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Remembered Today:

1916 SMLE Mk. III* Rifle


JMB1943
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I have just taken delivery of a BSA-manufactured version of this rifle. I'm not a collector, but my grandfather survived 4 yrs as an infantryman (2nd Bn. RSR) in F&F and I wanted to see what (apart from chance) may have saved his life.

So I bought, sight unseen, a 1916 SMLE Mk. III* described as being well-used and having matching serial numbers on the bolt handle, receiver ring and the nosecap boss. I could see from the photos provided by seller that the front, upper handguard was not original; the bore was described as bright & shiny.

Upon receipt, the serial nos. are indeed matching, and to my (inexperienced) eyes the bore looks absolutely gorgeous. Inspection reveals that the rear sight is of post-WWI vintage. Listed below are the stampings, both found and not found. LHS = left-hand side, looking from butt to muzzle; RHS = bolt lever side.

Not Found: DP, FTR or BNP markings; serial number on back sight leaf; any stampings on magazine; cut-off for magazine; volley sights

Found: bolt handle..............................X10969

receiver ring................................ditto RHS (above double lined-out 3997)

nose-cap boss.............................ditto

underside of wood fore-end.......3997 (difficult to discern, even more difficult to photograph)

cocking piece..........................S 262 on RHS flat edge at bottom

barrel knox form.....................X10969 and '27; also "F F inside a circle" on LHS (one F at about half-hour position, the other at about the 3/4 hour position)

bolt head.................................NS (nickel steel) on RHS

back sight...............................nothing on the leaf (has a T on the LHS side of the bed)

brass disc...............................RHS of stock, not inscribed, very bright (very tightly impressed into woodwork, not removeable w/o damage)

underside of stock, behind

trigger guard............................6 (looking from stock to muzzle)

back sight cap.........................has 42 beneath a D (this is described as the later style of back sight cap on Mk. III* in SAIS No. 1, p. 6 by I. Skennerton)

spring clip in rear hand-guard.........has a B

Summary

The rifle was made by BSA in 1916, with serial no. 3997; re-barrelled in 1927 with serial no. X 10969; new back sight fitted in 1942.

All of the furniture, except the front hand-guard (noticeably lighter color), is original ??? (VERY dark-colored ahead of the wrist; the butt is not as dark),

The nose cap, back sight, and bolt assembly are not original.

The cocking piece is of the grooved, oblong later design.

There is a double eye-hole fitting for a sling swivel directly ahead of the magazine.

The magazine carries no stampings.

The stock does have a cut-out on LHS, immediately behind the safety lever, presumably for the rear, long range volley sight.

Cosmetically, she would never win any beauty prizes due to the many dents, nicks and gouges on the woodwork. No prizes either for being all-numbers matching.

However, there is not a trace of rust visible anywhere, and I would like to think that if my grandfather came in and tripped over it on the floor he would say something like "Where did you get that ? I had one just like it."

I shall try to post photos later this week, but in the meantime would appreciate any feedback from the Lee-Enfield buffs out there.

Regards,

JMB

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JMB - sounds like as good an example as you are likely to get easily...well done.

F F inside a circle is probably "Fianna Fail" (I would like to see the stamp) indicating it was supplied to the Irish Free State probably in the 20/40s after its refurbishment. This is something that actually is of interest to collectors in its own right.

It is unusual for the magazine to have no stampings at all - it should at least have a 4 on the "spine" (are there any markings on the magazine follower?)

Is the underside of the rear sight numbered? I need to check but I am not certain off the top of my head that the D42 stamp there is a date.

Does it have HV or HV SC stamped on the barrel behind the rear sight?

Are you sure the cutout behind the safety is not where the lever sits when engaged? The cutout for the rear volley peep would be forward of the safety.

S262 on the cocking piece may indicate is it of later WWII manufacture as S(outhern) 262 may be the contractor number for Roneo Works in Romford Essex who subcontracted some SMLE parts during WWII. HOWEVER what I think it might mean in this case is that it has been fitted with a No4 rifle cocking piece because Roneo were definitely one of the subcontractors for those -- check this. Look at it from the rear - is the top rounded or flat?

Looking forward to the pictures!

Cheers

Chris

BTW - the lack of a prefix on an 1916 BSA would suggest that it was made earlier in the year. Based on observed data they ended 1915/started 1916 on Z, then went up through no prefix, A, B, and C in 1916 - so probably the first quarter of the year.

