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Gentleman's Military Interest Club

Brian Wolfe

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About Brian Wolfe

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    Senior Moderator
  • Birthday 06/08/48

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    brian.wolfe@bell.net
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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Ontario, Canada
  • Interests
    Medals: British and India (post 1947), Special Constabulary and a few others.
    General: Staffordshire and British Police memorabilia
    Plus odds and ends that capture my interest from time to time.

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  1. As always a very nice job, Chris. Regards Brian
  2. An Apology - of sorts

    I often describe myself as slightly paranoid, which then seems to make others think I have some sort of philological issues. I don’t believe I am being “watched” for example. That would, in my opinion, suggest that I hold some degree of celebrity in my mind; this would also, if it were the case, indicate that I think that I am somehow a fellow of above average interest to others. I must admit that if I were any less interesting people would fall asleep during a hand shake with me. Perhaps what I should say is that I strive to be more careful than average when it comes to making purchases and in believing everything I am told. Purchases such as left-handed baseball bats and non-flammable candles may be easy enough to avoid. However I have lost count of all of the collectables I have purchased and then a few days later wondered how I could have made such unwise choices. A few examples of what I allude to are, prices being far too high or items that really didn’t fit into my collecting themes. The problem of knowing when you are being told something other than the truth can at times be difficult. There are some physical signs which must not be taken on individual basis, such as someone rubbing their nose or excessive blinking of the eyes. These so-called signs, on their own, can be explained away as having nothing to do with attempted deceit. Collectively such signs, along with other indications may be used, in law enforcement as an example, to accept the statement or doubt what you are being told. The most difficult “stories” to determine their truthfulness is when the person telling the story actually believes it to be the truth. This and the manner in which the story is delivered and the interpretation of what has been said may end in one doubting the story as being the truth. Two examples come to mind. If you hear someone say that smoking can be bad for you and you need to take measures to avoid smoking, you may think of someone inhaling smoke from a cigarette, which fits the caution; or something else. If you are standing too close to your BBQ and your clothing is starting to smoke then surely you need to take measures (stepping back) to avoid bursting into flames. My second, and last example, comes from the television comedy, Saturday Night Live (SNL) that first appeared in 1975 which is famous for their rather juvenile humour appealing to the adolescent mind. I became rather old and stuffy about 40 years ago and therefore stopped watching SNL. One of the sketches involved a group of people telling an individual on a beach that “You can’t look at the sun too long”. Most of us would take this as a warning and realize staring at the sun could be detrimental to your vision and not misinterpret this as you can’t get over the majesty of the sun, for example. Of course the poor fellow being advised took the first interpretation with disastrous results. No, my retelling of this story is not very funny however, as has been said, “You had to be there to see it”. One of the stories that has floated around guns shows and places where people interested in military history gather, at least here in Canada, is the topic of this blog. Yes, I know it has taken me a long time to get to the point...as usual. Why say something in a couple of dozen words when a plethora of paragraphs can achieve the same results? That’s a rhetorical question of course. The story is that one can turn an FN FAL C1,or C1A1, rifle from a semi-automatic to a full automatic weapon by inserting a piece of match book in the correct place in the internal workings. This I have always held as being complete garbage. Any of those reading this who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces in the past and used the FN FAL C1 and the FN C2 please hold off on your hate mail until the end of this blog. The Canadians used the FN FAL C1, a semi-automatic battle rife with the 7.62X51mm NATO round from 1953, being the first to officially adopt the FN FAL, until 1984 when it was replaced by the 5.56x45mm NATO C7 rifle and the C8 carbine both based on the American US AR-15. The British and Commonwealth Nations used the same rifle as Canada but called it the L1A1. I have read that the rifle was commonly known as the FAL however in my area of Ontario at least, we refer to it as simply the “FN”. Here’s where the claim of using the FN C1, inserting a piece of match book to turn it into an automatic weapon, becomes argument. In each case where this has come up in the past I have tried to delve more deeply into this claim by asking if the service person is saying that with the insertion of a matchbook into the FN C1 they have changed it from a battle rifle (semi-automatic) into an assault rifle (full auto). Without exception the answer is “yes”. The problem in my mind, I have just recently discovered, is not whether you can modify an FN C1 with a foreign object to malfunction and discharge the weapon in rapid succession but have you actually “changed” this battle rifle into an assault rifle. A basic definition of an assault rifle is that it is a carbine sized firearm using a large capacity magazine capable of sustained full automatic fire. The FN FAL, even fitted with a large capacity magazine, falls short of being an assault rifle on two of the most important requirements that I have stated, even with the matchbook modification. To all of the servicemen