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Sloshed him with Martinis, but what mark?
Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
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Some time back there was an interesting discussion of the "proper" bayonet for the 24th Regiment. Although I always have considered the MH MK II to be the likely weapon throughout the Anglo-Zulu war, it occurs to me now that the 1/24 at least arrived in SA armed with the Mark I and likely used them at Isandlwana. As recent arrivals, the 2/24th probably carried the newer Mark II at Rorke's Drift. Any thoughts?
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Adrian Whiting


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
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Sawubona,

My recollection is that the regimental records, shared by the RRW Museum, indicate that both battalions received MH rifles at a date in time when the issue would have to have been MkIs. I recall the dates as being in 1873, and think we had discussed this in the threads you referred to.

I do not think there are any records of a further issue before 1879 to either battalion. I think that the most likely course of action will have been that both battalions will have been provided the parts to upgrade their MkIs to MkIIs. Records show this was done locally by armourers.

Battalions on Home Service did not necessarily receive precedence in the issue of subsequent marks of rifle.

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Adrian
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Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
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Sawumbona & Adrian

Without doubt the 24th would have has Mk1 3rd pattern Martini Henrys, I have images of an 1873 Mk1 3rd pattern marked to the 80th regiment that came out of SA some years ago along with it's story as a Meyers Drift relic

The Mk2 was introduced in the LOC Aug 1877, with those Mk1 IN HOME SERVICE, being converted first by Enfield.

I cannot find any reference to Mk1's being upgraded in the field, The Enfield records (Skennerton Treatise) are very particular that in the production year 1878 only 125,000 Mk1's had been returned and converted. Do bear in mind the production year of 1878 is Mar 78-Mar 79, of the 450,000 Mk1's then in service, indeed I have found images of the KRR in Egypt early 1880's with unconverted Mk1's.

There is one key element in the upgrading of the Mk1 which would be very difficult to perform in the field, that is the brazing in, of a panel in front of the trigger axis to prevent dirt ingress.

Other changes could be made in the field with parts and were as follows, Butt plate, chequer patt swopped for smooth. Leaf Sight tangent alter to deep notch, Cleaning rod to new Bugle pattern, Butt swivel (where appropriate) remove {retained in Rifle regiments} and purpose made peg fitted to screw hole. Have a look in the pot purri section I have done an article regarding this.

Theorectically the elements of the 2nd battalion who were shipped out nearer the campaign "could" have been upgraded.

Neil

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Adrian Whiting


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
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Neil,

Likewise I have no direct evidence in respect of the Armourers to either Battalion receiving the necessary parts to upgrade, although I recall that Armourers were issued the necessary tools for this - I believe the List of Changes contains the details of the new tools for the Dodd's Forge.

I agree that the upgrade would have been dificult when in the field, although the forges were transportable. I have always anticipated that it would have been accomplished by Armourers at the more permanent depots overseas. they had the same equipment as those on Home Service.

On that basis I would not have expected to see all the MkIs passing through RSAF for upgrade, only those on Home Service, which is why it would appear they were done as a priority. Understandably the RSAF records only relate to their work. Whilst the matter seems to lack evidence either way, the work could also have been undertaken by the trade too.

The Armourers forge would have permitted brazing and I would be interested if you have any exact details of the brazing you refer to. I had in mind the modification to the the trigger hump, but that is a one piece item as far as I can tell.

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Adrian
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Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
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Adrian

The trigger hump is the key element, you can often see the edge of the braze panel around the trigger assembly.

I recently aqquired a cracking 1872 Mk2 (Mk1 upgrade, small filler where the original 2nd patt block axis lock screw had been removed) that had originated in Afghanistan. Un-typically for martinis from that area it was as original, all matching numbers including the Barrel, receiver, sight ladder, block, lever and trigger mech, ( My 1873 Mk1 2nd pattern is the same numbering structure). The trigger hump had been upgraded, so, my conclusion is that the conversion must have taken place at Enfield as these bits would heave become mixed in the field.

I am going to re-visit skennerton tonight to read up a little more on this.

