Tag Archives: enfield

The Far-Reaching UN Forces in Korea and the Things they Carried

With this month being the 70th anniversary of the rush by the Free World to help keep the fledgling Republic of Korea from forced incorporation by its Communist neighbor to the North, it should be pointed out that the UN forces that mustered to liberate Seoul and keep it so carried an interesting array of arms. Gathered ultimately from 21 countries you had a lot of WWII-era repeats such as No. 3 and No. 4 Enfields carried by Commonwealth troops as well as M1 Garands/Carbines toted by American and a host of Uncle Sam-supplied countries.

But there were most assuredly some oddball infantry weapons that were used as well.

One historical curiosity was the initial contingent supplied by the Royal Thai Army, who left for Korea in October 1950 wearing French Adrian-style “sun” helmets and armed with 8x52mm Type 66 Siamese Mausers that were actually versions of the bolt-action Japanese Type 38 Arisaka built before WWII at Japan’s Koishikawa arsenal.

Note their French-style helmets, U.S.-marked M36 packs, and Japanese Showa-period rifles. Ultimately, more than 10,000 Thai troops would serve in the Korean War alongside U.S. forces, fighting notably at the Battle of Pork Chop Hill. (Photo: UN News Archives)

More in my column at Guns.com. 

What a strange bird, 78 years ago today

A Tommy with 2nd Battalion, the Warwickshire Regiment is perched in a tree taking aim with his rifle. The photograph was taken during an exercise at Rumegies near the Belgian border, on the 22nd January 1940, during the eight-month “Phoney War” or “Sitzkrieg” period between the fall of Poland and the invasion of France.

His rifle is the Short, Magazine Lee-Enfield Rifle No.1 MkIII.

The Warwickshires were originally formed in 1685 in the Netherlands by James II as the 6th Regiment of Foot, changing their name to the 1st Warwickshire in 1782. They fought in the Napoleonic wars, both World Wars, the Boer War and other assorted conflicts around the globe for 283 years when amalgamated finally as a single battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers, they lost their name and were folded into the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in 1968 with their current RHQ in the Tower of London. Today they field an active duty armored infantry battalion (1st) equipped with Warriors while a TA unit, (5th bn) is equipped as light infantry.

A bit of desert that will always be Scotland

“The graves of two Scottish soldiers are marked by upturned rifles in the sand, North Africa, 5 November 1942,” some 75 years ago this quiet Sunday.

Photo by No 1 Army Film & Photographic Unit, Smales (Sgt) IWM (E 18952) Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205204021

This reminds me of Scottish poet Roderick Watson Kerr‘s piece, From the Line. Kerr himself was invalided out after picking up the MC while a junior officer in the 2nd Royal Tank Corps during the Great War.

From the Line

Have you seen men come from the Line,
Tottering, doddering, as if bad wine
Had drugged their very souls;
Their garments rent with holes
And caked with mud
And streaked with blood
Of others, or their own;
Haggard, weary-limbed and chilled to the bone,
Trudging aimless, hopeless, on
With listless eyes and faces drawn
Taut with woe?

Have you seen them aimless go
Bowed down with muddy pack
And muddy rifle slung on back,
And soaking overcoat,
Staring on with eyes that note
Nothing but the mire
Quenched of every fire?

Have you seen men when they come
From shell-holes filled with scum
Of mud and blood and flesh,
Where there’s nothing fresh
Like grass, or trees, or flowers,
And the numbing year-like hours
Lag on – drag on,
And the hopeless dawn
Brings naught but death, and rain –
The rain a fiend of pain
That scourges without end,
And Death, a smiling friend?

Have you seen men when they come from hell?
If not, – ah, well
Speak not with easy eloquence
That seems like sense
Of ‘War and its Necessity’!
And do not rant, I pray,
On ‘War’s Magnificent Nobility’!

If you’ve seen men come from the Line
You’ll know it’s Peace that is divine !
If you’ve not seen the things I’ve sung –
Let silence bind your tongue,
But, make all wars to cease,
And work, and work for Everlasting Peace !

–from War Daubs (London: John Lane, 1919) via the Scottish Poetry Library

Good rifles never really go out of style, or do they?

Canada’s Rangers in the past few years have just moved to replace their WWII Longbranch Enfields with a new rifle made by Sako (the bolt-action T3 CTR in .308). As the Rangers principal reason for a rifle is to ward off curious polar bears and give Russian paratroopers a *very* brief moment of pause, a bolt gun works for them. Another niche unit that still uses bolt action rifles is the Danish Navy’s sled patrol in Greenland– who use M1917 Enfields and Glock 20s for much the same reason as the Canadians.

But what if you didn’t have to worry about polar bears, and instead swapped them out for legit potential terrorist concerns, and your beat included some 200-million people. That’s the thing in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India. There, apparently, police still use 58,853 British .303-caliber Enfields even though the government said in 1995 they were obsolete and had to be pulled.

In India, it is not uncommon to run across police still armed with WWII-era (or earlier) MkIII Enfields

Whoops.

