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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Jan Still remarks in his Imperial Lugers that about 20-25% of Lugers are unit marked. I have wondered about all the others that were NOT unit marked. Were many of these just overlooked or were these sidearms used in rear units? Does anyone have an idea if this was randomly done? In Jeff Noll's revised edition, the tabulation of unit marked P.08's seems to hold that rough relatively low percentage through the entire war years. Does anyone have ideas about this?
 

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Herb, after August 1914 there is probably a better chance of a rear echelon pistol being marked than a line unit; they had a bit more time on their hands. With the exception of train units, most marked P08's predating 8/14 that I have seen or owned were issued to combat units. I have always suspected that some of the pistols 1908 through 1914 that were not unit marked were officers' guns. Officers had to buy their pistols and other equipment. I have a 1908 that is back strap marked to a warrant officer. The stamping is Offzstllv.M.Plank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
George, I appreciate your reply. Remember that about 80% of lugers were NOT unit marked. They couldn't have had that many officers, could they? I just don't know whether the markings were a measure of pride or just simply for identification. I haven't been able to find writings on this subject anywhere.
 

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Herb, I think George is correct about line units be unlikely to mark after 1914. Still reports about 1% marked for years after 1913. Marking the grip strap properly is not simple and requires the inner curved surface on the grip strap be supported by some sort of mandrel. You occasionally see ones where there was no support and you can see a deformation of the grip strap form the impact of the stamp. The hammer blow is transferred to a pretty small surface and the curve flattens out. A quick look at Table 4 in Imperial Lugers seems to show a lot of the markings are to MG units. Perhaps they had the equipment for marking.
I have always wondered about the badly stamped pistols. I would suspect that faking stamps would be a temping area of profit for Waffenampt USA. I am going to have to buy Noll's revised edition
 

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Herb, I feel that the "officer factor" is real but of only fleeting importance as the war changed everything in August 1914. When considering the 80% factor for unmarked Lugers there are alot of other factors to ponder. WE should consider the percentage by year of issue. Prior to August 1914 these guys were Garrison troops and company armorers had little more to do than prepare for the next major inspection. If this fellow was like the company armorer I knew, he followed regs like the Bible.

After these units moved to the front, the armorer was probably tied up with repairs and pushed replacement weapons forward as quickly as possible.

If pre 1914 weapons were 80% marked and post 1914 weapons were 30% marked, how might one expect the final averages to be effected by the fact that far more Lugers were produced between 1914 and 1918 and that those exposed to possible battle loss from 1908 to 1918 is far greater than from 1915 to 1918 or 1917 to 1918.

I ran some numbers based on Jan's production numbers for 1908 through 1918 and I made some brash assumptions;

Unit marked at a level of 80% 1908 through 1914 and an attrition rate of 10% per war year would leave 63774 pieces at the end of the war.

1915 through 1918 unit marked at a level of 30% and a war time attrition rate of 10% per remaining war year would leave 103,015 at the end of the war.

The one startling conclusion that I gather from this exercise is that the war time attrition of P08's was probably at the 25% PLUS! Furthermore it's time for me to go to bed.
 

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If I remember right, from Goertz they state that marking is ended, then it is started again during several episodes, to include Weimar... {{my books are in Denver, so I am going by memory}}.

Ed
 

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All,

What a great discussion on this topic. Yes, I am aware and referenced the 1916 directive to cancel adding Regimental Markings (it is also mentioned in my book). The data base Jan and I have maintained since the publication of my book now has 800+ lugers in it. My book documents about 400 in Chapter 4 and pattern of markings pretty much follows with the additional pieces reported. It is my opinion that during the War some units continued to apply marking while others didn't. I can offer no explanation but the proof in marked pieces is evident. This also applies to the preWar period. There are simply many Regiments with no reported Marked pieces of anything (pistols/bayonets/rifles/swords).

As for the "Officer Factor", most lugers were issued to and used by enlisted men. Any equipment (weapons) issued should be regimentally marked per direction. Many photos of Officers show them with 32 cal pistols vice the luger.

We can all be thankful to the officers and men of the Imperial German Army. They left us with many hours of speculation as to the intentions of their efforts prior to and during the Great War and provided the material relics for a fastcinating collecting field.

Jeff http://home.earthlink.net/~nopubl
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for your contribution to this fascinating topic, Jeff. I am currently reading your revised edition you just sent me and kindly personalized to me. In fact, I haven't been able to put it down!
 

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One of the reasons I pretty sure they stopped unit marking their equipment {Lugers, bayonets, etc], it provided significant intelligence information to the enemy.

Unit marking is a great inventory/control tool during peace time, but quite a liablity during war time.

As a collector, I wished they continued the practice, as it provides us with a history of these weapons.
 
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