• Shortened No. 1 Mk III* Rifle

    Shortened No. 1 Mk III* Rifle
    (By Terry Hawker)

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    Caliber : .................... .303
    Rifling & Twist : .......... 5 Groove, Enfield, Left Hand Twist.
    Barrel Length : ........... 20 1/4 inches.
    Overall Length : .......... 39 inches.
    Weight : ..................... 8 1/2 pounds (unloaded).
    Magazine Capacity : .... 10 Rounds.
    Qty. Mfg. : .................. ?
    Converted By : ........... ?
    Conversion Date : ....... ?

    Source... "The British Service Lee", Ian Skennerton. (1982)
    Source... "The Lee-Enfield Story", Ian Skennerton. (1993)
    Source... "The Broad Arrow", Ian Skennerton. (2001)
    Source... "The Lee-Enfield", Ian Skennerton. (2007)
    Source... "Catalogue of the Enfield Pattern Room - British Rifles", Herbert Woodend. (1981)
    Source... "The Lee-Enfield Rifle", Major E. G. B. Reynolds. (1960)
    Source... "War Underground - The Tunnellers of the Great War", Alexander Barrie. (1961)
    Source... Jouster's Lee-Enfield Forum, thread "1916 Shortened SMLE Enfield?", 04-21-2009 to 04-24-2009.
    Source... Photographs of Warminster's Shortened No. 1 Mk. III*, courtesy of The United Kingdom Ministry of
    Defense, Small Arms School Corps, Warminster.



    Shortened No. 1 Mk III* Rifle

    (41 picture virtual tour)

    Observations: by Terry Hawker (click here)

    Special thanks to Peter Laidler (click here) for again providing us with his unsurpassed technical expertise, expert insight, and very graciously arranging for the use of the photos of Warminster's Shortened No. 1 Mk. III* in this article.

    A very special thank you to Paul Breakey (click here) for once again generously sharing the details of examples in his extensive collection, as well as the benefit of his years of accumulated knowledge in the field of British arms collecting.

    Another distinctive thank you to Roger Dennis, who is the first to admit he is not a weapons expert, and humbly insists all he's done is "..toss pebbles in the pool.", but whose years of study and numerous articles and books on the British military and its equipment, provided an invaluable background to the period in question.

    These three gentlemen, all experts in their own fields, added immeasurably to this article and I deeply appreciate their contributions.

    Introduction

    This article was inspired by an interesting thread started by Peter Laidler on Jouster's Lee-Enfield forum on the Military Surplus Collectors Forums on April 21, 2009, titled, "1916 Shortened SMLE Enfield?" (click here), in which Peter asked if anyone could shed some light on shortened SMLE rifles, as one was housed in the Weapons collection at Warminster. Reading this thread prompted me to dig my example out of the safe for a closer look, which, in turn, prompted a quest for further information to try to answer the basic journalism questions of the Who, What, When, Where and perhaps even Why, regarding the creation of these odd little rifles.

    This article is therefore written in hopes that it will lead to other collector's sharing information on any of these variants they may have in their collections, to see if some common link between them can be established, and, more importantly, with fervent hopes that some documentation will be forthcoming so we can have something other than just conjecture, speculation and unverifiable examples to base opinions on.



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    The specimen in my collection is, with the exception of the rear sight leaf, a matching, 1918, "Pedaled Scheme", Standard Small Arms, No. 1 Mk. III*.


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    It has a 20 1/4" barrel that has been re-crowned with what appears to be the standard, Enfield profile and now wears an Enfield barrel made in 1942.


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    The one-piece fore-end has been shortened by 5", with the inletting for the nose-cap seemingly, professionally done, (more on that later), as is the shortened front hand guard.


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    The standard short butt, stamped with an "S" on the heel, (very common on British WW I rifles), gives the rifle a 12 1/2" pull and has had the marking disc recess neatly plugged with walnut.


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    The butt bears a well-worn, "C broad arrow", Canadian Government ownership stamp, as well as an obviously later, but not recent, mysterious, "AUS I F" stamp, as well as a small, easily missed, upside-down "5" stamp.

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    Among the markings on the receiver are a "C broad arrow", Canadian Government stamp, a "42 EFD" stamp, but no FTR stamp, and no import markings of any kind.

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    The shortening of the barrel and fore-end give the rifle an overall length of 39" and a weight of 8 1/2 pounds, bringing it much closer to handy carbine dimensions and weight than it had in its previous form, but in a package so unobtrusive and unnoticeable, that unless it is stood beside a standard No. 1, the difference in length isn't immediately apparent.

    The very natural appearance of this variant was brought to my attention when I paid a visit to a friend and fellow collector who owns a militaria collectible store in Glendale, California. My friend has much more experience with, as well as a much larger collection of, Lee-Enfields than I, so I was rather surprised to see his reaction when I handed it to him across the counter and asked him if he had seen one before. He looked it over, up and down, cycled the bolt, and, as he started to hand it back to me said, "A Pedaled Scheme S.S.A.", with the tone of a bit of boredom in his voice. When I asked if he noticed anything different about it, he glanced at it again and shrugged, "Nope." Couldn't contain myself any longer, so I asked him to take another look at the length of it. He was sitting in front of a rack of his rifles for sale, with SMLE's in the mix, and was quite surprised when he discovered the difference in length and amazed at how inconspicuous the modification really is.



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    Skennerton's Published Views

    Before this forum thread turned up, the only previous mention of this variant that I had ever run across, was, like so many other things Lee-Enfield associated, in Ian Skennerton's, "British Service Lee" (page 146), "The Lee-Enfield Story" (page 180) and "The Lee-Enfield" (page 200). On these pages, accompanied by the same photo of two different versions of shortened Mk. III* rifles, now owned by Paul Breakey, Mr. Skennerton notes the similarity between these rifles and the early Australian, Short and Intermediate Length, Shortened & Lightened Rifle, with the most obvious difference being the aperture sight mounted on the charger bridge of the Australian rifles.

    Although he doesn't mention it again in his later books, in "British Service Lee", Skennerton, after stating that some shortened S.M.L.E. rifles were modified from the standard service pattern in Britain during the war, goes on to admit "...documentation and references to these particular models has proved too scanty to give a full background."

    Things haven't changed much in the intervening years, as the same, relatively limited information is given in all three books. Noted there, are the variations in these models, more often with a barrel length of 22.2", but some having 18.2" barrels, built on receivers of differing age and origin. Australian, Indian and British manufacturers have all been observed, with various types of modifications to the hand guards and fore-ends.

    Ian mentions, (LES), that some have been noted marked "AIF" and that there is some conjecture of an Australian link, (Australian Imperial Forces), but says this is not likely.

    In all three of Ian's books, he states that these rifles were probably modified in 1943 when carbines were being considered for jungle fighting, but, as Australia and India only produced the No. 1 rifle, the shortened and lightened No. 4 rifle, (which became the No. 5), would be of no benefit, hence the modifications to the No. 1.



    Forum Input

    Peter's quest for information regarding the shortened rifle in the Warminster collection provoked quite a bit of interest other than just my own. To start with, the Australian contingent filled us in with details about the Lithgow Shortened & Lightened rifles, but that has been addressed in previous Milsurp Knowledge Library articles.

    1944 No.1 Intermediate Shortened & Lightened Rifle (Mfg by SAF Lithgow) - Serial #XP53 "Experimental" (Click Here)

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    "Thunderbox" contributes to the discussion that he knows of a Registered Firearms Dealer in the UK who has several SMLE's like this that are said to be conversions for a school cadet force in the South East. (Roger Dennis informs us that this school could possibly be the Duke of York's Military School, Dover, for servicemen's children.) These rifles were said to be just for drill, for junior cadets, not for firing. "Thunderbox" feels the rifles were converted in or about the 1920's and were private school property, rather than War Office issue.

    Paul Breakey gives us the benefit of his years of collecting experience when he shares several interesting pieces of information on this thread. In discussion with Skennerton and James Alley, the previous owner of Paul's two rifles appearing in Ian's books, they felt these particular rifles were authentic given the sources where Mr. Alley obtained them. Paul also reports seeing in Canada, in the 1970's, shortened No. 1's which were British rifles with new, Indian-made, short barrels. These were said to be for armored vehicle mounted troops due to a shortage of sub-machine guns. Paul offered later clarification with his information that the previous statement was the story he had heard at the gun show where he saw these rifles offered for sale. Paul also shared his observation of the 8 shortened No. 1 rifles he saw at Sarco's in the mid '90's, which he suspects of being shortened by Century Arms, as they were of the same markings and condition as the surplus rifles Century was selling at the time.

    Then "harry mac" mentions an article, reprinted in the LERA news letter, about an officer in the trenches of WW I who shortened a couple of rifles to the surprisingly short barrel length of only 12" for use in trench raids. The article reports the rear sight was removed, with a notch filed in the charger bridge to act as a sight, while the fore-end was shortened and re-profiled so the nose cap could be refitted and a bayonet attached. Think of the blinding flash, firing one of those at night, (goodbye night vision!), not to mention the recoil! Supposedly accuracy was acceptable out to a hundred yards, but consideration for acceptance of the modification was curtailed when the Americans arrived with their "sawn-off shotguns".

    Later, "jmoore" reported the difficulty of making his own version of a shortened rifle, about 16-18 years ago, with the resulting key-holing into 8" to 10" group accuracy at 100 yards with boat-tail bullets, while Bindi2 notes a recent sale in Queensland of a shortened rifle that still had yellow cadet paint on the nose cap.



    Existing Examples

    Peter kicked over the rock that led to this discussion, so we will start with the one he reports held in the collection at the Warminster School of Infantry Museum, a 1916, Enfield, No. 1 Mk. III. It is even shorter than the subject specimen of this article, with an over all length of 37" and a 17.5" barrel.


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    The nose cap now butts against the outer, (rear), band and the butt has been slimmed down, front to rear, in a similar style to that on the No. 5 rifle. The rear sight slide has been re-calibrated to 800 yards, and there are other subtle differences in the configuration of the rear sight, as well as the butt. Peter, informs us, in his own inimitable style... "There is no cut-and-shut bodginess (or bubba-ing in wild colonial language) or rough dodgy joints.", that the modifications are professionally done.


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    Oddly enough, the "DP" stamped on the receiver shows the rifle was once down-graded to "Drill Purpose" status, even though it is now in perfect firing order, given Peter's statement that it, "Recoils like a No. 5 too!" At some point in time, most likely upon conversion, the rifle has been refinished in phosphate and Sunkorite.

    Herb Woodend, longtime and much missed curator of the Enfield Pattern Room, wrote of another example of a shortened Mk. III in the official publication, "Catalogue of the Enfield Pattern Room - British Rifles", on page 51, as related here:

    "RB 260 Ca 1945
    Rifle, S.M.L.E., .303", Mk. III*, Shortened
    L 39.3 in (99.8 cm) B 20.1 in (51.1 cm) W 8 lb 14 oz (4.03 kg)

    It is believed that this shortened S.M.L.E. (No. I) Mk. III* was produced for service with the Australian forces operating in jungle areas towards the end of World War II. No information is available as to who was responsible for this conversion, but the barrel, fore-end and handguard have been cut back some 5" and the weapon reassembled in a fairly professional manner. The rifle was originally Indian made and dated 1943, but the butt is stamped on the right side 'A.I.F.' "

    This is the only example of a shortened No. 1 Mk. III mentioned in the Pattern Room Collection catalogue.

    Paul Breakey, as usual, generously contributed a great deal of information regarding the diverse group of examples in his extensive collection. At the time of this writing, (July, 2009), he is the only collector to divulge owning more than one of these variants. Upon examination of the details of this group of at least 11 rifles, the difficulty of the task of identifying their origin becomes frustratingly obvious.

    Paul's 11 examples are composed of 5 different manufacturers, with 6 different barrel lengths, ranging from 17 5/8" to 21", with the resulting various lengths and configurations of fore-ends and hand guards. State of the muzzle after barrel shortening ranges from flat, polished bright, to crowned and blued. Craftsmanship of fore-end alteration ranges from professionally done, one-piece fore-ends, machine inletted, to very dubious, two piece fore-ends, glued together, with the joint cleverly hidden under the barrel band.

    Wood furniture is often a mix of manufacturers, from different continents, sometimes without handguards, with the occasional No. 4 barrel band appearing in place of a No. 1 band. The most incestuous example of model inter-breeding has to be an import marked, Savage No. 4 Mk. I*; the fore-end bearing an Indian transverse screw, with the muzzle end of a No. 1 fore-end and part of a No. 1 front handguard grafted on, glued and spliced under the No. 1 band.

    Six of these are the Sarco purchased models Paul informed us of in the forum thread. They are import marked, have the Indian transverse screw through the crudely mated, two-piece, glued and spliced, fore-end, with the joint again hidden under the barrel band. The suspicious nature of these conversions led Paul to do the collecting fraternity the service of purchasing them to keep them off the market, thus protecting future collectors.

