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Boer War Enfields, that's about all I know!


fjcp
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Hi there,

I have three Enfields that we bought in South Africa some 20 odd years ago and I've always wondered about them. who used them and so on.

I must confess that their value is also of interest, not for sales purposes, but just so I know.

Anyway here they are so any info would be most appreciated!

Almost forgot they all have the "U" with arrow on them.

Thanks

JC

PS. Sorry about the bad first picture.

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U with thwe arrow is the Union Army stamp, so they were in Service after 1910.

In 1914 the South Africans were getting the regular WW1 Lee Enfiled, although they did buy thousands of portugese mausers... I guess yours were used between the boer war and WW1.

Nice indeed... I would kill for one of them...

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Nice spread on the manufacturers: "Enfield" - British Army arsenal; "Saprbrook" (?, probably a sub-contractor) and London Small Arms Company, one of the bigger sub-contractors.

The "II" with a slash/stroke through it may mean a modification on the basic Mk II, though I would have expected some added mark to "update" the II if that were the case. Was there a Mk IIa, IIb, etc, anyone know?

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I notice that they are all missing the forestock with bayonet lug, and none of then have magazines.

Was this a result of modifications in service, or are they "sporterized"? Here in Canada Canadian Tire used to sell Lee-Enfields with short forestocks, but they kept the magazine.

Wow, I didn't understand half of that! :blush:

I'm sorry I'm completely ignorant when it comes to guns.

We bought them like this from a farmer in South Africa who had a barn full of these, I mean dozens and dozens of them. They were all welded shut, with no magazines and they all had a little hole drilled in the barrel.

Would it be possible to buy the missing parts to get them looking like they did back in the day?

Or would it not be worth the trouble?

JC

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Nice spread on the manufacturers: "Enfield" - British Army arsenal; "Saprbrook" (?, probably a sub-contractor) and London Small Arms Company, one of the bigger sub-contractors.

The "II" with a slash/stroke through it may mean a modification on the basic Mk II, though I would have expected some added mark to "update" the II if that were the case. Was there a Mk IIa, IIb, etc, anyone know?

You obviously know your stuff!

I had another look at the rifle in question and on the other side of the rifle is a stamp from 1909.

I guess it was updated or fixed?

The marking on the first pic of this rifle reads "sparkbrook".

Thanks to all of you who've helped so far!

JC

edit: I just had a closer look and the barrel has several "ER" markings so I'm guessing that the barrel was replaced.

Edited by fjcp
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" I had another look at the rifle in question and on the other side of the rifle is a stamp from 1909.

I guess it was updated or fixed? "

edit: I just had a closer look and the barrel has several "ER" markings so I'm guessing that the barrel was replaced.

Many years since I've really known this stuff in detail, and no books to check, but, yes , I'd guess that the "1909" stamp and the "crossed II" are related: the Mk II was modified, re-barrelled or summat in 1909.

Not sure what to make of "ER" except that it's unlikely to stand for "Elizabeth Regina" ! More likely it means "Enfield Rifle" or "Enfield R..."?? There are some very good books out there on the Lee Enfield, with all it's marks, though, so if you care you can probably find some more info.

I'd be surprised if the Union forces weren't using Lee Enfields through and after WWI and any "old rifles" probaly went to home guard/teritorials or even cadet corps, so these may have seen lots and lots of service, active and/or peacetime.

If your man has a barn full of these then they're probably not worth much except as wallhangers. Does "welded" meaning the breech is closed up? If so then getting the bolt to work, etc is probably not possible. Finding replacement magazines is possible,but might easily cost as much as the rifles cost/are worth - at least over here. :(

On the other hand, they do represent an interesting period in SA history, so if they were mine I'd clean them up and hang one on my wall! But keep in mind that free advice is worth what you pay for it. :P

Peter

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Not sure what to make of "ER" except that it's unlikely to stand for "Elizabeth Regina" ! More likely it means "Enfield Rifle" or "Enfield R..."?? There are some very good books out there on the Lee Enfield, with all it's marks, though, so if you care you can probably find some more info.

The ER stands for Edward Rex. Edward was king after Vicky. From 1901 'till 1910.

