Webley Mark VI Revolver:
This pistol is the “exception” mentioned in the introduction. As already indicated, Webley revolvers have never been primary issue Canadian sidearms. The Mk VI Webley was the final version (adopted in 1915) of a line of robust .455 revolvers which had been the official pistols of the British Army since 1887, and it was accordingly a popular choice for private purchase by Officers serving in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Webley revolvers were also issued to Other Ranks in Canadian Units serving under British Lines of Communication. (This example was the personal sidearm of Lieut. S. W Seago, who sailed in 1916 with the 125th Battalion, but was serving with the 116th Battalion when he was wounded on August 8, 1918, the first day of the Canadian breakout during the Amiens Offensive, which began what became known as “Canada’s Hundred Days”, leading up to the Armistice.)
Configuration: Double-action revolver; blued finish; cast black grips; 6″ barrel; chambered for .455 British service cartridge; 6-round capacity; top-break for loading and extraction.
The Webley Revolver (also known as the Webley Break-Top Revolver or Webley Self-Extracting Revolver) was, in various marks, the standard issue service pistol for the armed forces of the United Kingdom, the British Empire, and the Commonwealths from 1887 until 1963. The Webley is a top-break revolver with automatic extraction. That is, breaking the revolver open for reloading also operates the extractor. This removes the spent cartridges from the cylinder. The Webley Mk I service revolver was adopted in 1887. A later version, the Mk IV, rose to prominence during the Boer War of 1899–1902. However, the Mk VI, introduced in 1915 during the First World War, is perhaps the best-known model.
The standard-issue Webley revolver at the outbreak of the First World War was the Webley Mk V (adopted 9 December 1913), but there were considerably more Mk IV revolvers in service in 1914, as the initial order for 20,000 Mk V revolvers had not been completed when hostilities began. On 24 May 1915, the Webley Mk VI was adopted as the standard sidearm for British and Commonwealth troops and remained so for the duration of the First World War, being issued to officers, airmen, naval crews, boarding parties, trench raiders, machine-gun teams, and tank crews. The Mk VI proved to be a very reliable and hardy weapon, well suited to the mud and adverse conditions of trench warfare, and several accessories were developed for the Mk VI, including a bayonet (made from a converted French Gras bayonet), a speedloader device (“Prideaux Device”), and a stock allowing for the revolver to be converted into a carbine.
- Dowell, William Chipchase, The Webley Story, p. 115. Commonwealth Heritage Foundation, 1987.
- Dowell, William Chipchase, The Webley Story, p. 114, C.W.H.F., 1987.
- Dowell, William Chipchase, The Webley Story, p. 115.
- Dowell, William Chipchase, The Webley Story, p. 116.
- Dowell, William Chipchase, The Webley Story, p. 178.
- Maze, Robert J., Howdah to High Power, p. 49, Excalibur Publications, 2002.
It has been estimated that over 300,000 Webley pistols were distributed to British officers during the war.