    The article subject example, being the only specimen immediately at hand, bears a closer look.

    As befitting a 1918, Standard Small Arms, Peddled Scheme rifle, the S.S.A. receiver is supported primarily by Enfield parts, with a scattering of other parts bearing Birmingham inspectors' stamps.


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    Disassembly reveals an Enfield replacement barrel, numbered to the receiver, and, according to Skennerton's "Broad Arrow", the stamps on the left side of the knox form indicate manufacture in '42.


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    The right side of the receiver ring also bears an "EFD '42", indicating that this was probably when the barrel was replaced.

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    Lack of any later dated stampings would testify that 1942 was the last time this rifle went through a normal government inspection process. The left side of the receiver ring has the Canadian government ownership stamp, along with the normal British inspection stamps.


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    Again according to the "The Broad Arrow", both the barrel and receiver appear to bear normal view, proof and inspection marks, but one set of marks has me puzzled. Usually the Enfield inspector stamp consists of the royal crown on top, below which is the "E" for Enfield above the inspector's number, sometimes with the inspector number and "E" reversed. In at least two, if not three spots, on the right side of the barrel knox form, is stamped the Enfield, intertwined "ED" logo, above the number "22".


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    Being under the impression that a logo stamp with number below was usually the manufacture date of a part, (such as the "ED 29" stamped into the No. 4 Trials Rifle stamped cut-off), and not an inspector's number, I was hoping that someone with more information than is available in "Broad Arrow" and Ian's other references, could enlighten us. Is it at all possible that the barrel was actually made in 1922, then installed, (as opposed to manufactured), on this rifle in 1942? This does fly in the face of the commonly held belief that the stampings on the left side of the knox indicate the manufacture date, I realize, but, if this belief is true, what does the repeated "22" below the Enfield logo indicate?

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    The shortened barrel has been re-crowned with what at first glance appears to be the usual Enfield profile and radius,


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    ... but, as Peter points out, the close-up of the muzzle reveals the radius to have been done by a drill bit, rather than a cutter.


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    The bare metal left by the cutting and machining of the barrel at the muzzle has been re-finished with the simple, but often used expedient, an application of a coat of black paint. This paint was probably not Sunkorite, judging by the way it has worn off in contact with the nose-cap.


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    Woodwork modifications, although not done to the level of a master craftsman, have been done with a relatively high degree of skill. The inletting of the 90-degree curve on the nose-cap is perfect and appears machine -made, as does the fitting of the rear of the nose-cap to the fore-end. There are some slight irregularities between the wood and nose-cap on the straight, horizontal section behind the sight protector ears.

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    Disassembly discloses no cut-and-spliced glue joint, but rather the prodigious amount of work required to make the original fore-end accept the nose-cap after it has been trimmed. Especially difficult, from a woodworking point of view, is the successful forming of the long, partial-dowel section that the nose-cap fits over. Without the proper machinery, re-creating this section would require the services of an experienced woodworker. The slight irregularities and tool marks here may very well have been caused by the final hand-fitting required when the jigs and tooling for the shapers, routers, or carving machines encountered the extra thickness of the fore-end at this point.

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    The inside of the barrel channel shows the retention of the fore-end stud and spring, and, although it is slightly out of square to the barrel channel, the oval-shaped hole for the nose-cap nut has been perfectly drilled, or routed, without the sloppiness that might be expected if done by hand.


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    The front hand-guard has been shortened, then re-inletted for the re-installation of the metal cap. The discoloration of the wood, shown in both the exterior and interior photos of the hand-guard, testifies to the fact that this was not a recent modification.

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    On the whole, as Herb wrote about their example in the Pattern Room Collection, this one, "...has been re-assembled in a fairly professional manner". Sounds like Herb wasn't too impressed with the workmanship of theirs either.



    Exploring the Creation Myths and other assorted theories

    The forum thread and published references brought to light a number of different possible origins for the shortened No. 1's, so perhaps an examination of some of these statements will reveal something.

    Peter was kind enough to provide photos of the Warminster specimen for this article and its provenance is beyond reproach. It sounds very similar to, and may be part of, a development reported on page 196 of Reynolds' "The Lee-Enfield Rifle", where he states, "Another lightened rifle, sometimes called the No. 6 Rifle, but never officially introduced as such, was designed for Far Eastern theatres of war by the Armament Design Establishment at Enfield, England. This was a development of the S.M.L.E. (No. 1 Rifle). It weighed about 7 lb., was 39.6 in. in overall length, and was fitted with an 18-in. barrel. It was never put in production in either the U.K. or Australia."

