The series continues.
Lee-Enfield SMLE Mk III
The Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Mk III rifle was first fielded in World War 1 as the standard rifle of the British Army. Chambered in .303 with a 10 round magazine loaded from 5-round stripper clips, the SMLE was used by many British forces early in the war. The rifle was also used by Indian and Australian troops for the duration of the conflict. The Australian Army would use the rifle in Korea, finally phasing it out in the early 1950s.The rifle was also used by New Zealander troops in the Pacific.
In lower priority theaters such as Burma, the supply of SMLE Mk IIIs compared to No4s was probably quite high, doubly so when accounting for the high numbers of Indian and Australian troops serving in these theaters.
Royal Gurkha Rifles using SMLE Mk III while on a traning exercise in Malaya, Oct. 1941
The Australian Army modified 1,612 SMLE Mk. III rifles into the SMLE Mk III (HT) rifle, with the addition of a heavy barrel, cheek piece and Pattern 1918 scope. These served as sniper rifles in the Australian Army.
Pattern 1918 Scope
Lee-Enfield Rifle No. 4 Mk. I
The No 4 rifle was first issued in 1939 and began to replace the SMLE in 1941. The No 4 differed from the SMLE Mk. III in having a heavier barrel, and a spike bayonet in place of a bladed bayonet. Open rear sights were replaced with peep-hole sights. Like the Mk III, the No 4 had a 10 round magazine loaded from 5-round stripper clips.
The No 4 became the primary British rifle of the war, however it was slower to be adapted by commonwealth forces. Indian troops retained the SLME Mk.III, however African troops were issued the No. 4.
The No 4 Mk 1 (T) was a variation with a No. 32 3.5x telescopic sight for use a sniper weapon.
No 4 Mk 1 (T) Sniper Rifle
The rifles could be used to fire rifle grenades like most bolt action rifles of their day. Mills bombs could be fitted with fins and launched from the No. 4. The rifle could also fire the No.68 AT rifle grenade.
No.68 HEAT grenade, capable of penetrating 50mm (2in) of armor.
Lee-Enfield No 5 Jungle Carbine
The short "Jungle Carbine" was specifically designed for use in Southeast Asia and the Pacific where thick jungle made carrying long rifles difficult. The No 5 was 100mm shorter and a kilogram lighter than the No4 rifle that it was based on.
The carbine fired .303 cal ammunition from a 10-round magazine, loaded from 5 round stripper clips.
The No 5 was first introduced in 1944. The gun suffered from a large muzzle flash and heavy recoil due to its lighter weight and shorter barrel. It also had about half the effective range of a No 4 rifle. It also suffered from "wandering zero" problems which made the sights inaccurate.
Due to its flash hider, the No 5 could only be fitted with a No 5 knife bayonet.
Bayonet for No.5 Carbine
Pattern 1914 Enfield (T) (P-14)
The P-14 (T) was a sniper version of the Lee-Enfield Pattern 1914 rifle of World War 1, fitted with a Pattern 1918 scope. The gun fired .303 cal ammunition from a 5-round magazine loaded with stripper clips.
The P-14 (T) was used as a sniper weapon by Australian forces during the Pacific War.
Charlton Automatic Rifle An extremely rare weapon, the Charlton was an automatic version of the SMLE Mk III rifle which was designed in New Zealand in 1941. The gun could use 10-round magazines or 30-round Bren Gun mags, and had a ROF of 600 rpm. The gun weighed 7.3kg (16 pounds).
These weapons were made as a stopgap measure due to the lack of Bren guns. They were intended to be used in case of a Japanese invasion of New Zealand. Around 1,600 were manufactured and given to the New Zealand Home Guard, but none were ever used in combat. Incidentally, it can be considered one of the world's first assault rifles, pre-dating the German STG 44 by three years.
De Lisle Carbine Another bizarre modification of the SMLE Mk III, the De Lisle carbine was designed for use by commando forces during raids on occupied Europe. The primary mission of the De Lisle carbine was to pick off enemy sentries.
The gun was bolt action but with a very short 184mm (7.5 in) barrel which contained a large integral silencer. The gun was modified to fire .45cal subsonic ammunition from a 7-round box magazine (A modified Colt M1911 mag). The combination of the large silencer and subsonic ammunition made the gun produce very little noise. Maximum range was only around 275 yards.
Production was targeted at 600 carbines, however by the time production got underway D-Day had already happened and there was far less demand for a silenced special operations weapon. Only around 130 were completed and these were sent to Burma, where they were used by special operations forces
A folding stock version for use by paratroopers was made in very small numbers.
M1928 Thompson SMG
The British began the war with a lack of submachine guns in their armed forces. After encountering the German MP-40, it was decided to remedy this situation and large numbers of M1928 Thompson submachine guns were purchased from the United States. The gun would be use by British forces, as well as Indian and Gurkha troops.
