I have had this Australian SMLE III in my collection for some years now. It was made in 1941 in Lithgow. On one side of the rifle there is the name "Doris May" carved into the stock. On the opposite side is either a symbol of a shield or the word "Die". I wonder what stories this rifle would tell if it could talk! I do not know much about the Australian during the war but if anyone knows anything about units that allowed their soldiers to carve into the stocks of their rifles, I would love to learn more! Please post pictures of your unique rifles with their carvings!
Hello Thadeus-Any soldier doing this to a service weapon would be charged with a battery of offences-this was not tolerated-the carving would have been done after the rifle was sold out of service to a civilian farmer or hunter or club shooter-the sort of trench art/craft work someone would do with time on their hands.
Gday Thaddeus, although i agree that the shield on the rifle butt looks like the word "DIE" its actually the Lithgow logo, a kangaroo in a shield and below that is the mark number.
your butt stock could be from an earlier rifle not original to yours, can you read the date under the lithgow shield?
this one i posted is from 1916. Lithgow stopped using the shield in 1926 and changed to the more boring " MA LITHGOW"
the butt stock is made from Queensland Maple in my opinion a lot nicer wood than the later coachwood. I would love an early lithgow fully decked in Qld maple
PS The butt right hand side on a British and Commonwealth rifle often carries brand stamps that tell you a variety of info-units or areas the rifle served with, refits, manufacture info, sold out data etc. The brass disc on a pre 1920 example can also contain some of this as well-the provision for it was deleted in new rifles from then on.
Paul, I tried to make out a date under the shield but I believe that time has worn it away. It just looks like a straight line. To the right of the bottom marking their appears to be another marking, although i Can not make out what it is
Thanks for the information lithgow. Sorry for the late reply. I did some further research on my own in regards to the butt stock. I did some reading on the internet and found that in 1941 the Aussies were more worried about a Japanese invasion than they were about making quality weapons. They were cranking these babies out in the quickest way possible often mixing parts from old rifles in to current production to increase their production capability and save parts. Perhaps this was the case with mine having the older butt stock??
More likely it's a later replacement after being sold out, possibly because of the carving on the stock having sentimental value-the rifles were widely used after both world wars by the civilian shooting population so much mix and match has occurred over the years as repairs etc have been done-butts were also produced in 3 lengths for different shooter heights (marked as 'S' for short, unmarked as standard and 'L' for long) another replacement option...