    The rifle Herb Woodend records in the Pattern Room Collection, converted from a 1943, Indian-made rifle, is the only one of all the examples noted here that has the "AIF." stamp on the butt. Although part of the old Pattern Room Collection, and thus taken to be sacrosanct by most of us, knowing that Herb was constantly ferreting out new pieces for the Collection, I am quite curious as to exactly when this specimen was added. A more recent acquisition date, as opposed to an earlier one, could prove to be of some significance, as would the source of this example.

    "Thunderbox's" revelation of a Registered Firearms Dealer in the U. K. with several of these is most interesting. As mentioned earlier, the dealer relates that these rifles were intended as drill rifles for junior cadets, not for firing. Roger Dennis, an ex-cadet himself, and author of numerous articles on British military equipment and organizations, relates that in his experience, and with knowledge of the various cadet units in the U. K., making such a concession for the size of the smaller cadets would be unusual. Not to say it may never have been done, as Martini Enfield Carbines have been noted issued to the smallest boys in 1930's era photos, but, to go to the expense of converting rifles for boys to drill with, whereby the only saving is 5" in length and about a 1/2 pound in weight, doesn't seem to be a very practical, or economically feasible decision.

    If these rifles were school property they certainly would be stamped with the name of the school, usually on the butt, and, if down-graded for drill only, should also have drill purpose, "D.P." stamps in several prominent places. If they were War Office property, they would certainly be "D.P." marked. Perhaps we could impose on "Thunderbox" to contribute to the knowledge base and get us a photo of one of these rifles, thus answering some of these questions for the "Feedback" section at the end of this article.

    Paul's observations and collection provide us with the most information currently available on shortened No. 1's. The rifles he observed in Canada in the 1970's, shortened with new, Indian-made barrels supposedly for use by armored units, should be easy to identify. Unless the Canadian government destroyed them, there should be some floating about. Canadian Forum members, how about it? Any of you have one in your collection you could share photos of? Paul's clarification that the Canadian Government connection was an unverified story, heard at a gun show, casts some doubt on the validity of this theory

    Paul's six rifles imported by Century International Arms, but retailed by Sarco in New Jersey, with the joint of the crude, spliced and glued fore-ends carefully hidden under the barrel band, are highly suspect. So too, is the No. 4 Mk 1* with a No. 1 fore-end tip grafted on in the same crude manner.

    This leaves four rifles in Paul's collection of less suspicious origin, with no import marks, all with different barrel lengths, built on receivers produced by different makers. Of these four, two are the rifles pictured in Skennerton's volumes. (Again, "TBSL", pg. 146, "LES", pg. 180, "TLE", pg. 200.)

    Paul mentioned that at one point, Ian, James Alley and himself thought that those two rifles may have been converted for the miners on the Western Front in WW I. This is certainly a possibility, but a little research shows it to be unlikely. According to what is usually recognized as the best history of tunneling and mining in WW I, "War Underground, The Tunnellers of the Great War", by Alexander Barrie, when opposing work parties accidentally ran into each other, the engagement was brutal and brief, fought with the picks, shovels, or other tools they happened to have in their hands when contact was made. If there was to be a pre-planned raid through a breach into the enemy's tunnel system, handy weapons like revolvers and grenades were issued. (Probably safe to say that such an engagement underground, an experience shared with the Tunnel Rats later in Viet Nam, resulted in blown out ear drums.) Utilized as well by this Canadian mining unit were specially made daggers that lashed to the forearm, but, unless I missed it, no mention is made of fighting in the tunnels with rifles of any configuration.

    A careful examination of these two rifles reaps further information in conflict with the miner origin possibility. With one rifle having a 1945-dated barrel and "'51" inspection date stamped on the left side of the butt socket, while the other rifle has a 1922-dated barrel and a "'28 E" inspection date stamped on the left side of its butt socket, the WW I miner origin theory is safely put to rest.