The Thompson was also used by Australian forces in the early stages of the Pacific war. Its great weight and poor penetrating power in a jungle environment led to it being replaced by the Austen and Owne SMG's.
Sten submachine gun The famous Sten submachine gun was developed as a low cost, simple solution to the lack of submachine guns in the British forces. Firing 9x19mm parabellum ammunition from a 32-round box magazine, around 4 million Stens would be manufactured.
A number of variations of the Sten were manufactured during the war. Early models gained a reputation as being prone to jamming. This was partly fixed in later models and partly fixed by only loading 28-30 rounds in the magazine.
The Sten was widely used by Commonwealth forces during the war, as well as by resistance groups. Several resistance groups manufactured Stens in clandestine factories in German-occupied Europe. The Sten would be used in many post-war conflicts, including in Korea, the Arab-Israeli wars and in Northern Ireland.
Sten Mk I, produced 1940-1941. 100,000 constructed. Sten Mk II, 2 million produced. Most common Sten variant. Sten Mk. IIS, silenced version for use by special operations forces. Sten Mk III, first appeared in 1943. The Sten Mk IV was an experimental compact model which did not see production. Internally the same as the Mk II, the Mk V had wooden furniture for better ergonomics and a bayonet mount. First appeared in 1944. Sten Mk VI, silenced version of Mk V used by special operations forces. Austen Mk I Austen SMG is on the bottom. The Austen was an Australian submachine gun based on the British Sten design. Like the Sten, the Austen fired 9x19mm parabellum ammunition from a side-feeding 28 round box magazine.
The Austen was used by Australian forces in the Pacific War, but was never as common as the Owen SMG.
A suppressed version was available for the Australia Z Special Unit.
Owen SMG Owen Mk 1 SMG with wire stock. The Owen was designed by an Australian Army private in 1939. The gun first saw combat in 1942 in New Guinea. Several prototypes were made in various calibers before the Army finally settled on 9x19mm parabellum.
Australian soldiers with Owen SMGs on New Britain, 1945
The gun proved extremely reliable in jungle conditions. The most common SMG amongst Australian and New Zealander forces, around 50,000 would be manufactued, equipping Australian troops in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Owen Mk 2/3 SMG with wood and wire stock.
Australian soldier with a silenced Owen on Borneo, Sept. 1945 Lanchester Mk 1 A copy of the German MP-28 SMG, the Lanchester was the only British submachine gun in service at the start of the war. The gun fired 9x19mm parabellum from a 50-round box magazine. The Lanchester was used by the Royal Navy as a shipboard weapon. It would be used by the Royal Navy until the 1960s.
Bren LMG Based on the Czech ZB.26, the Bren was the mainstay light machine gun in the Commonwealth during the Second World War. The Bren fired .303 ammunition from a 30 round box magazine, fed from the top. The gun was adopted in 1935 and produced from 1935 to 1971. The Bren featured a handle to allow quick changes of the barrel.
Although British doctrine called for the Bren to be operated by a two-man crew, in practice the Bren was operated by a single man. The gun was issued on the basis of 1 per section. Each man in the section would carry at least two magazines for the Bren gunner.
Bren LMG in use in Burma
Lewis Gun The Lewis Gun was actually invented in the United States in 1911, however it became famous as a weapon of the British Army in the First World War. During that war, the Lewis gun was used as a squad machine gun, a role in which it was replaced by the Bren before World War 2. The gun saw limited use mounted on vehicles and in second-line units. Local members of the Singapore Volunteer Force train with a Lewis Gun, Nov 1941. Vickers MG The Vickers .303 water cooled machine gun first saw service in World War 1, where its reputation for sturdiness and reliability earned it a high reputation within the British Army. The gun would remain in production from 1912 to 1968. The Vickers was operated by a 6-8 man crew. One man fired, another fed the ammunition and the others helped carry the weapon. The weapon was heavy, weighing 23 kg (51 lb) including the tripod. The Vickers MG was widely used during the Pacific War by all Commonwealth forces. British troops with a Vickers MG in Malaya, 1941 Boys Rifle The Boys Rifle was a .55cal antitank rifle fielded by the British at the beginnings of World War 2. The Boys Rifle was a large weapon a full 1.5m (5 ft 2 in) long, firing 13.9x99mm armor piercing bullets from a 5-round detachable box magazine. The gun was a bolt action weapon. It could penetrate 16-19mm of armor at 100 yards range. The gun had