DUM-DUM, a town and cantonment in British India at the head of an administrative subdivision in the district of the Twenty-four Parganas, in the presidency division of Bengal, with a station on the Eastern Bengal railway, 41 m. N.E. of Calcutta. It was the headquarters of the Bengal artillery from 1783 to 1853, when they were transferred to Meerut as a more central station; and its possession of a cannon foundry and a percussion-cap factory procured for it the name of the Woolwich of India. The barracks - still occupied by small detachments - are brick-built and commodious; and among the other buildings are St Stephen's Protestant church, a Roman Catholic chapel, a European and native hospital, a large bazaar and an English school. The population in 1901 of North Dum-Dum was 9916, and of South Dum-Dum 10,904. It was at Dum-Dum that the treaty of 1757 was signed by which the nawab of Bengal ratified the privileges of the English, allowed Calcutta to be fortified, and bestowed freedom of trade. On the 7th of December 1908 a serious explosion occurred by accident at the Dum-Dum arsenal, resulting in death or serious injury to about 50 native workmen.
At the Dum-Dum foundry the hollow-nosed "Dum-Dum" (Mark IV.) bullets were manufactured, the supposed use of which by the British during the Boer War caused considerable comment in 1899. Their peculiarity consisted in their expanding on 1 The term "dumb," strictly meaning mute or destitute of speech (see Deaf And Dumb), is applied in this and other analogous cases (e.g. dumb-bell, dumb-barge) as connoting the absence of some normal capacity in the term with which it is associated.
impact and thus creating an ugly wound, and they had been adopted in Indian frontier fighting owing to the failure of the usual type of bullets to stop the rushes of fanatical tribesmen. They were not, in fact, used during the Boer War. Other and improvised forms of expanding bullet were used in India and the Sudan, the commonest methods of securing expansion being to file down the point until the lead core was exposed and to make longitudinal slits in the nickel envelope. All these forms of bullet have come to be described colloquially, and even in diplomatic correspondence, as "dum-dum bullets," and their alleged use by Russian troops in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 formed the subject of a protest on the part of the Japanese government. The proposals made at the second Hague Conference to forbid the use of these bullets by international agreement were agreed to by all the powers except Great Britain and the United States.
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