JC

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We bought them like this from a farmer in South Africa who had a barn full of these, I mean dozens and dozens of them. They were all welded shut, with no magazines and they all had a little hole drilled in the barrel.

Would it be possible to buy the missing parts to get them looking like they did back in the day?

Or would it not be worth the trouble?

JC

Sounds like they were deactivated for cadet use.

The bottom one is interesting - C.L.L.E. stands for "Charger Loading Lee Enfield" and is the pattern approved July 1907.

I'd be tempted to leave them as is. Parts are probably scarce and expensive.

Sparkbrook, near Birmingham was one of the three main producers.

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The ER stands for Edward Rex. Edward was king after Vicky. From 1901 'till 1910.

JC

Oh, Duh! :( Sorry, it's late here and it's been a long day! "I knew that. Really!" :P

Here's my last kick at this can: some info on these rifles, which are very probably Lee Metfords rather than Lee Enfields.

The first quote explains the difference and where they fit in to S.A. Military history, the second site suggests how common they likely were and who may have used them:

GENERALLY: The Lee-Metford, entering service at the very end of the black powder era, is the most modern military rifle that was ever built to use black powder. In fact, like the M1888 Austrian Mannlicher, it was developed as the search for a suitable smokeless propellant was going on in Britain and all across Europe.

The Lee-Metford is a box mgazine fed, rear-locking, bolt action repeating rifle in the classic British .303 calibre, but loaded at the time of its adoption with black powder. A smokeless cartridge was introduced in the early 1890s and Enfield rifling began to replace Metford with the adoption of the Lee-Enfield in 1895. The Lee was designed by James Paris Lee of Illion, New York (the city of Remington fame) and substantially improved and perfected at Enfield. It utilized a box magazine system also developed by Lee coupled with a barrel and rifling system invented by William E. Metford. The Lee/Metford/Enfield combination began the long line of successful rifles (substituting Enfield rifling when Metford rifling was unable to tolerate the later smokeless cartridge heat and pressures) for Britain, continuing into the 1990s.

The period of the Lee-Metford magazine rifle, adopted in 1888, overlapped the service life of the last of the Martini-Henrys, the Mark IVs. In the late 1880s the British were studying repeating rifles as well as searching for improvements to the entrenched Martini-Henry. This led to the adoption, perhaps prematurely, of the .402 Martini-Enfield in 1886 and an "improved" version, more like the Martini-Henry, in 1887. But the soon expected Lee-Metford, in .303 calibre, would have created logistical nightmares, thus the Martini-Enfields were withdrawn and the bulk of them converted to Martini-Henry Mark IVs.

The most notable feature of the then very modern Lee-Metford was it's detachable box magazine which could be loaded, either detached or mounted, initially with up to 8 cartridges (The Mark I and Mark I*) and later with as many as 10 (the Mark II). The Mark II* (not shown) is Britain's first purpose-built smokeless powder rifle and is essentially the Lee-Metford with Enfield designed rifling, thus the "Lee-Enfield" of world-over fame.

from: http://www.militaryrifles.com/Britain/Metford.htm

AND

http://library.thinkquest.org/26852/logistics/lee%20metford.htm

This site refers to the vast numbers of Lee Metfords and Lee Enfields which were sent to S.A. between 1895 & 1900 and how they may been used, and by whom, after the Boer War

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I noticed a few markings I recognize.

DP = Drill Purposes (makes more sense with the welding and no magazines)

-><- (opposing broad arrows) - struck off charge as surplus.

Shabash, huzoor! (Well done! )

Now that's obscureinformation to be carrying around in your head! :P We're either very very educated or we need to get real lives. Sorta like billiards: everyone should know how to play but being good at it is one sign of a mis-spent youth! :cheeky:

P

Edited by peter monahan
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All of them seem to have had the barrels shortened. Again, this would fit in well with issue to a cadet corps.

That puts paid to any idea of restoring them, since you'd need new barrels, new forestocks, magazines, and bayonet studs.

But they are still very interesting in their own right.

Check the top of the buttplate for markings - that is where units marked them.

Edited by Michael Johnson
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