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PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2005 11:55 am 
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Hello to all ... there's a wealth of knowledge on this forum, and I have to thank you all for saving me a lot of money and preventing me buying the many fakes that proliferate on eBay.

Needless to say, I am on the look out for a Great War era kukri after acquiring the latest relic for my small collection: a 1913 BSA No1 MkIII SMLE that was issued to the 1/5th Gurkha Rifles in April 1914, and was most probably lost at Gallipoli in 1915.

I found the rifle among a lot of .303s that were either manufactured or re-built after the Great War that was recently imported into Australia direct from Turkey.

Of the more than a hundred rifles I sorted through, this was the only one with all matching components, and unusually, it was sighted and proved for the older MkVI ammunition.

Image

It is the only Lee Enfield in my small collection which is in the configuration it left the factory in ... which is all the more remarkable considering it is now more than 90 years old.

But the piece de resistance is the fact it was issued to a front line unit and saw service:

Image

The RP stands for Rawalpindi Arsenal, and I'm sure the scholars on this forum could work the rest of the stamps out for themselves.

I recently acquired a fine 1913 Ishapore Pattern '07 bayonet (not cut down and with tear drop scabbard) to keep it company:

Image

And needless to say, I'm on the lookout for a BSA oiler, leather sling and correct era kukri to make the rifle complete now it's finally back among friends.

You can e-mail me direct: mick@micktoalbureau.com with any pointers, and you may want to check out my website micktoalbureau.com, which has nothing to do with collecting whatsoever, but may be of interest.

Incidentally, I got back from Iraq (for the third time) in June, and one of the airstrips I landed was at Tikrit, where the 2/5 Gurkha Rifles were when the country was Mesopatamia back in 1917!

Once again, thanks for making all the great knowledge available.


Last edited by heatseeker on Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2005 10:15 pm 
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Mick, welcome to our Forum , I am sure some of our Military experts will be able to make comment. Rod


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 1:08 am 
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Hello Heatseeker!

Now that is a nice find, an all original Gurkha issue Lee Enfield! Thanks for sharing.

Coincedentaly I know there was a Rifleman called Santabahadur Gurung whos last 3 ended in 229 in 1914 but I dont know whether he was in the 5th Regiment. But it is a possibility.

I havent a spare ww1 marked kukri. You will find 1917 /18 dated ones easier to find. Many of the earlier models were not stamped.

But the Enfield parts should be on ebay regularily.

Always happy to see photos if you ever want an opinion to genuiness. Either here or by email.

Good luck,

Spiral


Last edited by Spiral on Wed Dec 28, 2005 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 8:32 am 
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Mick,Spiral, would it not be great if Rifleman Garung turned out to be the man, good bit of investigative work Spiral. Mick it would be well worth your while going through the posts on this forum before bidding on a WW1 Kukri on ebay as there are from time to time some that appear that are questionable as to authenticity. Rod


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2005 12:41 pm 
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Intresting story! :wink:

Cheers,
Petr.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2005 11:27 pm 
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Thanks for the feedback ... my information is the "229" is the rifle's rack number for battalion records only (and I daresay the battalion would list this one as lost at Gallipoli in 1915) and gives no indication of who the weapon was issued to.

I am trying to determine if the record of who it was first issued to exists, although the battalion needed hundreds of reinforcements at Gallipoli, and it could have passed through a few hands - Gurkha, Turkish and maybe even Australian, New Zealand or British.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2005 1:29 am 
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mmmmmmmm Rack number? That could be damn tricky to trace, I would imagine.

Probably a maximum of 30,000 names recorded for serving Gurkhas in ww1 & after all over 100,000 served.

I guess Winchester Gurkha museam, The Imperial war museam London, & The Regimental museam in India will all have bits of paperwork

But getting someone to spend the days trawling through it might be difficult.

Good luck! Its a nice piece!

Have you looked for other info on the other side of the roundel? Sometimes they turned them over & restamped new info on them.

Spiral


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2005 6:30 am 
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I recently wrote to the curator of the Gurkha Museum in Winchester, Hampshire, Britain, regarding this rifle, and included extensive detail pictures:

Dear Sir,

First of all, may I say I hope one day to visit your amazing museum in person, but in the meantime I can only be fascinated via the world wide web.

By way of introduction, my name is Mick XXXX and I am an Australian based militaria collector.

I recently stumbled upon a rifle which will no doubt interest you, and it's now the finest piece in my small collection (I predominantly collect sniper and Australian military rifles, but I couldn't pass this one up).