in my past who have engaged me in this argument, and there have been quite a few, I apologize. You are correct in that you can make an FN FAL C1 malfunction to fire several rounds in rapid, automatic-like, succession. On the other hand I would offer the suggestion that this could be done with almost any semi-automatic rifle. On the other hand (you knew there would be an “on the other hand”) to all servicemen in my past who have engaged me in argument you failed miserably in qualifying your claim fully. You did not, I must repeat, did not, change this battle rifle into an assault rifle, and especially to one fellow who claimed to have changed the FN FAL C1 into the C2A1, the squad automatic weapon (SAW), as the C2 has a much more robust barrel to withstand the heat generated by sustained rapid fire. Some of our members might note that they have seen an FN FAL C1 with a selective fire option and you would be correct. There were some FN FAL C1 rifles fitted with the selective fire option and used only by the Royal Canadian Navy to give boarding parties the option of a full automatic weapon without the weight of the C2A1. In past blogs I have managed to attempt to prove and at times disprove some claims. I’ve disproved some claims about the Battle of Crecy and the crossbow. We then proved the capabilities of the crossbow in experiments that were undertaken with minor casualties. These experiments also brought to light that during an apology for a range mishap the suggestion that, “It is only a cat”, is best left unsaid. I think we successively supported claims regarding the possibility of an accidental discharge of the STEN gun. Now we have supported the claim that the FN FAL C1 can be made to fire with the insertion of a foreign object; yet without actually fully admitting that I was wrong. It’s a win, win situation! I will continue with my version of paranoia and look for myths that I can prove or disprove, while being on guard against my own poor purchase decisions. The post has just arrived and I need to close now and open the shipment of prefabricated postholes I purchased on eBay. Ever vigilant Regards Brian
  3. Hi Tony, I must echo Peter's comment; nice relic. It should display very well. Thanks for posting your results. RegardsBrian
  4. Hi Tony, I would be very cautious using wax on a weapon that has been rusted and contains a lot of pits etc. that can trap the wax in small pockets and cracks. I've had a good deal of experience in the use of wax on weapons as well as in my wood working shop and still, after decades of experimentation, try new products on a regular basis. On a sword or other smooth sucface wax works well as it can be hand buffed out. On the other hand anywhere there are stampings or designs the wax will build up and once dry is very had to polish out. On a rusted piece such as the rifle you have this can be a nightmare with pockets of white residue wax left that would be impossible to polish so that it becomes invisable as it would on a smooth surface. If it were my rifle I would use a thin coat of light oil on the metal. This will soak in and leave the rust a dark colour and blend with the rest of the metal that may not be rusted as badly.. Just a thin layer is enough, not an oil bath. The reason I do not use oil on my muskets, for example, is that it will "attrect" dust, while wax will not. Your case is different, in my opinion, as a bit of dust in the oil which will need to be wiped off once in a while and reapplied is much better than pockets of white unpolished wax residue. Again it is a matter of personal choice, just be careful with wax coatings and try a small area where it will not show to see how wax will work before committing the whole weapon to that type of finish. A finish such as wax, if it is the wrong finish, can be impossible to reverse. Regards Brian
  5. If you decide to use steel wool go with 0000 (4 zero) not oiled. Most if not all 00 has oil in it. You may have to go to a wood finishing supplier. There are several good waxes and bees wax is a good one. I've finished several old stocks and use Conserver's Wax which I think is also sold under names such as Heritage Wax. Once you use any Wax or other finish you will find the "just found" look Weill be lost as Wax will darken the stock's colour. Personally I would consider just a cleaning and leaving to as is, it is a personal choice of course. Good luck with this very interesting project and please keep us updated on your progress. Regards Brian
  6. Hi Uwe, I didn't mean to imply that these had anything to do with a former member of the Freikorps, sorry if I gave that impression. It was just a little musing as to the recipient. While the medal is not in my collection it would have at least some historic importance if only in the date of the award, an end of an era so-to-speak. I've added black powder British military hand guns to the collection because the date on the piece was the same as a major event. For example a firearm dated 1815 would not, and probably could not, have been necessarily used at the Battle of Waterloo; still it stands to represent, or commemorate, the battle. It also gives me a reason to make yet another purchase, as if I needed a reason. Regards Brian
  7. Hi GreyC, Thank you for the quick response. I will email my friend and let him know. I find the date of 1933 quite interesting as it is the last year of the Weimar Republic and makes me wonder if the recipient might have even been a former member of the Freikorps. I should not speculate as that only muddies the waters of history, still it makes me wonder. Thanks again, it is much appreciated. Regards Brian
  8. Hello Fellows The menal shown below and the pin were shown to me by a friend who would like to have them identified. This is not an area I am familiar with however my wife took one look and said it was a German Shooting Medal. It is made of silver and stamped 1933 on the back. All I could find about the pin was that it was something associated with an executive body. Is my wife correct...again? The medal and pin are two separate items. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Regards Brian
  9. Strange Creatures, These Collectors

