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 Rifle from Intombi drift?

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Neil Aspinshaw
terrylee
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terrylee

terrylee


Posts : 44
Join date : 2013-06-03
Age : 81
Location : South Africa

Rifle from Intombi drift? Empty
PostSubject: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyWed Oct 16, 2013 12:24 pm

This rifle was recovered in Zululand in about 1970 and has been in my possession since October, 1972. It is a military Martini Henry Mk.I, Second pattern, dated 1872. It bears no demilitarisation markings and as with most rifles from tribal areas was obviously neglected and is very worn. In fact the woodwork is worn to the extent that the regimental marking on the butt is no longer visible.

Following retirement, with more time to concentrate on such matters, I decided to see whether modern technology would be able to resurrect the markings.  Following a fairly involved two-stage process, this proved possible. The result is as shown in the photograph. This rifle is marked to the 80th Regiment, rack number 484.

Could this be one of the rifles captured by the Zulus from Captain Moriarty's men at Meyer's Drift on the Intombi River, or even at Isandhlwana where the regiment had also suffered casualties? It is possible, but unfortunately this can never be proved. According to the regimental museum the issue records no longer exist.  

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Last edited by terrylee on Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:28 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : To add a second photograph.)
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Neil Aspinshaw

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Rifle from Intombi drift? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyWed Oct 16, 2013 8:20 pm

Terry
I have a copy of an article written about this from about 2007, presume that was yours "T.W.?", forwarded to me by Robert Davidson.

I have mentioned it before on the forum, IMO it is the only 100% correct rifle for the period, being a Mk1 3rd Approved pattern (if you discount the 2nd pattern" as only having the locking bolt removed.).
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terrylee

terrylee


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Rifle from Intombi drift? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyWed Oct 16, 2013 9:58 pm

Neil, Yes, I wrote that article. it was published in Magnum. Rob Davidson actually supplied the second stage of the process used to resurrect the regimental marking and processed the enhanced version which I attached in my previous post.  

The rifle is marked Mk.I as was the case in the second version of the Mk.I, but was obviously upgraded to the third version by replacement of the brass pin with the steel split pin. Although one can still see where it was fitted, the safety catch was also removed.

I visited the Intombi Drift last month and attach a photo as it was then (Dry season) Also found Captain Moriarty's grave.    

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Last edited by terrylee on Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:02 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Attached second photograph.)
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Neil Aspinshaw

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Rifle from Intombi drift? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyWed Oct 16, 2013 10:51 pm

Terry. the fact the rifle had not got the STF post 1881 marking does provide evidence that it was "lost" before then, likewise the fact its not been upgraded, which despite of what the official line accepted line was was only just beginning to be implemented in 1878, "to regiments at home"  and was not completed fully until 1883.

Is the action internally two part, tumbler and tumbler rest?

Did you get chance to have a look at the AZW earthwork fortification in the German mission at the rear of the Cemetary.
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terrylee

terrylee


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Rifle from Intombi drift? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyThu Oct 17, 2013 12:17 am

Neil, the trigger mechanism is the early unmodified version.

Unfortunately, we did not know about the fort and being in rather a hurry did not explore the area.

If you are interested also took photos of other graves including the surgeon who was killed.

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Last edited by terrylee on Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:20 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added second photograph)
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Neil Aspinshaw

Neil Aspinshaw


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Rifle from Intombi drift? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyThu Oct 17, 2013 7:37 am

Terry
I have the grave images thank you, last time I was was there I was drying out, having leapt into three feet of water on the little Intobe to recover some pottery, which after scrambling back up the bank, read oven and dishwasher safe, ah well mbilini obviously didn't have a Bosch lol.

The fact it has the two part tumbler is compelling enough for me, as you say, no 100% fact a zulu pick up, could be 1880's first Boer conflict, but never the less it was lost prior to 1881, and thats as close as any I have recorded.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyThu Oct 17, 2013 8:02 am

Sorry Neil, but laughing like hell about your unexpected dip. I had the same when I was taking a photo just upstream and the bank collapsed.
Very Happy 
Still laughing, dishwasher safe Very Happy 

Cheers
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terrylee

terrylee


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Rifle from Intombi drift? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyThu Oct 17, 2013 9:28 am

Sadly we'll never know the truth. However, it is not possible that the rifle was lost by the 80th Regiment during the First Boer War since they were not in South Africa at the time.
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RRAC




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PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptySun Jan 26, 2014 11:28 pm

Terry,

So what was the "fairly involved two-stage process" used to reveal the regimental number?  I have a 1875  Mk I (updated to Mk II) with far less provenance and in much rougher shape on which the regimental numbers were obliterated by scratching or sanding.  The possibility of a Zulu War connection is remote, but I am curious to learn what I can of its service.

