B6

1901 RIFLE SETS

The full rifle webbing is shown here, the belt pouches each held 40 rounds of clipped ammunition or 60 loose rounds plus a further 60 clipped rounds in the bandolier for a total of 140/180 bullets.

The drill order set is shown here with folded up empty pouches, the uniform worn is doeskin (finely shawn serge) of Merchant Naval origin of unknown age.

For this sequence the belt order drill set seen in training is worn with the regulation solitary right side empty pouch.

The .303 inch Magazine Lee Enfield or MLE replaced the Lee Metford rifle in 1895 after the later had been operational for just seven years, the MLE was designed to cope with the new cordite rounds which had given the Metfords such trouble.

The mark 1 Short Magazine Lee Enfield or SMLE was first seen in 1904 with the improved mark 2 following in 1906, both of these earlier types were retired in 1926, the mark 3 was introduced in 1907 and a simplified mark 3* joined it in service in 1915, both types of mark 3 served well into the 1950s, it has been estimated that over 16 million MLEs and SMLEs of all marks were produced, the magazine held ten rounds of mark 7 ammunition first used in 1910.

The bayonet used on the SMLE was the 1907 pattern with a seventeen and a half inch blade which began quantity production in 1908, early examples had a curved extension to the cross guard known as a quillion which proved useful for pulling down barbed wire but units made after 1913 omitted the quillion and any earlier bayonets returned for repair had them removed, a modern replica is shown.

The initial bayonet used on the 1901 webbing set was the 1888 pattern originally developed for Lee Metfords joined later by the similar sized 1903 pattern MLE bayonet, both were worn in their own scabbards on the cutlass frog.

In March 1904 a Mk I integral frog/scabbard was introduced featuring all rivet construction.

By December 1904 the design had changed to a stitched Mk II frog/sabbard.

In December 1908 the longer 1907 SMLE pattern bayonet integral frog/scabbard was introduced.

The complex rifle pouches were u-shaped with the bottom half folding up when empty, the pair seen here were made by J & A Hillman Limited in 1918.

The 60 round bandolier had twelve pockets each containing a single stripper clip of five .303 rounds, adjustable at the top buckle a small steadying strap secured it to the belt, the Mk II version of 1902 had its strap cut to a curve to fit better.

The skeleton carrier held the early type water bottle with the wide vee-shaped funnel top enclosed in khaki felt cover, an adjustable shoulder strap was fitted and a downward rear prong slipped over the belt, from 1903 onwards the Mk II straps were sewn to the rings.

The dyed brown duck linen haversack came with a shoulder strap that was adjustable at both ends, one internal cloth divider ran length wards and an inboard strap buttoned down over the belt.

The standard 1901 pattern belt, braces and canteens made up the set.

Recorded in Admiralty handbook line drawings was a rifle kitbag which held all the spare parts and cleaning equipment for a landing party with only one bag per platoon normally seen, intended to be primarily carried by motor transport the adjustable leather shoulder straps allowed it to be carried by a chosen volunteer if the road ran out.

 

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