Non-standard, substitute standard, and captured weapons in British and Commonwealth service

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by TTH, Mar 16, 2012.

  1. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I have a particular interest in non-standard, substitute, and captured weapons and equipment used by British forces (including colonial and dominion troops) during the world wars and especially in WWII. I have consulted a wide range of print and online sources, including the works of Skennerton, Hogg, Weeks, and many others. I've learned quite a few odd facts already. I found out that the Canadian Army Pacific Force used US equipment in 1945. I learned that the Australians converted German MG08 war trophies from the Great War to .303 during 1942 for possible use against the Japanese. I learned that Mission 204 in China got some Czech-made ZB 26 LMGs from the Chinese...and so on. In any case, I am very anxious to learn more about this odd and inadequately documented subject, so I thought I'd open a thread here for members to make their own contributions. Simply write down any information you have, and if you can document it or give a picture or reference that would be even better.

    Thanks all, TTH
     
  2. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

  3. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    TTH - are you just interested in small arms?
     
  4. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Not just small arms, no; artillery, armor, and vehicles are all part of the subject, as are obsolete British items such as Long Lee Enfield rifles, Spanish-made Old Pattern revolvers, etc. If any of this has been covered in previous threads here I'd be glad to know.
     
  5. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    Well, in that case - one of the best examples I know is the Italian tanks re-used in late 1940/early 1941 by the 6th RTR and the Australian 2/6th Cavalry Regiment; the latter used three squadrons of M13/40s, the squadrons being named "Dingo", "Rabbit", and "Wombat". The Aussies painted kangaroos on their sides to identify them to Commonwealth gunners!

    [​IMG]
     
  6. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    In North Africa, a "liberated" Ju87D Stuka was used by RAF squadrons as a hack; first by 112 Sqn.,....

    [​IMG]

    ...and then by 601 Sqn!

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  8. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Here is a link to an official source for US Lend-Lease equipment. Note that it does not include cash-and-carry purchases, or in-theater transfers.
    HyperWar: Lend-Lease Shipments, World War II

    Quite a few unusual and unexpected items appear under Britain and Canada, some of them in quite large quantities:
    T70 (M18 Hellcat) tank destroyer
    M3 3" heavy AA gun
    M1 37mm light AA gun
    M3 37mm AT gun
    M1 81mm medium mortar
    M2 60mm light mortar
    M1/M9 bazookas
    M1/M2-2 flamethrowers (to Canada)
    M1917A1 Browning MG (later model than the M1917 used by the Home Guard)
    M1 Garand rifle
    M1903A4 Springfield sniper rifle
     
  9. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Thanks for the link, I will look it over.

    I am most interested in enemy items that were captured AND USED, officially or otherwise, not simply displayed as trophies or sent to the rear for evaluation.
     
  10. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Thanks, beautiful pictures. The Stuka had such a distinctive profile that I would think using it as a hack even in a rear area would have been highly dangerous.
     
  11. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    That's a good thread, too, Owen, but I am interested exclusively in British forces.

    It's interesting that some British troops did pick up the odd Kar98K, but they seemed to use MP40s and ex-German MGs and pistols a lot more often. No doubt the troops considered the Lee-Enfield a better rifle than the Mauser.
     
  12. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    The Home Guard was of course a wonderful mishmash of obsolete and re-used small arms for some years....especially in Northern Ireland!

    A mounted "Horse Platoon" was raised in Ballymena, and attached to No. 2 Antrim battalion of the Ulster Home Guard. It seems this body of men was mapped straight across from a similar "Horse Platoon" raised in 1913 by the old UVF during the Home Rule Crisis....and they broke out their old illegally-obtained weapons! For several years the Platoon was wholly armed with single-shot .45 Martini-Henry carbines :lol: They were later issued .303 SMLEs but apparently these were not as popular with the men of the Platoon...:rolleyes:

    A variation of the old Lee-Metford Cavalry Carbine was ordered in 1905 for the Royal Irish Constabulary once they became surplus in the British Army with the introduction of the MkIII SMLE, ten thousand of them :mellow: These were identical to the later Mk.II version of the Lee-Metford so could be charger loaded. Several thousand of these remained with the RUC after Partition...and were used by several platoons of the Ulster Home Guard.

    At least one complete detachment of the Ulster Home Guard, the Short Bros. and Harland (Aldergrove) airfield defence detachment, was equiped with the infamous Canadian-made Ross Rifle MkIII :p Well, at least it was in .303 calibre...:lol:

    Several units here were also equiped with the P14 (.303 Pattern 1914) for a couple of years only....then they were taken off them for re-use by the regular Army! :mellow: Apparently the same thing occured on the mainland UK - P14-equiped Home Guard units lost them in favour of the .300 P17...

    For years I thought the story of them being re-issued to the Army was an urban legend...but if you look at an episode of the "Battlefield" documentary series, the two-parter dealing with El Alamein, you can see two very short film clips of Commonwealth forces in the Western Desert using P14s!
     
  13. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    The Stuka had such a distinctive profile that I would think using it as a hack even in a rear area would have been highly dangerous.


    Of course....but the RAF did what it did with ALL odd-looking, prototype or training aircraft - the guy with the paint brush is applying a fresh coat of bright YELLOW paint! :lol: In 601 Sqn use anyway, I've seen a three-way view of its colour scheme in 112 Sqn use that would indicate a pale grey undersurrface with RAF theatre brown/green upper surfaces.
     
