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

Remembered Today:

My SMLE


Ski
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

I'm new to this SMLE game, but recently decided that i'd like a SMLE Mk III to hang on my study wall. I was after a fairly honest rifle that had seen some service and so wasn’t expecting an immaculate untouched example. I ended up going for this one.

It has matching numbers on bayonet boss, receiver, and rear sight. It has a replacement bolt and i believe it has been restocked as it is a 1912 BSA but does not has the volley sights although it does have the early stock with cut out for the sights. There is no evidence of a screw hole for the dial sight hence why I’m assuming it has been restocked rather than having the sights being removed in service- thoughts?

I've taken a few photos of the numbers/marks and would be interested to hear member’s observations these please?

In the first photo you can see several numbers on the fore stock. The one at the bottom with the "U" above it matches the rifle serial number, i.e. U90265. Would the numbers above refer to a rifle the stock had previously been on or does it refer to something else. My only thought being that all the numbers appear to have the same age about them?

Anyway like I say I would love to hear your thoughts/explanations.

Thanks

post-932-1252708592.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

next

next

post-932-1252708807.jpg

post-932-1252708865.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

next

post-932-1252708980.jpg

post-932-1252708996.jpg

post-932-1252709052.jpg

post-932-1252709065.jpg

post-932-1252709119.jpg

post-932-1252709191.jpg

post-932-1252709281.jpg

post-932-1252709327.jpg

post-932-1252709338.jpg

post-932-1252709389.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

next

post-932-1252709937.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

next

Looks nice - any chance of an overall view of the rifle and the BSA markings on the wrist?

Is this a live rifle or has it been deactivated? I assume the latter as you refer to hanging on your wall!

To try an answer your questions: Yes I think the other number on the forestock probably refers to another action that was once housed in this furniture. When you say the cut-out for the sights do you mean the forend is inletted for the front volley sights or something else. Does the rifle have the cut-off installed or does the wood cover the slot (I cannot see this bit of the rifle in the pictures)

There are some interesting marks on here - a couple I will need to check into. It might be that the script B on the buttplate refers to a Bantam stock (ie shorter than normal length but I am not sure)

The DP on the Barrel Knox form stands for DRILL PURPOSE - which means at some point in its service life it was downgraded to non firing duties.

Have you removed the upper handguard - I suspect you will find a number of interesting marks under there too. I might guess you will find Australian ownership marks or rebarrelling marks (the barrel will probably be dated on the right hand side in the format '42 (for 1942) - I would be quite suprised if it has the original barrel although it is possible.

The reason I mention Australia and a 1940s date is that the cocking piece is a WWII Australian made one OA42 = Orange Arsenal 1942.

Most of the other stamps you show are various inspection stamps and proofs. The NP on the bolt handle is 'Nitro Proof" which I think might mean it was proofed for civillian use in the UK - TonyE or someone else might be able to confirm that

The "M" on the bolt-head means "Difference in specification"

U prefixes on BSA rifles are usually associated with 1909 (V being 1912) - according to observed data (cf Stratton / Enfield Research Associates) My 1912 BSA is a V prefix.

If I am correct about the Australian connection this would also fit with the bolt serial number as D prefixes were used by Lithgow in 1942 (when large numbers of No1s were being rebuilt for WWII service)

You could look over the rifle (under the rear handguard) for "arrow in a D" or D^D marks which would indicate Australian ownership.

Hope this is of some help

I'll drag mine out and have a look for similarities.

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chris,

Thanks very much for your reply.

In answer to your questions:-

Yes it is a De-ac, Yes it does have "mag cut off" and there is an indendation in the furniture where the dial sight would be but no sign of one ever being fixed there. It also has the area cut out at the rear for the rear volley sight. I have removed the rear hand guard and there are many more proof marks as well as a "12" but no Australian ownership marks or 40's dates. I suppose this could also mean that the rifle has simply been given a replacemnt Australian bolt later in life rather than it actually being under Australian ownership?

