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Remembered Today:

Rifle piling technique


Nathan
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Can any of you guys please explain for me how the SMLE was piled using the piling swivel. Was an accessory used or were the rifles somehow simply connected via the swivels enabling the troops to disconnect them rapidly in an emergency?

How many rifles would be stacked together in a pile?

I would be very grateful if anyone can shed some light on this one for me, or maybe someone has a closeup photo to help me out.

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Rifles were piled in threes. The piling swivel has a much wider gap between the prongs than the normal swivel and so there was room for the three swivels to be hooked together. Have a look at the BSA logo of piled arms.

Not much of an explanation I know, but it is far easier to do than explain.

Regards

TonyE

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Thanks Tony, it just seems like a rather awkward operation to perform, hooking three rifles together on such small swivels. Can't have been easy to get them apart in a hurry either.

Was piling actually practiced in the front line or only in the rear areas?

I guess it became less and less common, as later Lee Enfields have the piling swivel omitted altogether.

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TonyE.... Piling Arms was carried out with the troops aranged in two ranks, the front rank turns about, facing the rear rank... odd no's incline weapons to even no's, weapons stacked in fours.

Only two rifles were attached to each other, making two pairs, one pair being set between and above the other.

Thats straight from : Infantry Training 1914 (4-Coy Org), page: 60, sec: 71.

Seph

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I seriously doubt that piling or stacking arms (as we call it in the U.S.) was done whenever the enemy was in close proximity. It seems to me to be something that was done in peacetime training exercises or during marches through areas where no hostile threat was anticipated. I was taught how to do it with the M16 in '77 but afterwards we never did it in any unit I was assigned to. The concept now is that if a serviceman has a weapon, he must keep it in his hands or on his shoulder at all times to prevent its theft or loss. I think the rules on weapons in the U.S. DoD became more stringent when these assault type of rifles capable of automatic fire came into the military inventory in the '50s and '60s. I believe the big emphasis on weapons security began about 35 or 40 years ago. Hence, no more bivouac sites or lagers with a battalion's or company's rifles stacked in nice rows while one guy stands guard.

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Your correct Pete, times change. We were taught to keep ones weapon by ones side at all times whilst in uniform. If one was on field exercise, one took ones rifle or MG to bed with one.

However, the question was about how piling arms was carried out. It was an integral part of the Armed Forces life of the time, and woe betide any soldier who could not carry out the procedure.. blindfolded!

Seph

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Hello,

Lurking in the back of my mind is something from Sasoons 'Memoirs of an Infantry Officer' in which he describes a lesson on the SMLE from a long serving NCO. The old cry of 'naming the parts'. The sequence was something like ....trigger -trigger guard - upper sling swivel - piling swivel which you have not got! - sword bar etc.

Old Tom

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TonyE.... Piling Arms was carried out with the troops aranged in two ranks, the front rank turns about, facing the rear rank... odd no's incline weapons to even no's, weapons stacked in fours.

Only two rifles were attached to each other, making two pairs, one pair being set between and above the other.

Thats straight from : Infantry Training 1914 (4-Coy Org), page: 60, sec: 71.

Seph

More precisely the crossed two rifles of the front rank men are linked by the rifle of the rear rank, even number. Then the odd number of the rear rank "will lodge his rifle against the pile". Unpiling is a simple process of unlinking the third rifle and is not as time consuming as one may suppose.

Allen

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Henry Reed's poem "Naming of Parts" published in the New Statesman, 1942 includes the line:

"And this is the piling swivel,

Which in your case you have not got."

Regards,

Martin

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TonyE.... Piling Arms was carried out with the troops aranged in two ranks, the front rank turns about, facing the rear rank... odd no's incline weapons to even no's, weapons stacked in fours.

Thanks - I must have looked at a hundred pictures of piled arms and not noticed they were in fours. I was just thinking of the BSA logo.

Now how does it go? One..two..three.. four...

Regards

Tony

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