    Paul recently ran into James Alley and inquired further about these same two rifles. Mr. Alley reported that although he got them from two different individuals, they originally came from a major dealer in England, (could this be the same dealer Thunderbox mentions?), who had acquired 200 shortened rifles with mixed barrel lengths from Greeners, and, that he thought they were experimental in nature. As Paul mentions, a figure of 200 seems a bit much for experimentals, but if they were of the same barrel length, (which obviously they are not), perhaps they could have been made for troop trials. If that were the case though, one would think there should be some documentation, somewhere, waiting to be uncovered.

    Another specimen in this remaining group of four of Paul's rifles, is the closest in configuration to the subject rifle. It has the same maker and date receiver, as well as the same serial number prefix, stock pull, one piece fore-end with machined inletting and lack of import marks. Both rifles are matching, (except for the subject's rear sight leaf), and both have been re-barreled with Enfield barrels numbered to the receiver... his a 1937 barrel, the subject a 1942. The muzzle of Paul's is crowned and blued... the subject rifle crowned and painted.



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    The shortened barrels are within 1/16 of an inch of being the same length. Given the discrepancies of two different people measuring two different rifles, that 1/16-inch difference might disappear and they may very well have identical barrel lengths.


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    The major difference between the two is that the subject rifle has "AUS. I. F." stamped in the butt while Paul's rifle does not.

    When I first acquired the subject rifle I contacted Ian Skennerton and gave him the rifle's details. Ian was kind enough to respond and said it certainly sounded legitimate, probably made by the trade in the early 1940's with hopes of selling them to Australia. He also said the "AUS. I. F." stamped in the butt of this rifle has no Australian connotation.

    Later, with the publication of "The Lee-Enfield", on page 200, Ian notes of some shortened SMLE rifles modified in Britain during the war, that "Some have been noted marked 'AIF' and there has been some conjecture of an Australian link (Australian Imperial Forces) but by this time, the AIF had long passed into history. Similarly, it is not likely to have been an old marking as AIF was never a designated unit and has not been noted on any other equipment."

    The AIF may never have been a designated unit, but it definitely did exist. Major E. G. B. Reynolds mentions it on page 195 of "The Lee-Enfield Rifle" and several times in other places, but, even more convincingly, a quick check with the Australian War Museum teaches us, that as the Australian Army was primarily a part-time self defense organization, in order to help support Britain in the war in Europe, a separate, 20,000 man force was created during WW II, which soon became known as the Second AIF, in deference to similar forces raised in WW I which were known as the First AIF.

    Ian's speculation that this rifle was probably converted by "the trade", in hopes of sales to Australia, strikes me as a bit troubling. As Roger Dennis points out, in the early 1940's, every business in Britain was operating under the restrictions of wartime. All industry was strictly controlled, with manufacturing capacity utilized to the maximum. It doesn't seem very likely, in a nation on war footing, that any company, previously in "the trade", would be allowed to indulge in a project of such narrow self-interest, as speculative arms production. An industry as vital as arms production would certainly be under stricter control than that, which, I think, would preclude the option of manufacturing arms for commercial purposes in wartime, even if for another Commonwealth government.

    A few years before I bought this rifle from an old friend, he and I were wandering the aisles of the Phoenix gun show, where we saw another shortened rifle with the identical butt stamp. I recall him saying, "Well that verifies mine!" If nothing else, it does prove at least two rifles were so shortened and marked. If I had thought then that he would ever part with his, I would certainly have paid much more attention to the second one, even though my pockets were rather empty at the time.

    So does the subject rifle fit into any of the previously discussed origin theories or reported sightings?

    Could it be related to the same group of experimentals from which the Warminster example sprung? Possibly, but, if that were the case, I would expect the radiusing of the muzzle crowning to be a bit more expertly done, likewise the nosecap inletting,



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    ..... and, if the re-finishing job of Warminster's rifle is a guide, something better than a coat of black paint to the modified area. If done under the auspices of the British government, surely the Canadian property marks would have been struck out, (although Warminster's still bears its "D.P." markings), and how to explain the "AUS I. F." on the butt? I find the faint "5" stamped on the butt in the same area a bit more intriguing, and, perhaps indicative of experimental status.


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    (Coincidently, the experimental sight on a 1915 Enfield Trials Mk. V also has the number "5" stamped on it, so we do know some parts on experimental, or trials, specimens were sometimes individually numbered.)

    It has been suggested that if this rifle really were an experimental, the receiver should bear some marking indicating such a development, but this isn't necessarily the case.



