Updated with more information ... 12th June 2015                          

     Many Files & Notes here were transferred from our Bulletin Board at www.skennerton.com

     Our new DVD/CD sets have specific serial nos. folders in the Research CD, invaluable research.
 
     Go to SAS Live DVD/CD    

Copyright 2000-2015     All rights reserved      Ian D. Skennerton


AT RANDOM...

Bunduki Books has new owners in rural northern Victoria, a wider range of titles and new website continues under construction at www.bundukibooks.com.au  See what Roger and Pauline have on offer.

A new Lee-Enfield shooting website up and running now...  www.transcontinentalshooting.com

Proofed Action Assembly numbers confirm original fitting of a breech bolt& body on SMLEs, especially Lithgows, stamped prior to the the serial number, after proof. PAA numbers are small engineers stamps under the bolt handle and on the adjacent area at the rear, right of the action body.  

See our dedicated Serial Nos. page at Enfield Collector, loads of data and food for thought!

Another internet firearms sales site in Oz, www.universalusedguns.com.au  Check out their offerings. Based in Victoria, the manager is Andrew and we are happy to swap links. Good luck guys!

A new internet firearms sales site in Oz, www.universalusedguns.com.au
Check
out their offerings. Based in Victoria, the manager is Andrew and after a hearty chat, we are happy to swap links. Good luck guys!

New 7.62mm NATO Sharpshooter rifle for the British Army? The L129A1 by Lewis Machine & Tool Co., Milan, IL The first batch of 500 Stoner type rifles was delivered, more likely to follow. One piece upper with full-length Picatinny rail, quick change stainless barrel in 305, 406 & 508mm lengths on a one-piece upper. Looks like an AR10 with M16 shorty butt.

New .22 rimfire sporting rifle from Lithgow, the LA101. This 'CrossOver' is a bolt action 5-shot rifle, a fitting successor to the Slazenger Models 1 and 12. It is touted to become available in .22LR, .22 WMR and .17HMR chamberings. The design is distinctively European and the 5-round plastic magazine is CZ compatible. Left-hand models are to be available and centre-fire variants in .223 Remington and .308 Winchester reported to be in the pipeline.
The barrel is cold hammer-forged, medium weight profile with target crown. A synthetic one-piece stock adds to a Steyr Mannlicher appearance. No fixed sights fitted, intended for Weaver style bases and telescopic sight. The trigger is not adjustable, with 1lb and 2lb springs..

John Swinfield passed away in his sleep on 10th November 2014 in Sydney.
Peter Thurley, Tasmania passed away shortly before John. Peter was a dealer at many gun shows, always had a good offering of collector rifles and shotguns. His British shotgun collection was second to none in Oz. 
Tony Edwards
(A.O. Edwards, M.A.) was a specialist in .303 British ammo, he updated the "Lee-Enfield' chapter on ammunition, a valuable section in the final edition. Tony passed away 22nd Sept. after a long battle with cancer.

Singleton Infantry Centre Museum had a multi-million dollar, double-storey rebuild. At Singleton army base, it is open to the public Thursday-Sunday from 9am to 4pm, except public holidays. There is an Infantry Corps shop and Lone Pine Kiosk. Entry is $8 adults, $5 pensioners, children under 16 are $3. Ankle-biters (nippers under 5) are free. Discount family rate $20 and groups of 20+ are $4 each but groups need to make a booking. Their website is at www.infantrymuseum.com.au and e-mail is info@infantrymuseum.com.au Telephone (02) 6575 0257, fax (02) 6575 0239. Truly worth a visit.

See the Lithgow SAF Museum new pages at www.lithgowsafmuseum.org.au  It has now been quoted as the premier on-display military small arms museum in Australia today. So be sure to visit if you are anywhere near Lithgow.

Lee-Enfield's superiority as a battle rifle: British Sgt. Snoxall recorded 38 hits on a 12-in. bull at 300 yards in sixty seconds. The rifle was charger-loaded to fire as many rounds as possible in one minute, dubbed 'the mad minute'. No other turn-bolt service rifle can claim such a record. Enfields rule!

Another website dear to our heart... www.birminghamgunmuseum.com 

Barrack Hill, A History of Anglesea Barracks 1811-2011 by John Lennox & John Wadsley celebrating the 200th anniversary of this Hobart institution. 258-page hard cover, 180+ images. Funds to Legacy and Australian Army Museum Tasmania. $50 ea. plus p&p, e-mail John at jolona@netspace.net.au for orders. Pack & post is $11.20 within Australia. BSA Shirley FTR'd and converted No.4 rifles after the end of WW2, utilising new parts dated 1954-58. Recently noted in the US, a keen observer logged a number of Mk 1/2 'hung trigger' rifles. The broad arrow mark and finish is a little different to WW2 and immediate post-war production, likely a War Office contract for another country, possibly in Africa.

Afghanistan... Report of a US unit coming under fire from afar, pinned down by high trajectory fire. Air support was called in and a lone, white-bearded Afghan took to his heels. When the foot soldiers finally came up to the position, they discovered an old Short Lee-Enfield with sights set on maximum 2,000 yard setting. The old .303 bettered the 5.56mm at longer ranges, and it took air support to equalize the situation. Lee-Enfields still rule!

Army & Navy Co-operative Society Ltd. Stamped on assorted turn of the century British rifles and pistols, many being purchased by officers in service. Army & Navy Co-op. was established in 1871 by a group of Army and Navy officers to supply 'articles for domestic consumption and general use to its members at the lowest numerative rates'. The store was opened on 15th February 1872 at 105 Victoria St., Westminster, London SW.
In 1873, the co-op commenced trading in firearms. Gun case label reads 'Guns, Rifles, Pistols, Fishing Tackle, Boats & Naturalist Work. Motorist's Lathes, Machinery & Tools of all Descriptions. No.8 Gun & Sporting Department, 3 Hawick Place'. This changed in 1934 to 'Army & Navy Stores Ltd.', then in 1973 was taken over by the House of Fraser.