Neil

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Adrian Whiting


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
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Neil,

It was good to catch up at the Nothe Fort event!

Looking over this again I calculate a little over 173k MHRI's not accounted for by RSAF for conversion to MHRII's. The fall in production in the 1878 year at RSAF for MHR's would appear to be offset by the 25k MHCC's to be made as well as the conversions above that fell in that year.

I take from the various texts that whilst the action bodies show the actual calendar year of manufacture, the production years are from the previous 1st April, so the production year of 1878 ran from 1-4-77 to 31-4-78, which would accord with the financial year arrangements then current.

Still no evidence on whether the conversion could have been accomplished by arsenals overseas doing the work. This may account for some of the difference if they did, though clearly leaving some unconverted as your photos prove.

I will endeavour to bring the blue papers to the New Year shoot, they concern the MHR adoption and early service use.

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Adrian
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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
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Chaps

I saw a pretty emphatic primary reference to 1/24 getting Martinis in SA. That puts it in early 1875. Does this sound credible to you?

Regards

Mike
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Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
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Mike
Plausible, 1875 is about right, I'd like to know the scource, pray tell, although Malta and Gibraltar are the most likely places, I have seen 24th Marked Sniders that have eminated from Malta. If 1875 is correct, that would certainly be Mk1 3rd pattern as previously discussed, with the 1st Battalion being overseas I think it highly unlikely that their M-H would ever have the chance to be returned to the RSAF from April 1877 when the LOC for the conversions began and their demise in Jan 1879.

As I posted earlier on 20.1.1878 in the RSAF superintendants report that only 18,000 had been converted to home and Ireland, agian reporting on 20.1.79 that "most" of the 300,000 Mk1's remained unconverted but expected this to be done by "March next" (March 1880).

The second Battalion is more interesting, as those with the companies who went out to the Cape in late 1877, again would have little chance to convert, I must check Gon to see which companies were there.

Adrian

Indeed a good weekend, blisters are only now going!.
I did go and re-study the RSAF reports, and I still do not see how conversions, apart from spares could have been carried out in the feild, unless pre-altered parts were sent. If we look at the alterations that could be carried out without nothing more than Implement action tools. Tumbler, sight ladder, rod, extractor, 1:1 change, even the blocks could have been browned with the right ingredients. But, and heres the but (with added twist), the machining on the bottom of the breech block for the tumbler clearance slot, and the alteration of the trigger nose and brazed panel could only be done with great difficulty without fixed machinery.
Now for the twist, All Mk1's were serial numbered on the barrel, the receiver, the sight ladder, the breech block and the lever, these should match and of those I have recorded, both second and third patterns they do. On the upgrades they rarely do, even if they have serial numbers at all, so, there is a possibility that the "new" components were simply those taken from existing guns, converted or new stock supplied and fitted, but the RSAF inspector is quite adamant that the work is being carried out in Govt establishments.

OK the missing 60,000 or so Mk1 that do not show on the RSAF report remain in limbo, Canada had 5000 second pattern, Australia some too, and after 1881 the conversions are not listed, perhaps they simply bacame a dribble, not worthy of a mention in the reports.

Mike
I know pitifully few lost Martinin's were recovered during the war, if the 24th lost say 800 at Isandlwana, and another 200 lost at Meyers drift, were they returned as part of the peace terms or did they simply dissapear into roof thatch?.

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Neil
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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
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Neil

I seem to remember hazily that the surrender of Martinis was one of the terms of the peace, though quite what the outcome was I can't recall. I'll have to go back over the source material in question to dig out the reference in detail, but it would suggest that 1/24 took Sniders to SA and received Martinis in their stead not long after getting there.

If you are out in January, as you usually are, I will certainly have it organized to show you by then, but the Sudan distracts presently.

For Adrian,

Interested to hear your take on this 1/24 1875 business also, but on the subject of Sudan, I have some kit and weapons questions I would like to pose to you, o guru, if you can find ten minutes to think over a few posers from that period.

