Like most other armies, Britain has long used black ammunition in training to provide realistic battle noise without risk of live rounds. In 1955 the British introduced a new blank round for the .303 rifle and machine guns still in service. This new round was externally identical to previous ammunition but now used nitrocellulose rather than cordite as a propellant. This excellent British Small Arms Ammunition site explains:
It is something of a mystery why the L Mark 9z blank was approved, since it is in all intents and purposes simply the nitrocellulose version of the Blank L Mark 5, the L Mark 5z which had been approved in 1928.
“Cartridge S.A. Blank .303 inch L Mark 9z” was approved to design DD/L/14006 in March 1955 and shown in LoC Paragraph C.7827 dated January 1957.
The case was Berdan primed and had the neck closed with a rosette crimp. cases were newly made and usually included the code “L9Z” but considerable numbers were issued with no headstamp.
The charge was 14 grains of ballistite or nitrocellulose covered with a single wad.
Tonight however we are not looking at the blank itself, but the box it was issued in:Blanks came packaged in brown cardboard boxes which held twenty rounds- enough for four chargers. Twenty rounds also meant that two boxes would fill three Bren magazines. A green paper label is pasted around the outside detailing the contents and a date has been stamped on indicating that the original contents were packaged by Radway Green on 17th October 1956:The information is repeated on the ends of the box as well so that even if stood up in an ammunition box it is still easy to identify exactly what sort of ammunition the cardboard packet contains:These boxes were essentially disposable and most were simply thrown away. This means these humble cardboard boxes have become increasingly collectible. Post war examples such as this are still fairly overlooked but wartime boxes are becoming scarcer and commanding good money for what essentially is just a piece of discarded packaging!