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Question Regarding British SMLE


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Would a soldier who served in late 1916 in the British Army be issued an SMLE MKIII or SMLE MKIII* (which was first produced in 1915).

 

Thank you!

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There are a lot of variables involved in what soldier gets issued with what rifle and it could be either. However, if you mean they first arrived at the front in late 1916 then I’d have thought a MkIII* would be more likely.

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Whatever was available. No way of telling. There were massive refurbishment, reissue, battlefield collection etc programs -- functionally the army treated the rifles as indistinguishable.  The scale is often forgotten today - there is an amazing photo (I'll look for my copy-- see below) of battlefield salvaged rifles post Somme - which shows the reality of the situation which meant no attention would really have been paid to this (the change was a manufacturing simplification)

File:The Battle of the Somme, July-november 1916 Q1446.jpg

MkIII* were first produced by BSA in 1915 and officially approved in early 1916 - so if a NEW rifle had been issued to a soldier in late 1916 I might agree with Perregrinvs but anything but a new it would more likely have been a MkIII  or earlier.

However realistically serving on the Western Front in 1916 a soldier could have easily had a MkI, MkIII or MkIII* (in early 1916 some units still had CLLEs)

Outside the Western Front CLLEs were still in more widespread use even in 1916 (although being supplanted)

In training in the UK MLE/CLLE (and even possibly Arisakas ) were possible, and by LATE 1916 you might even throw Pattern 1914s into the mix (the first rifles were accepted by British Inspectors at the US factories in Feb 1916.

Chris

Edited by 4thGordons
rephrased for clarity
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1 hour ago, 4thGordons said:

Whatever was available. No way of telling. There were massive refurbishment, reissue, battlefield collection etc programs -- functionally the army treated the rifles as indistinguishable.  The scale is often forgotten today - there is an amazing photo (I'll look for my copy-- see below) of battlefield salvaged rifles post Somme - which shows the reality of the situation which meant no attention would really have been paid to this (the change was a manufacturing simplification)

File:The Battle of the Somme, July-november 1916 Q1446.jpg

MkIII* were first produced by BSA in 1915 and officially approved in early 1916 - so if a NEW rifle had been issued to a soldier in late 1916 I might agree with Perregrinvs but anything but a new it would more likely have been a MkIII  or earlier.

However realistically serving on the Western Front in 1916 a soldier could have easily had a MkI, MkIII or MkIII* (in early 1916 some units still had CLLEs)

Outside the Western Front CLLEs were still in more widespread use even in 1916 (although being supplanted)

In training in the UK MLE/CLLE (and even possibly Arisakas ) were possible, and by LATE 1916 you might even throw Pattern 1914s into the mix (the first rifles were accepted by British Inspectors at the US factories in Feb 1916.

Chris

I often look at my own copy of this photo Chris. To me it hits even harder than seeing the rows of white head stones. Is that a couple of G98s I see at bottom left of photo?

Mickster

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1 hour ago, Mickster said:

I often look at my own copy of this photo Chris. To me it hits even harder than seeing the rows of white head stones. Is that a couple of G98s I see at bottom left of photo?

Mickster

Yes there is at least two (maybe more)  Gew 98s bottom left!

Re the original question - If you look at some of the nosecaps visible on the SMLEs you can see a good mix of MkIII style and the earlier straighter MkI style too (for example to the right of the G98 a couple of these are visible)

Chris

Edited by 4thGordons
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Further to 4th Gordons observations, the 54th Division out in Palestine didn't gat any form of of SMLE until Auguist 1917 and I believe were the last UK division to be so armed.

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Here is an interesting photo of a raiding party  1-8th Irish Battalion The Kings Liverpool Regiment. 18th April 1916 at Wailly. Are they sporting CLMLEs ?

Mickster

 

A raiding party of the 1-8th Irish Battalion The Kings Liverpool Regiment Wailly 18 April 1916.jpg

Edited by Mickster
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3 hours ago, 4thGordons said:

Yes there is at least two (maybe more)  Gew 98s bottom left!

Re the original question - If you look at some of the nosecaps visible on the SMLEs you can see a good mix of MkIII style and the earlier straighter MkI style too (for example to the right of the G98 a couple of these are visible)

Chris

Yes Chris there is a good mix. I rather like the straighter models.

Mickster

Edited by Mickster
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53 minutes ago, Mickster said:

Here is an interesting photo of a raiding party  1-8th Irish Battalion The Kings Liverpool Regiment. 18th April 1916 at Wailly. Are they sporting CLMLEs ?

Mickster

 

A raiding party of the 1-8th Irish Battalion The Kings Liverpool Regiment Wailly 18 April 1916.jpg

Yes most seem to have CLLEs - although the chap sitting to the right (as we look) of the man in the centre with the revolver appears to have a ShtLE based on the bayonet length and cross-guard. Many Territorial Force battalions who went to France in the spring of 1915 and fought at Loos etc were armed with CLLEs, although most had exchanged them for ShtLEs prior to the Somme. CLLEs virtually disappear from the photographic record on the Western Front after May 1916 (as far as I have been able to determine)

Chris

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29 minutes ago, Mickster said:

Yes Chris there is a good mix. I rather like the straighter models.