Thought you may like this snippet of information about 1914-1918 War bayonet production.
When Wilkinsons closed sword-making, there was a mass of papers &c. that did not go to the Royal Armouries Library, considered junk! Amongst them were Sword production records of Robert Mole from 1865 to 1877 and 1890 to 1919. It shows Mole's 1907 bayonet production. They made the Patt '07 bayonet from 1908 to 1911 and then in 1914 and 1915 only, all their efforts being transferred to 1908 Pattern cavalry swords which they made every year from 1908 until 1919 with the exception of 1913.
They made 1888 until 1901 and in 1901 and 1902 made 1888 Mk III (Browned bayonets.
In 1903-04 they converted 1888 to pattern 1903, made new 1903s in 1903-04.
In 1916 they produced screws and nuts for 'Sword Bayonet Wire Breaker' @ 5/9 per dozen.
They also made spare components for RSAF Sparkbrook such as Bolts, malleable with edged trimmed only at 2 and a half pennies each.
Mole's prices:
1888: 11/-              1888 Mk III: 9/6              1888 converted to 1903: 9/6
1903: 10/-
1907: 10/- reducing to 9/- and then in 1914-15, price rose to 11/-
Not earth shattering but part of the picture and explains Mole's low production figures for 1907 as quoted in your SUPERB book!
Kindest regards,
Robert Wilkinson-Latham

Remington Arms bought Marlin Firearms. Marlin owns H&R and LC Smith. In this corporate world, S&W now owns Thompson Center Arms and manufactures Walther firearms in the USA. Remington is owned by Chrysler Corporation, who also bought Bushmaster. Winchester Repeating now belongs to Browning Arms (Morgan, UT) which is owned by FN Herstal, Belgium. Given the Royal Ordnance and H&K ownership, the French ownership of ADI Lithgow, and France's government GIAT and FN Browning's affiliation, so many traditional gunmakers are now more corporate conglomerates.

Another firearms icon disappeared from America's heartland, Winchester. The Model 94 is discontinued, the US plant closed. A few Winchester sporters will be made overseas, but Winchester joins Enfield, Wilkinson and Webley as ghosts of the past.

SMLE Mk I charger guide repros available in the USA from Don Voigt in Charlotte NC. Price $90; e-mail photos look good. Limited run, so if you need one to complete Mk I, Mk I*, Mk I*** rifles, don't delay! E-mail Don at donvoigt@hotmail.com for details.

Ammunition website worthy of paying regular visits... www.ammunitionpages.com

Nobel 'Peace Prize' winners...
In
2007 ex-US Vice President Al Gore now joins this renowned group!
2002 winner, ex-US President Jimmy Carter, for what?
2001 winner, ex-UN Kofi Annan, for Iraq efforts, along with his son?
1994 winner, ex-PLO leader Arafat, terrorist, stole millions in aid to his Palestinian brothers?
1993 winner, Nelson Mandela, a South African terrorist?
What is the Nobel Peace Prize? Gifted funds of US$1.5 million each year from the inventor/maker of high explosives, truly a contributor to world peace... in reality, this is only an exercise in left-wing political farce.

Jane 'Hanoi' Fonda nominated as 'One of the Hundred Women of the Century' !! This traitor passed on prisoners' notes for help to their NVA captors. Some POWs died from beatings, others maimed. Fonda is one of the most reviled women of the century.

Belgian contract Patt. 1853 rifles; we've wondered who made them there. Apparently, a consortium, 'Societe de Anglais' comprising of Ancion, Renkit, Pitlot & Francotte who produced nearly 150,000 of the 3-band and 2-band Enfield .577 Rifle Muskets.

New Signals Museum at Fort Lytton at the mouth of the Brisbane River... or if you are not in the neighbourhood, go to www.connectqld.org.au/lytton Phone contact can be made with organiser Jim Meehan on 07 3890 1379 or cell 0406 005 920. Interested groups can be taken through on weekdays or the usual Sunday opening around noon.

Netherlands Army Museum new website. Check out http://collectie.legermuseum.nl/ and go under the chapter 'Thems's' and sub-chapter 'wapens'. We hope you can read Dutch!

Ever wondered what 'F.E.H.' and crossed rifles mark on Lithgow SMLEs of 1916-post war mean, stamped prominently on the butt stock and sometimes in other areas? Comprising of a crown, crossed rifles, usually with a 'P' in one quadrant and 'F.E.H.' in opposite quadrant. Frederick Edward Hart was Staff Sergeant-Major Instructor from Randwick School of Musketry, promoted to Lieut. in August 1916 when he led the first team of Army Inspectors resident at SAF Lithgow. It is said that the team brought deliveries to a halt within days! Following the set-up of the Army Inspectorate at SAF Lithgow, their production became even finer.

Webley Mk IV .38 revolvers supplied by Webley & Scott from 1939 to 1945 amounted to about 120,000 pistols. Serial numbers from May 14th 1947 were 'A' prefixed and ran A8 to A100599 by 26 March 1957. From 4th June 1957 to 7 Sept. 1979 when the last Webley revolver was made, serials were 'B' prefixed and ran B0 to B88165. Not all serials were used as blocks were assigned for specific calibres. The .380 Webleys were used by the Edmonton Alberta police until circa 1978.
   The revolver business was sold to a Pakistan company which acquired all tooling, work in progress and spare parts, although were not permitted to use the name 'Webley' in items. This info from Ted Simmermon from Edmonton, Alberta.

Two new British sword books are a very welcome addition to the library. These are 'British Military Swords - 1786-1912' by Harvey J.S. Withers (2003) which has a listing of Wilkinson serial numbers and years of production. So useful! Harvey's site is www.britishmilitaryswordsbook.com The other new title is 'Swords & Swordmakers of England and Scotland' by Richard H. Bezdek published by Paladin in the U.S. of A. (2003) with lots of b&w photos and sells for US$70.