Re "B" on the buttplate, you may have also seen the "B" near the wrist next to the trigger guard(5th pic down), could this also mean bantam - what would be the length of such a butt stock?

Also another point, the butt disk is steel/alum which had been blackened, was that a practice of any particular era/country?

Sorry for the extra questions, i just find it so interesting,

Here's a couple more photos

wrist

post-932-1252746096.jpg

post-932-1252746108.jpg

post-932-1252746152.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A very original looking rifle (and nicely photographed to boot!).

The '12 indicates that it is indeed the original barrel which is nice to find and quite surprising.

I am not entirely certain of the process but as a deactivated rifle I think it is possible the bolt switch happened during the process of deactivation (if it was done as one of a lot rather than individually deactivated) A 1912 rifle would originally have had a round cocking piece rather than the slab sided version These can easily and cheaply be obtained should you wish to replace it. The rifle would also have originally had a stacking swivel too (mounted on the forward swivel mount on the foresight protector)

Buttstocks came in 3 standard lengths S(hort) N(ormal) and L(ong) with B(antam) being introduced later. I think there was 1/2" difference between each size but off the top of my head I cannot remember the "norma length which served as the benchmark... I will check when I get to my references a bit later so you can measure.

A blackened steel marking disc was used on Drill Purpose rifles, so that is consistent with the DP stamping on the knox form.

You are quite right about the forend, it is an early shaped forend but without any sign that it was ever inletted for the volley-sight baseplate. These are usually found on "transitional rifles" made in early/mid 1916 as the MkIII* simplifications were being introduced the early shaped forestocks were used apparently used up on rifles assembled to MkIII* standard (without cut-off or volley sight and employing several other manufacturing smplifications) These earlier fore-ends are also slimmer in profile than later war produed ones which tend to be "chunkier" We might surmise this meant the rifle went through FTR (Factory thorough refinish) in mid 1916 - sometimes they are marked thus although not always. If this were the case one would expect the cut-off to have been removed and possibly the receiver stamped with an * but I have never observed any real consistency in this. It is fascinating to me to speculate (this is all it can be unfortunately) upon the possible history of the rifle to explain the oddities they almost always have from long and varied service lives.

I'll check the buttstock lengths for you when I get to my refs.

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chris,

Once again thanks for your comprehensive reply.

I think i may purchase the older rounded cocking piece if i can get hold of one, purely for display purposes. I will of course hold onto the old one as well.

Your explanation re the older style stock certainly makes sense and was my feeling also.

Thanks for checking the butt lengths for me,

All the best,

Lee

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a nice rifle Lee.

I stupidly sold two nice ones a couple of years back when I moved from West Wales to Shrewsbury, along with the rest of my de-ac collection, a bazooka, a WW2 Lee Enfield, a bren gun, Tommy Gun, a WW2 Luger and a Webley Mk VI. I'm still kicking myself now!

Steve.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A very nice rifle. I'd leave the bolt switch as it is. These were changed over time and the one with it is possibly part of this individual rifles history. I would get a piling lug though.

John

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.....There are some interesting marks on here - a couple I will need to check into. It might be that the script B on the buttplate refers to a Bantam stock (ie shorter than normal length but I am not sure)

Chris

The italic "B" is an inspector's mark from the BSA Sparkbrook factory, originally the old Royal Small Arms Factory, Sparkbrook, that BSA had purchased in 1906. The main BSA plant used a Roman "B" and Sparkbrook the italic "B"

The long and short butt lengths were marked as "L" and "S".

The NP is British civilian nitro proof and simply means that the rifle has been through the gun trade after being surplused by the militrary. That is a legal requirement.

Generally a very nice rifle, and the lack of a dial plate suggests a rebuild with a new/different fore-end post 1915 as Chris surmised.

Regards

TonyE

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steve, John,

Thanks for your kind comments, i think you're right and i think i'll leave the cocking piece as is.

Tony,

Thanks for the extra info and a public thank you for giving me some advice prior to my purchase.

