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    Really Senior Member Seaspriter's Avatar
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    Mystery of the Missing Wartime Long Branch Snipers

    Perhaps all our global team can help solve what seems to be a "mystery" of missing Long Branch Snipers that were produced during Wartime and the scopes that were fitted to them.

    Here's the quandary, in a nutshell: From those that have contributed to the Long Branch Sniper data bases, it appears that the very large proportion of the LB Snipers that are present and accounted for were from the Post War production, and very few from Wartime production. Where are the Wartime Snipers?

    From the data base linking LB serial numbers to months of production (Long Branch - Linking Serial Numbers to Month of Production) and the Production Report (which starts on October 1, 1943) submitted by Assistant Production Manager Marshall in early 1946, he states “At the end of the 3rd quarter of 1943, total production of the No.4 rifle was 477,171” but makes no mention of any Sniper production (presumably 70 Snipers was a limited run – which may have been for trials in combat to test their effectiveness, which in turn may have led to a larger contract the next year) The 70 Snipers from 1943 would have had serial number in the 40L-50L range. Does anyone know of the existence of any of these?

    68L32xx range of sniper rifles would have been produced in late May-early June 1944 No one seems to know how many were produced in this range, and very few have surfaced.

    Marshall states in his report that in 1944: Total Snipers produced: 644 (these all seem appear to be in the 68L32xx or 71Lxxxx serial # block range beginning 71L0001) Note: the last Serial Number of a Sniper that has surfaced in this 71L series is 71L0644 – What happened to the other Snipers in the remainder of the series? (I have one in this range -- Doomed Long Branch Sniper Reborn and Seaforth72 has a couple). A number of those at the end of the production series appear to have 1945 dates on the receivers, indicating they were probably not date-stamped until they received their mated scopes. Few seem to have been accounted for.

    Marshall states for Q1-‘45: Snipers Produced: 254 Total: 898.(do these all match the 71LXXXX serial # block? or another block of SNs?) (Note: These would have serial numbers 71L0655-0898 but none have been accounted for at this point.)

    Marshall states for Q2-’45: Snipers Produced: 24, (Production fell due to not receiving the necessary telescopes) Total 922. .(do these all match the 71LXXXX serial # block? or another block of SNs?) (Note: These would have serial numbers 71L 899-923, but none have been accounted for at this time)

    These would all be considered the Wartime Snipers. Here's what Seaforth72 shared with me from his data base:
    1. 71L0276 ?
    2. 71L0279 DATED 1944 Scope Missing, Seaspriter on Milsurps Robert Porter Lynch, Naples, FL USAicon
    3. 71L0287 C No. 32 MK. IA 368C UNKNOWN
    4. 71L0297 17977 17977
    5. 71L0303 351C Cold Zero ? Alberta Canadaicon
    6. 71L0322 C No. 32 Mk. IA 301C B & B Arsenal
    7. 71L0332 No. 32 MK. IA 3840 ?
    8. 71L0350 C No. 32 405C paul87buck USA?
    9. 71L0374 UK
    10. 71L0403 C No. 32 Mk. II 471C UNKNOWN Italyicon?
    11. 71L0414 C No. 32 MK. II UNKNOWN Canada?
    12. 71L0435 C No. 32 Mk. I or IA or II 168C John ROBERTSON Canada
    13. 71L0439 C No. 32 Mk. II 3854C 3854C UNKNOWN USA
    14. 71L0555 No. 32 Mk. II 11189 11189 Colin Stevens Canada (Britishicon scope fitted in service) DATED 1944
    15. 71L0573 C No. 32 Mk. II 690C 249C Colin Stevens Canada (mismatched C No. 32 MK3 scope DATED 1945
    16. 71L0595 No. 32 Mk. III Canada
    17. 71L0597 ? UNKNOWN USA
    18. 71L0630 No. 32 Mk. 3 > L1A1? 116(C?) Graeme Barber NZicon
    19. 71L0644 696C 137(C?) Simon ? UK
    20. 71Lxxxx 307C Van Xulu

    This represents about 2% of the total production of the 71LXXXX rifle, which was the largest Sniper production run. The remaining 98% from Wartime Production are “Unknown Fate” (apparently Unaccounted for, Missing/Lost, or Destroyed). What happened to these other 1,000 rifles? Why are such a large proportion in the “unknown fate” category.

    Once the war was over in Europe, Marshall goes on to state:
    Q3-’45: Snipers Produced: 161, with total production of this item up to 1,083 -- production was progressing in a satisfactory manner, compatible with the receipt of telescopes. (do these all match the 71LXXXX or another block of SNs? or 90L 8XXXserial # block?)
    Q4-’45: Snipers produced: 58, Total 1,141. .(do these all match the 71LXXXX or or another block of SNs? 90L 8XXXserial # block?)

    Long Branch closed down normal rifle production in August, 1945. Marshall continues:
    Q3-’45: Snipers Produced: 161, with total production of this item up to 1,083 -- production was progressing in a satisfactory manner, compatible with the receipt of telescopes. (do these all match the 71LXXXX or another block of SNs? or 90L 8XXXserial # block?)
    Q4-’45: Snipers produced: 58, Total 1,141. .(do these all match the 71LXXXX or or another block of SNs? 90L 8XXXserial # block?)

    He then states: Dec 31 1945: Small Arms Limited Uncompleted contracts: Sniper’s Rifle – 376; (these all seem to match the 90L8000 to 8376 serial # block)

    Remarkably, 77 (20%) of these Post-War Production rifles are accounted for today.

    (see 1945 Longbranch No4mk1*T Serial and Scope List )

    These would be attributed to Q1-‘46 when all operations were taken over by the Small Arms Division of Canadian Arsenals Limited, and up to March, 1946, when all assets and liabilities of the company were turned over to the Department of Reconstruction and Supply and the company made application for the surrender of its Charter.

    Why are so many of the Wartime Snipers missing? Or am I missing something? Who can shed some light on this?



    Seaforth72 -- you have some interesting observations to share as well as conclusions about scopes.

    Thanks for your help.
    Robert
    Last edited by Badger; 02-24-2016 at 06:35 PM.

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    Contributing Member Sentryduty's Avatar
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    Robert, I have an idea about a resource I can draw on. Allow me to make a phonecall or two and see if I can help out.
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    Really Senior Member mike1967's Avatar
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    Rifle 5 on that list, SN 71L0303 is with me in Australiaicon. It had and was fitted up for a Lyman TP not a No32 but now sadly missing its scope and mounts.

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    I believe that the "missing" Long Branch snipers are easily(?) found in the 71L0000-71L0220 range.

    I do not have any 71L snipers below 0200 in my data base, and I have 2 theories:

    1) they were retained by the Canadianicon Army and have not been released
    2) the 71L block starts at 0200 (not 0000 as was typical for the other "block" rifles) and continues to approx. 710
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    Seven or eight years ago a local scrapyard cut two into small chunks at the behest of the Gendarmerie Royale Canadien. The remains were gone before I found out. The description from a person who wouldn't know a No.4 from a Model 94 left no room for doubt that the story was true.

    Were these rifles not all supplied to the UKicon MoD for disbursement to whomever they pleased? If so, they could have ended up anywhere; India, Pakistan, Greece, NATO, you name it.
    Last edited by Surpmil; 02-24-2016 at 11:50 PM.
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    42-L-7507 and 45-L-1459 were both converted to L42A1 spec. by Enfield sometime after 1970.

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    I think the majority of early, (and late for that matter), production Long Branch snipers went into MoD service. The small number supplied were probably decimated due to use and attrition the same as many other wartime rifles. The only rifles I've had through here sporting Canadianicon Army ownership marks were 74L TP variants fitted with the REL base, rings and Lyman Alaskan telescopes. I have a 1943 50L rifle here that came with a mismatch British scope and bracket and a 1944 71L that was missing it's scope when I got it several years ago. Both now sport Canadian scopes and brackets. One with an REL Mk.1A and the other a Mk.2. Both rifles are from MoD service, have never seen FTR in Englandicon and sport the pre 1968 "England" country of origin stamp applied after they were disposed of by the MoD. I'd guess they were eventually shipped back to North America by importers of the day like Interarms. I did restock a legit 1942 dated LB "T" several years ago that had been sporterized but still retained it's original matching bracket and REL Mk.1 scope. Thank Christ the barrel wasn't cut off. It belongs to a member of this forum so maybe he'll chime in. It's the earliest variant I've ever had in my hands and I enjoyed putting it back. I had to cough up one of my last new LB forends at the time and it turned out very nice.

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    I've had a few 71L's & 90L's go through my books over the years. I think I've posted them on previous threads. Many years ago I bought a 39L 1943 dated rifle complete with REL Mk1A scope. It had never been FTR'd & was a little peach - I just regret I let a mate in NZicon prise it out of me!

    I would agree with Brian & others that AFAIK the 4T production was 'pooled', with rifles being issued to where they were required when they were required, regardless of who made them. Thus the majority of Canadianicon T's would have gone into service with other than Canadian units - there is specific mention of the No4 Mk1* (T) in Britishicon EMERS, for example. I suspect that if we were in a position to measure attrition rates between Long Branch & BSA Shirley produced rifles (& for that matter Trials, Savage & Maltby rifles) we would find similar rates of loss, & probably quite high over the years, as the victors of WW2 continued using their issue weapons for a lengthy period after the cessation of hostilities. The Germans had theirs taken off them!

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    Advisory Panel Lee Enfield's Avatar
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    My edited serial number notes, now updated to 2.23.16
    Left column is current numbers in serial block, early blocks may have rifles "grouped" into exact 1000 blocks.