Mickster

For those who are wondering what we are yammering on about: comparison of the sight protector ears

nosepiece.jpg.7a747989fa635a5c9ff40a240eb78d92.jpg

Mk I (with a later large headed screw should really have a small one)          MkIII

 

and later styles:

DSC_4677.JPG.a0e2a0f0c3614356e59ca39bfb267402.JPG

                                                                                                                                                       WWII  Australian                                                Late/Post WWII Indian

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Hi Chris, I could well have a spare smaller traverse nose cap screw should you like to have it. Didn't they introduce the larger screw to steady the wire cutters. In a way that the German helmet vent stubs were utilised to secure the armoured forehead plate. "Yammering" now thats a word I havent heard for a while :)

Mickster

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44 minutes ago, 4thGordons said:

For those who are wondering what we are yammering on about: comparison of the sight protector ears

nosepiece.jpg.7a747989fa635a5c9ff40a240eb78d92.jpg

Mk I (with a later large headed screw should really have a small one)          MkIII

 

and later styles:

DSC_4677.JPG.a0e2a0f0c3614356e59ca39bfb267402.JPG

                                                                                                                                                       WWII  Australian                                                Late/Post WWII Indian

Interesting Chris. The Indian version has squared ears and no piling swivel lugs.

Mickster

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6 minutes ago, Mickster said:

Interesting Chris. The Indian version has squared ears and no piling swivel lugs.

Mickster

The later Indian production yes - also fitted to the 2A and 2A1 rifles in 7.62mm

there are also these ones: (bit more uncommon) - usually fitted on Indian GF rifles:

ishnose.jpg.aacef5a1dabd66d09eaf99677730286e.jpg

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1 hour ago, 4thGordons said:

Yes most seem to have CLLEs - although the chap sitting to the right (as we look) of the man in the centre with the revolver appears to have a ShtLE based on the bayonet length and cross-guard. Many Territorial Force battalions who went to France in the spring of 1915 and fought at Loos etc were armed with CLLEs, although most had exchanged them for ShtLEs prior to the Somme. CLLEs virtually disappear from the photographic record on the Western Front after May 1916 (as far as I have been able to determine)

Chris

Maybe only one SMLE in the scene Chris. Directly in front of the guy top right with the revolver stuffed into his belt.

Mickster

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8 minutes ago, 4thGordons said:

The later Indian production yes - also fitted to the 2A and 2A1 rifles in 7.62mm

there are also these ones: (bit more uncommon) - usually fitted on Indian GF rifles:

ishnose.jpg.aacef5a1dabd66d09eaf99677730286e.jpg

Another nice example. Not one of my rifles have nosecap serial numbers that match the rifle. Mind you, some serials have been worn away.

Mickster

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good morning,

here is my SMLE n°1 MK III* find in one farm near Arras 10 years ago. 

n°1 MK III' - 1916 - EFD  K 3662

DSC_0141.JPG.5df5fcf9c78f1b28b479d9172b9f5de0.JPG

DSC_0142.JPG.ba84ad1d94a33ada400530bf2d9521ea.JPGDSC_0143.JPG.3d3c1251f68881d0b6ffe7ff7b4e43d0.JPGDSC_0144.JPG.f46f46392950ebc164608a33e5b6faa3.JPGDSC_0145.JPG.158eb53a63a093303681753b1feb1285.JPG

DSC_0147.JPG.946411dc2ef293caeab944a45bebde6f.JPGDSC_0148.JPG.6c30d0c86a7f1f1df7e779ddc2177516.JPGDSC_0149.JPG.673b060e3aa22a0495dae8c0b4e27673.JPG

DSC_0151.JPG.5360a6bc47e0df716f7e842974fa5008.JPGDSC_0152.JPG.9e3afca067d34f2f81db9428c4eaa9ce.JPGDSC_0153.JPG.2e4d0b8401cb96434c42fe2eb93075d5.JPG

DSC_0155.JPG.d391470159ff6d336705c44f7848d463.JPGDSC_0156.JPG.1d52fe1ffb93f166fe78eb05382b0b32.JPG

DSC_0166.JPG.570954186842489b13549de50d5458f7.JPGDSC_0167.JPG.66d1879218ba84867076115b18605029.JPGDSC_0168.JPG.f58e821424166126abce7e175f5f2766.JPG

DSC_0169.JPG.4f1181d38b121e9b3002159cbafb32fc.JPGDSC_0003.JPG.169fc38ace787ca7ba989420f82c7091.JPG

regards

michel

Edited by battle of loos
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I have another Lee Enfield with the rifle number on the nose (find in Armentières aera)

SMLE n°1 MK III - BSA & Co - 1914

DSC_0005.JPG.413ec06063eb5603a3320776dc586c23.JPG

michel

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Great examples Michel! Thanks for sharing those!

