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Remembered Today:

Musketry Commands


IRC Kevin
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Can anyone please confirm if the order to chamber a round in the SMLE was 'Make ready.'? I've searched a number of manuals, but can't find it- It's obviously lurking in the one the one I haven't got!

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Interesting how some things change and others remain the same. In my time on the SLR the command was 'load' then on ws given the command 'ready' then I think 'instant'

Greg

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Interesting how some things change and others remain the same. In my time on the SLR the command was 'load' then on ws given the command 'ready' then I think 'instant'

Greg

My memory has 'ready' as the order to chamber a round in a loaded rifle, but 'load and make ready' as the command to load and cock straight away, though I may have confused this with the similar instruction when I taught 'practical pistol' in later years. (though the commands could be the same?) Memory does horrible things as you age! I have this memory of running an SLR range and giving the order, 'with a magazine of... rounds, load and make ready.' I also clearly remember ordering my section to chamber a round when going into perilous places with just the command, 'ready'. No doubt you too were forced to watch the weapons safety film set in NI, when the guy cocked his SLR when someone shouted 'steady' to the driver of the RL he was riding in, circumstances which led to a nasty ND.

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. No doubt you too were forced to watch the weapons safety film set in NI, when the guy cocked his SLR when someone shouted 'steady' to the driver of the RL he was riding in, circumstances which led to a nasty ND.

Real incident a youngster, Corps attached to an Angle Bangle Battalion, I think ? Memory may be faulty there. Awful, distressing scenes at his funeral. Poor, poor mother.

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Although I did handle a SLR, most of my shooting days (range only) were with the No 4. My memory says that the No 4, and I suppose the SMLE 1914-18, were normally loaded by opening the bolt inserting one or two clips and closing the bolt. Thus a round was chambered. Of course with a 'cut off' that need not apply. There was a discussion of the use of cut offs a while ago.

Old Tom

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I was trained on the No. 4T in the mid 70's, but for obvious reasons loading with the charger clips wasn't an issue. To the best of my recollections, the command given was similar to the SLR, i.e. 'with a magazine of 10 rounds, load and make ready.'

Slightly off-topic, but interesting- The incidence of accidental shootings in 55 Division were considered of sufficient concern to publish the excerpt below on more than one occasion in Divisional orders. Despite this, there seems to have been little improvement in weapon handling and various individuals continued to shoot themselves or their mates accidentally. Someone even managed to confuse drill and ball rounds in a Lewis classroom with unfortunate results! (Warnings later appeared in Divisional Orders about the practice of making drill rounds by emptying the propellant out of live rounds and the dangers this could lead to) Another individual was accidentally shot by his section corporal, changed battalion on his return from hospital and three weeks later managed to shoot himself while cleaning his rifle, though the latter occasion was highly suspect and most probably deliberate.

weaponsafety_zpsbb13eb3d.jpg

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Interesting how some things change and others remain the same. In my time on the SLR the command was 'load' then on ws given the command 'ready' then I think 'instant'

Greg

I'm an ex-REME regular (not infantry etc.) but I clearly remember when doing my MTC III in 1968 and MTC II in 1970, that with the SLR (and Sterling and LMG) the command "Load" was putting a full magazine on the weapon but not cocking (so not putting a round up the spout) - to load the magazine and put one up the spout (by cocking) the command was "Lock and Load". Three seconds for the load and four for the lock and load - or you didn't pass the course.

With an SMLE (used in my cadet days) it seems to me, as someone has already mentioned, that the act of loading entails closing the bolt so a round is automatically put up the spout. So any command of "ready" when using an SMLE (a la WWI) cannot mean to cock the weapon, otherwise 10% of the magazine's full capacity would be ejected and lost.

Cheers-salesie.

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I have had a quick look at the 1914 Musketry Regulations and the command "Load" was only used at drill. In the field, the commands were "At (target or range)" followed by "Fire". Presumably there was no need for synchronising the loading procedures in the field, each man taking his own time (but not too much!) to prepare his rifle.

Ron

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Thanks for that, Ron.

55 Division Orders state, "Except when it is necessary to shoot, a round will NEVER be kept in the chamber. Cut-offs will always be 'in' and the safety catch 'back'. This does not apply to sentries on duty in front line trenches. Rifles are never to be kept at full cock. The magazine will be kept charged with five rounds. [presumably so as not to strain the magazine spring] Bayonets of men in the front trench will always be fixed except on rifles which are being used for sniping by day."

Presumably there was some form of order given before any attack to bung another clip in to bring the magazine up to ten rounds. How tempting it must have been to also have a loose round to put into the chamber for a total of eleven? The instruction to 'ease springs' seems to have survived through to modern times and I wonder if this command actually dates back to the days of the Brown Bess?

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... The instruction to 'ease springs' seems to have survived through to modern times and I wonder if this command actually dates back to the days of the Brown Bess?

I don't think that the Brown Bess had springs!

I have dug out my copy of the 1859 infantry drill book and it has the following sequence of orders:

Prepare to Load.

Load.

Rod.

Home.

Return.

Cap.

At --- yards. Ready.

Present. (note this means point the rifle at the target, not "present arms")

Fire.

I think that "Ease Springs" probably came in with the magazine rifle (late 1870s?).

Incidentally, this edition contains a rather complicated way of tearing the paper off the cartridge and pouring powder down the muzzle - no doubt as soldiers were no longer expected to bite off the paper end, which was one of the sparks for the Indian Mutiny of 1857!

Ron

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The springs on the Brown Bess are pretty strong and the hammer drops with some force- you certainly wouldn't want your thumb to be in the way! (though only ever fired a modern replica) With the limited life of a flint, it makes sense to release the hammer under control (ie. ease spring) to minimize wear on that and the frizzen. Springs could also be eased on the 1853 Enfield, but not I think on the Martini Henry. SMLE and derivatives could, if the trigger is pressed while the bolt is returned after inspection of the chamber, but SLR and SA 80 only dry-firing releases the spring. LMG and SMG were very much 'eased' as they were 'open bolt'.

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My memory has 'ready' as the order to chamber a round in a loaded rifle, but 'load and make ready' as the command to load and cock straight away, though I may have confused this with the similar instruction when I taught 'practical pistol' in later years. (though the commands could be the same?) Memory does horrible things as you age! I have this memory of running an SLR range and giving the order, 'with a magazine of... rounds, load and make ready.' I also clearly remember ordering my section to chamber a round when going into perilous places with just the command, 'ready'. No doubt you too were forced to watch the weapons safety film set in NI, when the guy cocked his SLR when someone shouted 'steady' to the driver of the RL he was riding in, circumstances which led to a nasty ND.

Kevin, I have seen that training film where a progression of errors, bit by bit led to an horrific outcome. It made an a definite impression on my then young mind.

You are incorrect in your recall of the drill, the first part ends at 'load'. Then after a pause, its just READY ! and according to the fire order the firer will open fire as instructed.

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