    NUMBERS BREAK-DOWN
    "survivors & known serials "x "Block"/ "est. total" )

    1x 0L9 1/3=33%
    1x 8L7 1/3=33%
    1x 12L4 1/3=33%
    2x 32L 2/3=67%
    2x 36L5 2/3=67%
    1x 39L7 1/3=33%
    1x 42L7 1/3=33%
    1x 43L9 1/3=33%
    5x 45L1 5/20=25%
    1x 45L5 1/3+33%
    7x 50L0 7/50=14%
    1x 63L5 1/3=33%
    5x 64L7 5/10=50%
    8x 68L3 8/50=16%
    51x 71L0 51/660=7.7%
    42x 74L0 42/350=12%
    9x 80L8 9/84=10.7%
    85x 90L8 85/375=22.6%
    2x ExP 4/15=13% (Badger/Hahn/2xCollectorS)
    56L5967 (exp Alu weaver WOW)

    My est. 1619 rifles vs. 1588 W.O.W. documents

    Reducing ‘42/’43 estimated numbers to published 71 14/71 20% of documented pre-’44 rifles=1590 (not including experimentals)

    1519 "production rifles" estimated produced during 1944-46
    71 "production rifles" produced before Jan1, 1944
    = 1590 estimated "Production" sniping rifles at Long Branch (ie. not ASC/ASE ect.) ... pretty darn close to the documented 1588 number.



    29- ’43 or earlier (dated receiver) documented serial numbers as of 2.23.16

    Note: just because the receiver is dated 1943, doesn't mean that the gun was CONVERTED before Jan1, 1944 and may NOT be included in the 71 "Total" by Jan1, 1944.

    I would also note that 1 serial number would place the rifle in mid 1941 receiver dated production (although the barrel would be dated 1942 in my experience).
    2 rifles would be dated 1942... arguing that the Long Branch sniper rifle conversion program started in early 1942, or late 1941.

    I would note that sniping rifles are likely to survive at a higher percentage due to their "valuable and attractive" nature...this is often observed in relation to "special order" (engraved ect.) sporting firearms. So the high proportion of surviving early serial numbers is not difficult to explain.
    Last edited by Lee Enfield; 02-25-2016 at 03:58 PM.
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    Advisory Panel Lee Enfield's Avatar
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    Sorry for any confusion, this was a PM from Seaspriter
    Quote Originally Posted by Seaspriter
    ...snip...
    So I ran your numbers through a spread sheet and came up with an anomaly. Perhaps you'd like to help figure it out.
    The Marshall Production Reports state (for the years 1944-46)
    1944: Total Snipers produced: 644
    Q1-‘45 Snipers Produced: 254 Total: 898.
    Q2-’45:Snipers Produced: 24, Total 922.
    Q3-’45: Snipers Produced: 161, with total production of this item up to 1,083
    Q4-’45: Snipers produced: 58, Total 1,141
    Dec 31 1945: Small Arms Limited Uncompleted contracts: Sniper’s Rifle – 376;
    Total (1944-46)= 1,517

    If I take the 1941-43 estimates in your data base (serial blocks 0L9-50L0), your estimates total = 97

    Added together 97+1517 = 1614 (just 25 or so more than your estimates -- which means your estimates are pretty close!)
    Nothing to quibble about -- as our data becomes more clear, the picture will become even more accurate.
    ...snip...

    My reply:
    My estimated production numbers for each serial block is based on observed survivors and reported serial numbers.

    The large numbers (50) for the 50L block (for example) is based on the known serial numbers, but I no longer believe (due to the large serial spread -approx. 80 serials [call it 0004 thru 0080, then an outlier at 0300] that the 50L block snipers were actually a "block", I do believe that they are still batch production, ie) pull 15-20 completed or semi-completed rifles off the line for conversion.

    Indications are that the first stage of the program started (likely) based on selecting an accurate rifle and converting it.

    The second stage was likely started when Peter's oft referred to H&H production specialist showed up to solve the low production problems. It was to go down and select a "batch" of 10-20 completed rifles (not necessarily consecutive, but close) and segregate them for conversion. For example 2 of the 45L1 serial numbers are consecutive and the other 3 are all within 10 serials of each other. the 64L [62 serials] and 68L [65 serials] blocks are very similar - more reported numbers would tell for sure if they are "batch" or "Block" numbers.

    The third stage was true "serial block" [71L, 74L, 80L, 90L] production in that serial number "blocks" were set aside and receivers were converted and guns assembled as snipers...never having been standard service rifles.

    This is one reason why the 71L serial block shows markings variations and both 1944 and 1945 dates... for instance there were at least 2 "5" number fonts used on the receiver date stamp.
    Last edited by Lee Enfield; 02-25-2016 at 06:35 PM.
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