Chris

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11 hours ago, 4thGordons said:

The later Indian production yes - also fitted to the 2A and 2A1 rifles in 7.62mm

there are also these ones: (bit more uncommon) - usually fitted on Indian GF rifles:

ishnose.jpg.aacef5a1dabd66d09eaf99677730286e.jpg

Never seen one like that Chris. Im now rubbing my chin mulling over a possible additional collection forming in my head. I often see nose caps offered on Ebay at not much cost. Your post may well have fuelled my addiction. Much to the despair of everyone around me :)

Mickster

 

Edited by Mickster
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42 minutes ago, battle of loos said:

good morning,

here is my SMLE n°1 MK III* find in one farm near Arras 10 years ago. 

n°1 MK III' - 1916 - EFD  K 3662

DSC_0141.JPG.5df5fcf9c78f1b28b479d9172b9f5de0.JPG

DSC_0142.JPG.ba84ad1d94a33ada400530bf2d9521ea.JPGDSC_0143.JPG.3d3c1251f68881d0b6ffe7ff7b4e43d0.JPGDSC_0144.JPG.f46f46392950ebc164608a33e5b6faa3.JPGDSC_0145.JPG.158eb53a63a093303681753b1feb1285.JPG

DSC_0147.JPG.946411dc2ef293caeab944a45bebde6f.JPGDSC_0148.JPG.6c30d0c86a7f1f1df7e779ddc2177516.JPGDSC_0149.JPG.673b060e3aa22a0495dae8c0b4e27673.JPG

DSC_0151.JPG.5360a6bc47e0df716f7e842974fa5008.JPGDSC_0152.JPG.9e3afca067d34f2f81db9428c4eaa9ce.JPGDSC_0153.JPG.2e4d0b8401cb96434c42fe2eb93075d5.JPG

DSC_0155.JPG.d391470159ff6d336705c44f7848d463.JPGDSC_0156.JPG.1d52fe1ffb93f166fe78eb05382b0b32.JPG

DSC_0166.JPG.570954186842489b13549de50d5458f7.JPGDSC_0167.JPG.66d1879218ba84867076115b18605029.JPGDSC_0168.JPG.f58e821424166126abce7e175f5f2766.JPG

DSC_0169.JPG.4f1181d38b121e9b3002159cbafb32fc.JPGDSC_0003.JPG.169fc38ace787ca7ba989420f82c7091.JPG

regards

michel

Beautiful Michel. A wonderful survivor. I love artefacts in this condition. I have a SMLE that surfaced from the ground near Ypres canal. Complete with fixed bayonet and nosecap wire cutters. its my favourite rifle. The added interest in your is the condition of the various stamps where mine was lost in time by mother nature.

Mickster.

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17 hours ago, Mickster said:

Here is an interesting photo of a raiding party  1-8th Irish Battalion The Kings Liverpool Regiment. 18th April 1916 at Wailly. Are they sporting CLMLEs ?

Mickster

 

A raiding party of the 1-8th Irish Battalion The Kings Liverpool Regiment Wailly 18 April 1916.jpg

Re the Territorial Force and their rifles, I remember reading an account in The Battle of Loos by Philip Warner in which a member of the TF recalled his battalion, which had the CLLE, equipping themselves with SMLE's picked up on the battlefield.  They did, however, fail to pick up the appropriate bayonets and when they submitted a requisition for P.1907 bayonets there was a sharp enquiry as to why they were requiring an item of equipment to which they were not entitled  The end result was they had to hand in their newly acquired SMLE's and were re-issued with CLLE's.

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53 minutes ago, 593jones said:

Re the Territorial Force and their rifles, I remember reading an account in The Battle of Loos by Philip Warner in which a member of the TF recalled his battalion, which had the CLLE, equipping themselves with SMLE's picked up on the battlefield.  They did, however, fail to pick up the appropriate bayonets and when they submitted a requisition for P.1907 bayonets there was a sharp enquiry as to why they were requiring an item of equipment to which they were not entitled  The end result was they had to hand in their newly acquired SMLE's and were re-issued with CLLE's.

Interesting article 593jones but not surprising. The military bureaucracy is outrageous at times. It would be accepted should the weapons be of a different calibre or of a lesser firepower. Thanks for that contribution,, yet another avenue for me to follow.  :)

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Forends & nosecaps all match on my rifles the only exception is my 1904 EFD Mk1 SMLE which has a un-numbered forend & nosecap which is correct for a unmolested 1904 Mk1

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18 hours ago, Mickster said:

Interesting article 593jones but not surprising. The military bureaucracy is outrageous at times. It would be accepted should the weapons be of a different calibre or of a lesser firepower. Thanks for that contribution,, yet another avenue for me to follow.  :)

I wish I could remember the name and unit of the contributor but it's a great many years since I read that book.  The story has stayed in my memory, though, as an example of how the military works.

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2 hours ago, 593jones said:

I wish I could remember the name and unit of the contributor but it's a great many years since I read that book.  The story has stayed in my memory, though, as an example of how the military works.

Having very recently read the book, which by the way is an excellent account of the battle.  Can confirm that the contributor of the rifle/bayonet story was Lieutenant Colonel G.A.Brett,1/23 London Regiment.

Mike.

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