The Webley found at Ypres is a fine specimen of a top-break revolver, of which the first were developed in the 1870s by the Webley & Son Company (Webley & Scott Co. since 1897). The Webley, .455, Mk. I was officially adopted by the British Army in 1887. This revolver was chambered for black powder .455 British Service cartridge, officially known as Cartridge .455 revolver, Mark I. Later, smokeless versions of this cartridge were issued. The Webley, .455, Mk. VI came into use in 1915 and was manufactured by Webley & Scott Co. until 1921.
The weight of the unloaded revolver was 1100g; measuring a length of 286mm. The Mark VI featured a 6inch (152mm) barrel, rifled with seven grooves. The chamber of the weapon could contain up to six .455 British service rounds. Each cartridge launched a .45 bullet (17,2g) at a relatively low velocity of 190m/s.
The Webley Mark VI was a double action revolver: it could either be fired with the hammer in the uncocked position or from the cocked position. In the former, pulling the trigger cocked the hammer, which was useful if a quick shot was needed. However it had the disadvantage of a heavy trigger pull. Firing with the hammer cocked gave a lighter trigger pull but the hammer first had to be drawn back by the firer's thumb.
Loading the revolver was quite simple. A catch on the left side of the revolver was depressed and the barrel and cylinder would swing down. As the barrel dropped, and the extractor in the centre of the cylinder would be activated, throwing out all six cartridge cases in the chambers. Another six rounds could then be loaded individually by hand, though there were various quick-loading devices, which enabled the firer to load more rapidly.
The Webley, .455, Mk. VI was issued to officers at the beginning of World War One. In a later stage it was used as a personal defensive weapon by machine-gunners, airmen, signallers, tank and naval crews, trench raiders etc.
(JDG / Source: Bin Roy, British Soldiers' Weapons Of The First World War. Part 8 - The .455" Service Revolver)