a slow effective rate of fire (around 10 rpm) and a very strong recoil which could injure the shooter if the gun were fired from an unsupported position. The gun was sometimes mounted on a Universal Carrier for support. The gun was able to defeat some early German and Italian tanks, however it was quickly made useless by advances in armor. In the Pacific theater, however, the gun remained effective against thin-skinned Japanese armor throughout the war. The gun was used by all Commonwealth forces. It was nicknamed "Charlie the Bastard" by Australian troops due to the massive recoil of the weapon. It would later be replaced by the PIAT antitank weapon. Australian soldier uses a Boys Rifle to shoot crocodiles in a New Guinea swamp, Aug. 1944 PIAT Instead of fielding rocket launchers like the American Bazooka in the antitank role, the British developed the PIAT, a weapon of a type called a spigot mortar which used a spring and a small propulsion charge to propel a 3 lb HEAT projectile to a maximum effective range of around 100 yards. The warhead could penetrate 75mm of armor. The PIAT was first fielded in 1943, and some were used in Southeast Asia. No 2 "Lifebuoy" flamethrower The British No 2 flamethrower was first fielded in 1943. Designed for use in Operation Overlord, the No 2 carried 18 litres (4 gallons) of fuel. It had a range of 30-40m and a continuous burn of 10 seconds. Ignition was provided by 10 ignition charges in a revolver system like the Japanese Type 100 and US M2-2. Canadian soldier using the No 2 flamethrower somewhere in the ETO M2-2 Flamethrower The American M2-2 flamethrower was used in small numbers by Australian troops from Jan. 1945 onwards. They were especially used in the Borneo campaign. Before this weapon was acquired Australian forces had no flamethrower capability. Enfield No.2 Mk. I Revolver The No. 2 .38cal revolver was the standard British sidearm of World War 2 for officers, tank crewmen and other men needing a sidearm. Webley Mk. IV The Webley .38 cal revolver was issued to officers and other personnel due to a shortage of No. 2 revolvers. Webley Mk. VI Similar to the Mk. IV, the Mk. VI .455 cal revolver was also issued due to a shortage of No. 2s. Smith & Wesson Model 10 Over 570,000 S&W Model 10 "Victory Revolver" .38cal revolvers were also supplied to British, Australian, Canadian, South African and New Zealander forces. These were often preferred to the Enfield No. 2 revolvers that were standard issue.
Grenades British and Commonwealth forces used a wide variety of hand grenades during the war. The famous Mills Bomb developed in World War 1 was the standard fragmentation grenade. The grenade was first fitted with a 7 second fuse, but this was shortened to four seconds after experience in France in 1940. No.69 Offensive Hand Grenade. Had a low blast radius allowing the user to throw the grenade without having to immediately dive for cover. Didn't fragment. No.73 "Thermos" antitank grenade. 2kg (4lb 8oz) of high explosives detonated on impact, hoping to disable a tank's treads. No.74 "Sticky bomb". The grenade was designed to stick to tanks and blow off their tracks. 5 second fuse. The grenade came in a aluminum case to prevent it from sticking before use. The adhesive was resin based and very sticky. It was dangerous to the user because he risked getting stuck to a live grenade. The grenade was first fielded in 1940 and would be replaced by the Gammon grenade. No. 75 Hawkins grenade. This grenade had a pressure detonator using a chemical system with glass vials. It could be thrown, but was more often used as a mine. First fielded in 1942. No.82 "Gammon Bomb". The Gammon had a bag which could be filled with varying amounts of explosive. After filling, the cap was removed and the grenade was thrown. A weighted linen tape unraveled and pulled out a pin, arming the fuse and allowing the grenade to detonate on impact. The Gammon bomb was commonly used by special operations forces. It was first introduced in May 1943. No.77 White Phosphorus grenade. This grenade contained 8oz of white phosphorus which ignited upon contact with air. It was armed with an impact fuze. Kukhri The trademark of Nepalese Gurkha troops. Gian Sing, an Indian soldier who fought in Burma during World War 2 and was awarded the Victoria Cross, describes the Kukhri thus:
From experience you learn that for close hand-to-hand fighting the best weapons are the Thompson submachine gun, the Sten gun, and the kukri.A Gurkha from the 4/8 Gurkhas had demonstrated to me in India how best to use the kukri. Firstly, you get in close to your enemy and stab him in the lower body. When the kukri goes in, the enemy always doubles up. You then swiftly withdraw your kukri and take his head off. With a sharp blade that’s easy. I saw many an enemy with their heads off so it must work!