With most of the rifles in my collection you can only guess at where they've been, and invariably they've been rebuilt not once but several times.

After some research, I am almost certain this treasure was a rifle that landed at Gallipoli in the hands of a Gurkha.

Recently about 100 .303 rifles were imported into Australia from Turkey ... some were late World War I manufacture which had re-built inbetween the wars and some were World War II built and all but unfired, so I could only assume they were some sort of post World War II military aid from Britain.

However, there were several older unmodified .303s, some of which had mismatched components and most of which were in battered condition. Most were snapped up be re-enactors, but the single one that remained at the bottom of the crate was an all matching 1913 BSA No1 MkIII Short Lee Enfield in very good condition.

And when I say 1913, I mean it was all 1913 - the barrel was dated 1913, it was still sighted for MkVI ammunition and it was essentially fitted with all the parts in left the factory with - including long obsolete long range volley sights and magazine cutoff - and all component numbers matched.

Normally this rifle would have at least been upgraded with sights for the newer MkVII ammunition, and while they were at it the armourers would have removed the volleys sight and magazine cutoff ... it was as if it had been caught in a time warp, and it was simply the most complete and original issued .303 that I had ever encountered.

The superb condition of the rifle aside, the stock disc in the butt is perhaps the most intriguing aspect:

Not only does it indicate that rifle was issued in April 1914, but I am led to believe that "R.R" stands for Rangoon Volunteer Rifles, and the 1/5.G is none other than the 1st Battalion, 5th Gurkha Rifles!

Okay, so tell me if I'm crazy, but this rifle's essentially in the condition it was issued in back in 1914 and somehow escaped the routine upgrading and repair it would have undergone in British service, it was apparently issued to a unit that served at Gallipoli in 1915 and it was found in Australia a few weeks back among a batch of rifles that were imported direct from Turkey ... could this be a rifle which was carried by a Gurkha soldier in Gallipoli that somehow fell into Turkish hands?

Do you know anyone who can confirm the deciphering of the stock disc? Likewise, do any archives exist that could confirm this rifle was in fact issued to the 1st/5th Gurkha Rifles, and could the sub unit, or perhaps the soldier, it was issued to be determined by the rifle's rack number (229)?

A long shot I know, but I will never know if I don't ask!

As I said, this is now the most valued piece in my collection (I really don't care what it's worth money wise, but, as I said, it is literally the only rifle that I have ever been able to trace the history of with any certainty).

I would also be interested in any information you could give me or direct me to about the role of the 1/5 Gurkhas at Gallipoli.

Needless to say, I will be taking better quality higher resolution pictures of this rifle, and I would be delighted if you could make any use of them among your superb collection (as a matter of fact if I was a richer man it would be with much pleasure I would donate it to your museum, although it would be with only great reluctance that I would pass on such a superb relic).

I thank you in advance for any feedback and/or information you can give.

Yours Sincerely,

Mick XXXX



Here's the response I just received:

Dear Mick,

Thanks for your email enquiring about the Rifle. A very interesting piece.

The markings on the butt disk of this rifle read as under:

R.P. = issued from Rawalpindi Arsenal [Please note that R.P., not R.R.]

4.14 = in April 1914

1/5 G. = to 1st Battalion 5th Gurkha Rifles

229 = the ‘consecutive number’ of the rifle in the battalion

It is confirmed that 29th Indian Infantry Brigade while serving at Gallipoli still had rifles sighted and proved for the old Mk. VI cartridge, as this one is.

We do not have the Regimental Weapons Record Register for the 1st Battalion the 5th Gurkhas and therefore cannot identify the owner of the rifle. In April 1915 the Battalion was serving in the Suez Canal region (Moved 10 March 1915) under 30th Brigade (General Mellis). They occupied three posts on the eastern bank known as Kubri, Baluchistan and Shatt. There was an action against the Turks on 22/23 March 1915 two miles from El Kubri. There were other outpost duties undertaken at Shaloufa 15 – 26 May 1915, then the Battalion embarked 30 May 1915 for the Dardanelles.

The weapon is in superb condition, as you say. It has an interesting history.

Best Wishes,

Gerald Davies


Spiral good suggestion, but I don't think I'll be digging the disc out at all ... I'm all but convinced it would be the first fitted to the rifle, and I don't want to take any chances of dislodging one speck of historic crud, or maybe damaging the stock (the wood has shrunk with age, and it could be a tight fit).


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2005 12:06 pm 
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Well Mick,

That fits in with your suppisitions then!

If the roundel was turned over in the first year it would only have the makers details I am sure.

