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Mully

1915 Lee Enfield Markings (newbie question)

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Mully

I know pretty much nothing about rifles but I picked this one up in a trade. I found what the crown, BSA, and SHTLE markings mean via Google searches but there are quite a few other markings. Can anyone help me identify what the other markings mean? 

One odd thing is that 1915 marking looks like it has an L instead of a 1 (19L5). Is that just an accidental mark or does it mean something?

The gun has been sporterized. Any idea what it's worth? (though I'd hang it on my wall before I'd sell it).

Thanks much.

IMG_3776.JPG

IMG_3777.JPG

IMG_3783.JPG

unnamed (2).jpg

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4thGordons

Assuming, based on your question you are in the USA ,check sites liee Gunbroker for prices Look at SOLD not asking

My suggestion would be between $75 and $175 depending on bore etc. I t has little historical value in current condition.

 

Chris

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Lancashire Fusilier
2 hours ago, Mully said:

I know pretty much nothing about rifles but I picked this one up in a trade. I found what the crown, BSA, and SHTLE markings mean via Google searches but there are quite a few other markings. Can anyone help me identify what the other markings mean.

 

Mully,

 

Welcome to the Forum.

Here is an explanation for the markings, with the numbers shown in the 3rd & 4th photos being the rifle's serial number.

 

Regards,

LF

GWF rifle markings.jpg

2

GWF butt strap.jpg

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Mully

Thanks, LF! I really appreciate you taking the time to explain!

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Lancashire Fusilier
5 minutes ago, Mully said:

Thanks, LF! I really appreciate you taking the time to explain!

 

My pleasure.

 

Regards,

LF

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593jones

Surprising to see a Mk III* dated 1915, I wonder if it was originally a Mk III but was reclassified as a III* when going through a factory or field refurbishment.  There is a dot after the III and before the * which might argue this is the case.  Does the rifle have the magazine cut-off fitted?  Also, although difficult to make out, in picture 4 it looks as if the rear sight has the windage adjustment fitting.

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Mully

It does not have the magazine cut-off. Was that fitted to earlier or later models? It does have the rear windage adjustment fitting and I can see where the original serial number was lined out and a new, matching serial number was stamped. The bolt has a single mark on it (see picture, I can't tell what the mark is) but not a matching serial number so it must have been changed out at some point.

 

Still a cool rifle, regardless. I like owning a piece of history. Thanks again everyone.

FullSizeRender (4).jpg

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Lancashire Fusilier
38 minutes ago, 593jones said:

Surprising to see a Mk III* dated 1915, I wonder if it was originally a Mk III but was reclassified as a III* when going through a factory or field refurbishment.  There is a dot after the III and before the * which might argue this is the case.  Does the rifle have the magazine cut-off fitted?  Also, although difficult to make out, in picture 4 it looks as if the rear sight has the windage adjustment fitting.

 

Ian Skennerton's reference book ' The Lee-Enfield ', page 471 makes a note that although the SMLE Mk.III* was approved as a wartime expediency on 2nd January, 1916, both B.S.A. and Enfield produced some III* rifles in 1915. However, a later re-issue refurbishment is a possibility.

 

Regards,

LF

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593jones
2 hours ago, Lancashire Fusilier said:

 

Ian Skennerton's reference book ' The Lee-Enfield ', page 471 makes a note that although the SMLE Mk.III* was approved as a wartime expediency on 2nd January, 1916, both B.S.A. and Enfield produced some III* rifles in 1915. However, a later re-issue refurbishment is a possibility.

 

Regards,

LF

 

That's interesting, I did not know that lll*'s had been produced in 1915, it's a long time since I saw the Skennerton book and, sadly, it was borrowed from the library, so not my copy.

 

Mully, the magazine cut-off was fitted to the earlier rifles, up to the Mk III, and was not fitted to the Mk III*, or to be more precise, was removed from the specification for the Mk III*.  However, you can get Mk III* fitted with the cut-off, I have a 1917 Enfield made rifle which does have this feature.  It can get a little confusing!