Another sword revelation... After Colloden (1746), many captured and battlefield retrieved Scottish swords were used by Cumberland's forces, as the steel was better than in most English blades. Subsequently, the Scottish basket hilt was cut away on one side in English service; this has been the subject of debate by English & Scottish blade enthusiasts with theories of fitting a sword loop to retain the blade in use from horseback, et cetera. The new sword book reveals the reason... The Duke of Cumberland (the Prince Regent) required officers and men saluting him (bringing the upturned hilt to the lips) to have part of the basket hilt cut away, so that this could be performed per the Drill Regulations. So simple when you know!

Check Lee-Enfield slings... a little longer (57-in. vs 46-in.) is the SMG model for Sten, Thompson, Austen, Owen; more suitable for firing from the hip, later issued for .303 Bren and 7.62mm L4A4. The same applies to pull-throughs... about 30-in. long (vs 53-in. for rifles) with steel weight is for SMGs. We observe different length steel and brass weights on Aussie SMG pull-throughs too.

Re: Lithgow 'Heavy' rifles...
Rifles were sent in by Military Districts for fitting with 'short heavy' barrels at S.A.F. from 1932. Lithgow started making re-placement 30.2" barrels in the early 1920's for Rifle Clubs and Military District rifle teams. The short heavy is a 30.2" brl. cut down 5 inches. A '2 '27' dated barrel is likely a Lithgow MLE 30.2" cut down, MD markings confirm it as a factory job and dates tally. I have factory files here now, internal correspondence on Heavy barrels and production changes in components.

Letters and orders confirm 1932 as the Heavy barrel designation beginning, but earlier barrels were cut down by 5" too. There are details on conversions to 25.2" of the MLE rifles using methods proposed by A.S. Taylor gunsmith of 80 Bathurst St., Sydney and by H.J. Motton of 482 Pitt St., Sydney. Sketches show these to be types 1. & 2. as described and shown on page 395 of LES. Many such rifles were turned in during WW2, hence the double dose.

Orders for Lithgow converted ‘H’ marksman rifles carried through until as late as 1955 with the last batch of 100. Reason for the variety of British and Lithgow Mk III SMLE’s converted to sniper HT’s is that turned in ‘H’ target rifles were the prime source for sniper conversions, generally with no back sight as competition sights were used; Central, Mues, Motty, Rawson, Taylor, Austral, &c. When there were none on hand, new rifles were selected from store, so early 1940's Lithgows was included near the end. 

The target shooting fraternity preferred early Lithgow actions as until 1916, the tolerances for bolt-way and bolt diameters were done at maximum bolt and minimum bolt-way clearances, making for a tight fit, and better accuracy. 1916 telexes from Egypt reported rifle bolts seizing from sand and grit, so tolerances were altered to the minimum bolt and maximum bolt-way tolerances, making more for clearance in early in 1916. And not as accurate!

S.M.L.E. muzzle protectors have recently been the subject of an inquiry. Internet chatroom references to the 'Flanders flap' muzzle covers relate to the sheet steel cover with hinged flap and coil spring to retain the flap in the closed or open positions.

Great war makers are listed as being J. Purdey & Sons, A. Purdey, M. Myers & Son Ltd. and C. Brandauer & Co. Ltd. during 1915. There is no doubt that orders continued during 1916-1918 with the distinct possibility of other new suppliers as well.

Not all these muzzle protectors were the sheet steel type as unit prices ranged from tuppence ha'penny (2.5 pence) for 10,000 from A. Purdey, to 1/3d on 50,000 from J. Purdey & Sons, to 10/- on 100,000 from Brandauer and 8/- each on 100,000 from Myers. It would seem that the Brandauer and Myers manufactured protectors were 'Flanders flap' types while the less expensive models from A. Purdey and J. Purdey & Sons were also different to each other.

At 2 and a half pennies each, the A. Purdey protectors were likely canvas covers and Purdey & Son's offering at 1/3d would also have been quite basic affairs. The sheet steel models have also been noted in brass. War Office purchases were marked with the broad arrow upon acceptance along with the contractor's name, initials or logo.

Facts & Figures... Check out statistics at www.nationmaster.com for an enlightening record.
Our 'Collector' #15 put some perspective on loss of life, battle casualties, &c. But this site compares homicides, militarism, armed forces, economies, tax & education in countries all around the world. Did you know the USA ranks 3rd in Military Expenditure per capita behind Israel and Singapore, with Australia at 14th, UK at 16th, Canada at 30th and New Zealand at 39th with China at 79th? Or that for Murders per capita, South Africa comes in 2nd behind Columbia, with the USA at only 24th. For murders with firearms, South Africa is 1st, the United States at 8th, Canada at 20th, Australia at 27th, New Zealand at 31st and the UK at 32nd.

For longevity, the best is Andorra at 83.49 years, followed by Macau, San Marino, Japan and Singapore with Australia 6th at 80.13 years. Canada is 11th at 79.83 years, NZ 32nd at 78.32 years with Britain 36th at 78.16 years, the USA 48th at 77.14 years. Africa is worst; South Africa 202nd at 46.56 years and Mozambique last, 224th at only 31.3 years average life expectancy.

And most taxed? The Vatican City comes 1st by a long shot, the Falklands 2nd, Sweden 7th, Gibraltar 12th, Belgium 13th, Germany 17th, Great Britain 19th, NZ 24th, United States 27th, Canada 38th and Australia 42nd. For civil liberties, Canada comes in 4th behind Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden, then Australia rated 6th, NZ 7th and the US 8th with the United Kingdom a poor 20th. Russia is 96th, Malaysia at 98th, China at 125th, Vietnam at 128th, Laos at 130th and Burma at 135th with North Korea at 138th. Bottom of the freedom list is Turkmenistan at 140th. So much for Socialist 'Democratic People's Republic' hogwash!


