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Selasa, 08 April 2008

SMLE, Commonwealth Rifle in WW2

In WW2, almost all commonwealth country and allied forces has taken a SMLE rifle for their standard side arm for their troops.

The Lee-Enfield series of rifles was born in 1895 as a marriage between the magazine and bolt action, designed by the J. P. Lee, and the new pattern of barrel rifling, designed at the Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) at Enfield. Originally known as Lee-Metford, this design was adopted by British army in 1888 and used a Metford pattern rifling with shallow groves, intended to be used with ammunition loaded with black powder. Introduction of the smokeless powders in the form of the Cordite showed that the Metford rifling was very short-living, so it was soon replaced with Enfield rifling, with 5 traditional land and grooves and left hand pitch.

Early Lee-Enfield rifles, officially known as a ".303 caliber, Rifle, Magazine, Lee-Enfield", were carried by the British army through the Boer war (South Africa) of 1899-1902, and Boers, armed with their Mausers, taught to the Brits some hard lessons. And, unlike some other Empires, Brits were quick lo learn. In 1903, they introduced a new design, which improved over the older Lee-Metfords and Lee-Enfields in some important respects. The main improvements was the introduction of the "universal" rifle idea.

The common thinking of the period was to issue the long rifle for infantry and the carbine for cavalry, artillery and other such troops. The Brits decided to replace this variety of sizes with one, "intermediate" size, that will fit all niches. This "one size fits all" rifle was called ".303 caliber, Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield, Mark 1", or, in short SMLE Mk.I, where "short" referred to the length of the rifle. This rifle passed some improvements during the following pre-WW1 years, finalizing in the 1907 as a SMLE Mk.III.

Development and introduction into service of this rifle was accompanied with constant complaints of some "theorists", which stated that this rifle would be no good neither for infantry, nor for cavalry, so RSAF was set do design another rifle, patterned after the German Mauser, which also should be more suitable for mass production, than the SMLE. This rifle finally appeared in 1914 as an ".303 caliber Enfield Pattern 1914 rifle", or simply a P-14. With the outbreak of the Great war British troops were still armed with the "poor" SMLE Mk.III rifles, which soon turned far from any "poor", giving some hard time to the Germans. In fact, the SMLE Mk.III was a really good rifle, quite accurate, reliable and suitable for rapid and accurate firing. British soldiers were rigorously trained for both individual and volley fire marksmanship, and were routinely capable of firing 30 aimed shots per minute, which was quite a rate of fire for any non-automatic rifle. There were times when advancing Germans were impressed that they were under the machine gun fire, when Tommie used their salvo-firing techniques.

During the war time the basic Mk.III design was slightly simplified to better suit the mass production needs, with omission of "volley" sights and magazine cutoffs, and with some production shortcuts. When the World War One was over, there were no questions of quality of basic SMLE design, but some improvements were suggested and introduced in later patterns, such as peep-hole, receiver mounted sights. These "interwar" patterns were not issued in any significant quantities until the 1941.

In 1926, Britains, quite confused with numerous 'Marks' and 'Marks with stars' of their weaponry, decided to adopt a new numbering system, so the SMLE Mark III became the "Rifle, No. 1 Mark 3". The "Rifle No.2" was a training version of the SMLE No.1 but chambered to .22LR ammunition. The "No.3" was assigned to the P-14 rifle, which was used in limited numbers. And the "Rifle No.4 Mark 1", widely known as a SMLE No.4 Mk.1, appeared in 1941. This was an improved and strengthened SMLE design, with heavier and stronger receiver, which also was faster and easier to machine, and with heavier barrel. The stock shape was shortened at the front part, giving away with the characteristic Mark III snub-nosed appearance. The barrel-mounted open rear sights were replaced with the receiver-mounted peep-hole sights, which were micrometer-adjustable.

The latter feature was substituted by the simplified flip-up rear sights for wartime production, and this version became the No.4 Mk.1* rifle. By the end of the World War 2, when British and Commonwealth troops (also armed with SMLEs) started to fight in jungles of the South-East Asia, it was soon discovered that a "short" SMLE was still not short enough for the jungle combat, so a carbine version was adopted late in the 1944 in the form of the No.5 "jungle carbine". This gun was somewhat lighter and handier than No.4, but suffered from the "wandering zero" problems, which meant that the point of impact wandered during the time. The muzzle flash and recoil were also too strong, despite the flash-hider and rubber buttpad.