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JMB1943

I have some comments about markings that are present or not present.  A little knowledge, which is what I have, is dangerous and I don't have Skennerton's LE Rifle book so please feel free to correct my observations if they are incorrect.

PRESENT

1. Rear leaf of back sight has a lined-through (original ?) serial #.  The new S/N matches the Knox form & receiver S/N.

NOT PRESENT

1. The Knox form & receiver S/N match and there is no lined-through prior S/N; not original barrel/receiver ??

2. There is no "HV" stamp on Knox form to signify high velocity Mk. VII cartridge; not original 1915 barrel ??

3. There is no BNP stamp on barrel near the Knox form.

4. No apparent importer stamp, usually on the RHS of receiver; if in the U.S., must have been imported more than a few yrs ago ??

5. No apparent FTR stamp on LHS of wrist; did not go through a Factory Thorough Repair ??

Can I conclude that the '40 stamp on the barrel is not a re-issue date, but is rather the production date of the new barrel/receiver that was fitted during WW2 ?

Regards,

JMB

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4thGordons
Just now, JMB1943 said:

Can I conclude that the '40 stamp on the barrel is not a re-issue date, but is rather the production date of the new barrel/receiver that was fitted during WW2 ?

 

 

Yes. I believe that is the barrel date.

Chris

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Lancashire Fusilier
35 minutes ago, JMB1943 said:

Can I conclude that the '40 stamp on the barrel is not a re-issue date, but is rather the production date of the new barrel/receiver that was fitted during WW2 ?

 

The barrel proof mark and the inspection marks look worn and much older, and are perhaps original to the 1915 manufacture, whereas the ' 40 ' date mark looks much clearer and deeper struck, so my guess is that it was a much later additional mark stamped in 1940 when the rifle was probably refurbished and re-issued.

 

Regards,

LF

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JMB1943

Hello Lancs,

I take your point, but what about the absence of "HV" that should be on the Knox form of a 1915 barrel ?

Regards,

JMB

 

 

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4thGordons

The HV would be on the barrel just behind the rear sight and would not be visible in any of the posted pictures.

 

None the less I still believe the '40 is the barrel year of manufacture as it is to be found 0n all the standard British ShtLEs in my collection, many of which have not been rebuilt and on these the year matches the receiver. Stratton also indicates this (1997:62) mark as barrel manufacture date.

Chris

 

Edited by 4thGordons
typo/spelling!

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Lancashire Fusilier
4 hours ago, JMB1943 said:

Hello Lancs,

I take your point, but what about the absence of "HV" that should be on the Knox form of a 1915 barrel ?

Regards,

JMB

 

 

 

JMB,

 

The mark ' HV ' was not a standard marking on WW1 rifles, but was reserved for those earlier manufactured rifles which had been altered to take the new higher velocity ammunition, here is the explanation :-

 

As a result of the introduction of the Mk VII ammunition in 1910 changes were made to the sights of the rifle to accommodate the lighter pointed bullet and flatter trajectory. These were introduced in LOC 15638 dated 1 October 1911 to govern alterations to existing rifles and new manufacture. This included altering the profile of the rear sight bed, re graduating the dial sight and altering the magazine plate and cases. However it did not result in a change of the rifle mark designation, but altered rifles were marked HV on the barrel immediately behind the back sight. "

 

The mark ' HV ' was also found on rifle barrels which had been strengthened to ' High Velocity ' standard.

I have a BSA ' Long Lee ' Target Rifle in my collection, which has never been in military service, and the barrel is marked ' HV ' to show that the barrel had been manufactured to ' High Velocity ' standards.