As ever

Mike
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Adrian Whiting


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
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Mike,

I found my notes of a conversation with the team from the RRW Museum, that indicated the MH rifles had been issued in 1873 - the 2nd battalion had been at Warley at the time, but I am not sure it was safe to conclude exactly where the 1st Battalion were.

In Philip Gon's "The road to Isandlwana", page 20 he states "By 1874 the men were drilling with the... Martini Henry", being a reference to the 1st Battalion.

I believe the reference for this are the letters of Capt Frederick Carrington, who had responsibility for Musketry Instruction, assisted by SIM James Pullen. The letters are held by the museum I think.

Very happy to consider the Sudan matters you referred to, as I expect Neil will be too.

Neil,

Yes I agree that units in the field would be most unlikely to be able to accomplish the conversion, I think you are quite right on that, but I do wonder if this could have been accomplished at other arsenals overseas, with stock sent out for the purpose. Interesting point about the inconsistency of serial numbers post conversion. I sense we are only likely to be able to confirm this by some diary or letter reference yet to be found - if it happened!

Take care,

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Adrian
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Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
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Adrian
Its unlikely that the 24th got their Martini's until late '74 earliest, they were not involved in the trials.
The rifle was not approved for service until 28-9-1874, under a draft general order to the Army, order commenced on 12-10-74 for immediate issue.
On 3-10-74 the controller a Woolwich suggested That packing of M-H rifles be commenced, 21-10-1874 that arms and ammunition be distributed to foriegn stations (excluding India), order approved 29-10-1874.

These would have been 3rd pattern (approved), the service pattern had thus been approved and from 17-7-1874 all existing patterns goverened to be altered.

Interestingly the two second Pattern Mk1 in my collection eminated from Canada, the serial numbers are very close indeed, 5986 & 5724. Both are full matching numbers. Barrels are both dated 1/74, certainly pre-British service issue and delivered before the LOC. What makes them more special, on the stock is a rack number 16, the other is 17!.

They only differ as one has the early pattern bulb end rod, the other the approved pattern which allowed for piling arms.

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mike snook 2


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Adrian and Neil

All the Carrington letters I have seen post-date his arrival in South Africa - that is not to say earlier ones don't exist - but unless they do, they couldn't be used as evidence to show distribution of the rifle in 1873. The dates on the orders Neil refers to, tend to suggest that if they'd been rushed down to the gangplank they might have made the 1/24's sailing for SA - but these things take time and are often done in isolation. The first 1/24 troopship arrived at the Cape at Xmas 74 and the subsequent one (s) around New Year 74/75. I can't readily put my hand on the precise dates of their respective sailings from England at present, but it would be tight at best and almost certainly far too tight from the flash of signing the order to the bang of delivery of the weapon in large numbers.

Here are my Sudan questions: mostly I'm after the technically correct designations of weapons.

British regular infantry in early 1884 - what mark of Martini? What is the correct designation of the sword bayonet in use at that time? Presume P1876 is still correct for the lunger.


Indian infantry 1885 - Snider (or is it Snider-Enfield) rifle - what is the correct designation? I presume it was .450 calibre. Was the Indian bayonet different or the same. If different how so and what was it called?

Indian cavalry (Bengal Presidency specifically) 1885 - same question for the Snider carbine they carried - what was its correct designation. What pattern of sword/sabre was carried.

British regualr cavalry - Martini -Henry carbines - what mark? Which sabre/sword did the cavalry have at this time? Offcers and men I believe had different patterns.

Now the tricky one - roll out of the 1882 valise pattern equipment to replace the 1871 pattern. What do we know about this in terms of dates - it seems clear to me from contemporaneous sketches in the field that there were plenty of units using the 1871 pattern kit in Graham's 1884 Suakin campaign - i.e. at 2nd El Teb and Tamai. Then the York and Lancaster, who came from Aden, didn't even have 1871 pattern but the old pouch equipment (what is the correct name for this?). Was the 1871 pattern in use in India at this time - were the York and Lancs so far behind the clock because they were on the Indian establishment or just because they had been forgotten about?