The last, and by some opinions the finest "general issue" version of the SMLE was the No.4 Mk.2 rifle, which appeared in 1949. It was made by higher peacetime standards of fit and finish, than a wartime No.1 Mk.3s and No.4 Mk.1s, and served with British army until the mid-1950s, when the self-loading L1 SLR (semi-auto copy of the Belgian FN FAL) rifle in 7.62mm NATO was introduced into general service. But some SMLEs were left in military service, as a training, target and, especially, sniper rifles, known as Enfield L39 and L41, rechambered to the new standard 7.62mm NATO ammunition, and served well until the late 1980s, when there were replaced by the L96 sniper rifles. It should be noted, that SMLE rifles were produced and used not only in the UK. Australian, Canadian and Indian factories turned out more than million of the No.1 rifles with various improvements, which were used during both World wars and thereafter.

During the WW2, Britain also acquired quantities of SMLE No.4 (marked No.4 Mk.1*) made under contract at the Savage Arms company in USA. In the 1950s, Indian Isaphore arsenal turned out some SMLEs rechambered to the 7.62mm NATO (.308 win) ammunition. These are distinguishable from .303 caliber rifles by the more squared outline of the magazine. Total numbers of all 'Marks' and 'Numbers' of the SMLE made during the 60 years in various countries is not less than 5 000 000 (yes, five millions) rifles

In general the SMLE were ones of the best bolt action battle rifles, fast-firing, powerful and reliable. While being less suitable for "sporterizing" than Mausers, they are still popular among civilians as a hunting and plinking weapons, and also as a part of the history. The key deficiencies of the SMLE were probably the rimmed ammunition and non-interchangeability of bolts, but the advantages of this design were mush bigger and Lee-Enfields in all its guises served the Britain and the British Commonwealth for more than 60 years in the front line service and much longer as a specialized weapon (training and sniper).

Jumat, 04 April 2008

The Dead of Field Marshall Rommel : "I will never allow myself to be hanged by that man, Hitler !! ... I only tried to serve my country,"

October 13, 1944"On October 13th came a telephone call from headquarters of War District 5 at Stuttgart. Rommel and Aldinger were out and a soldier servant took the call. He was told to inform Fieldmarshal Rommel that General Burgdorf and General Maisel would arrive at Herrlingen next day at noon. When Rommel received the message he said very little. To Aldinger he remarked that the two generals were doubtless coming to talk to him about the invasion or about a new job. For the rest of the day he was unusually silent.""At noon precisely General Burgdorf arrived with General Maisel and a Major Ehrenberger, another Ordonnanzoffizier.

They came in a small green car. The driver wore a black uniform of the S.S. The two generals shook hands with Rommel. Frau (Mrs.) Rommel, Manfred, and Aldinger were introduced. After a moment General Burgdorf said that he wished to speak to the Fieldmarshal (Rommel) alone. Frau Rommel went upstairs to her room. Rommel led Burgdorf into a downstairs room and Maisel followed. As they moved away, Rommel turned to Aldinger to prepare his file of his orders and situation reports issued during the Normandy fighting, for he suspected that he was to be interrogated about the invasion.

Aldinger's file was, of course, in order and he remained talking to Major Ehrenberger outside the front door while Manfred went upstairs to continue coloring some maps for his father. It was nearly an hour later that General Maisel came out. He was followed after a minute or two by General Burgdorf. Rommel was not with them. He had gone upstairs to his wife.""As he was taking leave of his wife, Manfred entered the room cheerfully, to see what had become of his father. The generals were waiting for him. Rommel said good-bye to his son also. Then he turned and went into the room next door. Manfred followed at his heels. Rommel called for his soldier servant and sent him to find Aldinger. To Aldinger he explained what was in store for him. He was now quite calm but Aldinger could hear Frau Rommel sobbing in her room.

Aldinger was not disposed to take it like this. "I told him", he said, "that he must at least make an escape. Why could we not try to shoot our way out together ?", asked Aldinger. "We have been in as bad places before and got away." "It's not good, my friend", he said, "this is it ! All the streets are blocked with S.S. cars and the Gestapo are all around the house. We could never get back to the troops. They've taken over the telephone. I cannot even ring up my headquarters." Aldinger said we could at least shoot Burgdorf and Maisel. "No", said Rommel, "they have their orders. I have Manfred and my wife to think of". Then he told me that he had been promised that no harm should come of them if he took the first choice. A pension would be paid. He was to be given a state funeral. He would be buried at home in Herrlingen. "I have spoken to my wife and made up my mind..", he said, "I will never allow myself to be hanged by that man, Hitler !! I planned no murder. I only tried to serve my country, as I have done all my life, but now this is what I must do. In about half an hour there will come a telephone call from Ulm to say that I have had an accident and am dead"."Having taken his decision, Rommel went upstairs with Manfred and Aldinger.