 

Regards,

LF

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4thGordons

I
 

16 minutes ago, Lancashire Fusilier said:

 

JMB,

 

The mark ' HV ' was not a standard marking on WW1 rifles, but was reserved for those earlier manufactured rifles which had been altered to take the new higher velocity ammunition, here is the explanation :-

 

As a result of the introduction of the Mk VII ammunition in 1910 changes were made to the sights of the rifle to accommodate the lighter pointed bullet and flatter trajectory. These were introduced in LOC 15638 dated 1 October 1911 to govern alterations to existing rifles and new manufacture. This included altering the profile of the rear sight bed, re graduating the dial sight and altering the magazine plate and cases. However it did not result in a change of the rifle mark designation, but altered rifles were marked HV on the barrel immediately behind the back sight. "

 

The mark ' HV ' was also found on rifle barrels which had been strengthened to ' High Velocity ' standard.

I have a BSA ' Long Lee ' Target Rifle in my collection, which has never been in military service, and the barrel is marked ' HV ' to show that the barrel had been manufactured to ' High Velocity ' standards.

 

Regards,

LF

I am not sure that this is entirely correct.

I do not believe any "strengthening" was involved it was to do with sighting (as the extract you quote shows)so HV indicates sighted for the MkVII "high velocity" round.

 

Further,I believe the mark was not just applied to converted rifles, but also newly produced ones (after 1910).  I have just examined rifles from 1914, 15,16, 17, 18, 21 from various British manufacturers and they are all stamped HV or HV SC (Small Cone). 

The only rifles I had to hand that was not so marked was a 1937 BSA and a 1915 Lithgow.

 

Chris

 

 

Edited by 4thGordons

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Lancashire Fusilier
1 hour ago, 4thGordons said:
1 hour ago, 4thGordons said:

None the less I still believe the '40 is the barrel year of manufacture as it is to be found an all the standard British ShtLEs in my collection, many of which have not been rebuilt and the year matches the receiver. Stratton also indicates this (1997:62) mark as barrel manufacture date.

Chris

 

 

 

Chris,
 
Reading references confirm that the year date mark with the ' Broad Arrow ' to it's right indicate a year of subsequent re-issue into government acceptance.
 
Here is reference to a SMLE rifle barrel marked with ' 37 ' ( Mully's is ' 40 ' ) with the Broad Arrow stamped to it's right :-
 
" 37, as the Date Stamp, indicates the year of government acceptance. The Broad Arrow to the right indicates British government property.................... Here the Broad Arrow's placement next to the number '37 suggests that the rifle came back into British service in 1937. "
 
Mully's example of a '40 stamp with the Broad Arrow stamped to it's right matches, and indicates his rifle was re-issued back into British government service in 1940, which would make sense with the rifle shortages in 1940.
 
Regards,
LF

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Lancashire Fusilier
1 hour ago, 4thGordons said:

I do not believe any "strengthening" was involved it was to do with sighting (as the extract you quote shows)so HV indicates sighted for the MkVII "high velocity" round.

 

I referred to ' strengthening ' in connection with certain types of rifles not SMLE Service Rifles.

The BSA literature for my BSA ' Long Lee ' Target Rifle specifically refers to it having a specially strengthened ' High Velocity ' barrel, which is also marked ' HV '.

 

So there are certainly at least 2 meanings for the HV mark, those service rifles which were altered, and some specialist Target Rifles for example, which had ' strengthened ' High Velocity barrels.

 

Regards,

LF

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4thGordons

What is the source of that reference please LF?

 

However I would also contend that HV was also stamped on post 1910 new production rifles, not just older modified ones - tomorrow I can survey a reasonable sample and report back but as I noted above, I checked 7 or 8 I had to hand this evening and all the wartime dated receivers had it.

 

I think we may be at crossed purposes here on the date stamp. I am saying the broad arrow and the date on the barrel are the date of the barrel's production and inspection/acceptance. Obviously that is usually very close to the rifle's assembly date/barrel's installation date (if a rebarrel)  but the stamp itself does not I think signify a reissue as then it would not be present on rifles with the original barrel and in my experience it is, universally, on standard military rifles.

 

As you know standard reissue mark on British rifles is in the form of 'date (ie '40) on the left side of the receiver wrist below the safety.

