The main characteristics of the Dutch navy holsters is the fact that they all carried both the screwdriver (loading tool) and cleaning rod on the inside of the flap. There was a separate pouch for the screwdriver, with a stud on its body. A small leather flap ran through the eye of the cleaning rod, and was then attached to this stud. The other end of the cleaning rod rested in a separate pouch. Although the pistol manual suggests the pin punch had to be carried in the holster as well, it is difficult to imagine where this could be put. However, some holsters are known with pouches for the cleaning rod and a spare magazine on the holster spine, and two compartments for the screwdriver and pin punch inside the flap. Unfortunately, there is no way of telling whether or not these are Dutch.
At first, the belt loops were merely stitched onto the holster body. Apparently this gave rise to some problems, as the chief of Naval Artillery materiel wrote in March, 1935, that these soon worked loose. He therefore ordered the loops to be riveted, which was done at the Small Arms Arsenal. However, the majority of navy holsters are still found with the loops only stitched onto the holster body.
A very distinctive feature of most Dutch Navy Luger holsters (and Dutch Naval leather ware in general) is the small brass plate attached to the front of the holster body, one-to four-digit numbers. These numbers may have two different meanings. The one-and two-digit numbers refer to the ships on which the leather ware was used, which is why holsters with the same number exist. A separate series on numbers was reserved for materiel used by the Marines. The Lugers used by the Dutch Marines fall into two distinct groups: weapon numbers 100 to 200 and 1200 to 1250 (150 pieces). Thus the accompanying holsters were marked with these numbers too. These holsters are unique, as they only match one specific pistol. Holsters without the brass plates may occasionally be found, for which there are two explanations: either the holster belonged to navy stocks and had not been assigned to a specific ship, or it was part of the last deliveries in 1939, when time was lacking to apply the ships number.1
The above information, excerpted from The Dutch Luger book is the only source of information, published in any detail on the Dutch navy and marine holsters for the Dutch navy Luger or Automatisch Pistool No. 1 and as such represents the total published knowledge on the subject. With that said the following information is based on the interpretation of that information to describe, discuss and speculate on the specific characteristics of a Dutch navy marine holster.
Featured herein and described above is one of the rarest Royal Dutch Navy Luger holsters, being not a regular Dutch navy holster that is usually assigned to a ship, but specifically a Dutch Navy Marine holster for the Dutch navy Luger. The holster leather is dark brown and is in good to excellent condition, considering the age and harsh conditions these holsters were subjected to in the Royal Dutch Navy Marines. As stated above in The Dutch Luger book, there were only 150 of these holsters assigned to the marines. The holster fits all the characteristics described and more. The brass plate ID is affixed to the holster body left side front lip by two integral brass tabs. It is stamped with a three-digit number 127, being part of the first group of 100-200 weapon numbers, preceded by the letter P. or P.127. It is the only identified/published two-digit navy or three-digit marine holster brass plate ID with a P prefix, or, any letter for that matter. Per The Dutch Luger book, the three-digit number is not the serial number but represents or matches one identically stamped pistol, which is probably correct as this number, without the P., is additionally stamped on the top inside edge of the holster body, unusually stamped in the stitching. In the case of this holster the P., because of the period, is an abbreviation and probably represents a place or location or it simply could mean Pistol 127 or Pistool 127. However, since the only other Dutch navy marine holster pictured in The Dutch Luger book has a brass plate ID of 109., without a letter prefix, the P of P.127 may represent something else.
As stated above, The Dutch Luger book pictures a navy holster with a descriptive caption on page 210 describing it with a three-digit brass plate ID stamping of 109 as a Dutch marine holster. Based on the fact that, as also stated in The Dutch Luger book, the regular Dutch navy holsters had only one or two-digit brass plate ID stampings. Additionally, to be specific in support of the authenticity of the P.127 oval shaped brass plate ID stamping, the following comparisons are made:
Regarding the P. of the P.127 brass plate ID stamping, there is nothing in The Dutch Luger book when discussing the regular navy or navy marine holster brass plate numbering system that, although not mentioning the use of letter characters, does not exclude such use.
The specific traits that are common to all Dutch Navy and Marine P.08 style holsters is that they were part of the Dutch navy contract deliveries from 1928 to 1939. The first were supplied to BKIW then to Mauser by various subcontractors, resulting in a variety of slightly different patterns through the years. Interestingly, all delivered holsters lack a leather makers name which, actually is not unusual considering they were all commercial and additionally not under German military regulation requirements for markings. Another distinction is that all Dutch navy holsters have provisions, i.e. for a combination leather pouch, loading tool and a steel cleaning rod under the holster flap, described in more detail in the above Dutch Luger book material in italics.
