Topic: History

New Exhibition of Metropolitan Police Crime Artefacts

London’s Metropolitan Police Service is to allow some of the artefacts from famous crimes which it has gathered over the years to go on public display for the first time. The force’s private Museum of Crime houses items used by many of the country’s most unpleasant and notorious criminals. This includes the Handgun used by the Kray’s in their attempted murder of Jack ‘the Hat’ McVitie in 1967.

Other exhibits at the Museum of Crime are considerably more disturbing and are not going to be included in the new exhibition at the Museum of London.  These items include equipment used by the criminally insane Dr Hawley Crippen and Dennis Nilsen.

The Museum of Crime is a unique institution was established in 1875 consisting of items recovered from crimes. The original idea of the Museum was to give police officers practical instruction on how to detect and prevent burglary. Since then it’s role enlarged and became an integral part of CID training. Today it is used as a lecture theatre for the curator to address police officers and staff.

The new exhibition The Crime Museum Uncovered runs from 9th October 2015 – 10th April 2016.

Surprising Neighbours

Above: Sten Submachine gun.
Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum

A story appeared in the Daily Mail last week about Eileen Burgoyne of Twickenham who appeared to be a typical shy and retiring pensioner living quietly in a suburban street. Following her death at the age of 99, however, builders working on her former home found a stash of weapons and ammunition including a 9mm Sten submachine gun, causing the area to be cordoned off by police who initially feared a possible explosion from a bomb.

Along with the weapons, documents and other items were found which indicated that Miss Burgoyne was working for the Intelligence Services after the Second World War and among her roles was a job assisting in the interrogation of prisoners.

Today, there are many other unsung individuals who, after their active service, retire to a quiet life with their neighbours and family entirely unaware of their sacrifices and work behind the scenes for national security during their working lives.

Gunsmith moves with the times

Mr Aziz in his workshop Photo: Matt Cetti-Roberts

An interesting armoury item appeared in the War is Boring Blog this week. Written by Matt Cetti-Roberts, it tells the story of a day in the life of Bakhtiar Aziz who runs a family gunsmithing shop in Erbil, the Iraqi Kurdish capital.

Mr Aziz has been running the business since 1987 taking it over from his father. Originally it was focussed on repair of hunting weapons but, of course, since the war began things have changed.

Mr Aziz reports that 85% of weapons that pass through his shop for repair are Russian in origin, produced in the 1950s. The most common weapon is of course the AK47.

He also sees M16s which he repairs and converts to a carbine M4 type version. These weapons have done the rounds from the Iraqi Army to ISIS and then to the Peshmerga.

Apparently the cost of an M4 in Kurdistan is around USD5,000.00

As you might expect the business of gun repairs these days is brisk and sees Mr Aziz often working late into the night. Let’s hope that he can return to his core business of repairing sporting rifles sooner rather than later.

Glock 17 for British Forces

Although an old news item now, the replacement of the Browning pistol with the Glock 17 for British Forces is worth a mention in our update as it was a significant event. The Browning has been the British military pistol since 1967 – quite an achievement for a weapon which was designed nearly 100 years ago. It certainly serves to demonstrate that pistol development over past decades has been through small improvements rather than major leaps forward.

The most important benefit of the Glock 17 over the old Browning Hi-Power is that it can fire 5 rounds inside 2 seconds, whereas the Browning would take 4 seconds to fire its first round. This speedier deployment derives from the fact that the Glock’s safety arrangement permits the weapon to be carried with a chambered round. In contrast the Browning was not permitted to be carried with a round in the chamber for fear of an accidental discharge.

Picture source:

It is interesting to compare the Browning, the US military handgun (the Beretta M9) and the Glock 17.

Browning Hi Power
Cal 9mm
Length 200mm
Barrel Length 118mm
Weight 885 g

M9 stats (
Cal 9mm
Length 217mm
Barrel Length 125mm
Weight 953 g

Glock 17 stats (
Cal 9mm
Length 186mm
Barrel Length 114mm
Weight 625 g

From the comparison it is clear why the writing was on the wall for the Hi Power as far as the British military were concerned. Not only do the improved safety features enable users to react so much faster with the Glock, but the huge weight saving from the polymer construction helps to ease the burden of the individual soldier.

But FN/ are still marketing the HP MkIII as a classic weapon for the discerning owner so this weapon’s time is far from over.

FWS has many different alternative ways to safely store both the Browning HP, the M9 and the Glock – please contact us for more details.

Decisive Weapons

It has been very interesting to catch up with the BBC’s series Decisive Weapons. Series 1 is now available on BBC iPlayer. Episode 4 is about the bayonet

We were told that the bayonet was first produced in Bayonne in France (now the home of the elite French unit the 1er RPIMa) – luckily it wasn’t invented in Lille.

Photo source: where you can find a wealth of information about bayonet types and history

The story of the use of this weapon is a fascinating tale. As well as looking at the weapon’s early days in the Napoleonic era, this episode featured interviews with bayonet users from WWII through to the Falklands War. The original idea was a ‘plug bayonet’ so called because weapon was fixed by inserting into the barrel. This had obvious drawbacks in that it was not possible to load/fire the weapon until the plug was removed. This idea, however, was soon refined and replaced by the ring bayonet which leaves the barrel clear for use.

Ultimately apart from this early and fundamental design change, the conclusion was that the attitude of the individual user has proven far more important than either the detail of the design or the tactical theory devised for its use.

Footage of soldiers marching across no-man’s land (with bayonets fixed) through a hail of machine gun fire during WWI made for depressing viewing. Yet stories of soldiers from more recent battles showed that when deployed appropriately the bayonet still remains a potentially battle-changing device.

Not mentioned in the programme was another use for the bayonet which is reported by those involved in peacekeeping duties. The cold steel blade when fixed to weapons carried by a military peacekeeping force is very intimidating and acts as a strong deterrent for individuals thinking of causing trouble in crowd situations. It also enables a solider to maintain a comfortable distance from civilians without making an overt threat.

It will not surprise readers to know that FWS has specifically designed components for storage of bayonets allowing them to be stored in groups, fixed or alongside each weapon. Please contact us for more details.