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:Lithgow Stock (Butt) Marks.


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I am new to this and have recently acquired a Lithgow SMLE 1918 with a host of markings on the stock / butt.

I was wondering whether someone out there could walk me through the marks?

I have ""A (Kangaroo) C in a shield,  2MD, GMF, 7/19, HV and III*. "   I have an idea of some of them but rather than display my ignorance I would welcome any interpretations from anyone who may have come across these before.  Thanks.

Edited by Guest
Spellings.
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I can answer the easy ones,

 

2MD = 2nd Military District of Australia 

HV = High Velocity, referring to Mk. VII cartridge 

III* = Three star, the Mark of SMLE which had the magazine cut-off & long range volley sights deleted from the design.

7/19 = July, 1919

 

Regards,

JMB

 

 

Edited by JMB1943
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2MD - 2nd Military District, was in essence, the state of New South Wales. The MDs were essentially state-based, starting with 1MD = Qld; 2MD=NSW; 3MD=Victoria; 4MD = South Australia; 5MD=Western Australia, 6MD = Tasmania; 7MD = Northern Territory.

 

Mike

Edited by MKC
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  • 2 years later...
On 27/07/2018 at 08:33, shippingsteel said:

GMF  CMF = Citizen Military Forces

 

One small correction.. on the rifle, the acronym CMF actually stands for Commonwealth Military Forces

Dan

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19 hours ago, Fromelles said:

One small correction.. on the rifle, the acronym CMF actually stands for Commonwealth Military Forces

Here is one Reference they are many and varied ...

"The Lee Enfield", Ian Skennerton, page 587

Edited by shippingsteel
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6 hours ago, shippingsteel said:

SS,

I'm not saying that CMF wasn't also used to signify Citizen Military Forces (c.1916 onwards), however when it comes to the marking of arms and equipment, from pre- and during WWI (possibly well beyond), it stood for Commonwealth Military Forces. 

The land forces of Australia was know as - 

From 1901 - 1915 - Commonwealth Military Forces (CMF) and consisted of Permanent Forces, Citizens Forces and AIF (from 1914)

From 1916 - 1929 - Australian Military Forces (AMF) and consisted of Permanent Military Forces (PMF), Citizen Military Forces (CMF), and AIF (until 1921)

I haven't precisely identified the date of change, but will add if and when I do. 

I've seen rifle butts still marked 'CMF' that are dated after the change to 'AMF', was there ever a change to the markings on the rifle butt to 'AMF'?

Dan

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6 hours ago, shippingsteel said:

Here is one Reference they are many and varied ...

"The Lee Enfield", Ian Skennerton, page 587

SS,

I don't have a copy of Skennerton's The Lee Enfield so cannot say what he used as references. However it's hard to argue against primary sources, I'm quoting from - 

Standing Orders for the Equipment of the Commonwealth Military Forces - Part I - General (Department of Defence, 1909) 

which include amendments up to and including 1914. These orders were used to dictate the scale of issues of Arms and Equipment to the the Commonwealth Military Forces. Part I - General contains instructions on Arms and Accoutrements, Ammunition, Marking Equipment, Duration of Equipment, Harness and Saddlery, Repair and Preservation of Equipment, and more. 

The following attachments are taken directly from the above Standing Orders, the first (an amendment) was issued by Military Order (MO) 641/13 (1913) - other than this extract I don't have access to this particular MO, however MO 641/12 was issued in November 1912 so it's likely to have been issued towards the latter part of 1913 (if anyone visiting the AWM could confirm it would be very much appreciated).

The second attachment is the list of abbreviations in relation to these Standing Orders.

There now can be no confusion as to the meaning of 'CMF' in relation to rifle butt markings. 

Dan

para 162 (1913).jpeg

Abreviations (1909).jpeg

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Good information, but there is still plenty of room for confusion regarding this CMF abbreviation.! As with most markings the exact date of application can be paramount in deciding how to interpret the meaning of said marking. Also the style of the marking and the way it is combined with other such markings can sometimes be important. 

