Mk.4 Martini Henry Rifle - Mafeking Link?

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Mk.4 Martini Henry Rifle - Mafeking Link?

Postby peter6 » 13 Jan 2018 15:19

Hi Everyone
I have in my possession a Mk.4 long lever Martini Henry Rifle. It has a number of markings on it that link it to the Bechuanaland Protectorate.
I'm unclear at present which men were present at the siege of Mafeking under Col Baden Powell.
Protectorate Police?
Protectorate Regiment?
Rifle Volunteers? Under the command of Captain Cowan. Approximately 80 men.
My understanding is that a number of Martinis were still in service during the siege and could mine have been one of them?
Marking as follows:
1. Date 1886 - Enfield. VR.
2. Class - 1 Plus all standard proof and inspection markings.
3. On Receiver: Ns 06 - 91
4. On Receiver: BP-26
5. On forward upper receiver: U with diamond inside. (Skennerton).
6. On forward upper receiver left: U with broad arrow inside. (Skennerton).
7. On barrel ahead of the Knox Form: BP26
8. Top of Knox Form: SRG
9. Knox Form L/H side: U with broad arrow inside
10. Knox Form L/H side: A1112
11. Butt L/H side: SRG - BP26 - 5111
12. Butt R/H side: Very faint Enfield Roundel

I purchased the rifle in UK but if anyone (RSA?) has any previous knowledge or seen this particular weapon would be very happy if you could please get in touch. With the information provided does anyone know if any 'Protectorate' armoury lists still survive or am I chasing a ghost?
I don't believe there would have been a great number of weapons purchased/issued to the 'Protectorate' which may help with search and fact it has BP26 (low number) stamped on may possibly lead to a trace. Apologies I am unable to attach photographs for some reason. This has been a problem for other posts on the forum. Am I doing something wrong?
Many thanks for any response.
Regards
Peter
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Re: Mk.4 Martini Henry Rifle - Mafeking Link?

Postby RobD » 14 Jan 2018 13:55

Dear Peter
to post your pics, re-size them so they are 700 pixels or less along the longest edge.

I have a similar MH MkIV, lacking the BP marks but with Southern Rhodesia Govt and Union of South Africa marks; see pictures.

I think all we can say about our rifles is that they were widely used by 2 [or in your case 3] governments in the region, including after 1910 [Union of SA] and after 1923 [Southern Rhodesia]. It is very likely that these rifles had been in the region since the 1890s, since nobody in their right mind would have ordered them as new equipment after 1900, when the .577/.450 cal rifle was obsolete. Even if the intention was to arm African troops with obsolete-calibre arms, South Africa was awash with old stocks of MH rifles, many of which are similarly marked to ours. South Africa still is awash with Martinis, though the supply is gradually dwindling! Evidence of Boer War useage of MH MkIV rifles is very scant - in photographs, blockhouse guards and Town Guards [who used this calibre] seem to have the short-lever variants.
The best way to see if your rifle could have been at Mafeking would be to pore over original photos, looking for long lever Martinis; if you find some, post here!

best wishes, Rob
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Re: Mk.4 Martini Henry Rifle - Mafeking Link?

Postby peter6 » 14 Jan 2018 15:00

Hi Rob
Many thanks for getting back to me. Very much appreciate the information you have provided. It's always interesting to think that something may have a historical link but in this case I now think its less likely. Still, its very enjoyable looking for information and you learn much more about other aspects along the way which makes it definitely a worthwhile effort. I see that your 5180 stamp on the L/H butt is in same place as the 5111 on my rifle. They are very close so there may be some connection between both at some point in time!! The other markings are similar which leaves me only the BP26 and Ns 06 91 stamps to follow up on. I will continue looking for information via Bechuanaland histories and keep you posted if anything interesting turns up.
I have spent time previously on work projects in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth but never managed some time off to visit any Boer War or Zulu War battle sites which I was desperate to do. At end of our last job the boss sent me home then he went to Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift!!! Didn't he rub it in when I saw him next!! Never forgave him for that!
I'm still struggling to insert photos. When I click on the IMG button above the text box it just prints in (Img) at the cursor. No opportunity to even select a picture from laptop. Is this the method you use or is there another alternative? Have tried copy and paste also but no luck. Once I get it right will post my Mk.4 images for you to see.
Best Regards
Peter
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Re: Mk.4 Martini Henry Rifle - Mafeking Link?

Postby peter6 » 14 Jan 2018 16:00

Hi Rob
Please see the first images I have managed to attach. Some more to follow on next post. Can you please confirm you can see them. Thanks.
Regards
Peter
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Re: Mk.4 Martini Henry Rifle - Mafeking Link?

Postby peter6 » 14 Jan 2018 16:04

Hi Rob
Please see attached the second photo group for MHR Mk.4 rifle BP.26.
Best Regards
Peter
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Re: Mk.4 Martini Henry Rifle - Mafeking Link?

Postby RobD » 14 Jan 2018 17:24

Lovely pictorial comparison, Peter - clearly these 2 rifles have spent time in the same rack!

I am not certain BP26 means Bechuanaland Protectorate, I can think of all sorts of other rack numbers it could represent - Bulawayo Police, etc etc etc -
I've never knowingly seen any arms marked to the Bechuanaland Protectorate - and as you'll know, although Southern Rhodesia and S Africa always had close links politically and militarily, Bechuanaland [Botswana] was never politically allied to either country in the same way.
I'll start looking hard for evidence of MH Mk IVs in Boer War pictures.
Terry Willson is the world expert on historical British rifles in South Africa, and he will know a whole lot more than I do; I can send you his email address if you PM me.
Rob
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Re: Mk.4 Martini Henry Rifle - Mafeking Link?

Postby peter6 » 17 Jan 2018 12:22

Hi Everyone
Just to close down on this posting. I would very much like to thank RobD and Terry Willson for their time to provide me with information and background which makes it highly unlikely that the MHR Mk.4 in my care was in service during the siege at Mafeking. The BP in BP26 is not known at this time to mean 'Bechuanaland Protectorate'. Couldn't have made it this far in the research without VWF. Excellent service!!
Just to answer my own other question please see attached 2 x excerpts from 'Major-General Baden Powell's' official report to 'Lord Roberts' subsequently published in the 'London Gazette' on Friday February 8th 1901.
Best Regards
Peter
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