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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is one of my latest acquisitions it’s what appears to be a unaltered 1913 London small arms with volley sights and cutoff. Everything is matching serial number wise and the bore is excellent. Am I correct with the D marking on the receiver being of early Aussie? I’m more used to the Later D^D marking. Would love to hear your thoughts.
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The D/I\ without MD number in 1911 to 1913 is usually RAN. So having a butt disc marked to 12th Australian Infantry Regiment does not fit with the Navy theory, as it should have an M D number on the receiver ring flat and the butt. I will gave to look up what state raised the 12th AIR
 

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The D/I\ without MD number in 1911 to 1913 is usually RAN. So having a butt disc marked to 12th Australian Infantry Regiment does not fit with the Navy theory, as it should have an M D number on the receiver ring flat and the butt. I will gave to look up what state raised the 12th AIR
Howdy Damien;
Was kinda thinking along the lines of infantry formation makeup when I went searching for info on that disc under Oz ownership with the (inserted ^D).
Battalion,Brigade,Division.
Which would of read as 12th/3/1.
Prolly off tangent but be interesting what you can find out.
Cheer’s.
 

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Not being born in OZ (LSA) may have something to do with the markings being out of whack?
Wartime issue or postwar return? Did it sit in storage after being marked Aussie Property and for how long?
 

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How much are these Mark III rifles going for with the cutoff and volley sights still there? Have not seen too many for sale in a while. BTW nice find!
 

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Howdy Damien;
Was kinda thinking along the lines of infantry formation makeup when I went searching for info on that disc under Oz ownership with the (inserted ^D).
Battalion,Brigade,Division.
Which would of read as 12th/3/1.
Prolly off tangent but be interesting what you can find out.
Cheer’s.
I read the disc as

12 AI

D 42 (or 41?)

or 12 Australian Infantry (Regiment)

D Company Rifle 42 (or 41?)

So this is a Regiment in the pre WW1 Commonwealth Military Forces (CMF), not the 12 Battalion of the Australian Imperial Forces of WW1 fame. The CMF is for the defence of continental Australia, while the AIF was the expeditionary force raised for fighting overseas. It is easy to google stuff on the 12th Battalion AIF, but surprisingly difficult for the 12 AIR.

Anyhoo, one thing I note is the first photo of the magazine - it is the SMLE No.2 type without the small leaf spring on the rear rib (as per the SMLE No.3 and No.4 magazines). So this mag is still for Mk.VI ball ammo, not Mk.VII ball. This is consistent with Australian pre WW1 deliveries from UK factory contracts up to mid 1914.

We also know that the D/I\ mark was put on at the factory, not when it was received in Australia. There are other 1913 and 1914 made rifles that have the D/I\, but Indian Army regimental markings, as they were diverted by the War Office for Indian use just on the outbreak of WW1. These rifles, and some Australian issued ones, entered the Turkish stores time capsule after capture at Kut and Gallipoli.

So we need more photos I reckon..... If the rifle has its original mag, it may have the original Mk.VI ball rearsight bed and range slider as well. The volley sight plate should also be marked LES III rather than LES2. This would indicate that the rifle has sidestepped the usual issue and upgrade processes. If the rifle was originally purchased in the US through Blue Ridge or maybe Century Arms, that may give some clues.

The
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I read the disc as

12 AI

D 42 (or 41?)

or 12 Australian Infantry (Regiment)

D Company Rifle 42 (or 41?)

So this is a Regiment in the pre WW1 Commonwealth Military Forces (CMF), not the 12 Battalion of the Australian Imperial Forces of WW1 fame. The CMF is for the defence of continental Australia, while the AIF was the expeditionary force raised for fighting overseas. It is easy to google stuff on the 12th Battalion AIF, but surprisingly difficult for the 12 AIR.

Anyhoo, one thing I note is the first photo of the magazine - it is the SMLE No.2 type without the small leaf spring on the rear rib (as per the SMLE No.3 and No.4 magazines). So this mag is still for Mk.VI ball ammo, not Mk.VII ball. This is consistent with Australian pre WW1 deliveries from UK factory contracts up to mid 1914.

We also know that the D/I\ mark was put on at the factory, not when it was received in Australia. There are other 1913 and 1914 made rifles that have the D/I\, but Indian Army regimental markings, as they were diverted by the War Office for Indian use just on the outbreak of WW1. These rifles, and some Australian issued ones, entered the Turkish stores time capsule after capture at Kut and Gallipoli.