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    The Enfield Trials Mk. V just mentioned, is all matching and undoubtedly genuine, but the only markings on the receiver, or butt socket, are those from the manufacture of its original incarnation in 1915. Other than the obvious modifications to the receiver and rear hand-guard on the way to becoming a Mk. V, there is nothing in the markings to indicate this is an experimental.

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    Further information about this unique experimental can be found in Item 2 of the Collector's Comments and Feedback section of the following article. ..... 1924 ShtLE (Short Lee-Enfield) No.1 MkV Rifle (Mfg by RSAF Enfield) (Click Here)

    The Pattern Room Collection example is of very similar dimensions, but made from an Indian-made rifle, produced in 1943, one year after the subject rifle was re-barreled. The subject rifle's "AUS I. F." stamp in the butt, as opposed to the Pattern Room's "A.I.F.", suggests different origins as well.

    If the subject rifle was a cadet drill rifle, a school property mark and "DP" markings should be present. Instead of being filled in, I suspect the marking disc recess would have been utilized in the usual manner, with a steel disc bearing a rack number. Again, the "AUS I. F." stamping would be completely unnecessary, as it would if it were one of the supposedly 200 rifles reportedly from by Greeners.

    The shared characteristics of this rifle and one of Paul's has already been discussed, and, at first looks promising, despite the different type of muzzle finish and the now notorious, "AUS. I. F." stamp. The possibility of it being a conversion for Canadian armored units also shows promise, due to the Canadian property stamps, but is undone by the lack of the reported, new, shortened, Indian-made barrel, along with the absence of any government conversion and inspection stamps that an issued conversion would surely have. As mentioned before, the whole "Canadian Government conversion" origin theory is sorely tested by Paul's helpful clarification that this was an un-tested gun show story. Many thanks to Paul for setting the record straight.



    Conclusions Or Lack Of Same

    As yet, there is nothing but speculation regarding the origin of this particular rifle. All that can be said for certain is that the '42 dated barrel and receiver ring inspection stamp precludes the conversion being done prior to this date.

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    If the conversion was done at the same time as the barrel replacement, one would think that there should be further markings on the receiver or butt socket noting the fact.

    The hope was that the examination of others would lead to some commonalities that might reveal more information, but the sample is still just too small. My observation of another shortened rifle at a gun show with the identical "AUS. I. F." marking, proves it wasn't a "one-off", but nothing else. As mentioned, one of Paul's examples and the subject rifle share a lot of characteristics, but further samples need to be noted before any conclusions can be drawn.

    As Ian Skennerton has written, the information on these models is just too scanty for a full background, (or any, for that matter), and, similarly, Herb Woodend tells us there is no information available as to who was responsible for the conversion of their example. Indeed, almost all the information given in the four short paragraphs published on these models in Ian's latest book on the Lee-Enfield, can be gleaned from just Herb's description of Pattern Room specimen RB 260 and Paul's two pictured examples. That's certainly very little factual material to go on.

    The complete lack of any documentation is staggering, leaving us, once again, with only existing specimens to tell the tale. Careful examination can disprove some theories, (as has been noted with the "miner" origin theory), but it is extremely difficult to actually prove a theory without some documentation. If three experts of the stature of the gents that made the "miner" slip-up can be misled, it bodes ill for us amateurs, but does, once again, point out the crucial importance of careful examination of the examples in our collections.

    Published information can be just as confusing, such as Ian's correspondence several years ago that the "AUS. I. F." stamp may have indicated the hope by "the trade" of potential sales to Australia, then contradicting that later in "The Lee-Enfield". Did information surface in the interim to change his mind? If so, what? We now know the AIF did indeed exist, in both WW I and WW II, but, admittedly, as Ian states, not as a designated unit, with the marking unobserved on any other equipment. This is probably the case, but doesn't a similar situation exist perhaps, with the BEF sent to France early in WW II? Both military organizations certainly existed, even if their acronyms weren't stamped on any equipment.

    As there is no way at present of knowing when the "A.I.F" and "AUS. I. F." stamps in the butt were made, before, during, or after conversion, they may be just a "red herring" leading us astray in trying to come to grips with the origin of the rifles so marked. As discussed, conversion by "the trade" during wartime seems highly unlikely, but, could these butt stamps, alluding to an Australian connection, be instead an effort by retailers, shortly after the war, to market some odd experimental rifles the government was disposing of, by using the initials of a Commonwealth Force the public was familiar with at the time? In other words, could those markings simply be a marketing ploy whereby retailers stamped familiar letters on unfamiliar variants?