New records discovered at the S.A.F. Lithgow Museum...
The Australian machete bayonet was originally intended for the new No.1 Mk III* H.T. sniper rifle! Probably as a tool rather than to bayonet charging Japs with a sniper rifle.
Notes on conversation with Lieut. Pyke, 24th Nov. 1943...
Regarding the inquiry for 3,000 short heavy barrels for sniper rifle conversion. A firm in Melbourne is making the mount to hold the telescope, Lithgow will assemble them to the rifle. The M.G.O. is having Machetes made for use with these rifles, they require pommel and crosspiece fittings assembled to them similar to the operations on our present bayonet. To see if this work can be performed by us, they are forwarding a sample Blade very shortly. We are to then see whether we can assemble the Pommel and modified Crosspiece and finish machine similar to the Bayonet. We will need to supply wooden grips, screws and nuts for securing same to Machete'. 


Early machete bayonets were profiled on Bren equipment at Lithgow; bayonet production was at Orange by this stage. The run of Machete bayonets, approved in April 1944 for Airborne troops and re-designated Bayonet 'Parachutist' in 1946, was probably at Orange. Many were destroyed although some sold surplus in the 1960's. A.I.A. had produced a new model as well.


Herb Woodend passed away at the QE2 Hospital in Welwyn Garden City, Herts. on 29th July 2003, finally succumbing to cancer, worsened during initial 'National Health' operations in England. Herb later went to the Anderson Clinic in Houston, Texas for more successful treatment. His funeral was 13th August at Enfield Crematorium.

We have also
suffered the losses from our ranks of J. Anthony Carter, Ian Hogg and Peter Labbett in England. These gentlemen added significantly to our record of military arms, Herb Woodend M.B.E. as Curator of the M.O.D. Pattern Room and confidant to so many authors and researchers, Tony Carter as a British and German bayonet specialist and publisher, Ian Hogg as an author for his many books on British service firearms, ammunition, artillery and armoured vehicles and Peter Labbett published detailed work on British service ammunition. Then not long afterwards, Glenn De Ruiter, a well-known resident expert at Sarco in Stirling, New Jersey, was killed in an accident at the range at Easton Fish & Game in Pennsylvania shooting a 6mm Lee straight-pull. Valmore Forgett II of Navy Arms finally succumbed to a rare cancerous blood disease. These friends are sorely missed... unfortunately fewer younger enthusiasts take their places today.

Mick Smith of Smiths Sports Store in George St. Sydney, along with Mike Long of Trident Arms in Nottingham, England, have both passed on.
Skip Stratton too, died in late 2006.

Cartridge Charger Clips have devoted collectors. .303 clips went through a number of marks (illust. List of Changes) made in Britain, Australia, Canada, South Africa and non-Commonwealth countries that made the .303 round. The steel chargers (not to be confused with the Americanised 'clips' as used for 'magazines') have makers marks indicating origin, generally initials or codes.

This list of British Great War contractors should help to realise a few more...
Bulpitt & Son, W.W. Greener, Kynoch Ltd., C. Mitchell, King's Norton, Perry & Co., M. Myers & Sons Ltd., W. Mitchell (pens) Ltd., Gramophone Co. Ltd., J. Mitchell, Brandauer & Co. Ltd., British Stamped Metal Ceiling Co., Perry & Co. Ltd., S. Thomas & Sons Ltd., Cook & Co., Baker & Finnemore Ltd., Rudge Whitworth Ltd., Bibb Edwards & Sons, H.W. Taylor, Parkinson & W.B. Cowan Ltd., Crane's Screw & Colgryp Castor Co. Ltd., Hancock & Corfield Ltd., H & T Vaughan.
Contract prices per 100 are listed at around 4/- (shillings) or L2 (pounds) per 1,000 so it is considered that all the above were for .303 cartridge chargers. 

Kynoch made 6.5 Jap rounds and likely their clips too (brass?). Arisaka rifles were acquired from Japan and mostly issued to Naval and reserve forces. Great War contracts list 16 million 6.5mm rounds acquired from the Japanese government in 1915 'with clip' and 1,315,000 of 7.9mm cartridges from C. Osborne & Co. (likely an importer) in June of 1915.

S.M.L.E. oil bottles have dedicated collectors and researchers too. Great War makers were: Gabriel & Co., Vickers Ltd., Nobel's Explosive Co. Ltd., Lightwood & Son Ltd., Thomas Bland & Sons, J. & J. Bent, King's Norton Metal Co., E. Showell & Sons, May & Padmore, H. Jenkins & Sons Ltd., Marris's Ltd., S. Heath & Sons Ltd., M. Halliday & Co. and W.H. Briscoe & Co. Ltd. Those specified as Mk IV oil bottle contract suppliers were listed as: W.H. Briscoe & Co. Ltd., Henry Jenkins & Sons Ltd., and J. & J. Bent again, as well as Nicole, Nielsen & Co. Ltd., Harcourts Ltd., Sperryn & Co. Ltd., and S. Hall & Sons Ltd. 

A great site by Kevin Adams of N.Z., on 7.62 x 51mm NATO stripper clips, chargers, &c. Check out Kevin's pages at http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~kevin_a/  And maybe Kevin will venture into 7.62mm ammo in the near future too.

New computer lists from National Archives of Australia... a database of almost one million Australian servicemen garnered from hundreds of thousands of ageing paper records: www.ww2roll.gov.au  Records can also be printed out from WW2 Nominal Roll.

Southern Africa Arms and Ammunition Collectors Association, (Johannesburg, South Africa) has started a Web Page recording all currently known and possible South Africa and other African, Manufacturer, Ownership, Unit and Proof markings generally found on military equipment of all periods. It would be greatly appreciated if readers would visit the Page at; http://www.saaaca.org.za/links/markings.htm and see if they could perhaps help identify any of the markings shown or perhaps contribute new markings not recorded. Thanks in anticipation ... Chris D Baragwanath (Webmaster) cbara@global.co.za   

Colonel Boys, Asst. Supt. Design, RSAF Enfield, is best remembered as designer of the .55" Boys Anti-Tank Rifle, first known as the Staunchion Gun. Nomenclature was changed in recognition of his contribution. 