In the 1885 (early in the year) campaign the Guards Brigade came out from home - are they likely to have had 1882 pattern?

Is it a safe assumption that the 1882 kit hadn't made it to the units of the Egyptian garrison by 1884 - or was the picture more nuanced unit by unit?

Anything you two guys can say on these subjects will be helpful, knowing the depth of your knowledge and research in such matters.

As ever

Mike
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Neil Aspinshaw


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Mike
In respect to the service arm, datewise it should be the Martini HenryMk3, but these took time to filter down, the first production took place in 1879, with Aug being the LOC, however, Enfield were still flat out converting the 450,000 Mk1 until well into 1881, 125,000 Mk2 were made in the 1878 production year, and, according to Skennerton 77,000 Mk2 were made at Enfield in the '79 production year, but I have not recorded a 1879 dated Mk2. So the Mk2 still remained the main production arm. Enfield and BSA produced large quantities of Mk3 in the 83,84,85 production years, but these would gone to Weedon for issuing as and when.

I find if difficult to imagine the troops being issued a straight 1:1 swop, just because it has an extra bit here or there, what they did was take those newer components and upgrade those, just like the Mk1 before. In the Mk3 various things had been changed, three external, two internal, and, evidence from Abu Klea is enlightening*. let me explain.

One of the most important re-desings in the Mk3 was the "strengthened extractor", the base of which was parrallel sided and thicker, a slot was cut into the underside to clear the tumbler. This readily fitted the Mk2 rifle, so, a simple 2 minute armourer job, hey presto, an upgraded gun. Mk2 Arms with this pattern fitted were stamped S.X on the reciever.

The firing pin was made stouter, the sight bed was made longer to provide good seating of the ladder, the small cocking indicator used on the carbine was fitted as standard, but ** most importantly, a hook plate fixing, under the forend provided a more positive method of fixing, rather than the cross pin of the Mk2 which was shown to be a weak point. **, after Abu Klea according to Asher, rifles found to be useless due to broken actions and woodwork, had the stocks smashed and buried to prevent re-use by the Mahdisits.

Enfields main production emphasis in the the early 1880's was the IC1 carbine, in two forms Cavalry, and Artillery. Whilst the carbine was introduced in 1877 only 30,000 had been made up 'til March 1879, but production peaked in the 1881-84 years. Interestingly only Enfield made Carbines.

Close inspection of photographs, show interesting results. Images C1881 of the KRR in Egypt and the HLI show Mk2 (cocking indicator: large) give it away, later images of the period it is inconclusive, apart from one of the ecellent study of the Grenadiers in both home service and foreign service kit C1884, the soldier in home service has a Mk2.

The correct pattern of Infantry Bayonet would be the P1876, however, the Desert Column were issued the 56 yataghan converted and bushed for the M-H.

The Indian troops, and photo evidence backs this is up was the Mk3 Snider, in .577 calibre, fitted with the P53 triangular bayonet. The Snider carbine, with the Mk3 breech would have been standard issue, there is an interesting article on them earlier this year in Classic Arms and Militaria, I did spot an LOC in 1880, for the conversion of P53 Enfields to Snider carbines for irregular and yeomanary cavalry. This included the cutting down of the barrel and the drilling of the stock to accept the two piece clearing rod, a trap door butt plate facilitating its entry.


Don't forget also the NSW contingent at Suakin either here, they were armed with the Alex Henry rifle, in 577/450, I have shot one of these, an interesting beast, I do have some images of this rifle.

One of the most important lessons learned from the Sudan was the need for adequate weaponary for the style of warfare, indeed moves were afoot as early as 1882 for the Martini to be re-designed to accept the issues found in the Egyptian campaign, namely that extraction be wholly improved, and, subsequently after post 1885 the need for a more balanced sword type bayonet, strange, as early as 1871 the trials of the Martini showed excellent results with both the P1871 20" sawback sword bayonet and the Elcho pattern sword, but these were not adopted in light of costs.