So we need more photos I reckon..... If the rifle has its original mag, it may have the original Mk.VI ball rearsight bed and range slider as well. The volley sight plate should also be marked LES III rather than LES2. This would indicate that the rifle has sidestepped the usual issue and upgrade processes. If the rifle was originally purchased in the US through Blue Ridge or maybe Century Arms, that may give some clues.
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Very interesting, as far as imports go I know the rifle is pre 68. That’s about it.
 

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The Australian Government procured UK made SMLE Mk.IIIs from 1908 to 1914. The main supplying factory was BSA, with most of the rest being Enfield. However, there are definitely LSA made rifles in the mix made to the Australian Mk.VI ball requirement. There may have been a mixed bag of rifles bought through the War Office from British Army stocks, but there were definitely Aust Govt contracts placed direct with BSA, LSA and Enfield after 1911.

It seems that just by MD issue numbers up to 1914 when Lithgow production really kicked in, at least 80,000 SMLE Mk.IIIs had been delivered to Australia. The outbreak of WW1 meant that deliveries waiting for export to Australia were taken by the War Office, and no more UK made rifles to Australia until after WW1.
 

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The Australian Government procured UK made SMLE Mk.IIIs from 1908 to 1914. The main supplying factory was BSA, with most of the rest being Enfield. However, there are definitely LSA made rifles in the mix made to the Australian Mk.VI ball requirement. There may have been a mixed bag of rifles bought through the War Office from British Army stocks, but there were definitely Aust Govt contracts placed direct with BSA, LSA and Enfield after 1911.

It seems that just by MD issue numbers up to 1914 when Lithgow production really kicked in, at least 80,000 SMLE Mk.IIIs had been delivered to Australia. The outbreak of WW1 meant that deliveries waiting for export to Australia were taken by the War Office, and no more UK made rifles to Australia until after WW1.
Thank you for elaborating. Did that procedure include the D^ marking on bayonet pommels?
1911 EFD:

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Partially obliterated 3MD number on the crosspiece. (Reworked)
All British markings on ricasso but no later viewing marks.
Plain coachwood grip panels (no SLAZ)
Came to me in a ‘43 Mangrovite scabbard.
 

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The Australian Government procured UK made SMLE Mk.IIIs from 1908 to 1914. The main supplying factory was BSA, with most of the rest being Enfield. However, there are definitely LSA made rifles in the mix made to the Australian Mk.VI ball requirement. There may have been a mixed bag of rifles bought through the War Office from British Army stocks, but there were definitely Aust Govt contracts placed direct with BSA, LSA and Enfield after 1911.

It seems that just by MD issue numbers up to 1914 when Lithgow production really kicked in, at least 80,000 SMLE Mk.IIIs had been delivered to Australia. The outbreak of WW1 meant that deliveries waiting for export to Australia were taken by the War Office, and no more UK made rifles to Australia until after WW1.

Interesting that the 'main suppler' was considered to be BSA, particularly as BSA was a private company and not under the Government control.
Between 1907 and 1914 BSA only produced a total of 80,000 No1 MkIII
RSAF Enfield produced 130,000 in the same time period
LSA produced 430,000 1907-1918

If (no reason to doubt it) Australia did receive 80,000 MkIIIs between 1908 and 1914 then it was a huge percentage of the UKs total production (equivalent to BSAs total production 1907-14)
 

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Interesting that the 'main suppler' was considered to be BSA, particularly as BSA was a private company and not under the Government control.
Between 1907 and 1914 BSA only produced a total of 80,000 No1 MkIII
RSAF Enfield produced 130,000 in the same time period
LSA produced 430,000 1907-1918

If (no reason to doubt it) Australia did receive 80,000 MkIIIs between 1908 and 1914 then it was a huge percentage of the UKs total production (equivalent to BSAs total production 1907-14)
I would say BSA produced more than 80,000 by 1914
BSA started MkIII production in the T prefix, my 1907 BSA is U2007 my 1908 BSA is U34486 & my 1911 BSA is U76498 which would indicate 80,000 were produced by 1912
I know BSA produced Mk1 SMLEs after 1907 & could have applied U prefix serial numbers which would change that but I do know the 1910 dated BSA Mk1s in NZ have a serial number with no letter prefix
 

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Thank you for elaborating. Did that procedure include the D^ marking on bayonet pommels?
1911 EFD:

View attachment 3996109

added
Partially obliterated 3MD number on the crosspiece. (Reworked)
All British markings on ricasso but no later viewing marks.
Plain coachwood grip panels (no SLAZ)
Came to me in a ‘43 Mangrovite scabbard.
Yes JB, bayonets were marked like yours from 1911 onwards. This mark was only used on pre 1915 Brit made SMLE kit being receiver ring and barrel. Post WW1 into the 1920s, they are also on the butt above the marking disc. Lithgow rifles and bayonets did not have it as they were assumed to be Australian property.