He was also involved in .380 Enfield No.2 revolver design just before the war and a sub-calibre version planned as the .22 No.3 Revolver. Only samples were produced of the rim-fire trainer although the .380 No.2 pistol went on to be manufactured in Mark I, I* & I** variants at Enfield and Albion Motors in Britain. And Howard Auto Cultivators in Sydney which was then taken over by Hastings Deering at the very end. Only 355 Australian pistols were made so if you come across a .380 No.2 revolver with HAC marked on the frame, it is very desirable Aussie military and manufacturing history.

Left-hand action Lee-Enfields? Mostly where an editor has the photo back to front! But a few were converted by field armourers, in Anzac service at least. Not a factory left-hand action, but a converted bolt with handle cut off and replaced in a left hand position (on top at 90 degrees). One was spotted in the ABC's 'Fortress Australia, True Stories' series, c.20 minutes into the wartime film.

The .303 cartridge is becoming more popular as many collectors shoot their Lee-Enfields. 'Textbook of Small Arms - 1929'  contains a sizeable section on .303 ammunition manufacture, ballistics and theory. The Mark VII ball round has a 174 grain bullet.
     With a muzzle velocity of 2,440 feet per second, the length of time for it to 'arrive' is...
   100 yards       .2 second        c. 2,200 fps. velocity
   600 yards     1.0 second
1,000 yards     2.1 seconds
1,300 yards     3.1 seconds       880 fps. velocity   maximum range on No.4 sight
1,750 yards     5.1 seconds                                 close enough to one mile
2,000 yards     6.4 seconds       600 fps. velocity   maximum range on SMLE leaf sight
2,600 yards   10.8 seconds                                 maximum range on volley dial sight
2,800 yards   12.8 seconds       340 fps. velocity   maximum range on volley dial sight
3,000 yards   15.1 seconds       300 fps. velocity   that is nearly 2 miles away!

The 'crack - thump' method was used to gauge the distance from which one was being fired upon. When you heard the 'crack' of the bullet passing by, upon burrowing into the turf or desert sand, one started counting the seconds until the 'thump' or rifle muzzle report was heard, giving a reasonable estimate of just how far away the firer was.

Original service finish on Lee-Enfield rifles... 'browning'. Armourer's Instructions for the browning mixture for 50 rifles was:
   Rain or soft water ... 12 oz.                 Blue stone      ...    1.0625 oz.                Nitric acid       ...     1.25 oz.
   Tincture of steel   ...  3.5 oz.               Spirits of wine  ...    2 oz.                       Spirits of nitre  ...     3 oz.
For the first coat only, take 2 oz. of the mixture and add .25 oz. of nitric acid. 
The above-mentioned ingredients will be mixed by the armourer in the order shown, directly they are received. They must not be kept in separate bottles as danger from fire is likely to arise from nitric acid if spilt before being mixed with the other ingredients.
Process: 1st day... Boil components in strong soda water for half-hour, (1.5 lb. of soda to one gallon of water) to remove the grease. Wipe down with clean wet cloths to remove soda (inside of barrels to be wiped out with rod and wet jute). When barrels and components are cold, coat with the mixture, rubbing the first coat well in. Stand in a dry place for 3 to 4 hours, then again coat with the mixture, and stand in the drying room for the night.
    2nd day... Boil components in clean water for 20 minutes and, when cold, scratch off. Coat cold with the mixture and stand them in a dry place for 3 to 4 hours. Then again coat cold and stand them in the drying room for the night.
    3rd day...  Repeat as for the 2nd day.
    4th day...  Boil in clean water for 20 minutes. When cold, scratch off and oil.
This 4 day process is obviously more permanent than modern 'cold blue' or painted finish.  

'Instructions for Armourers - 1931'.

Great tip from Brian Labudda for getting rid of surplus store oil and grease on old bayonets & scabbards and other surplus stores. Using solvents and modern-day commercial cleaners is likely to damage leather and wood finish. Realize that Great War items are now approaching 100 years of age, so extra care is warranted. Leather and wood does not have the longevity of metal. 

A short-term remedy costs nothing! Wait for a hot and sunny day, then lay out the scabbards or rifle parts in the sun, or on a bare cement or stone gravel area. Spread out some old newspapers to absorb oil and the grease that leeches out from leather too. You'll be surprised at how effective nature can be, with no damage to the surface, the wood or leather parts or their original finish. 
One day is sufficient. We acquired a bundle of greasy Patt. 1907 scabbards on which markings were not visible, only a few teardrop or small frog studs seen on lockets peeking out from globs of black surplus grease. Hours in the sun revealed a few prizes and leathers came up sharp and crisp, leaving enough oil for long term preservation and in a condition so much more desirable.

Old leather had a Shellac finish which also stiffened the leather. You don't want to remove this. Chemical treatments (especially gasoline or spirit based) will likely render your scabbards limp and discoloured. Certainly not the go! For old or deteriorating leather, saddle soap is reasonable for cleaning but commercial leather dressings are the best, from saddle or equestrian shops. Not only leather scabbards, but this also applies to frogs and leather carrying equipment. If the solution is too strong, stitching may rot, so make inquiries first of other collectors. 'Boot goo' beeswax finish is great, likely marketed under different names in different places.

BUT A WARNING
... Neatsfoot Oil will darken leather and rot stitching. This old-time treatment is not advisable, leather is not easy to restore. While stitching can be replaced with new waxed thread, cracked, chipped or damaged leather is not readily restored.
 

It is over fifty years now since the huge wartime production finished. This period has seen the passing of most employees of the great ordnance factories; it is interesting how many 'lunchbox' guns and other firearms and weapons have come onto the market over the past decade from 'house clearances' and relatives finding items tucked away.

