Tag Archives: STEN

Makeshift STEN foregrips

No matter what, you just gotta love a STEN.

British 6th Para Div on D-Day, note the Denison smocks, Skrimmed helmets, toggle ropes, and a STEN MK V. Introduced in 1944, the MK V was a better-quality, more elaborate version of the Mk II including included a wooden pistol grip, a vertical wooden foregrip, a wooden stock, and a bayonet mount for the No. 4 Enfield rifle, whose sights it borrowed.

These “plumbers’ dreams” were, even in their most finished forms, always very ad hoc not to mention dangerous to due to their open bolt design. With that being said, both the American M3 Grease gun and at least the first two varieties of the STENs were often modified in-field to make them a bit more user-friendly.

With that, The Armourer’s Bench (TAB) has a great 5-minute video, new this week, on makeshift STEN foregrips spotted in the wild.

Enjoy!

New friends in new places

A STEN-armed Para of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion shakes hands with a greatcoated Soviet officer in the Baltic Sea city of Wismar, Germany, 4 May 1945, about 150 miles Northwest of Berlin.

The surrender of German forces was four days away at this point.

Source: Photo by Charles H. Richer Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-150930.

Such link-ups, where the Western Front met the Eastern Front, were increasingly common in the last two weeks of the war in Europe.

The first occurred on 26 April 1945 when the U.S. 69th Infantry Division of the First Army and the 58th Guards Rifle Division of the 5th Soviet Guards Army met along the Elbe at Torgau, southwest of Berlin.

The ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ at work

During World War II the Allies dropped literally tons of arms and munitions to local resistance forces across occupied Europe to give the Germans a little heartburn.

Allied aircraft delivered over 20,495 containers and 11,174 packages of vital supplies to the resistance forces in western and northwestern Europe in 1944 and 1945 alone ranging from batteries and radios to guns and explosives.

Range Days in France has a great collection of various items supplied by the SOE (Special Operations Executive) and OSS (U.S. Office of Strategic Services) to French Resistance groups during World War II that is almost pristine.

(Photos: Range Days In France)

Click to big up. (Photo: Range Days In France)

The .303 Enfield is a U.S. made Savage No 4 Mk I* dropped into the Lot Valley by parachute. The STEN Mk II fell into the Gironde region with 48 rounds of 9mm ammo in a paper carton. The 250 round tin is Winchester-made .303 British ball. The canvas bag contains a BREN light machine gun replacement barrel.

More, including a detailed description of all the explosive kit, in my column at Guns.com.

Irish police show off recent IRA weapons seizures, beer keg bomb

Irish police show off recent IRA weapons seizures, beer keg bomb (3)
With the 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising of 1916 ahead, authorities showed off a stock of guns and explosives recently picked up from the Irish Republican Army.

Although the IRA has split and reformed and laid down arms and reformed again over the past century numerous times, you can rest assured that all over the island from Ulster to the Republic there are Enfields and Armalites still chilling under floorboards and stashed in attics.

And to point out the Troubles may largely be a memory but can still come back from time to time for a visit, Ireland’s National Police, the Garda, last week held a press conference at their HQ in Dublin to show off “samples” of various weapons seized during 2014 and 2015. Although the IRA largely operate in Ulster, they have long used the Irish republic to the south as a staging area largely safe from British authorities.

Irish police show off recent IRA weapons seizures, beer keg bomb (2)

What the Garda picked up included a sweet STEN gun — always the insurgent’s best friend– , a well-used and rusty old Webley revolver to keep it old school, some battered Romanian AKMs that could date back to when Gaddafi helped fund republican ops, a Glock (there is always that one guy), a Zastava M76 that looks like it was scoured with steel wool, oh yeah, and a beer keg bomb complete with Tropical Punch-colored .50 cal cans full of Semtex H likely from the Acme Terror company of Walla Walla, Washington no doubt.

Irish police show off recent IRA weapons seizures, beer keg bomb (1)

All that’s missing is a Jameson bottle with a rag tied around the neck and a Dropkick Murphys CD made into a Japanese throwing star.

More pics and details in my column over at Guns.com

Parlez-vous Sten?

Beginning as early as May 11, 1940, resistance groups of Frenchmen and women trapped behind German lines took it upon themselves to continue the fight to throw the “Boche” out.