More in my column at Guns.com

Just hanging out around Surrey, waiting to cross the Channel

(Photo/text via Range Days in France)

(Photo/text via Range Days in France)

Scots Guardsman circa 1914/5 at Caterham depot. It shows some great detail. He is armed with an SMLE Mk I with its associated P1907 curved Quillion bayonet. He is wearing a set of P1908 webbing in early war marching order. Of note are the “Carriers, cartridge, 75 rounds, left, Mark II (3rd Issue)” with the added retaining straps, a late 1914 modification to prevent full .303 chargers falling out, when leaning on the trench parapets.

When fish are needed, call in the Kiwis

74 Years Ago Today:

'Gone Fishing' New Zealand soldiers trout fishing using rifles near the Syrian and Turkish border during World War II, 9th July 1942. Photograph taken by M D Elias.

‘Gone Fishing’
New Zealand soldiers trout fishing using rifles near the Syrian and Turkish border during World War II, 9th July 1942.
Photograph taken by M D Elias.

'Been fishing...Got fish' A New Zealand soldier J Thompson (Taihape), shows his catch to a Kurdish local after fishing with rifles and hand grenades on the Syrian Turkish border during World War II, 9th July 1942. Photograph taken by M D Elias. Colourised by Paul Reynolds.

‘Been fishing…Got fish’
A New Zealand soldier J Thompson (Taihape), shows his catch to a Kurdish local after fishing with rifles and hand grenades on the Syrian Turkish border during World War II, 9th July 1942.
Photograph taken by M D Elias.
Both images Colourised by Paul Reynolds.

(On a safety note, always be careful when firing at water, due to ricochet potential)

150 years of very British breech loaders

Throwback Thursday! A neat old British video, “Riflemen All” from the late 1970s (?) that takes about 15 minutes to break down use of rifles by British troops ranging from experimental Light Dragoons guns, the screw breech Ferguson, capping breech loaders like the Mont-Storm, the Snider, Martini-Henry, Lee-Metford, Enfield, SMLE and so forth. Almost all are shown in (brief) detail, including a little range time.

The handkerchief over the Sharps thing is new to me…and if nothing else there is some bonus footage of a rather cranky Vickers at the end.

Enjoy.

The 303 Jungle Carbine: Enfield’s Puzzling No. 5 Mk I

From 1907 to current production (by Ishapore), there have been an estimated 20 million or so Short Magazine Lee Enfield bolt action rifles produced, and one of the more sought after, short-lived and peculiar of the breed has been the No. 5 Mk I, more popularly known as the Jungle Carbine.

Essentially an improvement of the 1880s vintage Lee–Metford rifle, the Short Magazine Lee Enfield with its 10-round detachable box magazine, full length stock, fast-operating turn-bolt action, and excellent sights was a rugged and dependable service rifle that saw hard use by the British Army and her Commonwealth Allies (South Africa, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, et. al) in both World Wars as well as the Korean conflict and a host of small colonial actions thrown in for good measure. The evolutionary timeline of these rifles had, by gone through seven official modifications until the Rifle No. 4 Mk I was adopted as a standard rifle in 1942.

Lee-Enfield No 4 Mk I rifle, made in 1943. Caliber .303 British. From the collections of Armémuseum (Swedish Army Museum), Stockholm, Sweden.

Lee-Enfield No 4 Mk I rifle, made in 1943. Caliber .303 British. From the collections of Armémuseum (Swedish Army Museum), Stockholm, Sweden.

This gun was a simplified rifle designed for wartime production and used metal stampings for stock bands, North American birch rather than imported European walnut for the stocks, a heavier free-floating barrel for increased accuracy and a slightly redesigned receiver that could be made faster. This coughed up a rifle that was some 45-inches overall in length and tipped the scales (unloaded and without bayonet or strap) at 9-9.5 pounds depending on the weight of the wood.

With His Majesty’s Tommies jumping out of airplanes and fighting in far off jungles against the Japanese in Burma and elsewhere, a lighter and more compact Enfield was needed. Enter…

The 7-pound, 39.5-inch overall No. 5 Mk I Jungle Carbine:

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Although this gun saw little use in WWII, it proved popular in Africa, Korean and Malaya in the 1950s and 60s…

Sergeant R Beaumont of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI), attached to the Malay Regiment, instructs a Dyak tracker in the use of modern firearms. Via IWM http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212640 'The Koylis' date back to 1755 and in 1968 were amalgamated to form The Light Infantry Regiment which in turn was merged with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment and the Royal Green Jackets to become The Rifles in 2007. As a note of trivia, 80s television character Jonathan Quayle Higgins III of Magnum P.I. fame was a member of the West Yorkshire Regiment.

“Sergeant R Beaumont of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI), attached to the Malay Regiment, instructs a Dyak tracker in the use of modern firearms.” Via IWM Triva: ‘The Koylis’ date back to 1755 and in 1968 were amalgamated to form The Light Infantry Regiment which in turn was merged with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment and the Royal Green Jackets to become The Rifles in 2007. As a note of trivia, 80s television character Jonathan Quayle Higgins III of Magnum P.I. fame was a member of the West Yorkshire Regiment.

Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk