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Remembered Today:

SMLE with interesting history


ShtLE303
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Recently acquired this SMLE. To be honest, I don't know if it still qualifies to be on here, but here goes.

It started life as a 1911 RSAF Enfield MkIII (no star)...at some point along the way, it ended up in Indian then South African service (or the other way around, import mark says 'India')

Stock shows the broad arrow in 'U', Union of South Africa. Next to it is the Indian 'ISA' in circle.

Barrel is South African manufacture, with rifle and spear marking, along with broad arrow in 'U' again. Barrel, or rebarrel date of February 1965.

Brass disc is the most interesting. It is marked 'BG & ANS', which is almost definitely 'Bomber, Gunnery & Air Navigation School', which was a training school with the SAAF that opened in 1946. I haven't looked yet, but I'd bet there are markings as well on the other side.

Front sight marked 'PARKER HALE', which I kinda got a big kick out of.IMG_20210508_220912460.jpg.5742d54e5b34300a89ef3ccc8b86409d.jpg

All in all I'd say that this rifle has had a storied life, and I wonder if it stayed in South Africa all it's life until it ended up in India ( or vice versa possibly)

What role would this rifle have had at BG & ANS? Guard duty? Basic rifle quals? 

Any possible additional info on this SMLE would definitely be welcomed!

 

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BTW, I expect this one to be an excellent shooter. The bore is pristine.

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I think it certain that your rifle's Indian service preceded its use by South Africa. South African marked SMLEs of Ishapore manufacture are occasionally found in South Africa. I have had three in my collection, dated 1911, 1940 and 1941.Although I have so far found no archival proof, it would seem that we received a batch of these rifles from India during the Second World War. My 1911 dated rifle also has a South African barrel.

 

I expect that your rifle entered Indian service during the First World War and was included in the batch received by South in the second. It was obviously upgraded by the UDF prior to being released for commercial sale. 

 

 

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This is not an Ishapore. This was made at RSAF Enfield.

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That your rifle is an Enfield can be seen in from the photo.  However, it obviously saw Indian Service. I was merely making the point that some rifles originating in India ended up in South Africa. Yours appears to have been one of those. The dates on two of mine suggest that this was during the Second World War. 

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16 minutes ago, Terrylee said:

That your rifle is an Enfield can be seen in from the photo.  However, it obviously saw Indian Service. I was merely making the point that some rifles originating in India ended up in South Africa. Yours appears to have been one of those. The dates on two of mine suggest that this was during the Second World War. 

Gotcha. 

Along with barrels, did SA produce stocks? The reason I ask is that there is space made for the (absent) mag cutoff, but no signs of a place for the dial sight. I've run into a few that had the 'dimple' for one, but were never installed. 

 

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So far I have not come across any archival evidence that South Africa manufactured forends for the SMLE, but I have found reference to the UDF having a large supply which had been imported from the UK. These were used in the conversion of Long Lees to the "No. 1 Converted" pattern which approximated the SMLE configuration and were mainly used for training. It is very probable that these forends were also used to upgrade service rifles. I attach a photo of a No.1 Converted rifle and it can be seen that it was the forend was originally of the Mk III* configuration without the volley sight.

 

1866731275_(1)SouthAfricanNo.1(Converted).jpg.1f82e8bf7eacd22d8da05144b0dec743.jpg

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Here is my example exhibiting the same style of foreend

714129294_11-4-24copy.jpg.acdf9a773d1ea3affc7d5b6cfbf37137.jpg

 

Chris

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179042966_100_1412(1).jpg.bdb24f8729ac8134c7e382ed53b32e3d.jpg

 

Attention is drawn to paragraph 2 of this document I found in the SA Military Archives. Here it is stated that 25,000 fore-ends were in stock in September, 1943. From other documents it appears that production of the No.1 Converted commenced in late 1943 and 4,250 were produced. 

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OMG - Pattern 88 bayonets being made in 1943? :o Have any been identified or were they all destroyed 'at the end of the war' as the memo suggests? 

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28 minutes ago, trajan said:

OMG - Pattern 88 bayonets being made in 1943? :o Have any been identified or were they all destroyed 'at the end of the war' as the memo suggests? 

and also Pattern 1913 Bayonets being made by someone other than Winchester/Remington in 1943!

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38 minutes ago, 4thGordons said:

and also Pattern 1913 Bayonets being made by someone other than Winchester/Remington in 1943!

 

Indeed! This changes 'history'!

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Bayonets manufactured in South Africa during WW II, T to B:

Pat 1888 by South African Railways

Pat 1907 by S.A.R.

Pat 1907 by Associated Engineers Company

Pat 1913 By A.E. Co.

1093887814_SAManufacturedBayonets-Copy.jpg.2d11c95f91de075f692712bcf94e2809.jpg

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Thanks Terrylee - I guess that you might have posted on this before but if so I overlooked it. But the top one is a P.1903?

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Thanks @Terrylee

"Shortened" (assume manufactured at that length?) Pattern '13 and no grooves on the scales! Whatever next?

Did this have another mark?/name

 

SO big question - who in 1943 had the P14s for which the Pattern 13s were needed?

Chris

Edited by 4thGordons
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On 20/05/2021 at 11:38, Terrylee said:

179042966_100_1412(1).jpg.bdb24f8729ac8134c7e382ed53b32e3d.jpg

 

Attention is drawn to paragraph 2 of this document I found in the SA Military Archives. Here it is stated that 25,000 fore-ends were in stock in September, 1943. From other documents it appears that production of the No.1 Converted commenced in late 1943 and 4,250 were produced. 

Fascinating info terrylee, especially regarding the P88.

slightly venturing on a tangent, But I presume NRV would be Natal Rifle Volunteers???

I have a pattern 07 (or P13/14) scabbard unit marked on the chape that has always eluded me and never sat well with being a British marking…..what do others think?

Dave.

 

2E01BD34-37FD-4C28-8814-91175EE0C30E.jpeg

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To answer some questions, so far as can!

 

Trajan, the South African Pat. 1888 can best be described as a hybrid, incorporating characteristics of the Mk.I (2) and III. These are currently the least uncommon of the WW II SA manufactured bayonets since they appear to have been actually issued to the Defense Rifle Associations. 

 

4th Gordons, The only archival information I have found on the P 14 rifles indicates that South Africa possessed 16,476 in July, 1945 and 12,675 in November, 1947, when it was being considered that they might possibly be converted into cadet rifles due to a scarcity of replacement parts. It would seem, however, that they were actually sold off as surplus. Concerning their use, one document indicates that a few of these originally accompanied the RAF training contingent to South Africa.    

 

Dave, I have no reference to National Rifle Volunteers in my reference material, but suspect that this name may refer to what were officially called the Defence Rifle Associations, later called the Commandos. My experiences as a collector certainly suggest that they received Pat. 1888s.

 

According to documents in the S A Military Archives the WW II bayonet manufacture was as follows:

 

Pattern                           Ordered                        Actually Produced

1888                                10,000                                  7,000

1907                                14,000                                  2,400

1913                                11,500                                  1,800

 

It appears that the order for the 1907s was cancelled due to receiving a supply from overseas.  Of these 3,000 came from Australia.  The 1907s and 1913s are very rare today and I suspect that they were never issued and later destroyed on account of their poor quality. Australian 1907s with SA markings are not uncommon.

 

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Thanks very much indeed -- this is most intriguing on the P14s - when (and why!) they were supplied and where they ended up!

Fantastic information.

Thank you.

Chris

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Thanks for that information on the P.88's! The world of bayonets never ceases to produce surprises.... Julian

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One final point concerning the WW II manufactured bayonets: The Pat.1888 and the Pat.1913 appear to have been issued in identical scabbards manufactured by the South African Railways. My SAR manufactured Pat. 1907 came in a similarly marked 1907 scabbard. Very strangely both my A.E.Co Pat.1907 bayonets came in British scabbards and will not fit too well into South African SAR scabbards.  A leading South African bayonet collector I know has had exactly the same experience.     

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