This has come out of the 'Hans Günter Collection'
WW1 BSA SMLE No1 MkIII* .303 Sniper Rifle dated 1916
Fitted with a Periscopic Prism & Co Scope and mount
This WW1 British Army BSA MkIII* 1916 dated Sniper Rifle has just come out of the 'Hans Günter Collection'.
This rifle is equipped with a Periscopic Prism & Co and its mount, the rifle is all matching numbers including the Periscopic Prism telescopic sight.
In early 1916 The Birmingham Small Arms Company was issued with a British War Department contract to supply a number of Lee Enfield .303 Service rifle fitted with Telescopic sight.
There is no documentation from that time of how many BSA 303 SMLE fitted with Periscopic Prism telescopic sight that BSA were invited to supply under there British Government contract.
That information has been lost to time but it must have been more than 745 as that was the number of Sniper rifles that were returned to Weedon in 1921 to be broken up and returned to Central Stores.
This Periscopic Prism & Co telescopic sight has a bullet drop compensatory range drum for 100 to 600 yards.
The British Government 'Ministry of Munitions' took over Periscopic Prism Company Limited of 23 Prince of Wales Crescent, Kentish Town, London in mid 1916 as a concerns by the British Government over how the Company was run by its then owners.
Company House Records in the 'London Gazette' on 11th November 1924 'Periscopic Prism & Co Ltd ' it was struck from the Company House Register.
As with any SMLE it was well suited to Trench Warfare unlike the German Mauser Service rifle G98, which was not at all suited to the mud of the Trenches.
Trench warfare suited German sniping very well as the British Army found out to there cost in late 1914.
In 1913 the German Army had issued a demand to anyone that had a Telescopic rifle to hand that rifling into there local police station. These rifle were then issued to the German Army before and during the start of the Great War, during the first few years the casualty rate from German Snipes on British Soldiers was devastating.
The British Army response was in 1914 to fit Galilean sights to SMLE's as a stop gap measure, then after negotiations though a Swiss Government intermediary the British Government purchased a large amount of German manufactured Telescope sights from the Germans, this was in exchange for Rubber (which the German had in short supply) using this Swiss intermediary.
The First Periscopic Prism telescopes used during the first six months were in fact German made telescopes and after a short time the British Periscopic Prism Co Ltd copied these German Telescopes and made there own to the German design.
After 1915 and into 1916 the British Army started to turn the tide, and with the help of men like Major Hestheth-Prichard Sniper school and many other unknown people behind the front Trench lines, things were looking up.
By the end of Wars to end all Wars, orders were issued by the War Office in 1921 that all SMLE Sniper Rifles should be sent to Weedon to be broken up. 'After all there will never be another war in our life time'.
Did anyone tell the Germans ?
As late as 2015 in Afghanistan, a whole platoon of US Rangers was pin down by
the Taliban using only Mk3 SMLE's and nothing else, only the deployment of a couple of Hellfire missiles stopped that engagement.
Like the AK47, the Short Magazine Lee Enfield does survive in any areas of the world that other weapons platforms cannot.
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