Later FTR was stamped or engraved on the body

India used FR and the date

 

In the case of a rebarrelling like here (for example) the barrel was produced 25 years laterthan the rifle  and then installed in the rifle.

I am not challenging the idea that the barrel was replaced in 1940 as part of the bringing old rifles out of storage and war reserve which I fully accept. However, the meaning of the date stamp is, in my view, the year the barrel was produced. I have seen what I believe to be NOS barrels in wrap, which were dated.

 

Chris

 

 

 

 

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Lancashire Fusilier

Chris,

 

Here is that reference - which also quotes from E.G.B. Reynold's book ' The Lee Enfield '.

 

 

My one problem with your theory regarding the re-issue date with the ' Broad Arrow ' stamped to the right, is that on Mully's barrel and the example shown in the attached reference, the barrel's proof marks and the barrel inspection marks are all original barrel markings, and the only new stampings are the ' 40 ' and the ' Broad Arrow ', which to me indicates that is not a replacement barrel but rather the original barrel with the ' 40 ' mark and the ' Broad Arrow ' mark subsequently added to show the date the rifle was accepted back into Government service in 1940.

 

Regards,

LF

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4thGordons

Thanks for the reference. I believe the poster on this blog is in error.

He quotes Stratton's work several times in addition to Reynolds but he fails to have noticed that on p62 of Skip's book he stated : " ...the knox form is stamped with a host of markings, the most significant of which are the proof marks and year of manufacture."

 

So yes it is an acceptance mark (the arrow) and where the date on the barrel significantly post dates the date on the receiver it is indicative of rebarrelling, but it is the date of manufacture and acceptance of the barrel, not reissue of the rifle, in my view.

 

I do not believe that the distinction in the clarity of the markings on the barrel date from them coming from a different time but from the process of marking.

 

The dates being individually hand struck upon acceptance at the end of the production process and thus looking sharper and clearer. I believe this distinction is repeated on a large number of my rifles.

In addition I would suggest the style of marking of the serial number on the barrel (both the font and the unevenness of the line, and the apparent absence of the Y prefix) suggests this is indeed a replacement barrel.

 

I did scan Reynolds this morning for a look at the use of the HV mark as standard during WWI and found this:

July 6th 1911 LoC (quoted in Reynolds pp117-8 he does not provide the specific LoC number)

 

For rifles of future manufacture and conversion.....[describes sighting changes to long range sight and main sight]...then "...Marking All rifles had the letters "H.V."(for High velocity) marked on the barrel underneath the backsight leaf"  

 

I am about to go off to access my secure storage so I will check both this and the HV mark and report back. Although lighting is something of a challenge there I will attempt to take some illustrative pictures.

Chris

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by 4thGordons

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Lancashire Fusilier
1 hour ago, 4thGordons said:

I am about to go off to access my secure storage so I will check both this and the HV mark and report back. Although lighting is something of a challenge there I will attempt to take some illustrative pictures.

 

You know more about this than I do, so hopefully, we can make some sense of those markings.

My continuing concern, is why would older original stamping, the original barrel proof mark and the original barrel inspection marks be on a completely new barrel.

To me, and others, it would appear to show that Mully's barrel is original and that the ' 40 ' date mark and the Broad Arrow to it's right were new stampings added to the original barrel in 1940 ?

 

Regards,

LF

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4thGordons

Hi LF

 

HV stamp

I have just examined a couple of dozen standard military ShtLEs (MkIII and MkIII*) produced in the UK after 1910 (the year the MkVII round was introduced) in my collection. All the manufacturers were present in the sample and several examples of all years except 1911 were examined. On all of these rifles that retained their original barrel, they were marked either HV or HVSC on the barrel just behind the rear sight, indicating they were sighted for MkVII High Velocity rounds. On rifles that had been rebarreled between 1916- 1934 the mark was also present, only on late 1930s and WWII vintage barrels was the mark missing. I include a (poor) photo below showing the marks on wartime produced rifles.

