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Bullet in leather Lee Enfield sling


Anzac16
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I got for my Enfield some days ago a leather sling from 1916 now i was wondering something.

I saw on some pictures for those day's that soldiers put a bullet in the sling (see first picture's) why did they do this?

Maybe so that the sling did not will slide?

Does some one have a anwser?

img5436rd2.jpg

img5435lk7.jpg

This is the sling i got.

sling161dn2.jpg

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Allegedly it was to have a very swift reload in the event of an emergency. Only one round, but a lot quicker than pulling a charger from the pouch and loading the five rounds.

I have seen contemporary quotes stating this.

Regards

TonyE

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Well the last round may prove useful, but more practically the slings are useless and very prone to slipping, the bullet acts as a wedge and keeps it in place and tight.

When I used to do ACW reenacting I would slip the tompion of my 3 band Enfield there for the same reason, until I bought a sling of the Rifle Brigade pattern with a nice brass buckle.

See Soldiers Accoutrements of the British Army page 44 item 7

Gareth

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As Gareth says, the main reason is they're a pretty useless design without a wedge - I ended up using a rifle with one like it for most of the filming of "The Somme - From Defeat to Victory", but as soon as you slung it on your shoulder, the sling would extend to its full length under the weight - bl@ody awkward.

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affectation, 'coming the old soldier'.

This has been discussed before with no satisfactory answers, apart from this picture are there any others?

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As TonyE says, I have also seen this in a book recently but I can't remember which one!

A quick way to find one round in an emergency without loading a clip.

Have also seen a reference somewhere about stopping the sling slipping as described by mr Upton. E

specially prone to slipping after the sling had got wet a couple of times as the leather stretched and did not shrink back after a couple of soakings.

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I saw a quotation saying it was an "emergency round" recently in Martin Pegler's "Sniping in the Great War".

Hopefully the quotations were more accurate than some of his statements about arms and ammunition!

Regards

TonyE

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Maybe those that did it thought that if they wrote their name on it, as the well known saying says 'somewhere there's a bullet with your name on it', and they owned that bullet with their name on it, they were unlikely to get hit by it, unless they shot themself -_-

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At least one battalion in the AIF found a reason to do this in order to stop slings from slipping.

'2 cartridges will be inserted in the leather “D” at the loop end of each rifle sling, to keep the sling taut when set. In every case the laced end will be attached to the butt swivel of the rifle. Inspections will therefore be held and rifle slings adjusted when necessary to comply with this order.'

33rd Battalion Routine Order No. 361, dated 31 August 1917.

Chris Henschke

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Seems odd to use a live round just as a wedge when a bit of stick or even a used case would do the trick too (unless troops were still saving used cases to hand in if possible?).

Probably duel purpose then?

Dave.

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Seems odd to use a live round just as a wedge when a bit of stick or even a used case would do the trick too (unless troops were still saving used cases to hand in if possible?).

Probably duel purpose then?

Dave.

I'm sure that there are other period quotes, but one place I've found a reference is in "Boy Soldiers of the Great War", by Richard van Emden. The speaker is Private Thomas Hope. Although he is only sixteen he is already an old hand at trench life, here passing own his hard gained knowledge to a new recruit:

"To all this I added my own pet theories and devices for cheating death. How to take a slanting look through a loophole. The spare cartridge stuck in the rifle sling. It is quicker and easier to insert than a new clip when one counts life by seconds."

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Having done some reenacting myself, and having an Enfield with this sling, I agree with those who state the bullet was inserted to hold the strap in place. Once the rifle is slung over the shoulder, the sling has a notable tendency to slide to its longest setting. Blocking this with a bullet or two would seem to be a wonderful front line solution to this annoying problem.

As to using an unfired bullet as opposed to an empty case; the loaded cartridge is more rigid because the lead bullet itself is still intact and reinforcing the brass case. An empty brass case is fairly thin and in short order, a heavy Enfield would serve to flatten the hollow shell somewhat and make it more likely to fall out, thereby defeating the entire purpose. And I doubt there was much shortage of .303 ammo in the trenches, the bigger problem at the time seemed to be finding bodies to hold those Enfields. How many photos have we seen of salvaged rifles being cleaned for further use because their previous owners had met an untimely demise in that mud?

Interesting photo and topic. Take care all and God bless! :rolleyes:

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apart from this picture are there any others?

From the available evidence, it sounds like both suggestions are entirely plausible. I’ve seen a photo with two rounds wedged in sling but I can’t remember where - rest assured I'll find it !

Cheers

Manxy

crop from IWM photo Q.4390 - November 1916

post-28176-1232049697.jpg

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From the available evidence, it sounds like both suggestions are entirely plausible. I’ve seen a photo with two rounds wedged in sling but I can’t remember where - rest assured I'll find it !

Cheers

Manxy

crop from IWM photo Q.4390 - November 1916

Yes i know ther are more picture's but where i saw them???

I will sift tru my books maybe i will find them.

But all of you thankx for your replys an indeed very interesting theory

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Another interesting thing abut the original picture posted is the use of a sock as a cover for the bolt. I've just finished reading Henry Williamson's The Patriots Progress. and he mentions this quite often. It's funny, I've looked at this picture a lot in the past, and not really noticed either of these things!

Peter

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...... I’ve seen a photo with two rounds wedged in sling but I can’t remember where - rest assured I'll find it !

Manxy

Found one, though not actually the one I had in mind – two round nosed Mk VI rounds in the sling of his Mk I rifle, cocked and ready for action. There also appears to be a foreign looking grenade of some sort near the butt of the rifle – grenades aren’t my thing but I suspect someone will know what type it is.

Manxy

post-28176-1232308431.jpg

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Thanks,Manxy.Thats an amazing photo.Not just as in relation to this thread but as in there is so much to see.Bullets in the 14 sling,the SMLE cocked,the water bottle reversed as it was harder to pierce/bing them by accident if worn like this,the jerkin & what appears at 1st glance to be a mix of webbing,webbing with repairs too!

Excellent snap.

Dave.

Oh.I dont think its any type of grenade there.If it were,it'd be a Brit egg grenade(forget the no.32?)just a rock or oil can or hip flask.Being 1916 or after,nah.Its not a grenade.

Funny that he wears the chinstrap when most think that the blokes would have worn it behind the head or on the rim.I've always thought this a WW2 thing meself.

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On one of my first trips to the Somme I was walking near High Wood when two suspicious Brits with detectors materialised from the Wood. Got talking to them and they then showed a Lee Enfield they had dug near the crater and the sling was still present with a .303 round in the sling as shown in these posts.

TT

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  • 8 years later...

I know this is a very old post but there is a .303 round in the sling of the SMLE during the opening credits of the 1969 film musical adaptation of "Oh what a lovely war".

its when they are showing the artifacts, medals, clubs etc. it's pretty blatant so that might be where people are remembering it from.

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On 15/01/2009 at 14:55, RobL said:

Maybe those that did it thought that if they wrote their name on it, as the well known saying says 'somewhere there's a bullet with your name on it', and they owned that bullet with their name on it, they were unlikely to get hit by it, unless they shot themself -_-

It's not one with your name on that you should worry about.  It's the one marked "To whom it may concern..." 😉

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