    Of the fourteen rifles we have in this sample, the seven that have import marks with the crude, two-piece, spliced and glued fore-ends, can pretty safely be dismissed as fakes, because such a fore-end would be too weak to support the use of a bayonet. This leaves only seven for serious consideration. These seven are composed of four different makers, but, (with the possible exception noted earlier), seven different barrel lengths.

    The fact that the group of rifles that aren't obvious fakes are converted from "non-standard", or perhaps more correctly, more "expendable" arms, could be meaningful. With the exception of one 1915 Enfield, the other seven rifles in this group consist of arms of "Pedaled Scheme", "Dispersal", "FTR.", Foreign (Ishapore), and even, "Drill Purpose", origins, just the sort of arms a country at war might be willing to sacrifice in an experimental attempt to come up with something new.



    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    No doubt some conversions were officially done in the hope of providing troops in the Pacific Theater with a handier rifle prior to the development of the No. 5, with Westminster's specimen being proof of the process, but, whether this resulted in a series of different examples, a small number of Trials rifles, or a duplication of similar efforts in other locations, at present we have no clue.

    Careful examination of the production details of shortened conversions, as well as the level of the workmanship utilized, should easily eliminate from consideration any amateur, "bubba" efforts. Some hobbyists have, and will no doubt continue to make, "carbine" No. 1's for their own amusement, but, they too should be easily identifiable.

    With the Warminster specimen safely removed from the sample as authentic, (but, as yet, still without the documentation to prove it), we are left with two groups of shortened Lee-Enfields...Those that we know are fakes, and those we can't prove are real. This presents the modern scam-artist who may possess professional gunsmith's skills a dilemma...Try to fake a rifle that, as yet, we can't prove existed, and if caution is thrown to the wind and the attempt made anyway, which version of the known bunch should be chosen for duplication?

    If a collector comes across a shortened No. 1 it should be approached very warily. If the seller refuses to remove the barrel band, walk away. Do the same if any markings are discovered to be any more recent than 65 years of age. Even if careful examination of these two areas of inspection reveals nothing that appears illegitimate, like an Enfield No. 2 revolver with a short barrel, the likelihood is you have a fake in your hands.

    Perhaps this rambling article will stimulate a few collectors to take a closer look at any examples they may have in their collections and share photos of the markings and modifications. Even better would be the discovery of some official documents, period photos, or any other evidence that may prove some provenance, as I would love to put to rest that nagging voice in the back of my head whispering that this little rifle may not be a rare experimental after all, but simply nothing more than a decades earlier version of a commercial con job along the lines of the infamous "Greek Jungle Carbine".


    (Click PIC to Enlarge)



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    Note: The opinions expressed herein or statements made in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Military Surplus Collectors Forums, or the ownership and moderation group of this site. MILSURPS.COM accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein. Also, please note that neither the author nor MILSURPS.COM recommends that any member of these forums, or a reader of this article, try this type of experimentation without the proper knowledge, equipment and training.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Shortened No. 1 Mk III* Rifle started by Badger View original post
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. whitefeather08's Avatar
      hello
      i am new here in this site and i just have a question about my enfield 303 NO1 MARKIII i really dont have knowledge about my enfield but its kind a neat rifle and i like it. it says in the side of the stack its 1944 SMLE and there is a crown mark.

      ---------- Post added at 02:09 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:07 PM ----------

      i just wanna find out if that is a original .303 no1 markIII enfield the serial number in the side of the barrel say its 4829
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      Warning: This is a relatively older thread
      This discussion is older than 360 days. Some information contained in it may no longer be current.
    1. doghunterwes's Avatar
      whitefeater08 i wish you luck i have been searching for months for info concernign my Mo 4 Mk1 and have no luck. To this day i cant tell where or when it was made, and that is all i really am trying to find

      i have seen a lot of good stuff on this fourm and am hopign for a reply. i also have a crown under neath the stock. I have no other markings that can be seen.
    1. Badger's Avatar
      Both you guys need to read this thread in the Q&A - MILSURPS.COM (click here) help forum.

      What can you tell me about my rifle? (click here)

      After that, armed with the information you need to post, go to the The Lee Enfield Knowledge Library Collectors Forum (click here) and make a public post there to find out more about your rifles.

      Regards,
      Doug
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