In this particular case of a 1918 made Lithgow rifle, with a postwar issue date stamp of July 1919, when interpreting the meaning of the abbreviation I made the judgement call that Citizen Military Forces was the correct answer. That being said we did not see any photos of the rifle or said markings so any answers provided are only our best (educated) guesstimates.

Cheers, SS 

https://www.lithgowsafmuseum.org.au/factsheets/fs001_smle_markings.pdf

Edited by shippingsteel
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7 hours ago, shippingsteel said:

Good information, but there is still plenty of room for confusion regarding this CMF abbreviation.! As with most markings the exact date of application can be paramount in deciding how to interpret the meaning of said marking. Also the style of the marking and the way it is combined with other such markings can sometimes be important. 

In this particular case of a 1918 made Lithgow rifle, with a postwar issue date stamp of July 1919, when interpreting the meaning of the abbreviation I made the judgement call that Citizen Military Forces was the correct answer. That being said we did not see any photos of the rifle or said markings so any answers provided are only our best (educated) guesstimates.

Cheers, SS 

https://www.lithgowsafmuseum.org.au/factsheets/fs001_smle_markings.pdf

Still confusion really?

Just as the MD stamp signifies 'Military District' ownership the CMF is obviously to signify Commonwealth ownership and has nothing to do with the 'Citizen Military Forces' (which were named 'Citizen Forces' prior to 1916). Unless there is conclusive proof that this is not the case then I cannot see how it can be disputed.

Unfortunately orders and instructions (including the inevitable amendments) from this period are difficult to locate making it difficult to chronologically piece together the facts. With this lack of readily accessible source material, gaps in knowledge are often filled with assumptions and speculation, which in turn becomes the new facts.

Always happy to be proven wrong, as it can only further our understanding of the truth, however it must be solid evidence. 

Dan

Edited by Fromelles
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So the obvious question remains why are they still marking rifles with CMF in 1918 if the Commonwealth Military Forces had been renamed by that time.? 

I don't have a problem with it either way, but yes there is no doubt there is confusion not least amongst authors on the subject. 

I have two separate reference books on Australian rifles by Ian Skennerton with listings of markings which actually contradict themselves. The earlier book "Australian Military Rifles & Bayonets" published 1988, lists CMF as Commonwealth Military Forces. Then there is "The Lee Enfield" published in 2007, which has CMF listed as Citizen Military Forces. The latter meaning seems to have found its way into common usage.

Cheers, SS

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46 minutes ago, shippingsteel said:

So the obvious question remains why are they still marking rifles with CMF in 1918 if the Commonwealth Military Forces had been renamed by that time.? 

I don't have a problem with it either way, but yes there is no doubt there is confusion not least amongst authors on the subject. 

I have two separate reference books on Australian rifles by Ian Skennerton with listings of markings which actually contradict themselves. The earlier book "Australian Military Rifles & Bayonets" published 1988, lists CMF as Commonwealth Military Forces. Then there is "The Lee Enfield" published in 2007, which has CMF listed as Citizen Military Forces. The latter meaning seems to have found its way into common usage.

Without a reference I cannot say why, however would assume the change took time to permeate throughout the force (I haven't located an amendment to the Standing Orders referencing this). Being midway through a war I'd think it wasn't high on the to do list (opinion only). What is the latest date noted of a rifle with the CMF stamp?

With the CMF (Citizen Military Forces) being in existence for so many years, it's likely to have been an obvious choice.

Dan 

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The MDs were referred to and marked as such from 1913 onwards. My 1908 Enfield has WA with an issue date of 6/10 and 4MD on the butt which aligns with the 1920 re-allocation of SMLEs once the AIF had demobbed and all rifles had been received from the UK to replenish our stocks of all the rifles we left in France. There is early 1913 Lithgows with VIC and later 1913 made Lithgows with '3 MD'. Initially Victoria/3MD got the bulk of the early Lithgows until 2MD got their first batch in June 1914. One of my 1914 Lithgows has '2nd MD' on the receiver and is from that first batch. And it appears from observations that rifles pulled from Australian service for use inthe Dardanelles did not have CMF stamped onto the butts. But....there is an example of a 1917 Lithgow used in France with CMF on the butt.

 

 

Edited by Mattr82
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4 hours ago, Mattr82 said:

The MDs were referred to and marked as such from 1913 onwards. My 1908 Enfield has WA with an issue date of 6/10 and 4MD on the butt which aligns with the 1920 re-allocation of SMLEs once the AIF had demobbed and all rifles had been received from the UK to replenish our stocks of all the rifles we left in France. There is early 1913 Lithgows with VIC and later 1913 made Lithgows with '3 MD'. Initially Victoria/3MD got the bulk of the early Lithgows until 2MD got their first batch in June 1914. One of my 1914 Lithgows has '2nd MD' on the receiver and is from that first batch. And it appears from observations that rifles pulled from Australian service for use inthe Dardanelles did not have CMF stamped onto the butts. But....there is an example of a 1917 Lithgow used in France with CMF on the butt.

 

The entire entry referencing Marking Arms can be found on this forum via: Standing Orders for Equipment - Marking Arms - and backs what Matt has stated above.

SS, what you've posted is also backed up by the Standing Orders. The fact that the AWM have stated 'Citizen Military Forces' within the description is of no real surprise either, wouldn't be first thing they've got wrong.

Dan

Edited by Fromelles
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18 hours ago, Fromelles said:

 

The entire entry referencing Marking Arms can be found on this forum via: Standing Orders for Equipment - Marking Arms - and backs what Matt has stated above.

SS, what you've posted is also backed up by the Standing Orders. The fact that the AWM have stated 'Citizen Military Forces' within the description is of no real surprise either, wouldn't be first thing they've got wrong.

Dan

Many thanks for posting this Dan,

 

I have been compiling lots of information with regards to the allocation of rifles to the AIF and within Australia. There's many elements that are jig saws of info and the MOs that you have put up are some items that I was seeking. I was going to Canberra every two weeks with work back in 2018/2019 and never got much time to head to the AWM research centre. Am moving there at the end of this year so I def shall be spending time in it. Initial observations about rifles dispatched with the initial AIF in late 1914 up until Oct 1015 when the UK took over the issueing of rifle, show that they were State/MD marked but no CMF on them.  Known Gallipoli rifles certainly do not have them. Examples  are;

1913 BSA            https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2085279?image=2

1912 BSA            https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2089908

1913 Lithgow      https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C387561

The CMF stamping is seen on some surviving 1914/early 1915 made Lithgow rifles and these would be part of the 10,000 left in Australia when the first contingent left. We certainly see nearly every Lithgow from 1915 onwards and UK made rifles in service in Australia from 1914 onwards, have CMF on them. One of the information gaps I do have is when they decided to actually start marking all the rifles left in Australia. We do know from the MOs when they were supposed to but it is a different story when they actually did. My guess is from early to mid 1915. My 1915 and 1916 Lithgows have CMF markings but my 1913 and both my 1914s don't. Evidence on them suggests that my 1913 and both my 1914s are  'Galllipoli' rifles due to service marks from UK, Sth Africa and believe it or not....Canada.

 

Another information gap I am seeking is the official documentation pertaining to the rifles being left in the UK once the European contingent of AIF returned o Australia. Perusing through AIF documents, I see that 'mobilisation' equipment was handed into the depots in France/Belgium before being received at the larger AIF ordnance depot at Milwall Docks. I have looked for the documents that state they were to be handed over to the UK and for when the replacements were to be shipped out. I have some documents relating to the handing in of rifles in Egypt from between Apr/May until December 1916 for newer MK7 sighted rifles.

If you know of that official documentation for the handing of rifles in, I would love to see that. I'd also love to use some of the documents within the Lee Enfield Australian FB page if you could give me the green light?

 

Well done Dan.

 

Many thanks,

 

Matt

 

Edited by Mattr82
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On 20/07/2021 at 18:40, Mattr82 said:

I have been compiling lots of information with regards to the allocation of rifles to the AIF and within Australia. There's many elements that are jig saws of info and the MOs that you have put up are some items that I was seeking. I was going to Canberra every two weeks with work back in 2018/2019 and never got much time to head to the AWM research centre. Am moving there at the end of this year so I def shall be spending time in it. Initial observations about rifles dispatched with the initial AIF in late 1914 up until Oct 1915 when the UK took over the issuing of rifle, show that they were State/MD marked but no CMF on them.  Known Gallipoli rifles certainly do not have them. Examples  are;

1913 BSA            https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2085279?image=2

1912 BSA            https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2089908

1913 Lithgow      https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C387561

The CMF stamping is seen on some surviving 1914/early 1915 made Lithgow rifles and these would be part of the 10,000 left in Australia when the first contingent left. We certainly see nearly every Lithgow from 1915 onwards and UK made rifles in service in Australia from 1914 onwards, have CMF on them. One of the information gaps I do have is when they decided to actually start marking all the rifles left in Australia. We do know from the MOs when they were supposed to but it is a different story when they actually did. My guess is from early to mid 1915. My 1915 and 1916 Lithgow's have CMF markings but my 1913 and both my 1914s don't. Evidence on them suggests that my 1913 and both my 1914s are  'Gallipoli' rifles due to service marks from UK, Sth Africa and believe it or not....Canada.

Another information gap I am seeking is the official documentation pertaining to the rifles being left in the UK once the European contingent of AIF returned o Australia. Perusing through AIF documents, I see that 'mobilisation' equipment was handed into the depots in France/Belgium before being received at the larger AIF ordnance depot at Milwall Docks. I have looked for the documents that state they were to be handed over to the UK and for when the replacements were to be shipped out. I have some documents relating to the handing in of rifles in Egypt from between Apr/May until December 1916 for newer MK7 sighted rifles.

If you know of that official documentation for the handing of rifles in, I would love to see that. I'd also love to use some of the documents within the Lee Enfield Australian FB page if you could give me the green light?

Matt,

I don't collect rifles but do find the subject fascinating, yours sound like real gems. Please feel free to use the attachments how ever you see fit, if it goes to advancing our understanding I'm all for it.

The AWM's description for the 1913 Lithgow (your attachment above) states the butt disc is marked '9.14 over 16A1' and identifies the rifle as being issued to the '16th Australian Infantry (Newcastle, NSW) Regiment', this is a good example of the AWM getting it wrong, the marking should read '16 A.I.' (16th Australian Infantry) which is the approved abbreviation, so the rifle was obviously issued to the 16th Battalion, AIF (WA/SA) which was raised in September, 1914 making this one of the original rifles issued to that battalion. 

Unfortunately I don't have any information on when the CMF stamping actually took place, however SS provided pics and a link (previous post above) to a Martini Cadet Rifle held by the AWM, which were stamped and dated CMF / NSW / 10-11 (October 1911) which complies with the Standing Orders of 1909 I posted so it is strange that it wouldn't have commenced immediately with the issuing of the SMLE. 

Neither do I have any references of how the process or returning rifles to Australia was conducted ... sorry

With the handing in of Mk VI sighted rifles in 1916, are you aware of how it was completed? Where the rifles withdrawn, updated to Mk VII sighted and returned? or where they withdrawn and replaced with different rifles? And if this was the case, where did these 'new' rifles come from? 

Dan

Edited by Fromelles
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From the information I have gathered (AWM copies of unit diaries from 4LH and 5LH and LH ordnance diaries) the ordnance staff all received signals to return mkVI sighted rifles to the Citadel Magazine for upgrading.

how it was completed? By British base workshop staff and possibly Australian armourers once there was enough parts to upgrade and keep rifles in the Middle East

Were the rifles withdrawn, updated to Mk VII sighted and returned? Yes and no. Some undoubtedly would have found there way into the Brits hands initially and if Aussie armourers did upgrading at Tel-el-Kebir, then returned to Australian units once reinforcements came into country.