Thank you in advance for any assistance you or any other members might provide,

RRAC
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terrylee

terrylee


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Rifle from Intombi drift? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyMon Jan 27, 2014 7:12 am

The method I followed was the combination of two separate processes recommended by friends. I applied them using one as preparation for the other. It worked for me and is as follows:

1) Vigorously rub down the appropriate spot with diluted boiled linseed oil to loosen the ingrained grime.

Then gently apply 0000 steel wool rubbing along the grain to remove foreign matter above any vestigial impressions that may remain.

2) If faint markings appear: For convenience then remove the butt. Scan the markings using a printer linked to a P.C. Then enhance the image with an appropriate program.

Obviously, you will need to know what spot to process. To my experience the regimental markings on the butts of British military Martini Henry rifles are all in exactly the same place. Should you need any assistance in this respect, just let me know. Good luck!
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Neil Aspinshaw

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Rifle from Intombi drift? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyMon Jan 27, 2014 9:07 am

Here is the link to specific Regimental markings to be found on Martini's between 1874-1881, then post '81 markings when regiments changed from numerical to area codes from my website.

http://www.martinihenry.org/index.php?route=product/product&path=61_68&product_id=124

The majority of Martini's being returned to Weedon for inspection and re-classification had the old Regimental marks "obliterated", which normally involved the scoring through with a line.

In respect to Terry's rifle, its one of the only true examples I have come across that has a very good lineage to the Anglo Zulu wars, naturally there must be others, but their history has been "obliterated". one could argue what are the odds?, well by 1877 450,000 and 179,000 MkI and MkII rifles had been manufactured, and by late 1877 275,000 were in Store at Weedon, with the depot "breaking up" on average 2500 condemned Martini rifles P.A. Then Take in to consideration the 37,000 MkII's converted to Martini Henry Artillery Carbine MkII in 1893, the 57,000 MkII converted to Martini Enfield MkII rifles in 1895, then the 87,000 converted to Martini Metford and Martini Enfield Carbines, the odds shorted....alot.
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terrylee

terrylee


Posts : 44
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Age : 81
Location : South Africa

Rifle from Intombi drift? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyMon Jan 27, 2014 11:23 am

Sadly I only have the one rifle with markings which can be traced back to the Zulu War. However, I find the later butt markings very interesting in their own right. As Neil said these were often deleted upon reissue by being barred out. Fortunately, I find that by using a magnifying glass these markings can often still be made out.

Here I have identified my Mk.I/II as having been issued to the Iniskilling Fusiliers. The original markings of my Mk.II appear to be either THD or FHD which was replaced by I CCY. Unfortunately, I have so far been unable to identify either and any leads would be much appreciated

I had more luck with a commercial Mk.II type Martini Henry which had Cape Government markings on the action. On the butt it had stamped G.F.M.R., which following some difficulty was traced to an obscure unit  called the Great Fish Mounted Rifles.  

This is an area of investigation which adds much to the significance of an individual rifle. Obviously, conjecture as to which battles they may have then been involved in sadly remains that and nothing more.
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Cromwell

Cromwell


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Location : Northampton, England

Rifle from Intombi drift? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyTue Jan 28, 2014 5:01 pm

Just on a side note I saw a film the other night about the ww1 and some squaddies were drilling with what looked liked a martini Henry (probably Enfield). were these weapon's ever used at the front, maybe a shortage of Lee Enfields at the beginning of the war or issued to the TA.
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Brett Hendey

Brett Hendey


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Rifle from Intombi drift? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyWed Jan 29, 2014 6:45 am

When I was at school in the Natal Midlands in the 1950's, some of the rifles used by the cadets for drilling were Martini-Henrys. Presumably this applied at other schools as well. School cadets in Natal became extinct at a later date, probably for political reasons, and I was told that all the rifles in school magazines were handed over to the South African Police for safe storage. I wonder what became of what must have been a wonderful assemblage of historical firearms?

Brett
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terrylee

terrylee


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PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyWed Jan 29, 2014 8:15 am

I, too, was at school in Natal during the 1950s, Pietermaritzburg to be precise. The Junior cadets drilled with Martini Metford and Martini Enfield carbines. There were also a few Martini Henry rifles cut down to carbine length. The seniors used cut down Lee Enfields and Lee Metfords. I was on the armoury staff and had plenty of time to examine our stock.

The cadet rilfles were deactivated in the 1960s, but some appear to have escaped undamaged since I have several operational DP examples in my collection. My single reduced length Martini Henry is stamped "Merchiston" on the butt. Merchiston is a Pietermaritzburg preparatory school.
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Brett Hendey

Brett Hendey


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PostSubject: Re: Rifle from Intombi drift?   Rifle from Intombi drift? EmptyWed Jan 29, 2014 9:37 am

Terry
Many thanks for clearing up the identity of the rifles we used in those far-off days.
Regards
Brett
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