    Thanks for your comment Michael. Lawyers help us remember that there is a difference between planning ahead and premeditation. Regards Brian
  10. The PBSDD

    PBSDD In our ongoing effort to improve world security we, here at the Home Office, have been working on a new project with the working name of the Political B*ll Sh*t Detection Device, or the PBSDD. So far we have experienced a great deal of what seems to be one malfunction after another. Every time we get the device in seemingly working order we direct it at the Parliamentary Channel and the darn thing begins to make a very high pitched scream, starts to smoke and then shuts down completely. Taking it to a local gun show and using it near some of the dealer’s tables had the same effect. Pointing it at the GMIC web site seems to prompt no reaction at all, hmmm, strange indeed. We are continuing to attempt to correct these malfunctions and will report back to you when the proto-type device is functioning at peak performance. Thank you for your patience. Ah, if only I had such a device when I was in my younger years. However, it would seem that age has some benefits, not necessarily wisdom I am sorry to report. The benefits of which I speak is the ability to detect the lies and misinformation we often refer to as b*ll sh*t. I do not like using an asterisk in place of letters however in so-called polite society that seems to be the norm. Interesting that we can still “write” an offensive word as long as we somewhat disguise it. Somehow b*ll sh*t is less offensive than the actual words “bull ”; it really has always astounded me, but then hypocrisy often has that effect. I do digress, blaming it on the mental meandering of age. When I was very young the only source of military history came from the men who were there, service men from the Boer War, WWI, WWII and Korea. The vast amount of oral history centered mainly around putting one over on the RSM, leaves spent at pubs and the monotony of military life in general. This certainly mimicked the saying that military service, especially during times of war, was 90% monotony and 10% sheer terror. However my first point is not in regard to stories spun by the veterans but what I was told in regard to medals. Remember there was no internet, dealers close by or even very many books available on the topic, not in my area of Canada at least. The medals awarded by the Canadians and British as well to a lesser extent the Americans was a topic well covered by my unintentional mentors but those awarded to the “other side” was less well covered. The Germans, I was told, only gave out the Iron Cross, and they did so by the bushel basket. The Japanese on the other hand never gave out medals to the common soldier reserving the few awarded to the generals and politicians. It didn’t take long for that young novice collector to discover the Royal Canadian Legion was not the place to glean information on the topic of phaleristics. Too bad we didn’t have access to the internet and especially the GMIC website back then, but then who would want a smart ass kid telling those who had “been there, done that” that they were wrong. I was lucky they allowed my in with my father as it was and no they would never serve alcohol to a minor, but the stories went down just as smoothly with a Coca-Cola. Some of the other myths that have “made their rounds” have to do with firearms, in this case particularly the Sten gun. I have been meaning to write an article, in the proper section, on the STEN and feature the examples from my own collection but time never seems to accommodate my good intentions. We’ve all heard how the sten could go off without warning and empty a clip of 9mm before one could react, putting everyone in the squad in danger. No doubt this has some basis in truth as any weapon with one in the pipe, so-to-speak, and the safety off has the potential for discharge. I think most of the accidental discharges had more to do with having the finger on the trigger and either a every nervous soldier or due to the transport vehicle hitting a bump in the road making the STEN jump upwards engaging that finger on the trigger. It should be noted that “one in the pipe” or a round in the chamber does not apply to the STEN it was the bolt itself that must be cocked, then once released by suppressing the trigger advances and picks up the round injects it into the chamber, firing it and blowing the bolt back to repeat the cycle. In other words if you did have a round in the chamber, cocked the bolt then fired the bolt would still pick up a round from the clip but then slam it against the rear of the round already in the chamber. If the bolt was in the cocked position then one would only need to pull the bolt back a bit farther move the cocking handle straight upward locking it in place. True the bolt could be jarred out of the safe position but this is true with any firearm so I would say it is a poor argument just pertaining to the STEN. Another way the STEN could be accidently fired, according to the sources I consider myth perpetuators, is that the bolt in closed position could fire if the stock was jammed to the floor of the truck or the ground with enough force to move the bolt rearward starting the firing cycle. First of all the soldier would have to neglect to push the cocking lever through the chamber wall by way of the drilled hold used to secure the bolt. Let us say this has not been done so the bolt can move, not being locked closed. I have a Mk. II and a Mk. III in the collection as well as the Mk, V so I decided to attempt to cause the bolt to move to the rear enough to pick up a round and start the firing cycle. The Mk. V bolt is fixed in closed position but both the Mk. II and III specimens are in working condition, except for the ability to discharge a round as per Canadian Law. I slammed the butt of the weapons on a board in my shop and the bolt traveled downwards (or backward) possibly far enough to start the firing cycle. I could not actually measure the amount of travel nor could I say whether this would have been enough to pick up a round from the clip and then cause the round to fire or not. Let me say that I would not rule out the possibility of an accidental discharge, given this scenario. Even so this would only fire a single round, unless the operator has held the trigger back. Again I will say that the above is possible but only because the operator failed to secure the bolt in the closed position not because the STEN was a poor design. The myth I have a problem with and one that was conveyed to me by the very soldier who supposedly preformed this maneuver. This supposedly happened in France just after D-day and involved a squad approaching a farm house occupied by several German soldiers. These Canadians manage to sneak up on the farm house and observed, through a window, a couple of high ranking German officers and several lower ranks inside the house. Apparently this was at night as the room was lit from within allowing the allies full view. It seems that there are no words in the German language for “picket duty” or “sentry duty” as none had been posted. You would think that after going through WWI the German military would have invented such words or commands; makes one wonder if this contributed to their defeat. Our dauntless hero was out of grenades so he cocked his STEN and threw it through the window. When it hit the floor it discharged and didn’t stop firing until it emptied the clip, all 32 rounds, killing everyone inside. One shudders to imagine what would have happened had the STEN not discharged. Possibly a quick witted German soldier would have scooped it up and threw it back out the window, followed by a couple of MP40s just for good measure. One can imagine whole engagements where the air was full of MP40s and STEN guns being tossed by opposing sides. It is interesting that first of all, this veteran never held a rank above Private, the STEN being usually carried by the NCOs and above. Some exceptions were made for those soldiers where a rifle was too cumbersome such as transport drivers, commandos etc. Another interesting point was that everyone in the patrol was out of grenades yet the story never involved prior engagements with the enemy. The final evidence that the story is just that, a story, is that the story teller was in a non-combatant role throughout the war. However, this too was an important function and the fact that he indeed did serve as a volunteer in France, going in just after D-day, commands our respect. As my wife, an avid knitter likes to say, “You have to love a good yarn”. Regards Brian
  11. Strange Creatures, These Collectors

