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Another interesting 'Smelly'

Article about: I picked up this rather interesting SMLE this morning at the Liverpool arms fair. The rifle is a 1906 dated SMLE Mk 1* which seems to have had a rather chequered career. At some stage in its

  1. #11

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    We were still using No 4T in .303 when I was in Andersonstown 71/72. I used to be a damned-good shot with the No 4, but I only ever once fired a 'smelly.' That was back in the 1960's when I was in the Army Cadets - it was a genuine privately owned WW1 sniping rifle. Happy days!
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.

  2. #12

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    I think this Mk1* rifle left the service as a Mk1* and was purchased and converted to .22 by AJ Parker and sold to the Merchant Navy hence why it hasn't been re-marked. I also don't think it was converted to Mk3 as all the conversions I've seen have had the charger bridge and also been marked on the wrist, the most common being the Indian Pattern.

  3. #13

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    Quote by m3bobby View Post
    I think this Mk1* rifle left the service as a Mk1* and was purchased and converted to .22 by AJ Parker and sold to the Merchant Navy hence why it hasn't been re-marked. I also don't think it was converted to Mk3 as all the conversions I've seen have had the charger bridge and also been marked on the wrist, the most common being the Indian Pattern.
    The problem with that theory is that the parent barrel for the conversion to .22 isn't a No1 Mk1* barrel. The sight ramp is for a Mk111, and so the barrel must be for a Mk111 type sight - which it has. The barrel carries military markings and was probably fitted by the military. There would be no point in Alf Parker removing the original barrel to exchange for a Mk111 rifle barrel just to bore it out to accept a .22 sleeve. The whole idea of doing the conversions in this way was to cut down on the cost of the conversion. It isn't beyond reason that the military would have fitted a Mk111 type barrel to a Mk1* receiver if the original barrel was clapped-out. It would be a job that any competent military armourer could carry out if his workshop had the correct tools, and it would also explain why there are no CND markings to the rifle. Also, there are no 'sold out of service' marks anywhere on the rifle. This is one of the reasons I was attracted to the rifle, there are so many 'probable' reasons attached to it!



    Cheers,
    Steve.
    Last edited by HARRY THE MOLE; 01-15-2015 at 11:27 AM.
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.

  4. #14

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    If the barrel was replaced in service, the Mk1* body should have the serial number barred out and the barrel number marked on the body as the barrel was the master part so that could be a clue. The other option is that AJP did batches of conversions to .22 and they weren't interested in a particular pattern and so the mk3 barrel being already lines for .22 and 'in stock' so to speak was fitted.

    It's a very interesting rifle and it's got me thinking that's for sure.

  5. #15

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    I stripped it down again last night and went over it with a fine toothcomb. None of it really makes much sense to me. The barrel carries TWO sets of number - none of which are crossed out. Neither of the numbers correspond to the breech. Both breech and bolt numbers are matching, and the bolt has NOT been re-numbered. I find myself asking why you would keep the original bolt and not the original barrel when carrying out the conversion? Unless of course the barrel is the one which was already fitted to the breech when AJP got hold of it. The rear sight is also a different number to the barrel. But it is definitely the sight which was on the barrel when the conversion work was done, it has been re-marked for 25 yards just above the 200 yard mark. It is also the early windage adjustable type found on the early No1 Mk111 rifle. There isn't a trace of 'out of service' marks anywhere - nor any conversion stamps. The woodwork, or at least the fore stock and butt, appear to be original WW1. The butt disc is original to the butt and hasn't been added by someone. I do not believe that this is one which has been built up from bits (in recent years) to sell on as a deact - which is often the case with many rifles. I am certain in my own mind that this has been together for a long time. It is likely that it is a genuine wartime .22 conversion for military use.

    Cheers,
    Steve.
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.

  6. #16

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    I've no doubt it's all original to it's conversion, it does make sense that the barrel doesn't match the body if you think like a small production line. Guns come in to be converted to .22. The bolt is a simple conversion and as the locking lugs have been bedded in as a .303 you leave it with the gun, depending on when it was done it may have had a new 1 piece off set firing pin or they could cut the firing pin to make it a 2 piece pin, either way it's a 10 minute job. You then fit one of the pre modified bolt heads (This mod takes a while on a Lathe) and that's the body and bolt finished. The barrel is another matter and is quite a time consuming mod so you fit a pre modified barrel while the barrel just removed is sent off to be over bored and then lined and silver soldered.

    With ref to the sold out of service marks, they don't always appear on guns sold out of service or guns given out of service. It could be that the Merchant Navy were given these rifles as is but AJP were paid by the Merchant Navy to modify them for .22

  7. #17

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    The answer to this conundrum may be much simpler. After further research I found that A. G. Parker stamped his weapons on the butt ring below the original markings. His son, Alf. J. Parker set up his own business after leaving the Army at the end of WW1. So it looks as though it might have been converted post WW1. As for the Navy connection, if it really had been converted for navy use, there should have been an 'N' stamped somewhere on the gun. maybe the cadet school just bought their own .22 rifles!
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.

  8. #18

    Default SMLE No1 Mk1

    Further to my last post, after some more research I came across this photograph of five Mk1 rifles - two of which appear to be sporting some features of the Mk111 rifle. I have also found references to such conversions being carried out.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.

  9. #19

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    There were a blizzard of conversions of earlier rifles to approximate SMLE Mk IIIs/III*s for service before and during WW1 but none of these survived in service when the designation system was changed in the mid 1920s (SMLE Mk III to Rifle No. 1 Mk III)-there were enough war built Mk IIIs to replace the earlier versions for service requirements.

  10. #20

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    I was told by someone who deals in these weapons that no such conversion was ever done - and that my example was cobbled together - which it isn't! But this week I have seen a few pictures of rifles converted in this way. I would imagine that they are quite rare now.

    cheers,
    Steve.
    Last edited by HARRY THE MOLE; 01-19-2015 at 05:22 PM.
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.

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