So as you say not worth risking unscrewing it. {Especialy as you contemplate terms like digging it out!} As a trained cabinet maker I am used removing 100 year old screws. But yes I agree, It sounds like its not worth risking, in this case.

Of Course the 5th Gurkhas became a Indian unit in 1947, renamed the 5th Gorkhas. {They may have kept more records. Although it is still unlikely, I think.}

There unit base is Shillong, Meghalaya. India.

I hope you have some success in your search for a dated WW1 kukri.

One will turn up sooner or later.

Spiral


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 11:54 pm 
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Mick, welcome to IKRHS , good to have another Aussie on board. Rod


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 2:45 pm 
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Bloody oath!
learned to shoot with one of those in "59 swapped for SLR's in 60.

SmoknJoe

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 5:03 pm 
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Mick
have you tried both the National Army Museum or the Imperial War Museum? Both have been very helpful in my research and both have extensive records.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 5:36 pm 
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Came across this article in Shillong times that seemed to ring a bell...

Seems to have translation/comprhension errors perhaps? But intrieging!



Spiral


"Hidden ammunition connects city to WW-II

By Our Reporter

SHILLONG: The memories of World War II came alive all over again when the Rynjah police on Monday stumbled upon a huge cache of ammunition of different calibres hidden beneath the surface of the earth.

According to police, a group of labourers engaged in digging earth for plantation on the BSNL complex in Rynjah, discovered a huge quantity of ammunition. On further digging, 690 rounds of .303 rifle ammunition and 815 rounds of .45 ammunition were unearthed, police said.

Naturally surprised at the presence of such a huge quantity of ammunition on the BSNL complex, the city police immediately conducted a forensic test on the them and established that the recovered ammunition date back to World War II.

According to experts, the .303 rifle was first issued by Rawalpindi Arsenal to the 1st Bn of 5th Gurkhas in April 1914 and the consignment had 229 rifles with adequate ammunition. These facts have been verified with the Gurkha Museum as well.

However, the real clincher is the stock unit disc "RR" is Rangoon Volunteer Rifles, which was a British unit based in Burma, and the rifle was issued in April 1914 to the 1st Bn 5th Gurkha Rifles.

It is presumed that the Gorkhas continued to get the .303 rifles and the ammunition from the RR until the Second World War and Monday's recovery might shed further light on Meghalaya's connection with RR, the main arms manufacturers for the British soldiers during the World War II.

"
http://www.theshillongtimes.com/c-16-may.htm


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 11:29 pm 
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Wow. What an amazing find. Congrats on finding such a treasure.

Very interesting story behind your rifle. I wish you the best in finding out more info on it.

Best of luck in getting a MKI kukri to accompany your new rifle.

mike


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:58 am 
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Spiral wrote:
Came across this article in Shillong times that seemed to ring a bell...

Seems to have translation/comprhension errors perhaps? But intrieging!



Spiral


"Hidden ammunition connects city to WW-II

By Our Reporter

SHILLONG: The memories of World War II came alive all over again when the Rynjah police on Monday stumbled upon a huge cache of ammunition of different calibres hidden beneath the surface of the earth.

According to police, a group of labourers engaged in digging earth for plantation on the BSNL complex in Rynjah, discovered a huge quantity of ammunition. On further digging, 690 rounds of .303 rifle ammunition and 815 rounds of .45 ammunition were unearthed, police said.

Naturally surprised at the presence of such a huge quantity of ammunition on the BSNL complex, the city police immediately conducted a forensic test on the them and established that the recovered ammunition date back to World War II.

According to experts, the .303 rifle was first issued by Rawalpindi Arsenal to the 1st Bn of 5th Gurkhas in April 1914 and the consignment had 229 rifles with adequate ammunition. These facts have been verified with the Gurkha Museum as well.

However, the real clincher is the stock unit disc "RR" is Rangoon Volunteer Rifles, which was a British unit based in Burma, and the rifle was issued in April 1914 to the 1st Bn 5th Gurkha Rifles.

It is presumed that the Gorkhas continued to get the .303 rifles and the ammunition from the RR until the Second World War and Monday's recovery might shed further light on Meghalaya's connection with RR, the main arms manufacturers for the British soldiers during the World War II.

"
http://www.theshillongtimes.com/c-16-may.htm


Someone's got their wires crossed, recrossed and then tangled Spiral ... don't know what a rifle issued in Pakistan on the eve of the Great War and lost to the Turks in Gallipoli has to do with a cache of World War II ammo in Burma, but it's a good dtory anyway!

Thanks for the link - it's a good laugh!


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