Kirpan Kirpan Dagger. The Kirpan is a special dagger worn by all baptized Sikhs. Soldiers of the Sikh religion in the British Indian Army carried Kirpans into battle. The Kirpan has a religious significance for Sikhs, who wear one at all times. Fairbarn-Sikes Fighting Knife The Fairbarn-Sikes knife was commonly issued to British commando forces. "Knuckle-Knife" Knives of this type were often used by Australian commando forces. Uniforms The standard British uniform of the war. In the jungle, uniform standards degenerated greatly. Australian troops in New Guinea. From Diggerhistory.info
Infantryman (Bren gunner), Papua New Guinea, 1943/44 Note the trousers have been roughly cut down into shorts. Note the steel helmet which was often replaced by a cheap cotton beret. Note the machete & sheath on the belt. Commando, Independent Company, South West Pacific area, 1944 Note the US Army issue herringbone twill trousers. Note the black felt beret (standard issue for Commandos). Note the Owen Machine Carbine (OMC) an Australian made sub-machine gun. Note the Mills grenades (M36) and the shortened bayonet. Note the private purchase scarf/sweat rag around the neck.
- Sergeant 2/31st Battalion 25th Brigade 7th Division AIF, Papua New Guinea, 1941/42
- Based on the famous historian John Laffin
- Note the US issue canvas gaiters.
- Note the jungle green uniform (dyed from khaki which explains the fading to blue-grey).
- The puggaree with color patch and hat badge would not be worn in the front line.
Canadian soldier at Hong Kong, Dec. 1941. The use of shorts and short sleeves as part of a tropical uniform was common in the Commonwealth armies.
Headgear The standard British and Commonwealth helmet was the Mk. 1 steel "Brodie" helmet first used in World War 1 (this picture is of a USMC helmet). By 1944, this was being replaced by the Mk.III "Turtle" helmet. The MkIII was often fitted with a net to allow foliage or burlap strips to be used as additional camouflage. British Mk III helmet Indian troops wearing Mk.III helmets fight in Mandalay, Burma, Mar. 1945. In the heat of the jungle, hot and heavy helmets were often ditched in favor of bush hats, sun hats or other lighter headgear. British troops in sun hats, Baghdad 1941 Many Indian soldiers were Sikhs. Sikh men are required by their religion to grow their hair long and wrap in into large turbans. Sikh soldiers could be easily identified by their turbans, which were worn in place of helmets. They also never shaved, instead growing long beards. Indian Sikh soldiers somewhere in southeast Asia
In the Pacific War, relatively few British soldiers were found. In Burma, around 80% of the troops under British command were Commonwealth or colonial forces from all across the world. Soldiers of the following nationalities fought under British command in the Pacific War: Britain India East Africa (Kenya, Tanganyika, Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Uganda) West Africa (Nigeria, Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, Gambia) Australia New Zealand Solomon Islands Fiji Nepal (Gurkha Rifles) Tonga Malaya Sarawak (from the protectorate of Sarawak on Borneo) Singapore Hong Kong Burma Canada (in defense of Hong Kong, 1941) Ceylon (although no Ceylonese unit was deployed in frontline combat after the Cocos Islands mutiny of May 1942) Organization varied. African and Indian troops were mostly led by white British officers, who were required to learn Urdu or Hindi so as to be able to communicate. Australian troops were divided between the Australian Imperial Force, which was made up of volunteers, and the Citizens Military Force. The AIF served overseas, while the CMF was required by law to only be used inside Australia or its territories. As a result, CMF forces were the main force available during the Kokoda Track campaign, as AIF forces were fighting in the Middle East and North Africa. AIF forces would later be used in the south-West Pacific theater alongside American troops. Indian soldiers of the 7th Rajput Regiment at the Arakan front, Burma 1943. Australian troops during the Kokoda Track campaign, 1942. Men of the 11th East African Division (recruited from Kenya, Uganda, Nyasaland (Malawi), Tanginyika and Rhodesia) advance towards Kalewa, Burma, Jan. 1945. Gurkhas attack a Japanese position in Burma, 1945. New Zealander troops land on Vella Lavella, Sep. 1943 Gurkhas fighting in heavy jungle in Arakan, Burma. Troops of the Royal Malay Regiment train in Singapore, Nov. 1941 British and Indian troops meet on the road between Imphal and Kohima, Apr. 1944. A Sikh and a Hindu soldier of the British Indian Army. Indian Sikh soldiers and members of the 81st West African Division "Black Tarantulas" (recruited from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia and the Gold Coast) mingle in India. The 81st would go into combat in Burma in Dec. 1943. Medics of the Fijian Infantry Regiment tend to a wounded man, Bougainville, 1944. Singaporean soldiers of the Straits Settlments Volunteer Force in training, Nov. 1941 Australian troops on Balikpapan, July 1945 Australian troops in New Guinea, Dec. 1943 Pvt. Jonana Mugai of the King's African Rifles writes a letter home, Burma, Jan. 1945. That's all I have for today, tune in again in a few days for part 5: Nationalist Chinese Forces.
Nice thread but whats about the Browning Hi-Power? Did the british use it in the pacific ? Browning Hi-Power - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Megaraptor I'm just curious as to why you are posting all these when we aren't even sure of the next theatre past Normandy? Although I do enjoy reading them :D