IMG_8209.jpg

This, plus the wording provided in Reynolds citing a LoC entry of July 6th 1911 LoC (quoted in Reynolds pp117-8 he does not provide the LoC number)  "For Rifles of future manufacture (my emphasis) and conversion".....[describes sighting changes]...then "...Marking All rifles had the letters "H.V."(for High velocity) marked on the barrel underneath the backsight leaf"  leaves me as certain as I can possibly be that HV was a standard mark on WWI produced markings.

 

The HV mark was not present on several late 1930s rifles and WWII produced barrels/dispersal rifles.

If I were to speculate as to why this was I would suggest that by the 1930s stocks of MkVI rounds had been exhausted and the chance of encountering these in service was virtually nil and therefore the distinguishing mark was no longer needed.

 

Barrel date vs Reissue mark

 

Regarding the barrel date vs "reissue stamp" question. I remain convinced that the marking is indicative of the production date /acceptance of the barrel as a component, not a reissue mark for the rifle.

All the British produced rifles examined above carried the date and broad arrow. In all cases corresponding to the date of the receiver. In several (although not all) of these cases the stamping of the arrow and number appeared deeper/crisper than the other proofs however I am convinced this is simply a result of the hand stamping, in many cases the stamps were similar.

 

The receiver and the barrel both carry the same year in the vast majority of examples, which seems to be the strongest evidence that this is not a reissue date but the date the barrel was produced and accepted (and in short order installed on a rifle). Here is a 1912 produced rifle BSA rifle with its original 1912 barrel. This pattern was universal on all the examined rifles so I don't see all my 1917 rifles being reissued in 1917 etc

 

IMG_8213.jpg

 

On these rifles the stamping of the serial on the barrel was much more consistent and straight even in high production years like 1916/7/8 where one might expect less neat stamping (see below confused by the overstamped UK civ. proof)

 

IMG_8215.jpg

 

 

Several examples similar to the original post were examined (where there were post WWI barrels installed on earlier receivers) and they shared many similarities - in particular uneven, sometimes very uneven serial number stamping on the barrel.EG:

 

IMG_8236.jpg

(apologies for typo on image! COMPARE)

 

 

Reexamining the original pictures - one of the elements that raised this question was the distinction between the inspection markings and the date. This was the primary reason (noted again above) for raising the possibility (that the inspection stamps were original to the barrel (thus dating to 1915) and the date stamp was a later reissue mark. 

I think it unlikely that this is the case. It appears to me that the barrel has Enfield inspections stamps (crown number over E) whereas one would expect a 1915 BSA rifle to have been originally fitted with a BSA barrel (crown number over B ) as shown on the receiver of the rifle (on  original pic no2 below the proof which is actually on the receiver).

So here is a 1918 BSA with its original barrel and BSA inspection marks on both components

IMG_8219.jpg

 

Here is a 1918 BSA with a WWII produced replacement barrel with an Enfield inspection marks (but BSA mark on receiver as per original rifle) this is the same rifle as shown above to demonstrate uneven serial stamping

IMG_8230.jpg

 

So, to address your concern,  I don't think those ARE the original stamps on a new barrel I think the stamps on the receiver (with BSA marks) are original, and the stamps on the barrel (with Enfield inspection stamps) are consistent with it being a WWII produced barrel.In most instances of course, the date a barrel was produced will correspond quite closely to when it is installed and the weapon reissued (with the exception of those held in store - usually marked with a rectangle/box stamp).

 

On balance then I think I am now more certain than I was previously that HV was a standard WWI mark applied to both new production and converted rifles and that the date stamped on the barrel knox form is a production/acceptance date of the barrel as opposed to a reissue stamp.

 

Cheers,

Chris

 

 

 

  

Edited by 4thGordons
picture formatting

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Mully

Fantastic information, everyone. I lifted the rear windage sight and, sure enough, it is stamped HV with what I believe is SC, just like Chris' photos above.

IMG_3829.JPG

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GRANVILLE

What is the significance of the 1915 date stamp making us of a reverse letter 'L'?

 

David

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