Some interesting rifles have surfaced which are now being touted as factory prototypes and experimental models. However, many of these are best described as having been assembled from available parts as a 'no-cost' hunting rifle. Such an example is a Long Branch No.4 lightweight fitted with Lyman Alaskan telescopic sight, assembled from parts misappropriated from the factory toolroom. And some .303 No.4 Savage rifles fitted with heavy barrels and scope mounts, ex-Chicopee Falls employees.

Factory toolroom, test and prototype rifles almost inevitably have numbers, markings and indicators from their work and test record. On occasions, paperwork is available which helps to authenticate pieces but in many cases, the 'rare factory prototype' is really a management or worker's personal freebie lunchbox gun. Why 'lunchbox'? Because that's how most components were smuggled out through factory security.

A good understanding of firearms is a distinct advantage for serious bayonet collectors as well as relevant ammunition and webbing or load carrying equipment collectors. And vice versa. The fields are closely related and knowledge of the firearm muzzle, sword bar form & position helps a bayonet collector determine what the bayonet was made to fit. And thus, what it actually is.

An good example of applies to socket bayonets. For nearly two centuries, there was such an array of different socket bayonets that they can all look so much the same. Starting with manufacture, proof, inspection or issue marks to help ascertain the national origin of the item, one then needs to work out what it fixed onto, to know what it actually is. With flint and percussion arms, the form of the foresight is relative to the dimensions (two different channel widths) of the zig-zag slot as well as the shape of the loop at the muzzle end of the slot. The length of the socket is also relative to the position of the end of the fore-end and the firearm muzzle, because the socket end likely fitted flush with the barrel muzzle. If there was some form of catch on the musket or rifle, there would be a corresponding notch or catch on the socket bayonet rim. Some scabbards had provision for retaining catches too.

Which all goes to make collecting of otherwise boring old socket bayonets so fascinating. AND the knowledge of what it really is makes for great finds at guns shows or antique shops, especially at peanut prices. Knowledge of magazines, scabbard fittings, accessories, &c. will likely determine what that odd piece of webbing or leather equipment was for, for load carrying equipment and uniform buffs or scroungers looking for bargains.

Correct nomenclature of British and Empire service firearms and edged weapons is taking higher ground as they become more popular with US collectors now. While we are witnessing less general Americanization of some terms (e.g. 'armory' instead of 'small arms factory' or 'Royal Ordnance Factory' and 'Pattern 1917' or P17 rather than the correct 'Model 1917' of M17), we still note widespread reference to .577/450 instead of .450 M-H, 297/230 instead of .230CF (commercial rather than the service nomenclature) and Schneider instead of Snider, as well as confusion over Lee-Enfield rifles Mark and No. designations. 

My pet peeve is when the typical commercial American 'type' or 'model' is improperly applied to British military service production. For example— recent US booklets describing Lee-Enfield contractor production alternatives as being 1st pattern, 2nd pattern, 3rd pattern or model, &c. This wrongly infers a chronological or manufacturing procedure progression. Differences were only production concessions and alternatives by different makers. Most variations were concurrent production so cannot be '1st pattern', '1st type', '2nd model', &c. Rather the 'Singer' or 'Lines Bros.' model or a 'waisted', 'hinged' or 'fabricated' definition. An appellant '1st type', '2nd model' author's perception is rarely in any true chronological order anyway.

Fazakerley and BSA Shirley (M47C) No.4 rifles are usually found with fewer alterative production parts as both these factories manufactured all the No.4 parts at the time. Maltby ROF however was locally referred to as 'The Tower' as they assembled rifles using components from the sub-contractors. So alternative production parts are more often encountered on Maltby rifles as well as certain other arms refitted by armourers. FTR (Factory Thorough Repair) programs usually replaced such parts with better made Fazakerley components; generally effected at ROF Fazakerley.


     

 MOD Pattern Room update..... The 'new' Pattern Room facility at the Royal Armouries in Leeds is now integrated with the Royal Armouries collection to form the National Firearms Centre in the Leeds docklands.
Over 25,000 arms (rifles, pistols, bayonets, MGs, MCs, SMGs, HMGs, rocket launchers, &c.) are reported in the new NFCC collection at Leeds. The Pattern Room library is now available to researchers at the Royal Armouries reference centre, integrated with their own fine collection. We will be visiting with a Museums Tour in November 2006. 


HISTORICAL...

Origins of powder in England are outlined in the Textbook of Small Arms 1929 (pp 216-217), recording that Roger Bacon knew of a gunpowder mixture as early as 1242. Real development did not occur until the invention of firearms in the 14th century. Military gunpowder first appears to have been manufactured in England during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377) and guns were used against the French in the Battle of Crecy in 1346. 

During Queen Elizabeth's reign (1558-1603) a gunpowder manufactory was established; George Evelyn set up mills at Long Ditton and Godstone  circa 1561 and government factories were established at Faversham and Waltham Abbey at about the same time. This heralded service ammunition production in England although it was not until the late 18th century (1786 and 1799) that chlorate and mercury fulminate were discovered as percussion initiators, prompting percussion cap ignition early in the 19th century. The Royal Laboratory at Woolwich was to become the prime government factory manufacturing ammunition.

Some records. The longest war... Hundred Years War between England and France, 1338-1453, some 115 years. Britain was involved in history's shortest war too in 1896 with the Sultan of Zanzibar, lasting a whole 38 minutes of naval bombardment.

Longest siege was Ashod in Israel when Psamtik I of Egypt besieged the city for 29 years circa 664 / 610BC.

A greater loss of life, more than any World War was the genocide of 35 million souls in western China in 1311-40 AD when Mongols massacred Chinese peasants. Figures of 155,200 dead in the Hiroshima bomb (includes radiation deaths in a year) pale by comparison. 900,000 Chinese killed in 1938 when the Yangste Kiang dam was blown up during the Sino-Japanese war.

