Verey flare guns
These flare guns were retrieved from storage at the museum for potential display but I can't find out much about them.
The first, one of a pair, is brass with walnut grips. It came to the museum from the police in 1984 following a bunch of confiscations and amnesties so we don't have any background on it.
On the barrel is inscribed: 'FOR VERYS SIGNAL LIGHTS ONLY'. Each pistol also bears 3 proof-marks: 2 x 'V' below crown; 1 x 'Cp' below crown.
The 1980s label attached to it says 'World War 1 Very light signal pistol'.
The second, longer-barrelled one was donated by a Mr. Hubert L. Gibbs of Balscote, Oxon and came with the following information: ‘German. Special pistol used for discharging "Verey Lights" over "No Man's Land". Found at the Battle of the Somme, 1918’. Records for a Hubert L. Gibbs were found for both the Royal Army Medical Corps and, more likely, the Bucks and Ox Light Infantry (1914-1920).
I can't seem to find much information about Verey (are 'Verys'/'Very' just adopted versions of the name?) Was Verey a person or manufacturing plant? These British and German differ in style and appearance but did both sides use the same sort of flares during the war?
Unfortunately we do not have any cartridges. I understand the colours fired were red, white and green - does anyone know what these different colours meant? Who was permitted to use these guns?
If anyone knows anything about 'Verey' (who or what that is), the marks on this British gun as described above (sorry no better pic), Hubert Gibbs and the Bucks and Ox, or the use/role of such flare guns during the war, or can point me towards any relevant literature, it would be (VEREY!) much appreciated.
Helbeluk - I don't have any specific knowledge for you on these pistols, I am sure someone will know, but I do have some knowledge on their usage.
I have an old flare pistol that belonged to by Grandfather who was a Doughboy in WW II. Because of the communications of the time, and the possibility of compromise, the flare gun was used for a couple of purposes, and the color scheme changed on a regular basis.
The first, and most important usage, was to alert the entire "line" of an enemy advance. Soldiers from the other trenches trying to crawl, or rush, the concentine wire of our boys. One of the sentries on our side would launch a colored flare, usually white, to illuminate the area and allow for concentrated fire, basically raising the alarm and showing exactly where the problem was.
The second, and less often used, method was to launch a flare to begin an assault once our troops were in position to give them, hopefully, a head start on the enemy. Yelling, obviously, would raise immediate attention, and it takes longer for a voice to carry. The minute the flare is launched, there is a "woosh" but the light can be seen for miles, so all the troops would be immediately notified it was time to go to work.
I have the flare gun in storage somewhere, but perhaps I can dig it out this weekend and post a couple of pictures for you if you like. It's a Nazi version of the American item of the time period.
Hope that helps a little bit. Someone will be along shortly to provide some insight into these specific models I am sure....
thanks for this information - very useful. I suppose it would make sense for different colour flares to change meaning on a regular basis to not to give the enemy too many clues as to your actions! I suppose colours would also distinguish the flare from the other flashes and explosions that occur in the field. Personally I'd only really heard of the use of flares in a naval context so it would be interesting to see your WWII version if it's not too much trouble for you to find - especially to see if the design had changed much in 30 years! Thanks, Helen
Yeah, no problem. I will try and dig it out this weekend and post up some pictures for you. It's much larger than the ones you have, I think it's 36mm, but it's the same, single tube, breach break, external hammer design.
I will get some photos for you to compare.
I was the small arms petty officer aboard the submarine Abraham Lincoln SS(B)N 602 from 1968 - 1970. I was the one with the key to the arms locker, and handed out the weapons when needed. Part of the job was to exercise :p each weapon on a regular schedule! We had four (4) flare guns. Two were 'Very' pistols that fires a 12 ga cartridge signal light. The other two were similar to the long barrel photo. We called them 'Buck Rodgers' flare guns. I hated to shoot it because it destroyed the web of your hand!
This was 40 years ago so let me do some snooping around (I'm a life member of subvets) to see if I can dig up some info on the Very guns. I think the name refers to the signal manufacture and not the gun.
The most common type of flare gun is a Very pistol (often misspelled as Verey pistol), which was named after Edward Wilson Very (1847–1910), an American naval officer who developed and popularized a single-shot breech-loading snub-nosed pistol that fired flares. Modern varieties are frequently made out of brightly-colored, durable plastic.
The older type of Very pistol, typical of the type used in the Second World War, are of one inch bore. Newer models fire smaller 12-gauge flares. In countries where possession of firearms is strictly controlled, such as the United Kingdom, the use of Very pistols as emergency equipment on boats is less common than, for example, the United States.
Flare gun - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
ALSO TRY THIS;
Flare (Verey) Pistols & Signal Pistols of the World
Short barrel looks like: Circa 1895. German signal pistol with a 'derringer' style break open brass frame stamped G.W.5 and on the butt ST B14.
The brass barrel is half round and half octagonal.
The plain wood grips are held to the frame by a single screw bolt.
Long barrel looks like: 1916. German Signal Pistol. Hebel Model 1894. 26.5mm caliber, 14 inches in overall length. Round barrel with an octagonal breech with various proof stamps, 242 and 9.16 on the right. On the left of the frame is an M in a circle over the serial number. The grips are plain two piece wood held together with a single screw through the centre and a lanyard ring is attached to the butt. This pistol was collected by Captain P. H. Cherry, VC., during the First World War.
Submarine signal light info:
A. White: The signal of three white star rockets, fired one minute apart, is a signal from a maritime rescue unit meaning, “You are seen.” “Assistance will be given as soon as possible.”
B. Green: A green or black is used, under training exercise conditions only, to indicate that a torpedo has been fired or that the firing of a torpedo has been simulated. By this signal, merchant ships are to be aware of naval activity in their vicinity.
C. Yellow: A yellow flare indicates that the submarine is about to come to periscope depth. Upon sighting this flare, naval
surface ships participating in the exercise will terminate antisubmarine tactics and all surface ships will clear the vicinity.
D. Red: A red flare indicates an emergency condition exists with the submarine. The submarine will attempt to surface immediately. In the case of repeated red flares, merchant ships are obligated to notify naval authorities
Helen ( and anyone else who is interested )
Here are some pictures of the German Flare Gun that my grandfather brought back from WWII.
That is an American Quarter in relation to the barrel in the last picture of this set....
The gun is all aluminum, except for the hammer and the trigger, which appear to be steel. The barrel is a hand held howitzer, measuring 1.035" with the gauge pictured...
This may help: Flare (Verey) Pistols & Signal Pistols of the World
Very Flare pistols are probably still held by some nautical and aviation concerns, but during 20 years of Naval service from '79-'99, the only time I ever saw one fired was during weapons familiarization training. I've fired one on two occasions, but the only modern use I can see for it is a simple distress signal, as opposed to the colors being associated with any predetermined instruction.
hey guys, thanks for the link to the flare info on the Aussie/NZ Digger site - must have missed that one in my googling! Some of those shown certainly bear similarities to ours. Thanks also to those who shared their personal experiences of ever seeing and using such weapons in a naval context. There's nothing to say the small one couldn't have been used at sea - it was given to the museum as part of a 'firearms amnesty' back in the 80s so we don't know who owned it or precisely how old it is. The longer barreled one was supposedly picked up at the Somme, 1916. It's interesting that over the course of 100 years, the basic design didn't changed much, as illustrated by Dillinger's ww2 one and the modern Orion 12-ga model shown on the Wikipedia page - looks very similar to the German 1895 version, just with an orange synthetic casing. Thanks again everyone, input much appreciated. H
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