Here we see a .32 ACP Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless self-loading pistol carried by General (later Field Marshal) Sir Gerald Templer, KG, GCB, CB, GCMG, KBE, DSO. The S/N (377681) dates to 1921 production.
UK National Army Museum NAM. 1998-01-118-2
Dubbed “The Smiling Tiger,” Sir Gerald commanded infantry and armored divisions, as well as the German Directorate of the Special Operations Executive, during the WWII and later went on to lead British forces during the Malayan Emergency, one of the few successful counter-insurgency operations undertaken by the Western powers during the Cold War.
He was also something of a gun buff.
General Sir Gerald Templer (left) testing a .45 inch De Lisle bolt action silenced carbine during a visit to 1st Battalion The Gordon Highlanders, Perak, 1952. He may very well have a Colt in his pocket.
The signed 1954 card in the pistol’s case reads:
“The .32 Colt revolver and ammunition, in this case, was one of about 20 purchased by me when I was GSO I (1(b)) at GHQ, BEF. It was necessary for some of my officers to/ have a small automatic in their pockets on a good many occasions. I carried this one throughout the War, and when I was High Commissioner and Director of Operations in Malaya it never left my side. It was under my pillow every night whilst I was in country, ready and cocked.”
Sir Gerald died in 1979, aged 81.
The Second World War saw a number of innovative weapons rushed into service. One of the most interesting of these was a well-designed internally suppressed rifle used by Allied commandos. It is best known as the De Lisle Carbine.
The first year of World War II went pretty bad for the allies. By July 1940, Hitler had overrun seven countries and kicked the British Army off the continent of Europe. To keep the Nazis off balance, the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill ordered the creation of a number of Commando units to raid behind the German and Italian lines in occupied Europe. These small bands of carefully selected volunteers were given intense instruction in close quarters combat, demolition and sabotage.
Their instructors, such as the legendary William Fairbairn, Eric Syke and Rex Applegate, taught some of the most brutally effective hand-to-hand combat of their time. To increase these irregular warfare experts’ chances of success, the Commandos were armed and equipped with submachine guns, the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife, the Smatchet, and other exotic weapons from their initial organization onward. With the type of fighting the commandos and other Allied special forces such as the SAS, Rangers, and OSS, practiced, the need for a quiet intermediate ranged weapon was apparent. The weapon needed to be able to take out sentries, guard dogs, et al outside of knife range without alerting the rest of the garrison to the raider’s presence.
Enter the DeLisle……Read the rest in my column at GUNS.com