An eight-man fighting patrol of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI), Elst, Gelderland, 2 March 1945.
Photograph B 15008 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.
They are well-armed with Lee–Enfield No. 4 Mk I .303 rifles, a beautiful Mk.I/II Bren gun with its distinctive champaign flute muzzle cone, STEN MkII submachine guns, and a PIAT tank zapper. Notably, all of the above were adopted after 1938.
The 83mm PIAT first saw service in 1943 during the Allied invasion of Sicily, and, while it looks light, weighed 32-pounds, unloaded. Nonetheless, it was considered “outstandingly effective” and remained in service through the 1950s, even seeing secondary use by Israel in Palestine and the French in Indochina.
The WWII vintage .303 No. 4 Lee Enfield rifles used by the part-time soldiers of the Canadian Rangers will be given to their users, converted to drill rifles or released to the public.
The more than 5,000 Rangers, who specialize in arctic search and rescue and are organized in 200 often remote communities in Canada’s far north are paid for up to 12 days of service per year as they keep up their patrols. Their rifles are primary for protection against large predators.
The guns currently in use by the Rangers are Canadian-made Long Branch Arsenal No. 4 MK. I* and EAL models in .303 though they are being withdrawn from the field to be replaced by the recently selected Sako (Tikka)/Colt Canada T3 CTR (Compact Tactical Rifle) rifle in .308.
With speculation as to what was to become of the old war baby Enfields, the Canadian Department of National Defence has confirmed the guns will live on with some going to museums, others gifted to active Rangers who currently have them, a large cache converted to drill rifles, and the balance sold as surplus.
More in my column at Guns.com
With their vintage .303 No. 4 Lee Enfield rifles being phased out, the part-time soldiers of the Canadian Rangers are standing tall at the Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration.
The military shooting competition, in which some 450 shooters from Canada’s Regular Force and Primary Reserve, Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and teams from the United Kingdom and the United States are competing, was first organized back in 1868.
Held from September 5 to 17 at the Connaught Ranges and Primary Training Centre in Ottawa, it will be one of the final competitive shooting competitions in which the Canadian Rangers will use the Enfield, which is being replaced by the Sako/Colt Canada T3 CTR (Compact Tactical Rifle) rifle in .308.
While the Canucks plan to destroy surplus Enfields left after the conversion, those Rangers currently with them will be gifted their guns.
Note the Enfield competition belts to hold spare mags (Photos: Corporal Doug Burke/Canadian Forces Joint Imagery Center)
(Photos: Corporal Doug Burke/Canadian Forces Joint Imagery Center)
The below video from the Canadian Army, which shows some No. 4s at work at the Small Arms Concentration, details Sergeant Cyril Abbott of the 5th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group. Abbott served 20 years active with the Black Watch and 2 RCR, and has spent the past 32 years with the Rangers, giving him an impressive 52 years with the Colours.