The generals were looking at the garden. They came over to the car and Rommel got in first into the back seat. Burgdorf and Maisel followed him. Major Ehrenberger had already left to make the arrangements.""Twenty-five minutes later the telephone rang. Aldinger answered it. It was Major Ehrenberger, speaking from Ulm. "Aldinger", he said, "a terrible thing has happened, Fieldmarshal Rommel has had a hemmorhage, a brain storm, in the car !! He is dead !! " Aldinger did not reply. Did you hear what I said", asked Ehrenberger. "Yes", said Aldinger, "I heard." "Then please tell Frau (Mrs.) Rommel that I am coming back to the house at once." Aldinger walked slowly upstairs to Rommel's widow. He had no need to speak


Lt. Gen. Yamashita, Tiger of Malay :"By refusing to take my own life, I was able to set my men free from meaningless deaths,"

His Action

At 2:15 am on the morning of 8 December 1941, advance troops of the 25th Army led by Lieutenant General Yamashita landed at Kota Bharu on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula with the aim of seizing Singapore. This landing was an hour and 20 minutes before the attack on Pearl Harbor and thus, strictly speaking, marks the beginning of the Pacific War. The 25th Army swiftly advanced south towards Singapore, completely unsuspected by the British forces armed with large-bore artillery that were defending Singapore from seaborne attack via the Straits of Malacca.

On the evening of 15 February 1942, Yamashita and Lieutenant General A.E. Percival of the British Forces met at the Ford Motor factory outside Singapore to negotiate the surrender of the Commonwealth forces. Japanese correspondents reporting the meeting claimed that Yamashita aggressively demanded: "Is the British Army going to surrender immediately? Answer 'Yes' or 'No'." In fact, he had simply instructed his interpreter to ask Percival whether he was prepared to accept unconditional surrender. The story of this negotiation was, however, embellished and proudly publicized by the Japanese media as emblematic of Japan's new confidence and strength. Due to the swift victory of his military campaign and the successful capture of Singapore, Yamashita won the sobriquet 'Tiger of Malaya.'

Yamashita was promoted to General in February 1943, but in 1944, with the war situation deteriorating for Japan, he was dispatched as Commander of the 14th Area Army in the Philippines. He arrived in Manila on 6 October 1944, just two weeks prior to the landing of U.S. forces on Leyte Island.

As large quantities of supplies had already been exhausted in the Battle of Leyte, there were insufficient arms and ammunition for the 287,000 Japanese troops stationed across Luzon Island under Yamashita's command as they faced 191,000 U.S. troops who landed at the island's Lingaen Bay on 9 January 1945. In mid-December 1944, anticipating the landing of the U.S. forces, Yamashita had ordered all troops stationed in Manila to evacuate the city within six weeks and his headquarters was also moved to Baguio in the mountains of northern Luzon. About 20,000 troops of the 31st Naval Base Force, initially under the command of Rear-Admiral Iwabuchi, came under Yamashita's command by late December, but they refused to move. For four weeks, these troops fought fiercely against the U.S. forces that entered the city on 3 February. As a result, about 100,000 Filipino civilians were killed. In the course of the campaign, Japanese tortured and killed many civilians believed to be members or collaborators of guerrilla groups opposing Japan. Many women were raped by the Japanese troops, and numerous civilians became victims of aerial bombing conducted by the U.S. forces. Eventually all the Japanese troops who had remained in the city to fight the Americans perished.
Yamashita's troops continued to fight in the mountains despite suffering widespread disease and starvation. By the time Yamashita surrendered to the U.S. forces in June 1945, 210,000 Japanese soldiers were dead.

Immediately after the surrender, Yamashita, as commander of all Japanese forces in the Philippines, was arrested as a war criminal, charged with responsibility for atrocities committed by Japanese forces under his command against civilians in Manila. The evidence suggests, however, that he was unaware of the crimes committed by the members of the Naval Base Force who had refused to obey his order to move out of Manila, and that he exercised no command over those forces during the battle. Despite weak legal grounds for his personal responsibility for those crimes, the U.S. court martial conducted a swift trial and sentenced him to death on 7 December 1945. The background to this affair was General MacArthur's determination to turn the trial of the 'Tiger of Malaya' into a showcase. MacArthur, who had been Governor of the Philippines, fled shortly after the Japanese invasion in late December 1941. A group of American military lawyers who defended Yamashita appealed the verdict to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, the appeal was rejected by five to two. Yamashita was hanged in Manila on 23 February 1946.

