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    Verey flare guns


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    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.



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    • 5 months later...

    Google - Very Pistol - if you haven't already found your answers, this site should give the info.. The German one might look different , but all are variations on a 'theme'. They are Part 1 firearms in the UK and require a license. A museum may have exemption , but, I think you should establish this.

    Best wishes

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    Thank you, yes, I was directed to a site by google where the German model c. 1895 certainly seems to match the look of our smaller one. So it means they could both be German. See here if you haven't already: http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-weapon...nal-pistols.htm

    As for the licence, thank you for the word of caution. Luckily, we have a very efficient member of staff who deals with such matters with the police and Home Office etc and fortunately we are covered for all our collections, ranging from 'Section 58' antique firearms right the way through to section 5!


    P.S. I read with interest your post about the Zulu War sword-stick. We have four such items in the Museum: 2 British, 1 Indian, and 1 Namibian. I will try to dig out some pictures if you are interested. We also have a number of walking-stick guns - the next stage in the object's evolution!

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    The British type was still in use during WWII, used by aircrew amongst others (I have mangled one, reputedly from the wreckage of a British bomber).

    The flare colours mean what you want them to mean, a prearranged colour to indicate that you are calling for artillery support, that sort of thing.

    And they're used to illuminate the night scene, of course. The drill of standing stock still & hoping that you've not been spotted, rather than running or droppng for cover if caught in the light of a flare whilst patroling is still taught.

    Of course, the air force & navy used them as well, rescue signals etc.

    Here's a link to a photo of a 1970's army adaptation of flare pistols, which were also adapted to shoulder fired "rubber bullet guns".


    Edited by leigh kitchen
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    Swords sticks are very collectible and it would be interesting to see the ones in the collection. The gun sticks usually fire a .22 cartridge. They used to be popular in Sth. Africa, where we have many snakes and rabies is common - however, they now require a firearms license. For the moment - swords sticks are not illegal - the offence is to use one. In the UK it is illegal to carry, sell ,or, make one. OK in a collection, but not to taken outside.

    With Leigh's explanation on colours , I hope we have been able to help a little. I can remember arresting a min-cab driver, who had a very pistol under his seat. It is an 'absolute' offence - but, I don't think he got into much trouble as there was no cartridge.

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    Leigh, thank you. I wasn't sure if the colours had standardized meanings or were changeable, so thank you for establishing that. I suppose that makes sense in order to prevent the enemy reading your every move!

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    have posted new thread on our swordsticks but just realised I've put it in the firearms rather than swords section and am not sure if I can move it. Nevermind. Hope they're of some interest. Interesting to hear about the usage of walking stick guns in SA.

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    Leigh - have never heard of as modern truncheon with a firearm built-in. There is one in my book , with a brass eagle grip - now worth about ?5000, but,it's early Victorian. Have you a photo or, ref. ?

    Helen, will look for your swordsticks post.


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    Cambridgeshire had one, used as an example of firearm types.

    The "standard" truncheon to look at, but made of blackened metal, unscrew the grooved hilt, insert the cartridge, screw the hilt back on, fire by flicking a little lever that was hooked back in a notch, rather like the mechanism for firing matchsticks from the old Dinky guns.

    Badger might know of it.

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