Rifles used in 1898?

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Rifles used in 1898?

Postby RobD » 06 Aug 2017 14:42

I am asking a technical question concerning the rifles of the forces during the reconquest of the Sudan in 1898.

1. Did the British forces used .303 Lee Metford rifles [ which had been in service 1888 onwards] - or were they a mixture of Lee Metfords and Lee Enfields [the latter in service 1895/1896 onwards]?
I am aware that by the start of the Boer War (Oct 1899) there was a mixture of both types in use, although one often reads about them called "Lee Metfords", as a generic description. They look very similar except in closeup photos, so if anyone has a few closeup photos of Sudan 1898 to post here, I'd be very interested.

2. I understand Kitchener's Egyptian and Sudanese troops used Martini action rifles, not bolt action - is that correct? If so, were these Martini Henry rifles in .577/.450 calibre? Or were they issued Martini Metfords or Martini Enfields in .303 cal?

many thanks
Rob
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Re: Rifles used in 1898?

Postby terrylee » 06 Aug 2017 17:16

To answer your first question I believe that the rifles on issue to the British regiments in the Sudan can be identified by an analysis of Boer War photos and circumstances.

Here we can consider “The Great Rifle Scandal” which resulted from the issue of incorrectly sighted Lee Enfields to the recalled reservists. The fault was only discovered upon their arrival in South Africa and was caused by the newly-manufactured Enfields having been previously placed in storage while the serving troops used and wore out their existing Lee Metfords which were still within their official service life.

Surely, if the faulty Lee Enfields had been on issue during the Sudan Campaign, the sighting problem would have been identified earlier?

Photos taken in the early days of the Boer War clearly indicate that the Lee Metford Mks. I* and II were on issue to arriving troops and I thus strongly suspect that this was also the case in the Sudan.
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Re: Rifles used in 1898?

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 07 Aug 2017 01:08

Good question. I have wondered these things myself. All I can deduce are from photo images from the period. First, lets take a look at this very cool image of Boer War Dutch fighters with two captured British rifles.......

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view ... =1&ajf=100

The two stalwarts in front are either holding Metford Mk II's, or Metford Mk II*'s....OR Lee Enfield Mk I or Mk I*'s!!!!!
We cannot see the nose caps or Safety thumb lever to ascertain model. Now we CAN ascertain first production Metford Mk I's and Mk1* buy the large magazine they had. Check this link out...

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

Look at the magazine size difference. The mag of the early Metfords extend below the trigger guard. The magazines were not interchangeable, (I believe?)

Here is an image of Omdurman, September 2, 1898. Maxim gun position (I think).

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_c5BFb4lmi28/S ... durman.jpg

The soldier in the posed, kneeling position clearly has a early big magazine Metford.

Here is an image arrributed to the Sudan, but I can not find provenance, so here it is and it is a great photo, big magazine early Metfords.

http://i.imgur.com/zSrT5vI.jpg

I think that the Sudanese soldiers are NCO's with single color dress uniforms. Not sure on that claim. The Sudanese gentleman to the right with the vest and dagger in sash is probably an official of a city or province along for a "selfie". Like I claim, I am assuming this is a sudan photo image. The ID of this kilted unit may shed light on the unit. Maybe the socks can id this unit. There were kilts at Omdurman, but my copy of "The River War" is not handy and I can't ID the uniform I use in MY employment, let alone a British unit.
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Re: Rifles used in 1898?

Postby terrylee » 07 Aug 2017 08:09

The Lee Metfords: (1) Mk.I* (2) Mks. II, II* & Cavalry Carbine.

I doubt that the Mk II* could have been used in the Sudan. It was produced in relatively limited numbers and those that I 've seen or heard of are marked to the Royal Navy.

(1) Lee Metford Mk.I Star.jpg
(1) Lee Metford Mk.I Star.jpg (29.61 KiB) Viewed 142 times
(2) Lee  Metfords Mks.II . II Str  & Cav. Carb.jpg
(2) Lee Metfords Mks.II . II Str & Cav. Carb.jpg (71.06 KiB) Viewed 142 times
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Re: Rifles used in 1898?

Postby rd72 » 07 Aug 2017 20:32

Hi there,

For what it's worth, all photographic evidence I have seen to date points to the exclusive use of the Mk I* MLM. Sling positioning being the greatest giveaway.....

Grenadier Guards.
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The Lincolns
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Camerons
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Cheers,
Rob
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Re: Rifles used in 1898?

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 07 Aug 2017 22:37

"For what it's worth, all photographic evidence I have seen to date points to the exclusive use of the Mk I* MLM. Sling positioning being the greatest giveaway....."

Of course it is rd72. Good observation, damn good.

The position of the sling on both the Mk I and the Mk I* were the same...nose cap to sling swivel in FRONT of the magazine. The MK II and all other Metfords and Enfields had the sling hung nose cap to buttstock.

Though there could Mk I's with some of the units, long before the Sudan First Dongola Campaign, the Mk I was converted to Mk I* as well as new Mk I*'s being built.

The Mk I and MK I* were the only Metfords with the big eight round Magazine.

Now on to the use of Martinis by the Sudan/Egyptian troops, the second question by RobD.
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Re: Rifles used in 1898?

Postby rd72 » 08 Aug 2017 06:00

Ed, a small point, but the "all other Metfords and Enfields" had their slings from the barrel band to the butt, not the nose cap to butt...

As for the Sudanese and Egyptians, Martinis in 577/450.... either Mk IVs or earlier patterns...
Cheers,
Rob
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