A 7.63mm (MAUSER) SEMI-AUTOMATIC PISTOL, MODEL 'C96 WARTIME COMMERCIAL', serial no. 176772, COMPLETE WITH MATCHING HOLSTER- STOCK,
manufactured between 1915-1921, with 5 1/2in. barrel, blued receiver, milled frame with new style safe, grooved wooden grips, much original finish, complete with a period and matching number wooden holster-stock
Provenance: The vendor has kindly supplied us with the following history of the pistol, currently held as a 'trophy of war':
The pistol was originally owned by my grandfather, Benedict Philip Gerald Hunt (Lieutenant BPG Hunt, Royal Flying Corps). Known as Philip, he was born December 1894 at Fort Augustus, Inverness-shire and died in October 1958 in Hampshire.
He was the son of Rowland Hunt, of Boreatton Park, Salop, and Georgiana Davidson of Tulloch Castle in Dingwall, Ross and Cromarty. Rowland Hunt was a member of Lord Lovats Scouts in the Boer war and then an MP for Shropshire and member of the Liberal and Unionist Party, then the Conservative Party until 1918.
Philip joined the Shropshire Yeomanry in 1914 and then the Royal Flying Corps in 1915. He joined 32 Squadron who were formed in February 1916 and equipped with Airco DH2 Aircraft. The commanding officer was awarded the VC in July 1916 and Philip was credited with 3 air victories before he was shot down on December 11 1916 near Arras by an Albatros D 11 aircraft being flown by the famous Baron Manfred von Richthofen, later known as the "Red Baron". He was Richthofen's 12th victim of 80.
The aircraft was badly damaged and fell behind German lines. Hunt had been shot through suffering internal injuries, particularly to the liver. The family were told by my grandfather that Von Richthofen came to visit him in hospital and saw to it that he had the best medical attention possible. After hospitalisation he was made a prisoner of war.
Because the internal injuries had been so severe, the Germans decided that he was unlikely to ever be fit to return to combat duties so they offered him the chance of parole to see out the remainder of the war in a neutral country. He accepted this offer and was paroled to live in a barge on the canals of the Netherlands, a neutral country in the First World War. He was assigned a nurse to look after him. There he was given a shotgun and cartridges to be able to feed himself with the plentiful wildfowl.
After the war, he left the army in 1921, and later became a chicken farmer and market gardener in Hampshire which is where his wife's family had moved to from Shropshire.
He was not considered fit for combat duty in the Second World war but joined the Royal Corps of Transport as a Major and among other things was responsible for training drivers and motor cycle despatch riders during the war.
He was an early devotee of the sport of motorcycle scrambling which was closely allied with and was probably derived from military despatch riding. He was a keen field sports man, being extremely accurate with the shotgun and a keen salmon and sea fisherman.
We do not know when or how Philip Hunt came by the Mauser, but one hypothesis is that he was given it by the Germans to protect himself and the nurse while living in the barge in Holland. It would be nice to think that Von Richthofen himself had a hand in that, and although there is no proof of that, such chivalry was quite possible at that time.
Literature: Listed under 'Victory no.12' a biography of Lt. Hunt and a detailed description of the events of 11th December 1916 can be found on pp. 40-41 in 'Under The Guns of The Red Baron - The Complete Record of Von Richthofen's Victories and Victims Fully Illustrated' by Norman Franks, Hal Gilbin and Nigel McCreary.
Other Notes: The National Archives at Kew hold copies of Von Richthofen's Combat Reports. His entry for the 11th December 1916 reads:
"11:55hrs, above Mercatel, near Arras.
Vickers one-seater, No. 5986. Rotary Motor 30372.
Occupant: made prisoner, wounded, Lieutenant Hund
About 11:45 I attacked with Leutnant Wortmann, at 2,800 metres altitude, and south of Arras, enemy one-seater Vickers squadron of eight machines. I singled out one machine and after a short curve fight I ruined the adversary's motor and forced him to land behind our lines near Mercatel. Occupant not seriously wounded."
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