    I know I am treading the line of sexism when I say all wives seem the share a common bond; being able the see through our smoke screens. Perhaps that, in a sense, is our burden to bear, poor us. Regards Brian
  12. Strange Creatures, These Collectors

    It would certainly seem that way according to the blog. There is indeed a plan based on decades of collecting and finally getting to know my own short comings. If I have the cash I will by just about anything, even if it will not fit any of the collecting themes I have. I tend to dislike using my credit card either directly or through an ATM transaction. So if I see something I think I want to purchase I will take longer to decide just how much I really want it if I don't carry the cash. That works well for me unless there is no ATM on site, then it's a matter of making a "down payment" and running out to a bank machine off site. We have found that most people who attend any type of show/sale are there just for the "outing". The percentage of serious buyers is always quite small, so much so that we only sell on-line. Regards Brian
  13. Well done Gordon, thank for clearing this up. regards Brian
  14. Many families during both World Wars were given photos of close friends and even neighbour's sons who were serving overseas. This has led to a lot of confusion when researching ancestors today. It is almost common place that people who recieved these non-relations photos never recorded the names of those pictured. My wife does a good deal of research into both of our ancestory and one photo she has was quite troubling. It was always held that the two "soldiers" in one of the family albums were of some relationship to her family. It turned out that the two in the photograph were not only from two other families but girls in their early teens wearing the uniforms of what might have been their boyfriends. The past is often as clear as mud. Best wishes in your quest Lisa. Regards Brian
  15. I've seen this photo before,somewhere, and I seem to recall that it was a radio receiver used to triangular transmissions. That is to say locate suspicious communications. I hope I have remembered this correctly. Regards brian
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