For any collector of Indian military history this Ishapore Number 4 Mk1 Lee Enfield rifle is a window into The Chinese-Indian War of 1962 and how a Ishapore Number 4 Mk1 exists at all ?
This R.F.I Number 4 Mk1 is a very rare example, as India never manufacture the Number 4 Service Rifle. The importace of this rifle is the date 1963, due to the invasion of Chinese People's Liberation Army into India a year earlier (1962).
India were taken by complete suprise by the suddern invasion of China in late 1962 and failed badly in that conflict.
This rifle must have come from deep long term storage and refitted at the Ishapore Rifle factory as it struggled to equip its Army after the Chinese People's Liberation Army invation. More than likely this rifle came from old WW2 British Indian Army War Reserves Stock. This stock pile had been untouched since it was put into storage by The British Indian Army after WW2 had ended.
Indian gains Independence from the British in 1946 and inherited most of the equipment of the British Indian Army and also the British Indian Army run factories of which there were many.
Most of the equipment were British Indian Army Ishapore Smile's plus the Vickers light machine guns and Vickers heavy machine guns, basicity the British gave the Indians an instant Army, 'the complete set up '.
But for the Indians that was just fine, until that is the Chinese People's Liberation Army invaded India on 20th October 1962, the Chinese People's Liberation Army was equip with AK47's and quickly over run the Indian Army on the Chinese / Indian boarder .
The Sino-Indian War
There is a long border between China and India which is divided into three sections by Nepal and Bhutan. This border is adjacent to the Himalayan mountains, which extends to Burma and the then West Pakistan (modern Pakistan). Many disputed areas are located on this border. In the western end is the Aksai Chin region which is the size of Switzerland. The region is located between the Chinese Autonomous Region of Xinjiang and Tibet (which China declared an autonomous region in 1965). The present Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh (old name - North East Frontier Agency) is situated between Burma and Bhutan on the eastern border .
In the conflict of 1962, Chinese troops had entered both these areas.
Most of the fighting took place on high ground. The Aksai Chin region is a vast desert of salt flats at an altitude of about 5,000 meters above sea level, and Arunachal Pradesh is a mountainous region with many peaks exceeding 7,000 meters.
According to military doctrine, an assault usually required a numerical superiority of 3:1 ratio over infantry to be successful (the same ratio as in today's Russian Invasion of Ukraine ) .
In mountain warfare this ratio should be much higher as the topography of the terrain helps the other side to defend. China was able to take advantage of the terrain and Chinese forces occupied the highest peak areas. Both sides faced difficulties in military and other logistical operations due to the high altitude and cold conditions, and many soldiers on both sides died of freezing cold.
Indian land forcibly occupied by China, according to China 's official military history, the war achieved China 's policy goals of defending its western sector frontier, as China retained de facto control of Aksai Chin. After the war, India abandoned the Forward Policy and the Line of Actual Control was converted into de facto borders.
According to James Calvin, even though China won a military victory, it lost its international image. Western countries, especially the US, were already suspicious of Chinese attitudes, intentions and actions. These countries saw China's goals as world conquest and clearly recognized China as the aggressor in the border war.
China's first nuclear weapon test in October 1964 and support to Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 confirms the aims and objectives of the Communists and the American view of Chinese influence throughout Pakistan.
After the war, the Indian Army underwent extensive changes and a need was felt to be prepared for similar conflicts in the future. Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru from the war Pressure came on those who were seen as responsible for failing to anticipate a Chinese attack on India. That is when this rifle was pulled from British Indian Army War Reserves Stock and refitted at the Ishapore Factory in 1963.
A huge wave of patriotism started rising among the Indians and many memorials were built for the Indian soldiers who died in the war. Arguably, the main lesson that India learned from the war was the need to strengthen its own country and a change from Nehru's "fraternal" foreign policy with China.
Prime Minister Nehru faced harsh criticism from government officials for promoting pacifist relations with China, due to his inability to foresee the possibility of a Chinese invasion of India.
Indian President Radhakrishnan said that Nehru's government was unsophisticated and careless about preparation. Nehru accepted that Indians were living in a world of their own understanding. Indian leaders, instead of focusing solely on driving back the invaders ,Spent a lot of effort on the removal of Krishna Menon.
The Indian Army was divided over Krishna Menon's policies of "paying favors to the good" and overall the 1962 war was seen by Indians as a combination of a military defeat and a political disaster.
Not looking at the available options, but under American advice, India did not use the Air Force to push back the Chinese troops. CIA (US intelligence agency) later stated that at that time the Chinese troops in Tibet neither had sufficient fuel nor runways long enough that they were unable to use the air force effectively.
Most of the Indians started looking at China and its soldiers with suspicion. Many Indians came to see the war as a betrayal of India's effort to establish a long-overdue peace with China. Nehru's use of the term "Hindi-Chini bhai, bhai" (meaning "Indians and Chinese are brothers") also began to be questioned. The war ended Nehru's hopes that India and China could form a strong Asian pole as a response to the growing influence of the superpowers of the Cold War bloc.
The blame for the military's under-preparedness fell on Defense Minister Menon, who resigned from his government post so that the new minister could promote India's military modernisation.
This rifle was taken from old British Indian Army War Reserves as a direct result 'under-preparedness of the Indian Army' in the 1962 Chinese-Indian War.
The war cemented India's policy of supplying arms through indigenous sources and self-reliance. Realizing the Indian military weakness, Pakistan started incursions into Jammu and Kashmir which eventually culminated in the second war with India in 1965.
However, India commissioned the Henderson-Brooks-Bhagat Report for reasons of India's incomplete preparation for the war. The result was inconclusive, as various sources were divided on the verdict of victory. Some sources argue that since India occupied more territory than Pakistan, India clearly won. But, others argued that India had suffered significant losses and hence, the outcome of the battle was inconclusive.
Two years later,In 1967, there was a small border skirmish between Chinese and Indian troops known as the Chola incident .
This is an opportunity to own a very rare Lee Enfield .303 rifle without spending out a great deal of money. The condition is very good and the rifle has a very smooth action and good rifling.
This rifle was originally a British manufactured rifle that was sent to Burma during WW2 in respons to the Invasion by Japan Imperial Army into Burma .
After WW2 ended this rifle was left with the British Indian Army as war reserve stock, the rifle was re-issued in 1962 with a Ishapore factory stamp and any original stamping were removed.