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Small Arms and Ammunition 6 months 2 weeks ago #79701

  • Terry Willson
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The British were always very economical in their use of military firearms and expected a rifle to serve its full projected service life of twelve years. Thus at the commencement of the Boer War most of the regulars were still armed with Lee Metfords. Newly manufactured Lee Enfields had been placed in storage and were then only issued to recalled reservists and newly raised units. This resulted in what became known as "The Great Rifle Scandal" when it was found that the Lee Enfields arriving in South Africa were incorrectly sighted.

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Small Arms and Ammunition 6 months 2 weeks ago #79703

  • LinneyI
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All military establishments expect their small arms to have a designated life - not just the British army. Expectations can be overtaken by events, of course.
The so-called "Great Rifle Scandal" and the rectification thereof is detailed in "The Lee Enfield Rifle" by Maj. E.G.Reynolds. . While the regulars carried the Lee Metford Mk.1* to South Africa, Reynolds tells us that about 40,000 of the later Lee Enfield Mk.1 went over with reservists, were in the hands of Colonial contingents plus about 6,000 were issued to the IY. It seems that the Middlesex Coy. of the IY was the first to report that the faulty sighting of their rifles caused them all to shoot consistently to the right. It is quite probable that the lateral sighting error was discovered during the marksmanship training of the IY in England prior to their arrival in South Africa in 2/1900. Of course, the fault was initially blamed on the poor shooting of the IY.
In any case, the Small Arms Committee was reconvened in January, 1900 and its first task was to find a quick solution to the sighting error of the Lee Enfield and then discover how the error came to be. Their immediate decision (18th January, 1900) was to rectify rifles in the hands of the troops by fitting a new back sight leaf with the V (sighting) notch offset .03" to the left of centre. These were to be identified by a small asterisk on the rear face of the new leaf and the fitting would be a simple task for unit armourers. As a matter of interest, I have seen several examples of these "asterisk" modified back sight leaves on MLEs with Boer War connections.
The reason of how the Lee Enfield came to be wrongly sighted laterally was due to variations in the bearings of the bolt locking lugs and anyone interested in exploring that theme is advised to obtain a copy of Major Reynolds' book.
Regards
IL.

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Small Arms and Ammunition 6 months 2 weeks ago #79704

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One of the "Quick -fix" rear sights mentioned by Linneyl.
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Small Arms and Ammunition 6 months 2 weeks ago #79706

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The Boer War era Lee Metford Rifles: Mks I*, II, II* and Cavalry Carbine. I have no proof that the Mk II* actually saw service and all the examples I've seen or heard about are marked to the Royal Navy. However, it is possible that some could have been carried by the gunners involved.

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Small Arms and Ammunition 6 months 1 week ago #79723

  • pfireman
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Thanks to Rob D for the identifications. I'm just the messenger.


Smuts’ Commando in April of 1902. The man standing in the center of the second picture is identified as General Jaap van Deventer and he is clearly wearing a C96 and while one can only see the butt of the pistol Jan is wearing it is clear that he is wearing the same double buckle belt and shoulder harness that is identical to the other two individuals who are also attired with it. Compare to Winston’s picture with the same double buckle belt and additional belt tail hold down. The man standing to the Left of Smuts with his leg perched [frame right] is General Manie Maritz. Rob, also noticed two individuals in British Khaki, which at this point in in the war was a death sentence if captured in British uniform.




This individual is also wearing the distinctive wooden holster of the pistol.
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Small Arms and Ammunition 6 months 22 hours ago #79899

  • Neville_C
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Profiles and Sections of Different Rifle Bullets obtained from Boers Sources (Makins 1901, p. 149).





Lee-Metford soft-nosed bullet, found on Railway (or Kitchener's) Hill, to the NE of Hart's Hill, Tugela River. With headstamps "E B" (Eley Brothers). Listed in Bester 2003, p. 299, under Rare Examples: "Lead tip 7 mm long. Eley Brothers, London, UK. Ammunition most probably bought by Boers".

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