Edit 2 - this link is to a discussion of the FF enfields from a gunboard

Edited by 4thGordons
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Hello Chris,

Many thanks for your comments, which I'll try to answer.

1. The "FF in a circle" marking is just like that shown in post #24 by BadgerDog on 18-Jul-13 in the link to FF Enfields that you give in edit 2.

2. The HV & SC stampings are present, just to the rear of the backsight.

3. The top of the cocking piece is distinctly rounded.

4 The magazine has two vertical, thick grooves that divide the body into a small segment (ca. 0.5 in wide) closest to the trigger guard, a larger, middle segment (ca. 1.5 in wide) and a third segment closest to the muzzle (ca. 1 in wide). The first of these segments has what might charitably be called a 4 low on the LHS.

5. Magazine follower ?? Is that the downward-projecting lever between the trigger guard and the mag. ? What is the "spine" ?

6. I removed the screw from the bed of the backsight yesterday, but could not pull up the bed.

7. You are correct about the cutout !!

Regards,

JMB

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Hello Chris,

Many thanks for your comments, which I'll try to answer.

1. The "FF in a circle" marking is just like that shown in post #24 by BadgerDog on 18-Jul-13 in the link to FF Enfields that you give in edit 2. OK then -- that's a nice one

2. The HV & SC stampings are present, just to the rear of the backsight. Good - they should be - just means it is sighted for MkVII ball - I was just concerned that it was not noted in your otherwise exhaustive description!

3. The top of the cocking piece is distinctly rounded. Ahh well then it is probably from a No4 rifle. The cocking piece on a No1 MkIII is flat on the top, where the No4 is domed. Having said this one reference I checked did indicate that S262(Roneo) produced No1 cocking pieces during WWII

4 The magazine has two vertical, thick grooves that divide the body into a small segment (ca. 0.5 in wide) closest to the trigger guard, a larger, middle segment (ca. 1.5 in wide) and a third segment closest to the muzzle (ca. 1 in wide). The first of these segments has what might charitably be called a 4 low on the LHS.

5. Magazine follower ?? Is that the downward-projecting lever between the trigger guard and the mag. ? What is the "spine" ?

Sorry "Follower" may be an Americanism - the correct term is the "magazine platform" the plate on top of the flat spring inside the magazine which pushes the ammunition upwards.

The "spine" is not official at all - just my word - I mean the "back" of the magazine body (the narrow side that clips into the trigger guard) along which the rib/spring runs for holding the magazine in place. just below the spring clip rivetted there (towards the bottom) there should be a number - in this case I expect it to be a 4

6. I removed the screw from the bed of the backsight yesterday, but could not pull up the bed.

No you don't need (or want) to! Raise the sight up so it is standing at 90degrees to the barrel and look on the underside of the site leaf -- it should be serial numbered

7. You are correct about the cutout !! :thumbsup:

Regards,

JMB

I'll see if I can add some pics to illustrate

Edit: ok not great - just what I had to hand - but

post-14525-0-48358400-1420695722_thumb.j

two styles of MkIII cocking piece later (left) earlier (right)

post-14525-0-94300200-1420695722_thumb.j

Later (No1) MkIII* piece (whilst edges are rounded off the top is flat)

No4 MkI (WWII) piece (note how rounded the top is - viewed from behind this is an arch, there is also a smooth version of this without grooves)

post-14525-0-24876300-1420695723_thumb.j

The underside numbering of the rear sight

post-14525-0-60822200-1420695723_thumb.j

Chris

Edit 2 had one of each in my spares -- so here you go a better view.

post-14525-0-29344600-1420696458_thumb.j

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Hello Chris,

Thanks for the legwork that you are doing on this.

1. The cocking piece is identical to that of the No. 4 shown in your two photos.

2. I should have made clear that there is no serial # on the underside of the backsight leaf. No signs of it having been filed off. But there is an inspector's mark and EFD, presumably stamped at RSAF.

3. The magazine platform (follower) is stamped with the broad arrow and 3.

4. Nothing to be seen in the area of the magazine spine.

5. Should have stated earlier that there are no import marks anywhere.

So I have a hybrid rifle that was born in Birmingham, travelled to France & Flanders (statistically most probable), returned to England and was later sold to the Irish Free State. Definitely ridden hard, but NOT put away wet.