Cheers,

Lee

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lee - here's mine for comparison - some interesting variations on a theme.

Mine too was probably FTR'd in mid war (or possibly post)

Mismatched foresight protector - the rest matches.

Later wood - but slim, not late war chunky... marked MkIII not MkIII*

Still fitted with Windage Adjustable rear sight. I didn't ask is yours or does it have the non adjustable type fitted?

Whilst mine retains the earlier cocking piece it has later rearsight protectors (simplified without the lightening ovals milled into them as yours has.)

Mine also came fitted with an additional sling swivel forward of the magazine

Speaking of which - does yours retain the early pattern magazine? pop it out and have a look if there is a number stamped on the spine, then look at the front end and see if there is an external clip there that pivots on a rivet. Mine has a later replacement magazine.

Twins? - although mine has a V- serial number prefix

Chris

post-14525-1252783001.jpg

post-14525-1252783008.jpg

post-14525-1252783014.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cnock,

Thanks for the comment.

Chris,

Looks a nice example (1912 was obviously a good year ;) ).

Mine still retains the Windage Adjustable rear sight (with matching number) however the magazine is a No 4. It has "4" on the spine and a "3" inside along with a BSA "B" and no external clip.

As yours has a "V" prefix i'm guessing mine must be slightly earlier in production then.

Anything on the buttstock disc?

Cheers,

Lee

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very nice rifle!

And very interesting explanation about the markings :D

"A blackened steel marking disc was used on Drill Purpose rifles, so that is consistent with the DP stamping on the knox form." :Were the steel buttstock disck issued also as an "economy measure" to save brass during WWI?

Should a DP rifle also have the DP letters painted on the stock? I've seen few of these rifles all with the DP letters painted in yellow

cheers,

Ale

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very nice rifle!

And very interesting explanation about the markings :D

"A blackened steel marking disc was used on Drill Purpose rifles, so that is consistent with the DP stamping on the knox form." :Were the steel buttstock disck issued also as an "economy measure" to save brass during WWI?

Should a DP rifle also have the DP letters painted on the stock? I've seen few of these rifles all with the DP letters painted in yellow

cheers,

Ale

Hi Ale

As far as I know - no. Marking discs were discontinued on new rifles and apparently ordered removed from existing rifles around the same time that the MkIII* modfications were approved (they provided free unit information to the enemy)

The practice of installing them was apprently reinstituted in the inter-war period so the issue of brass shortage was moot. The use of steel discs also provided a quick visual method of identifying drill rifles.

Some were painted with external stencilling too - I think this varied a good deal - Australian rifles seem to have had yellow or green stripes painted on them (Although I think this is mostly post WWII), Indian DP rifles often have red/white/red stripes around their actions. I suspect there was a good deal of local variaton on how marking regulations for DP rifles (if they existed) were carried out. I have seen NZ drill rifles with a white band around the stock also.

Chis

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chris, on my relic SMLE's butt it has N/|\Z stamp which has a white stripe and DP stamped into the wood.

Gaz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lee,

Looks a nice rifle, if you're happy with it what does it matter what we think :)

Steve

Steve,

Agree with you 100%, i'm very pleased with my recent purchase, i was just interested to know if any members could add to my very basic knowledge of the subject.

Thanks for your kind comment, and thank you to everyone else who has contibuted to the thread,

All the best,

Lee

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lee,

Much like yourself, I took the plunge with very little knowledge, bought a deac - absolutely delighted with it. decided there more to this than looking at a deac. I now have a fire arms certificate and a lovely rebuilt 1917 SMLE

Steve

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lee,

Much like yourself, I took the plunge with very little knowledge, bought a deac - absolutely delighted with it. decided there more to this than looking at a deac. I now have a fire arms certificate and a lovely rebuilt 1917 SMLE

Steve

Steve,

Great stuff. I think i may head down that track eventually (so i may be in touch), but for the moment my Deac will have to do.

Thanks again,

Lee

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...