  14. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Thanks for the info. I saw a reference on a gun page (I'll get it if I can) that said the Ulster police used the Spanish Old Pattern .455 revolver during WWII and possibly still later, as did some police in Australia. (By the way, when I say 'British forces' I also mean the navy, home guard, irregulars and 'levies,' police, customs & fisheries, etc.) The O.P. was apparently a decent enough gun, though it may not have had a cylinder stop.

    The P14/M1917 wasn't unusual; it is well recognized as a common British substitute standard rifle. It wasn't bad either, though it was heavy and the canted bolt-handle took some getting used to. It was quite accurate, it could be fired rather faster than a standard Mauser action, and the Chinese and Free French used large numbers. The British regular army used it too, most successfully as a sniper rifle (No. 3(T))

    The Ross, too, is well recognized as a substitute type, though unlike the Enfield it doesn't seem to have seen much front-line action. The RN got them (as they had in WWI) as well as the HG, and Spike Milligan was issued with one during the desperate 1940 days. I saw a war diary of the 9th Australian Div in Tobruk which reported at least one Ross in their inventory. Immediately after the war, the Ross was issued to the tiny Luxembourg army. (Again, I'll try to get refs on these.) Like the P-14/M1917 the Ross was very accurate, but unlike the Enfield it was somewhat fragile.
     
  15. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    As an aside to the mian subject - yes, the RUC did continue to use the .455....but also used Webley&Scott's "weaker" .45 and .38 types - it being reckoned that they would be more useful in the hands of quickly-trained recruits....and of course the various classes of Special Constabulary here in NI, the "A", "B" and "C" Specials.

    The 1932, '38 and '42 versions of the .45 were quite common in the Ulster Home Guard for officers and don-rs, while the .38 was issued as a secondary armament for NCOs with Lewis Gun teams. There was quite a store of small arms here in NI that could be issued to the UHG, given that the RUC was ALWAYS an "armed" constabulary in all ranks...for obvious reasons! ;)
     
  16. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    Interestingly, Lugers were issued to the Northern Australian Observer Unit (2/1 NAOU) in WW2, largely due to a shortage of service revolvers which were required for OS service, and believed to be captured German Lugers.

    However, they could have been Vickers 1909 Luger's from the Dutch East-Indies sent to Australia when the Dutch East-Indies fell.

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/387140-post9.html
     
  17. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Thanks, Spider, that's very interesting about the Lugers. Ironically, the ex-Dutch Australian Lugers may actually have been British made; according to John Weeks (Infantry Weapons, Ballantine Books, 1971, P. 29), the Vickers company made 10,000 Lugers under Dutch contract during the 1920's.
     
  18. TonyE

    TonyE Senior Member

    As an aside to the mian subject - yes, the RUC did continue to use the .455....but also used Webley&Scott's "weaker" .45 and .38 types - it being reckoned that they would be more useful in the hands of quickly-trained recruits....and of course the various classes of Special Constabulary here in NI, the "A", "B" and "C" Specials.

    The 1932, '38 and '42 versions of the .45 were quite common in the Ulster Home Guard for officers and don-rs, while the .38 was issued as a secondary armament for NCOs with Lewis Gun teams. There was quite a store of small arms here in NI that could be issued to the UHG, given that the RUC was ALWAYS an "armed" constabulary in all ranks...for obvious reasons! ;)

    I am not sure what you mean by the "weaker" Webleys. I would much rather have a Mark VI than an O.P. pistol!

    Also, the Webleys were .455 not .45 and which pistols do you describe as the 1932, '38 and '42 versions?

    TTH- I would also describe the Pattern '14 rifle as considerably better than "quite accurate". I have owned two (still shoot one) and both were very accurate without any "target" work done on them.

    With regard to secondary weapons in WWI, the four volumes of my "British Secondary Small Arms 1914-1919" are still available and cover in detail all the weapons and ammunition discussed previously, e.g. Arisaka, Ross, Remington and Winchester .44 and .351 inch rifles, Colt, S & W and O.P. pistols etc.

    They are:
    Vol.1 The Arisaka in British Service
    Vol.2 RFC and RNAS Small Arms
    Vol.3 Land Service Small Arms
    Vol.4 Royal Navy Small Arms.

    I did not cover the Pattern'14 rifle as with 1.2 million delivered it was more "mainstream", but I have a book in (long term) preparation on it.

    Regards
    TonyE
     
  19. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    Fascinating about the Pistols .455in, Spanish, Old Pattern. These were obsolescent when new, S&W copies by the Eibar consortium were only intended to be acquired as 'substitute standard' during the First World War and were being withdrawn from front line service in 1916. Needs must.

    My Dad did his RAF basic drill and musketry in 1943 with P14 and Ross rifles. He liked the Rifle No.2 (P14) and hated the straight-pull Ross - "how could you put confidence in a bolt that doesn't close?".

    Keith
     
  20. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Tony mentions the .455 W&S revolver - Young cadet and I got to fire one belonging to an ACF officer, The name cut into the barrel was so unusual it has stuck with me all these years Lieutenant Im Thurn Hampshire Regiment (WW1)The officer who owned it (1964) was a collector so I imagine it is still out there in a collection. We got to fire many weapons belonging to Lt Frank Spencer ACF - coaching pistol. 1911 Colt, a replica Brown Bess, the black powder Navy Colt. Springfield and a collection of black powder pistols. Not allowed now!



    Some of the tales older RUC officers told of the .38 and .45 yarns about hitting someone wearing an overcoat and giving them a huge bruise and nothing else. Not so sure myself! Sgt H, R (RUC)- allowed me to fire his Rugger .44 down the pipe range at Glassmullin blimey that was a beast.
     

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