Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Rifles


Corporal Chris
 Share

Recommended Posts

Whilst at Kew researching one of my men (Captain Abbay, attached 47th.Sikhs) I found in their war diary an entry for 27/9/14 (they are in France) when "half the battalion carried all the rifles to the ordnance depot to exchange for the new pattern with the pointed bullet". I am not well up in armaments. Can anyone enlighten me?

Regards,

Chris.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It means that they exchanged their older Long Lee Enfields sighted for the round nose MkVl 214 grain bullet, for SMLE's sighted for the lighter 174 grain Mk Vll cartridge. Which put them ahead of most Territorial battalions, and New Army lads.

Gareth

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to illustrate the point T8Hants made, here is a picture of the "long" Charger Loading Lee-Enfield (CLLE) that was sighted for the older Mark VI ammunition with the 215 grn round nosed bullet.

See next post for the SMLE

Regards

TonyE

Link to comment
Share on other sites

..and here is the SMLE Mark III sighted for the Mark VII ammunition with the pointed 174 grn bullet.

Here is the two types of .303 ammunition.

Regards

TonyE

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At least it wasn't a Ross!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Roamin' in the trenches

Ross rifle at my side.

Roamin' in the trenches

couldn't fire it if I tried.

It's worse than all the rest

the Lee Enfield I like best.

I'd like to lose it

roamin' in the trenches.

To the tune of Roamin' in the gloamin' - Harry lauder

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to illustrate the point T8Hants made, here is a picture of the "long" Charger Loading Lee-Enfield (CLLE) that was sighted for the older Mark VI ammunition with the 215 grn round nosed bullet.

See next post for the SMLE

Regards

TonyE

Toint,

Many thanks to you and T8Hants for the info. Is it significant that an Indian Army Regiment were 'upgraded' in advance of other British units? Perhaps there were in the right place for distribution of the new rifle.

Regards,

Chris.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it significant that an Indian Army Regiment were 'upgraded' in advance of other British units? Perhaps there were in the right place for distribution of the new rifle.

I think you will find that it is down to a need to simplify supply. Remember this is still in the era of the war when the emphasis was on marksmanship. Having to maintain supplies of the correct ammunition for the rifles of the Indian Regiments would have been a logistical nightmare, as they were rotated in and out of the line.

Much easier to give the Indians who are now in theatre the new rifle, ship the old one across the Channel to give to the New Armies who may not have rifles at all at this stage, or single shot Martini-Enfields, in the hope that when they come over to France new rifles will be available for them in turn.

Just to give you an idea of the time scales involved, the Territorial 54th Division did not get their SMLE's until mid 1917 when they were in Palestine, two years after the first went into action at Gallipoli.

Gareth

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, if the Indians were in theatre in September 1914 I do not think any Territorials had arrived in France by then. (IIRC the first Territorials went to France in November?)

As the rest of the BEF would have had SMLEs sighted for Mark VII, it was obviously necessary that the Indians were equipped with the same rifles to avoid the logistical headache T8 mentioned.

Regards

TonyE

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it significant that an Indian Army Regiment were 'upgraded' in advance of other British units? Perhaps there were in the right place for distribution of the new rifle.

I think you will find that it is down to a need to simplify supply. Remember this is still in the era of the war when the emphasis was on marksmanship. Having to maintain supplies of the correct ammunition for the rifles of the Indian Regiments would have been a logistical nightmare, as they were rotated in and out of the line.

Much easier to give the Indians who are now in theatre the new rifle, ship the old one across the Channel to give to the New Armies who may not have rifles at all at this stage, or single shot Martini-Enfields, in the hope that when they come over to France new rifles will be available for them in turn.

Just to give you an idea of the time scales involved, the Territorial 54th Division did not get their SMLE's until mid 1917 when they were in Palestine, two years after the first went into action at Gallipoli.

Gareth

Thanks again to both of you.

Regards,

Chris.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Were battalions issued with SMLEs shortly before their deployment to active theaters such as the Western Front given the chance to zero their rifles prior to going into combat? It seems as though marksmanship would have suffered when troops were trained with long Lee-Enfields or Arisakas and then issued with SMLEs right before they actually went to war. The last-minute issuing of SMLEs seems to have been an expedient solution taken to address a shortage of rifles rather than the ideal way of doing things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Were battalions issued with SMLEs shortly before their deployment to active theaters such as the Western Front given the chance to zero their rifles prior to going into combat? It seems as though marksmanship would have suffered when troops were trained with long Lee-Enfields or Arisakas and then issued with SMLEs right before they actually went to war. The last-minute issuing of SMLEs seems to have been an expedient solution taken to address a shortage of rifles rather than the ideal way of doing things.

Pete,

Ideally battalions would have had range time with their new rifles and I have seen some War Diary accounts that show this, in fact there was a thread a couple of weeks ago where it appeared a unit in E.Africa were issued with new rifles and sent to the range immediately. There are also accounts where troops were issued with the new rifle immediately before going into action with little chance to try them out. The sighting arrangements on "Long Lees" and SMLEs are not masively different and of course it is basically the same action (safety moved etc) so I don't think the change would be quite as large as going from a 1903 Springfield to an M1917 for example.

I am not sure this range time is really "Zeroing" in the modern sense if by this you mean individual adjusting the sights etc - I believe Enfields were "zeroed" at the factory prior to issue. After the windage adjustable rear sight was deleted there isn't much beyond setting the range an individual soldier can (or would be allowed) to "adjust" on an SMLE. Although front sight blades of varying heights were available and the blade can be moved left/right specialised armourers tools are needed for both of these things and I don't think it would/could have been done by individual soldiers. If you look at the front of the front sight blade of a No1 they are usually "centre-punched" to show the factory set position.

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And how many of the thousands of men would have know the importance of sighting a rifle or how to do that? If they did, how many men in the trenches, other than the snipers, actually took the time to sight on a target? Perhaps we will never know.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...