Regards,

JMB

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JMB

Re.point 2 post 5#, normally the rifle serial number is stamped on the underside of the rear sight, possibly yours has been changed from the original? Mine (1916 Mk111*) carries the serial number, broad arrow stamp, EFD for Enfield manufacture and the inspectors mark. Your rifle sounds like a good 'well used' example, do you intend to shoot it?

Mike.

edited to say, can now see from your original post that the rear sight is a post war example and not original to the rifle.

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Mike,

At this point, no intention of shooting it because of bifocals and tired, old eyes. Just a reminder of both my grandfathers (the other was RFA) and the hundreds of thousands of other ordinary men who went to do their bit and did or didn't come home. Having said that, never say never.

Do you fire yours ? Is 303 readily available ?

Do you have a stamping on the "spine" of the mag. as described by 4thGordons ?

Also, do you have any of the history of your rifle ?

Regards,

JMB

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Re cocking piece

4th here are the cocking pieces on my Peddled scheme SSA & NRF

One is marked Crown BSA (faint & hard to see) & the other (which looks identical to a No4)is clearly marked EFD but EFD never made the No4 only the No1 MkVI & trials No4s which both had completly different cocking pieces.

No1Cocking1.jpg

No1Cocking2.jpg

No1Cocking3.jpg

No1Cocking4.jpg

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JMB

Sadly, my 1916 Enfield made .303 is a de-act., here in the UK we are not blessed with such liberal gun laws as over there in the U.S. Have a chum who shoots a Snider and an SMLE and both types of ammo. are available though fairly costly. He is only able to shoot at a registered gun club site, am looking forward to going with him some time. My .303 has a butt disc marked to the 2nd Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment and I have the Great War history of the Regiment, so am able to picture some of the battles and actions that it might have taken part in. The 'spine' of the mag. on my rifle has a broad arrow marking at the top, underneath that a stamped 'crown', then X4, also what is either 13 or B, this not that clear and possibly an inspectors mark, then at the bottom of the mag. is stamped the number 4.

My wife's Grandfather was in the RFA and was killed in action 17th Sept. 1917 near Messines, my Great Uncle served in the King's Shropshire Light Infantry, was wounded twice, but made it back home and died around 1961.

Regards,

Mike.

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The photos that I would like to post are about 3 Mb each (digital camera) and are obviously well over the 250 Kb upload limit.

How do you guys (5th Batt & 4th Gordons) who post pix every other day handle this ??

Regards,

JMB

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The photos that I would like to post are about 3 Mb each (digital camera) and are obviously well over the 250 Kb upload limit.

How do you guys (5th Batt & 4th Gordons) who post pix every other day handle this ??

Regards,

JMB

I use a Imagehost, just click on one of my photos & it should take you there.

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I cannot get a pencil rubbing, so have just re-examined the stamping on low LHS of mag. close to the trigger guard (that I had previously ascribed as a charitable 4), using both oblique lighting and a mag. glass.

Shows the broad arrow (the bolt & RHS arrow-head together looking like a handwritten four) possibly over a VERY small crown. This marking is very worn, and the other accidental marks don't make it any easier. If I didn't know what I was looking for I would not know what I was looking at. Tomorrow may go back to reading it as "a charitable 4".

Mike---thanks for info. regarding your rifle and family. Both of my grandfathers came home, but my paternal grandfather was one of only 6 men in his company of 2nd R. Sussex who was neither killed nor wounded. Enjoy shooting your friends old rifles !!

5th Batt---I'll try as you suggested, many thanks; I don't see any other stampings on the cocking piece, even knowing where to look and what to look for.

Regards,

JMB

Regards,

JMB

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RE images: they need to be under 250Kb and 1600x1200pixels(dimensionally)

So I reduce the dpi to 100 and resize the dimensions (max being 16x12" of course) I posted some basic instructions on this HERE

5Battn - yes I have seen those before and am unsure what to make of them to be honest I have one on one of my peddled scheme rifles too, but unmarked - I always though of it as a No4 piece until a couple of years ago when I saw a similar post (perhaps on gunboards). Is it possible the EFD mark is an inspection stamp? (not the usual format I know), I know Enfield repaired tens of thousands of No1s between 1935 and 1942. Another reason never to say never with Enfields

In JBM's case I was basing it on the WWII production code. (S273 is another one I have seen - corresponding to Spartan Engineering - who made cocking pieces for the No1 in WWII)

Chris

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Re cocking piece

& the other (which looks identical to a No4)is clearly marked EFD but EFD never made the No4 only the No1 MkVI & trials No4s which both had completly different cocking pieces.