The D with arrow in it is a property mark often seen on other Brit made stuff like Webley Mk.VI revolvers, .455 Webley Mk.I N self loading pistol and grenade cups.
I would say BSA produced more than 80,000 by 1914
BSA started MkIII production in the T prefix, my 1907 BSA is U2007 my 1908 BSA is U34486 & my 1911 BSA is U76498 which would indicate 80,000 were produced by 1912
I know BSA produced Mk1 SMLEs after 1907 & could have applied U prefix serial numbers which would change that but I do know the 1910 dated BSA Mk1s in NZ have a serial number with no letter prefix
I have never seen a T prefix BSA SMLE III dated 1907, but that would be a very interesting development.

The BSA T-series was applied to the SMLE Mk.I* rifles in 1906, and seems to have ceased before T 20000. I have a cryptic reference to a BSA SMLE Mk.I* numbered 30371 (no prefix?) made in 1907. I have been recording serial numbers for 30 years and have never seen a 1907 BSA T-series number in the gap between T-30371 and U 1.. That said, there is the possibility that a 1907 BSA SMLE III could have been FTR'd and re-serial numbered with a T prefix four digit number at Enfield circa 1918.

So finding a five digit T series BSA SMLE Mk.III would run against my current theory that BSA commenced SMLE III production at U1.

So assuming my theory is correct, BSA SMLE III production as revealed by serial numbers is:
U1 in 1907 to U100,000 in 1912. Lowest 1912 U serial around U 85,000 but mix of 1911 and 1912 dated receivers seen up to U99,000s.

V1 in 1912 to V100000 in 1913. V344 is lowest Australian issue to Queensland Police in Mk.VII ball as per standard Brit production of the time and V 67960 is the highest pre WW1 Australian issued BSA made rifle in 4/14 (6 A.I sighted in Mk.VI ball as per Australian contract requirement.)
W1 in 1913 to W100000 in 1915. All rifles in the W series in Australia came here after WW1, usually FTR's ex British Army stocks.

So I would say that by the time of the last British factory deliveries reached Australia mid 1914, BSA would have produced about 170,000 rifles judging by serial numbers. The caveat is that BSA made small numbers of other models of rifles and spare barrels for MLE I and SMLE I, all from the same continuous serial number register, so SMLE III production would be commensurately lower.

A more accurate way of determining Australian numbers of Brit made rifles is to add up the highest MD issue numbers seen on them around mid 1914. Lithgow had only produced less than 5,000 rifles by mid 1914.

LSA started SMLE III production in the low L series and had produced about 50,000 by the time of final pre WW1 deliveries.

H6807 of 1914 is the highest Enfield Australian contract serial number noted. It has the D/I\ but was diverted to a non Australian regiment in December 1914 (R.P. possibly Indian?). By this time, Enfield had already gone through 10,000 non prefixed serials in 1907, and through the the alphabet A to Z and up to H again by 1914, so roughly 350,000 SMLE III and IV Cd by serials.

So in total, around 570,000 SMLE IIIs produced in UK by mid 1914. I have not checked this against Skinnys totals in his latest Lee Enfield book, but that is what the serial numbers say. 80,000 in Australia out of 570,000 produced is still a high proportion, but the standing British Army (non Territorials) was only about 250,000 as I recall. The Territorials and other reserves would have mainly had MLEs and SMLE I / IICd rifles, but someone may have better knowledge on that...
 

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PS, I did not include BSA W series made between 1913 and 1914, which would add another maybe 50,000 to overall Brit production. No W series BSAs have been recorded in Australia before WW1, but plenty came in post WW1.
 

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The caveat is that BSA made small numbers of other models of rifles and spare barrels for MLE I and SMLE I, all from the same continuous serial number register, so SMLE III production would be commensurately lower.
I mentioned this in my post as well but did add none of the 1910 BSA Mk1 (no*) SMLEs in NZ have a prefix to the serial number.
Skennerton does say BSAs MkIII production began in the T prefix following on from the Mk1*

Eta fwiw my pre war Enfield manufactured MkIIIs are
1909 H8333
1910 M3247
1912 Z3436
Seeing as I have listed the serial numbers from my 1907 BSA to my 1912 Enfield, here they are together

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