Don Davie

Following publication of notes on the Vickers Luger pistol in the December 2006 Newsletter, ACANT member Mark Pattison advised that his father, Keith, in Essendon, Vic., could have further information on the Vickers Luger pistols supplied to the Netherlands Government. When contacted, Keith kindly forwarded photocopies of extracts from the following works:-


Fred A. Datig, The Luger Pistol: Its History and Development from 1893-1945, 1955.
Charles Kenyon, Jr., Lugers at Random, 1969.
 --------------------------, Luger: The Multi-National Pistol, 1991.
Bas J. Martens & Guus de Vries, The Dutch Luger (Parabellum): A Complete History, 1994.

In addition to details of the supply of Lugers to the Dutch by DWM, the above works give further information on the pistols provided by Vickers Ltd. against a Netherlands contract, some of which is quite confusing.

Datig (p. 138) notes reports that the Netherlands placed an order for about 10 000 Lugers with Vickers Ltd. during the course of the 1914-1918 War. Why the Dutch would have turned to Vickers at this time, when they were still being supplied by DWM and while the Vickers concern was committed fully to the British war effort, is not explained.  Datig then notes that all Vickers Lugers seen bear the dates 1924, 1925 or 1926 and speculates that the order may have been placed during the period 1914-1918 but not satisfied until the mid-1920s. Kenyon (1969) states that Vickers manufactured Lugers for the Netherlands in the period 1915-1917 and says that the order was placed with Vickers ‘due to the then-current hostilities between Germany and Holland.’ This premise does not merit consideration as the Netherlands remained neutral throughout the 1914-1918 conflict.

In his later work, (1991), Kenyon states that ‘by 1902-21, the Netherlands were again ready to place an additional order for the Luger pistol’. Obviously, the period should be 1920-21 and Kenyon goes on to note the constraints of the Versailles Treaty and the involvement of Vickers as a broker between DWM and the Netherlands. At page 118, he comments that in excess of 6000 pistols were fabricated by DWM in Berlin and shipped in an incomplete condition to Vickers for finishing, assembly and proofing. He makes the pertinent observation that the same members of industrial and banking families served on the Vickers and DWM boards from 1899 onwards but does not identify them, or give their nationalities.

Martens and de Vries (p.132) state that the decision to equip the KNIL with Luger pistols was made in 1910, but funds for their purchase were not included in the Colonial budget until 1911. The official designation of the pistols supplied to the KNIL was ‘Pistool M11’. This source states further that an order for 6000 Lugers was placed on Vickers in December 1919, and notes that pistols numbered 4182 to 10181 inclusive were supplied ‘some two years later’. This is a little earlier than the 1924-1926 period mentioned by Datig.

As illustrated in the December notes, the Vickers Lugers have ‘VICKERS’ over ‘LTD’ impressed upon the forward toggle link. The Dutch ‘RUST’ (SAFE), with an arrow pointing upwards in the direction of movement, appears above the safety catch in lieu of the German ‘GESICHERT’, and ‘GELADEN’ (LOADED) is impressed upon both sides of the extractor. The date of manufacture appears on the upper rear area of the barrel. Brass unit identification plates measuring approximately 38 mm x 9.5 mm were brazed onto the left side of the receiver by the Dutch on some of the Vickers pistols, and Datig notes at page 140 that the wooden grip plates were chequered in a much coarser design than was found on the DWM Lugers. However, Kenyon (1969) states that there were two types of chequered walnut grip plates – those with fine chequering with a shallow cross section and those with very coarse chequering. According to Martens and de Vries, most of the Vickers Lugers were despatched to the East Indies without grip plates and these were supplied and fitted in the colony. This may explain the disparity in the quality of chequering. Datig observes that the Japanese captured some 3000 Vickers Lugers from the KNIL when they invaded the Netherlands East Indies in February 1942, and that some taken to Japan may have had Japanese characters added to them.
Vickers Luger

In addition to the British proof marks on various parts, the Dutch acceptance mark of the scrolled ‘W’ monogram of Queen Wilhelmina surmounted by a crown may or may not be found on the left side of the receiver.

At pages 134-5, Martens and de Vries remark upon the existence of Vickers Luger pistols with two-digit serial numbers. Although unable to provide a firm explanation for the lower numbers, they offer three possibilities. One is the allocation of these numbers by Vickers to pistols replacing those rejected by the Dutch authorities. Another is the allocation of these numbers by the Dutch to pistols assembled in the East Indies from combined factory spares and parts fabricated in the small arms arsenal in Java. The KNIL served in both the East Indies and the West Indies and the preferred explanation appears to be that a separate, small order for Vickers Lugers for supply to the KNIL in the West Indies was placed in 1920. Even so, no evidence is educed to support this argument.

Martens and de Vries add a further complication to an already confused situation by commenting at page 134 that, in the 1930s, nineteen Vickers Luger pistols numbered 14002 to 14020 in the East Indies series were shipped to the West Indies. This is not a serial number range noted previously by these authors or by any other source.

Martens and de Vries comment upon the existence of at least two Vickers Lugers of commercial quality and surmise that as many as thirty may have been manufactured in this grade, with possible serial numbers in the range 10182-10210. The known specimens are numbered 10184 and 10206, following the KNIL series, and both have ‘VICKERS’ over ‘LTD’ on the forward toggle link.

Number 10184 is a cased presentation piece with complete accessories. ‘RUST’ and ‘GELADEN’ are replaced by ‘SAFE’ and ‘LOADED’ and the pistol is said to be beautifully finished, with some acces-sories silver-plated. Number 10206 is also very finely finished but has the standard Dutch ‘RUST’ and ‘GELADEN’ markings. It has British proof marks but not the Dutch acceptance mark. The significance of the letter ‘Z’ in a diamond on the right side of the receiver above the trigger is not known. Numbers 10184 and 10206 both have finely chequered grip plates.
Vickers Luger: Cased

While some facets of the Vickers Luger question remain unresolved, the foregoing appears to confirm the belief that DWM and Vickers Ltd. collaborated to meet the Netherlands requirement for Luger pistols post-1918. According to Martens and Vries (p. 132) this was arranged by the Vickers representative in the Netherlands, Nederlandsche-Engelsche Technische Handel Maatschappji (Netherlands-English Technical Trading Company), and, apparently, the supply of weapon parts by Germany to Britain did not breach the provisions of the Versailles Treaty. The arrangement would have been of financial benefit to both companies at a time when the immense profits derived from war-time armaments and munitions manufacturing were no longer available, and when the German economy had disintegrated.

The proposition that the Netherlands ordered 10 000 Lugers from Vickers in the course of the 1914-1918 War is unconvincing. It seems that DWM Lugers were still being supplied to the Netherlands in 1916 (Datig, p.138) and the expanded Vickers facilities were straining to satisfy British demands. Certainly, Kenyon’s rationale for the placement of a Dutch order for Lugers on Vickers Ltd. at this time is patent nonsense.

We are much indebted to Keith Pattison for making available this additional information on the Vickers Luger pistols. If anyone has further relevant comments on the topic, they would  be much appreciated.