Terming themselves the “Maquisards” (People that live in the “maquis” in the woods and mountains) these guerrillas fought with whatever they had at hand and went underground whenever things got too hot, often abandoning their weapons if they could not cache them for future use. This meant that very soon, the small supply of French military and sporting weapons that had been in the hands of the resistance were running short. This left them either having to capture guns from the occupiers (which happened), or get them from outside friends.

That’s where airdrops of STEN guns and other arms from the Allies came in handy. Taking only about a half dozen man-hours to build, the STEN cost about $10 to make (about $130 a pop in today’s money– cheaper than a Hi Point pistol!), it was cheap enough to literally give away.

Most wartime STEN guns were built by female British factory workers

Most wartime STEN guns were built by female British factory workers

sten-disassemble1

This meant they could be made in great volume and some 5 million Stens were cranked out officially during World War Two (as well as an estimated million more in underground shops).

British Special Operations Executive (SOE) units and Jedburgh teams with the U.S. OSS Special Operations (SO) branch fanned out across Europe, making contact with those who could use a delivery or ten of high explosives and STEN guns with the idea of setting Hitler’s Europe on fire.

The French received more deliveries than any other group, making the cheap submachine gun an iconic weapon of the beret-clad insurgent.

Resistance Learning about the Sten

Resistance Learning about the Sten

Resistant of the Finistère region armed with a British Sten, 1944

Resistant of the Finistère region armed with a British Sten, 1944 Click to big up

Parisian partisan with his STEN helping liberate the City of Light in 1944

Parisian partisan with his STEN helping liberate the City of Light in 1944.

homemade stenguns

homemade stenguns

A French resistance maquis armed with a STEN gun shelters behind a truck while taking on German snipers in the town of Dreux

A French resistance maquis armed with a STEN gun shelters behind a truck while taking on German snipers in the town of Dreux

It wasnt just the French resistance that was armed with the STEN. Here, Dule Bey Allemani, an Albanian resistance chief, poses with his STEN gun provided by Allied SOE agents in July 1944

It wasn’t just the French resistance that was armed with the STEN. Here, Dule Bey Allemani, an Albanian resistance chief, poses with his STEN gun provided by Allied SOE agents in July 1944

Danish resistance fighters note the mix of arms to include a BREN, a number of  Danish Army Nagant revolvers, and a couple of very Darth Vaderish  Royal Danish army helmets

Danish resistance fighters in 1945 –Note the mix of arms to include a BREN, a STEN, a number of Danish Army M1880/85 revolvers, and a couple of very Darth Vaderish Royal Danish army helmets

Termed the FFI (Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur) later in the war, by 1944 they counted some 400,000 under arms, with nearly a quarter of the members of some units equipped solely with ‘the plumber’s nightmare.’

This of course, helped them acquire some much larger and better made gear as well.

French fighter of the resistance holding his STG 44. I wouldn't trade a STEN for anything but...

French resistance fighter holding his captured German STG 44. I wouldn’t trade a STEN for anything but…

 

Plumber’s Dream, Nazi Nightmare : The STEN gun

When the chips were down in World War II, the British Army needed a reliable submachine gun that could be mass-produced without tying down vital munitions factories that were already overstretched. This led to a gun, designed as an emergency weapon, which has become a classic of modern firearms design.

When Hitler invaded Poland in Sept. 1939, that country’s allies, Britain and France reluctantly declared war on Nazi Germany. Fast forward nine months and the Germans had defeated and occupied not only Poland, but also Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, and France, leaving the Brits to face Hitler’s immense military machine alone.

Worse, in the evacuation of the British Army from France at Dunkirk, the Tommies had lost much of their pre-war armament.

This left the country in dire need of firearms to equip not only the regular forces, but also a rapidly growing Home Guard ready, as Winston Churchill promieed at the time that, “we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

But they needed a good, cheap gun, and lots of them.

sten gun assembly girl
Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk.com

Brits advancing on Rangoon

(click to bigup)

(click to bigup)

Men of the 2nd York and Lancaster Regiment searching the ruins of a railway station for Japanese snipers, during the advance of 14th Army to Rangoon along the railway corridor, 13 April 1945. Although the war in Europe was over, the war in the Far East was still very real for the Allies for several more months.

The Tommy in the rear has the ubiquitous SMLE while the one up front is armed with the what looks to be a MKII STEN with a forward pistol grip (most commonly associated with a MKV).

The MKV was the most polished of the STEN family, shown at bottom. Changes included wooden pistol grips including a fore grip, a stock, and a bayonet mount.

sten-family1