In chemical warfare, Saddam Hussein tops the British and German Great War gas attacks, with 4,000 Kurds killed in one attack at Halabja, in March 1988. At least Saddam will not be a player any longer and ISIS now make his misdeeds pale into insignificance.

More records...  Until Saddam Hussein, world record for raising of statues to himself was held by Generalissimo Dr. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo y Molina (1891-1961), former Dominican Republic president. In March 1960, a count showed there were over 2,000. While Suddam beat that record, they would surely be rare collector items now. This has passed into history too...

Ordnance Factory returns of the 1870's provide some interesting clues as to South African orders and the quantities, because rifles, carbines and bayonet purchased from the trade were viewed at government establishments before export. This means that the arms would have an inspection or viewers stamp marked on the items, although it was often the practice that samples were drawn from the consignment, say, one or two of each hundred, rather than inspecting each individual item.
     1875-76 Birmingham...    300 Swinburn Henry rifles viewed
                                              60 Swinburn Henry carbines viewed
     1878-77 Birmingham...    600 Swinburn Henry viewed (rifles or carbines not stated)
     1877-78 Birmingham... 1,000 Snider Cavalry carbines viewed
                                             130 Swinburn Henry carbines with bowie knives viewed
                                             500 Swinburn Henry carbines viewed
                                             100 Swinburn Henry rifles viewed
     R.S.A.R.F. (Royal Small Arms Repair Factory) Birmingham was at Bagot St. from 1798 until 1894 after which the government factory was upgraded and became R.S.A.F. Sparkbrook from 1894 until 1907 when the factory was purchased by B.S.A. Another interesting feature of the Sparkbrook production is that serial numbers on MLE and SMLE action bodies and barrels were stamped in a vertical rather than horizontal position as on all other (Enfield, B.S.A., L.S.A.) rifle production.
     Swinburn Henry rifles, carbines and bowie bayonets were purchased by Natal although all of the rifles and carbines inspected were not necessarily destined for South Africa although they were marked as 'Colonial Orders'.
     1873-74 returns list 'Selecting and packing arms for W.A. Government' although the quantity and type is not described.
     1876-77 returns list 'Packing arms for Victorian Government', another Australian colony at that time.
     1876-77 returns list 'Testing and examining Snider arms for Canadian Government', a service performed at Enfield
Because these arms did not require a view, they would have been government issue arms rather than purchases from the trade, most likely Martini-Henry rifles although the 1873 West Australian lot may have been Sniders.

London Armoury Co. is often confused with the London Small Arms Co... they were different companies. L.A. Co. did fill some early War Office contracts although it was more of a retailer and importer rather than a manufacturer in later years. L.A. Co. was a prime supplier of P' 1853 Enfield rifle-muskets to the Confederacy and their financial problems were likely due to non-payment for some contracts and the fall of the South.

Commencing production in 1856, the fully interchangeable Pattern 1853 .577 Enfield rifles and some later breech-loading Sniders are noted as being produced and retailed by L.A. Co. The company occupied various addresses in central London for nearly 100 years, until 1950. During WW1, L.A. Co. supplied large quantities of rifles & pistols to the War Office. 

Unit costs for service rifles are interesting. During the Great War, contracts specify the Mk III S.M.L.E. as costing 3/15/- by B.S.A. and L.S.A. which included an extra 10/6d per rifle due to night work. This puts the initial War Office unit cost at  3/4/6d without the overtime loading. Standard Small Arms peddled scheme S.M.L.E.'s were 3/15/- although most of the SSA rifles had to be finished/assembled at Enfield and contracts were late. And an interesting reference for sniper fans... M.L.E. Charger Loading Mk I* from B.S.A. fitted with BSA aperture backsight with lens eyepiece and telescopic foresight (Galilean sights) in April of 1915 listed at 6/5/- each on an order for 200 rifles. M.L.E. Charger Loaders from B.S.A. were costed at 4/5/- each on similar size orders. Westley Richards was listed with 10,000 Charger Loading M.L.E. Mk I* rifles altered for Mk VII ammunition in October 1914 with a further 2,000 in April of 1915 at unit prices of 8/10/-. This can be compared with 150,000 C.L.L.E. Mk I* rifles from B.S.A. at 5/11/- each at the same time.

The Ross rifles were listed at $28.50 for 100,000 sighted for Mk VII ammunition and the Winchester Pattern 1914 was $32.50 fob New York with bayonet and scabbard. On following Winchester and Remington contracts, this price reduced to $30.00 each. This rifle was first listed as 'Magazine Enfield' and later described as 'Enfield, 1914'.

.303 Model 1895 DUTCH MANNLICHER... The Australian Conversions  from notes by Maj. E.J. Millett
Australian military rifle collectors of long standing have heard of these .303 conversions years ago. To further tantalise us, the occasional barrelled action would turn up, substantiating rumours to a certain extent. But never a complete specimen or official documentation. Rumours nominated SAF Lithgow as the place of conversion, it was supposed that the whole shipment was sunk en route to the Dutch East Indies, or maybe captured on arrival and destroyed or scrapped.

Ted Millett wrote: 'I have always wished to record the facts as I recall them, of a little known effort by Australia to assist the Royal Netherlands Army in the Dutch East Indies, prior to December 1941. Not having any material evidence, I have been reluctant to do this until now, as a result of a recent but vital discovery at the Small Arms Factory, Lithgow. I have decided to tell what I can remember, after some fifty years.

'With the fall of France and the occupation of Holland by Germany in mid-1940, the colonial possessions of these Powers experienced severe logistics problems, especially in the supply of small arms and ammunition. Britain was in no position to assist as she was desperately trying to make good the losses suffered at Dunkirk and conduct a mid-East campaign. In Australia the position was serious, our entire small arms program was directed to supplying the 2nd A.I.F. and assisting in the re-equipping of the British forces in England, to the extent that all mobilization reserves of small arms had been used, including the shipment to Britain of salvaged rifles from the battlefields of the Great War, which had remained in store untouched for 20 years. S.A.F. Lithgow was in the midst of an expansion program for the supply of rifles and M.G.'s, but at this time production was far below requirements.