Part of Yamashita Tomoyuki's Last Message to the Japanese People
Due to my carelessness and personal crassness, I committed an inexcusable blunder as the commander of the entire [14th Area] Army and consequently caused the deaths of your precious sons and dearest husbands. I am really sorry and cannot find appropriate words for sincere apologies as I am really confused because of my excruciating agony. As the commander of your beloved men, I am soon to receive the death penalty, having been judged by rigorous but impartial law. It is a strange coincidence that the execution is to be carried out on the birthday of the first U.S. president, George Washington.
I do not know how to express my apology, but the time has come to atone for my guilt with my death. However, I do not think that all the crimes for which I am responsible can easily be liquidated simply by my death. Various indelible stains that I left on the history of mankind cannot be offset by the mechanical termination of my life.
For a person like me who constantly faced death, to die is not at all difficult. Of course I should have committed suicide when I surrendered, as ordered by the emperor in accordance with the Japanese code of the samurai. In fact, I once decided to do so when I attended the surrender ceremonies at Kiangan and Baguio, at which General Percival, whom I had defeated [in Singapore], was also present. What prevented me from committing such an egocentric act was the presence of my soldiers, who did not yet know that the war was over at that time. By refusing to take my own life, I was able to set my men free from meaningless deaths, as those stationed around Kiangan were ready to commit suicide. I really felt pain from the shame of remaining alive, in violation of the samurai's code of "dying at the appropriate time in an appropriate place." I therefore can imagine how much more difficult it is for people like you to remain alive and re-build Japan rather than being executed as a war criminal. If I were not a war criminal, I would still have chosen a difficult path, bearing shame to stay alive and atone for my sins until natural death comes, no matter how you all might despise me.
Sun Tzu said 'The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.' From these words, we learn that our military forces were lethal weapons and their very existence was a crime. I tried my best to prevent the war. I am really ashamed of having been unable to do so because of my weakness. You may think that I am a born aggressor and a typical militarist, because my campaign in Malaya and the fall of Singapore excited the entire Japanese nation. I understand that this is quite natural. I do not excuse myself, as I was a professional soldier and dedicated myself to the military. But even while being a military man, I also have a relatively strong sense as a Japanese citizen. There is no resurrection any longer for the ruined nation and the dead. From ancient times, war has always been a matter for exceptional prudence by wise rulers and sensible soldiers. It was entirely due to our military authorities' arbitrary decisions, which were made by just a handful of people, that a large number of our people died and the rest of the nation was dragged into its present unbearable suffering. I feel as if my heart will break when I think that we professional soldiers will become the object of your bitter resentment. I believe that the Potsdam Declaration will wipe out the leaders of military cliques who led the nation to its downfall, and Japan will start rebuilding as a peaceful nation under new leaders elected by the popular will. However, the path of rebuilding the nation will not be easy in the face of many obstacles.
From : Yuki Tanaka
Yuki Tanaka is research professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute, a Coordinator of Japan Focus, and author of Japan's Comfort Women. Sexual slavery and prostitution during World War II and the US Occupation. He prepared this article for Japan Focus.

Rabu, 02 April 2008


Man had been created Garand

Over the years I have certainly been cognizant of John Cantius Garand and the legendary M1 Rifle which he designed. This great man may have been born in Canada but his invaluable contribution to America's arsenal goes far beyond that of most of our own citizens. John C. Garand designed a beautiful yet robust rifle that has seen action in not one, not two, but three major American 'conflicts' of the twentieth century.


The M1 Garand Rifle is best known for its role as the United States Armed Forces' main battle rifle during World War Two and Korea. The M1 also saw service in Vietnam, especially during the early years, until it was replaced by the M14 and the M16. Indeed the ruggedness and 'real' appearance of the Garand Rifle made it a favorite of many soldiers and even 40 plus years after it was replaced, many still consider the M1 superior to the 'plastic fantastic' guns that supplanted it.

Data On The M1 Garand Rifle

Rifle Caliber .30 M1 Basic Stats:
Mechanism: - Semi-auto gas operated - air cooled
Usual Caliber:- 30-06 (have it checked by a gunsmith to be sure. Some M1s were modified for other calibers particularly .308)
Weight:- 9.5 pounds- With Accessories: 11.25
Length: - 43.5 inches
Barrel: - 24 inches
Loading Device:- Enbloc Clip
Capacity: - 8 rounds
Trigger pull: - 5.5 - 7.5 pounds
Max Effective rate of fire: - 16-24rpm
Range:- Max -3200 meters- Effective - 460 meters
Sights:- Front - "Fixed" but is windage adjustable with wrench- Rear -Adjustable- (1 click = .7cm at 25 yards)- Approx 1 MOA per click (1 inch at 100 yards)