Were they withdrawn and replaced with different rifles? Unit diaries show that once the newer rifles were picked up from the Citadel, they were taken on convoys to the combat elements. 5LH were located at a staging area before their next advance and spent a full day zeroing and having a happy time trying out the new ammunition.

Where did these 'new' rifles come from? The mk7 sighted rifles would all have been UK made rifles. The Brits were well aware that our rifles needed upgrading and managed to find enough to tide us over before we got ours upgraded and slipped back into the reinforcement cycle.

We know that none of the rifles taken onboard by the AIF at the depots were brought back.

We know that the AIF elements that had been at Gallipoli all handed in their rifles to the Brits in Egypt as France required mk7 sighted rounds. These rifles were then sent to the UK for refurb at Sparkbrook, BSA and RSAF factories.

And we know that the AIF that stayed in the Middle East kept their rifles for another 6 to 12 months post-Gallipoli. These rifles handed in by this lot, may have returned back in some way shape or form to AIF in Egypt - ie. reinforcements. That is an information gap though. Some rifles that I see occasionally are minus the CMF stamp but show signs on them a MD reallocation post-WW1. Why this would occur?, unknown to myself but presumably because their stocks had been refilled and there was a surplus of rifles. Eg - WA sends most of its SMLE stock with the first AIF and then Lithgow production from OCT 1915 goes straight to the MDs and not the AIF ensuring there's a maintained supply of rifles for the CMF who are based in Australia and for the 100,000 AIF soldiers who stayed in Australia and didn't deploy.

Rifles sent to Australia by the UK in the 1919 - 1924 period would have been allocated to the MDs to bolster stocks of pre-war numbers. Now, rifles I see with pre-WW1 state markings that have been reallocated, maybe they're returning Middle East AIF rifles that needed a new home? Yet to dig this info up.

 

I have attached a pic of my 1908 Enfield. Oroginally WA marked (Not 5MD marked) and was issued in July 1910. VERY early WA issue. Has the 4MD inventory number stamped over the WA roundel. No CMF or 5MD markings at all.

 

66077052_10156597934381701_751808933965856768_n.jpg

Edited by Mattr82
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Hi Matt, those are some interesting markings on the butt of that rifle. From my experience I would suggest that 4/Axxxx stamping could actually be a British marking as the format looks very similar to ones we have seen on P1907 bayonets associated with RN issue. I would be looking for any N stamping on that rifle.? In that case the single numeral is believed to identify the Battle Squadron with the attached Inventory number below for the Royal Marines arms.

Cheers,  SS 

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Hey mate, that 4 over the serial number is 4MD marking from mid-1920s. 4MD started using serial numbers as their inventory numbers for some peculiar reason. The previous owner to myself bought it straight from the Puckapunyal Q-Store in 1990. It also has the sold out of service marks (1930s) and entered service again for WW2. Refurbed at Lithgow in 1955. Interestingly, at some point it had a H barrel put on it at the Lithgow factory as the H is on the wrist and in its 1955 refurb was given the normal barrel again. This rifle, entered service in 1910 and 80 years later was sent on its way for the final time out of service...80 years in the damn system.

Edited by Mattr82
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All the British made bayonets that accompanied those early SMLEs to Australia were stamped with the SOS mark before they left, mostly dated 1909. Not sure about the rifles but guess they would have been likewise. Might be where yours picked up the Sale mark. 

Cheers, SS 

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I believe your referring to this. The sold from British service stamp was on the receiver only and on the left hand side. The only S><S stamps were put on in Australian service. On this rifle, the >< overlap the 4MD inventory stamping.

212636494_911370556112648_6561779245398856913_n.jpg

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