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UNIFORM & KIT ISSUED TO THE AIF DURING WW2
This pictorial library is devoted to the recording of "Uniform and Kit" issued to an Australian Soldier of any corps, during the Second World War. Consider it a virtual "Q" Store in Australian militaria. It is not exhaustive and will be added to over time. Any reader who wishes to contribute photographs and text will be recognised and credited with such information. I also invite collectors of other nation's militaria to forward content (please see our other countries listed on the drop down menu) - so that a comprehensive list of "Axis" and "Allies" uniform/kit is detailed.
S.M.L.E. No. 1 Mk. 111* - (Lithgow Manufacture) .303 Calibre
The S.M.L.E. (Short - Magazine Lee-Enfield) rifle equipped the Commonwealth Forces during two World Wars, right through to Korea in the early 1950's. The original structure of this weapon was subject to alteration and modification in one way or another - for well over forty years. The S.M.L.E drew it's parentage from the .303 Magazine Rifle Mark 1; which was approved on the 22nd of December, 1888. The commission of the 'Magazine Rifle, Lee-Metford' in April of 1891 was another step forward in the provision of a reliable infantry rifle. So when the No. 1 Mk. 111* came into existence during 1916, a discerning eye could still identify some type of resemblance to it's bolt action predecessors that equipped the British Army during the Boer War. The "star" term relates to the asterix that appears at the end of the numerals in Mk 111* and this means that the rifle is devoid of certain components, deemed to be no longer necessary. Such accessories removed from the manufacturing process; include the long range volley sight and magazine cut off. These items were omitted, so as to reduce cost and assist in the mass production of the rifle. A common mistake made by novices regarding the title of this rifle, relates to the word "short" in the SMLE title. It is not the 'magazine' that has been shortened, but the overall length of the rifle. This was done to provide a 'Universal pattern' of rifle that could be issued to both Mounted Troops and Infantry. The detachable box magazine had a 10 round capacity.
Sergeant Jim COWEY of the 39th Militia Battalion was ambushed by a Japanese Machine Gun when escaping from Kokoda during 1942. He brought his .303 rifle up and shot the Japanese gunner; then proceeded to shoot every Japanese soldier who jumped behind the gun. Wish to read more about Jim COWEY and his amazing actions? PLEASE CLICK HERE
1907 Pattern Bayonet with Scabbard
This bayonet was patented in 1907 (hence the title of 1907 Pattern) after a series of trials of various bayonet types. There is a clear influence upon this pattern of bayonet with regards to the Japanese Arisaka Type 30 bayonet, bearing in mind that all British made bayonets after 1913 were manufactured without the characteristic "hooked quillion". The initial production started in January 1908 and had the curved Quillion (as did the Ariska bayonet). The company "Enfield" was by far the most prolific producer of this bayonet, however a large quantity was also produced by companies - Wilkinson, Sanderson and Chapman. Examples by Vickers and Mole were also produced, however not in as great a number as the previous manufacturers and these bayonets are now becoming quite collectable. Australia however also made these type of bayonets in large numbers at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. During World War Two, parts of this bayonet were being produced by the 'Orange Arsenel' and many show the stamping 'O A'. Initial scabbards had a hidden chape but this was changed in 1908 to the external chape normally seen. The "button" or frog stud on the scabbard which protrudes and prevents the scabbard from pushing through the bayonet frog had three variations. On this example pictured, it shows the "tear drop" shaped button. The other two types of scabbard button were both round in shape, yet one size was larger than the other. The tear drop frog stud is more associated with pre-World War 1 and early First World War pattern, however in 1915 the round shaped alteration frog stud was approved and by 1916 the British were producing their scabbards with the "round" shape .
Cup Grenade Discharger - Lee Enfield No. 1 Mk. 111 Rifle
No. 36M Fragmentation Grenade
The Number 36M fragmentation grenade, utilised by all British Commonwealth Troops. It was more popularly referred to as the "Mills Bomb" and it's origins date back to the First World War. In it's original form as the No. 5 grenade, it was later fitted with a rod to facilitate being discharged from a rifle; this type being designated the No. 23 grenade. In 1918 it was fitted with a 2 and a half inch base plate, to enable it to be discharged from a "cup" discharger attached to a Lee Enfield rifle. In this configeration, it was renumbered the No. 36M. The grenade came with a seven second fuse for use with the rifle mounted grenade discharger. A four second fuse was set down for "hand throwing" of the grenade in combat. The Australians in particular, favoured the use of the 36M hand grenade. A Japanese Sitrep (Situation Report) captured during the 1942 Kokoda campaign describes the use of this particular weapon, by men of the 39th Infantry Battalion AMF (Militia). It stated:- "The Australians are skilled marksman and expert grenade throwers". Regarding this quotation, author Paul Ham (in his book titled 'KOKODA' - page 50) was to make the comment "No doubt there were quite a few good cricketers in the militia". Image courtesy of the Kokoda Historical Collection.
Sergeant Bede TONGS MM of the 3rd Infantry Battalion (Australian Military Forces) won the Military Medal when he single handedly attacked a Japanese Machinegun nest at Templeton's Crossing on the Kokoda Track. Using two 36M hand grenades, he neutralized the strongpoint and saved the lives of many of his men. Wish to learn more about Bede TONGS and this attack. PLEASE CLICK HERE