Since these holsters, as stated above, were purchased with each contract batch of pistols from multiple German subcontractors they vary in detail and quality of materiel and construction. Apparently they do not comply with German military requirements, therefore it is not unusual, for example, to encounter uneven stitching and different leather coloring, as seen on the subject holster and other examples.
Interestingly, the other end of the cleaning rod or tip rested in a separate leather pouch, some tubular and some flat, which is missing in the subject P.127 holster and there is no evidence, such as stitching holes in the inside of the holster flap, of it ever being attached. Although, since the small pouch, of each style, tubular and flat, is purportedly attached at the same time with one of the two rows of stitching of the leather hinge piece that connects to the holster flap, it could therefore, possibly have become detached with no visible evidence or it could have been an oversight during fabrication. However, a closer inspection of the outside stitching reveals that the upper parallel lines of stitching that attaches the separate leather hinge piece to the holster cover flap has been re-stitched, probably a repair, which could account for the missing pouch for the cleaning rod tip. Also on the outside of the cover flap is an additional short length stitch line without any threads where the original cleaning rod tip pouch was apparently, separately attached, yet the stitch holes are covered on the inside by the leather hinge. There is no doubt that, although the lower parallel lines of stitching that attaches the leather hinge piece to the holster body appear to be original, indicates a repair with a replacement leather hinge piece. However, the holster cover flap and the holster body are original. Replacement of the hinge leather piece is not an uncommon or unusual repair, and with the obvious hard 1930s and/or WW2 use of the subject P.127 holster, some depot repair work is expected. Regarding the uneven stitching pattern in the attachment of the upper hinge section to the P.127 holster flap, is not necessarily an indication of replacement, in itself. There are other examples of Dutch navy holsters with this same uneven upper hinge stitching pattern yet with the original leather hinge piece, of which one such example is shown in The Dutch Luger Book on page 208.
There is another observed method of attaching the flat style cleaning rod tip pouch and that is at a slight angle to better accommodate the angled position of the cleaning rod shaft, making the single line of stitching, attaching the pouch, starting at the left to traverse through the lower first parallel positioned stitching line that attach the holster body to the leather hinge piece of certain holster variations. This independent, angled method of attachment stitching, that does not follow the parallel stitching line, should show on the outside of the holster flap as in the subject P.127 holster.
With 150 holsters assigned to the Dutch Navy Marines, one assumes 150 navy P.08 style navy Lugers, out of 2654 navy pistols and holsters delivered from 1928 to 1939, were assigned to the marines. This represents less than 6% of the total of pistols and holsters, a very small percentage. Again assuming a much greater number of Dutch marines in service indicates very few marines carried navy Lugers. It is also not known if the separate series of 150, exclusively three and four-digit "weapon" numbers, different from the pistol serial numbers, assigned to marine holsters as identified by the affixed three and four-digit numbered oval brass plates was also stamped on the pistols, as stated in The Dutch Luger book, as no such "weapon" number marked navy marine pistol has yet been identified. If, as stated the Dutch navy marine holsters were unique to one specific pistol, one would expect that the pistol to be also marked with the same assigned three or four-digit number.
The number of Dutch navy Lugers and holsters assigned to the marines is pretty accurate at 150. The below information states that at their peak in 1940 the Dutch Marines were small in number.
On 10 May 1940, the Korpsmariniers (originally formed in 1665 and in action against the English in 1667) was stationed in Rotterdam. Interestingly a Korps Mariniers unit in Rotterdam preparing to ship out to the Dutch East Indies successfully defended the bridges across the Maas, preventing German paratroopers in the center of the city from rendezvousing with conventional German infantry. The Germans ended the stalemate by bombing Rotterdam. The threat of an attack by Marines caused its German captain to scuttle the Antilla in Aruba in 1940.
The Rotterdam garrison included one hundred trained conscripts 1st Class, one hundred 3rd Class, and one hundred with only three months' service. At the naval depot there were a further 150 Marines, 90 conscripts and 600 new recruits. Despite their small number and lack of training, the Marines fought stubbornly against German parachute troops both on the Zuider Zee and in defense of the Maas bridges at Rotterdam, until, on 14 May 1940, they surrendered together with all other forces in Holland.