Trialling of the Enfield Martini Mk1 A and B pattern did try and counter the faults found, namely the A Pattern with its side of reciever mounted quick loader, and, the B pattern with its lengthened lever for greater extraction. These manifested into the M-H Mk4 of 1887, and the P1887 sword bayonet.

A final irony to the Egypt campaign, on of the main exponents into the subsequent development and trialling of the later patterns of the M-H was Lt Kay 1/60th, he was killed at Tel El Kebir.

Regards
Neil

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mike snook 2


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Brilliant - thanks a lot Neil. I'll wait for Adrian to chip in too.

The rifles broken and burnt after Abu Klea were those of the dead and seriously injured, in fact, though of course fit men with broken rifles would have swopped them for a good one from the pool of those suddenly available in the aftermath of the battle. My impression of Abu Klea, having studied at length now and in considerable detail, is that the jamming rifles and broken bayonets thing has been somewhat inflated over the years. Undoubtedly some weapons jammed and some bayonets bent, but what proportion of the whole this represented is an altogether different matter. It's a bit like the ammunition at Isandlwana thing - some part of the force had problems and before you know it, historians have turned it into the most dominant contributing factor in the outcome. In reality the dominant contributing factor was manouevre. At Abu Klea, in similar vein, the Mahdists inside the square were for the most part shot down by men with fully functioning rifles - in particular by the MICR companies at the left front corner.

As ever

Mike
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Adrian Whiting


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Mike, Neil,

Firstly on the MHR issue dates - I agree, I think I must have misread the dates in the notes I had because it suddenly occurred to me to check this against the musketry returns for 1873 (submitted by the Insp Gen of Musketry in january 1874). This shows that only the 2nd Battalion submitted a return (if you can assist me with the location of the 1st Battalion in 1873 that might explain why they made no return - if at Gibraltar perhaps?) and the 2nd Battalion completed the annual practice with Sniders. The return details that only the 46th Foot, 86th Foot, 1/60th and 2/4th Foot had been issued MHRs and completed their annual exercise with it that year. I can tell you that F Company were the best shooting company in 2/24th that year and the battalion was placed 67th overall.

I have some of the returns details going back to 1869 and can see that the 1st Battalion were better shots than the 2nd if that helps ever!

However the 2nd Battalion must have been issued their MHRs in the calendar year of 1874 or the first two months of 1875 because in early March 1875 the Colonel submitted his report on their findings post issue. Amongst other things he records that the rifle was well received by officers and men. The report is shown as being made whilst at Aldershot but I believe they were at Warley when issued. The Regt shown at Warley at the time of the report is the 96th Regt.

The 1st Battalion make no such return at that time and since it is a return by all regiments equipped with the MHR it is reasonable to conclude they had not received it by the start of 1875. As a point of interest all the MHR equipped battalions are in UK, reinforcing the point that the defence strategy saw those Regts on Home Service, and thus protecting UK directly, as the priority and issued to them first.

This would suggest 1/24th received the MHR in 1875, at the earliest.

I also reveiewed the WO Committee report of 5-10-75 regarding the changes to the MHR MkI that led to the changes introduced to produce the MHR MkII. I think you will be aware that 1000 rifles were converted and tested by Regts in UK and by the RN. I have details of each if interested!

The conversion to what would become the MkI converted to MkII was effected by manufacturing the altered items at RSAF and then 4 mechanics went to the RHQs to fit the new items. In brief the cahanges were agreed and adopted to govern the manufacture of the MkII and the conversion of the MkI to MkII. It is the method that interests me, in that it indicates it was possible to send parts out and have them fitted by people trained to do it. Still no evidence that it happened overseas though! I will keep looking!

Mike, I have a bit of detail on the swords and valise equipment for you, including the reference in LoC that states that issue of the 1882 pattern Valise Equipment would be on special request only as a complete issue for battalions and only when the current equipment had completely worn out. I guess this will help as to why so many Regts retained the 1871 pattern for so long - as per the photographic evidence.

I will draw this together and sit down and type it up asap!

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Adrian
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Sloshed him with Martinis, but what mark?
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