No1Cocking4.jpg

You guys are the experts when it comes to the rifles, I am simply an interested bystander, but I would have said that is an RSAF Enfield 'inspection mark', not a Manufacturer's mark.?

But I know very little about the later WW2 No.4 rifles. Was the EFD for Enfield even still being used then (or the conjoined symbol?) I will be interested in what Chris has to say on this.

Cheers, S>S

EDIT. I wrote this post earlier but it seems to have been delayed or lost in transit, so sorry for the confusion. It was meant to be posted before Chris' latest. :)

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You guys are the experts when it comes to the rifles, I am simply an interested bystander, but I would have said that is an RSAF Enfield 'inspection mark', not a Manufacturer's mark.?

But I know very little about the later WW2 No.4 rifles. Was the EFD for Enfield even still being used then (or the conjoined symbol?) I will be interested in what Chris has to say on this.

Cheers, S>S

EDIT. I wrote this post earlier but it seems to have been delayed or lost in transit, so sorry for the confusion. It was meant to be posted before Chris' latest. :)

My No1 MkVI has no EFD markings just the "conjoined" ED or Crown over E

You are quite correct that its an inspection mark but you should not find one on a No4 cocking piece, only on a No1 CP

Will dig the bolt out later and try to interchange parts, that should give us a definitive answer.

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Is it possible the EFD mark is an inspection stamp? (not the usual format I know), I know Enfield repaired tens of thousands of No1s between 1935 and 1942. Another reason never to say never with Enfields

You are quite correct that its an inspection mark but you should not find one on a No4 cocking piece, only on a No1 CP

Yes I understand the point that is being made, and it is an interesting conundrum. I love trying to nut out the history of such pieces from their markings - so fascinating.!

I have a theory (from looking at bayonet markings) that the RE letters indicate a 'repair process' inspection marking. So a later era update/repair undertaken at Enfield.?

And while the Enfield manufacturing markings had been changed over to the 'conjoined EFD' type by WW2, it's possible that older style inspection stamps were used.?

Cheers, S>S

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Yes I understand the point that is being made, and it is an interesting conundrum. I love trying to nut out the history of such pieces from their markings - so fascinating.!

I have a theory (from looking at bayonet markings) that the RE letters indicate a 'repair process' inspection marking. So a later era update/repair undertaken at Enfield.?

And while the Enfield manufacturing markings had been changed over to the 'conjoined EFD' type by WW2, it's possible that older style inspection stamps were used.?

Cheers, S>S

The RE marking also appears on rifles, first noticed here in NZ on the E14 marked LongLees that were purchased secondhand in 1914 by NZ from England, these rifles were all refurb'd in England prior to dispatch, the marking also appears on some SMLEs

I contacted Ian Skennerton about these markings & he is also of the opinion they are some kind of Repaired at Enfield marking along the lines of the BR (Birmingham Repair) stamp but Enfield would not have been able to use ER for Enfield Repair for obvious reasons.

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Ok have had a play trying to interchange parts between these 2 bolts & No4 & No5 bolts plus other No1 bolts & i have no doubts whatsoever they are No1 cocking pieces

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Re-barreled in 1927; transferred to Irish Free State (Fianna Fail)

post-104832-0-48318200-1420777195_thumb.

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Wrist

post-104832-0-37266500-1420777374_thumb.

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Bolt lever

post-104832-0-74148100-1420777566_thumb.

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Stock, butt


Stock, fore-end


Muzzle

post-104832-0-45587300-1420777734_thumb.

post-104832-0-31453700-1420777840_thumb.

post-104832-0-85281100-1420777907_thumb.

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Bolt head


Cocking piece


Cocking piece

post-104832-0-79267900-1420778027_thumb.

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Cocking piece

post-104832-0-88648700-1420778507_thumb.

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Backsight


Base of backsight

post-104832-0-05573900-1420778655_thumb.

post-104832-0-13928100-1420778758_thumb.

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