite weapon. Officers purchased their own pistols and could therefore chose any make or model, but most used Webleys, which were viewed as the “standard”￾ British army pistol. As far as I can judge, they seem to have been regarded as excellent weapons, which were so robust that they would continue to work under any conditions.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>As far as I can judge, they seem to have been regarded as excellent weapons, which were so robust that they would continue to work under any conditions.<<

That's the kind of weapon I like! It's too bad there have been so many turkeys over the years, most of which came from either underestimating the problem or overthinking the problem. The guy in the trenches doesn't care a whole lot about refined bells and whistles. Make it rugged and make it work. It's a design philosophy that's served the Russians well.

Since this is getting waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy off the reservation in terms of hypothermia, perhaps it would be a good idea for interested parties to start a seperate thread on Victorian/Edwardian firearms in the General Folder. Since we know that officers and passengers alike on Titanic were packing heat, it would be a valid topic.
 

Tom McLeod

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Let's do it, let's start a thread there, I do think although as you mention Michael we are now off topic in this thread it is an interesting topic.
 

Tom McLeod

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I think this thread turned to talk of the webley's based on conversation about trying to relive history. Where safe, trying to recreate events or aspects of the Titanic to help modern day researches get a feel for what it was like that night pertaining to certain conditions. Maybe we should start two new threads, one on Webley's, their history, use and legacy. Then one about what people have done to bring the events back to life the night Titanic went down. I'll start a thread in the victory/edwardian folder about the Webley's. Where the other thread belongs I await any ideas people have on where such should be talked about. Hypothermia likely has a lot more that can be talked about on it's own.
 
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