'Thus the Royal Netherlands Army Command in the Dutch East Indies could not look to an immediate small arms supply from Australia, so it was decided to send 2,000 to 4,000 Mod. 1895 Dutch 6.5mm Mannlicher long rifles to Australia for conversion to accept the 7.7mmR Dutch round which was identical to the British .303 Mk VII being manufactured in Australia. The 7.7mmR Dutch round was in limited use in the Netherlands East Indies by the Royal Netherlands Air Force in some aircraft armament.

'About mid-1941, the consignment of Dutch Mannlichers arrived in Sydney and were taken to Australian Army Ordnance, Eastern Command workshop at Paddington, Sydney, where they were stripped, barrels removed and sent to Lithgow for re-chambering, re-boring and rifling to accept the .303 Mk VII round. As much work as possible was carried out by the Australian Army workshops, to reduce the load on the Small Arms Factory and permit concentration on the urgent expansion program.

'To speed up the conversion, it was further decided that the original Mannlicher magazine system should be retained even though it was a tight fit to load five .303 Mk VII rounds into the Mannlicher clip. The British .303 charger containing five rounds was used only to guide the rounds into the magazine, the charger being released when the last round was loaded from it. On the Mannlicher system, the clip was loaded into the magazine with the five rounds, in fact becoming part of the magazine until the last round was loaded out, when the clip dropped out of the bottom of the magazine. Apart from the tight fit of the .303 Mk VII British rounds in the Mannlicher clips, the magazine functioned very well.

'The converted barrels were returned to the Army workshops where the rifles were re-assembled and re-sighted for the .303 Mk VII British ammunition, the conversion being complete.

'The consignment of rifles was loaded on a freighter that sailed from Sydney in October or November 1941, together with a supply of Australian made .303 Mk VII ammunition, all consigned to the Royal Netherlands Army Headquarters at Surabaya, Dutch East Indies. Suffice to say that the freighter was never heard of again, presumed lost in northern waters as a result of enemy action. And unfortunately, no sample rifles were retained in Australia for reference purposes.

'The only person connected with the project, who I can recall by name, was a Captain Brooke, a Great War Imperial Army officer who had been recalled from the Reserve of Officers and attached to the Australian Army Ordnance workshops in Paddington, Sydney. He supervised the Sydney end of the project.

'As previously stated, I was prompted to write this article due to important evidence coming to light recently at SAF Lithgow, and in this regard I wish to thank Ray Leggatt, a senior technical officer at the factory who identified, when sorting out obsolete tooling, re-chambering tools for the Dutch Mannlichers.'

Mathieu Willemsen, Curator of the Royal Netherlands Army and Arms Museum advises that a total list of Dutch Armament in the East Indies ca. 1948 makes mention of 1,000 Mannlicher rifles and 500 Mannlicher carbines in calibre 7.7mm (.303 British). This mention is likely to have been the Lithgow converted Mannlichers. Because none had ever been found, we had considered that they may have been sunk by enemy activity en route to the Dutch East Indies. It may well be that they did reach their destination after all.

Should any other readers be in a position to supply further details, we would be most interested to hear from them. We should also mention that in about 1985, small quantities of Dutch M97 carbines have been imported by arms dealers, converted from 6.5mm Dutch to .303 British. These were converted in Indonesia in post-WW2 years and due to their short barrels, were fitted with flash eliminators. They have no relation to the Australian wartime conversion.

'Serial History of Technical Problems Dealt with by Admiralty Departments'  Vol.4 sounds as dry as Afghanistan or the Nevada desert. But this 'Small Arms and Machine Guns' reference is a real jewel!

On the outbreak of war the War Office made urgent demands on the Admiralty for rifles to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding army. Seamen's rifles carried in ships were consequently turned over, the number retained being 40 in capital ships and half the original proportion in smaller ships. The full establishment of marines' rifles were retained by the Admiralty. As soon as the exchange could be effected all service rifles in ships in home waters were replaced by Japanese rifles, the latter again being withdrawn at a subsequent date in favour of Ross rifles.

In addition to War Office demands, a large number of rifles were needed for the equipment of the R.N. Division and the R.M. Corps as the latter expanded for service ashore, as well as on board the ships. Also the armed merchant cruisers and auxiliary craft of many descriptions.

Japanese .256-inch. 20,000 were issued to the Fleet throughout 1915 to replace the service weapons. These in turn were replaced early in 1917 by the Ross.
Ross .303-inch. 45,000 which the military considered too delicate for service in the field were supplied to service ships commencing in April 1917.
Mauser 9mm carbine. 850 were obtained in September 1914, originally been intended for Brazilian and Chilean warships.
Winchester .44 carbine. 20,000  obtained from USA, 1,000 from Lord Nunburnholme in February 1915. Supplied to TBDs & miscellaneous craft, later replaced by Ross.
7mm Rifle single-shot. 4,000 of this old type were obtained in May 1915 from USA, issued for minesweeping purposes but subsequently withdrawn on account of defects.
Remington .44. 4,000 obtained from USA in April 1915 issued to miscellaneous craft.
.303-inch Martini-Enfield rifles. 2,000 were obtained from the trade in February 1915 and issued to trawlers.
.303-inch Martini-Enfield carbines. 500 bought from the trade in April 1915, issued to trawlers and miscellaneous craft.
.45-inch Martini-Henry. 500 obtained from the trade in April 1915, issued to trawlers.
.303-inch L.E. Sporting Rifles. 970 bought from the trade in March 1915, issued to miscellaneous craft. [Commercial BSA and LSA patterns]

One is not likely to find the above marked with the broad arrow upon acceptance but tell-tale rack numbers, refinishing and service repairs or modifications can often give a clue.



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Ian D. Skennerton

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