Tracing a Martini Henry, with Fort William roundel

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JamesGlenn
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Tracing a Martini Henry, with Fort William roundel

Post by JamesGlenn » Thu May 05, 2022 10:41 pm

Good day,
I am a Canadian collector. I enjoy commonwealth arms from muzzleloaders onwards.
Recently a senior member of my rifle club has given me a mk IV henry which has the Fort William roundel on the butt. It has additional markings which I am attempting to decipher. Most interesting is the Q.P.P
I am hoping that a memeber here will know the history of this unit.
Thank you
James

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Shivaji.Dasgupta
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Re: Tracing a Martini Henry, with Fort William roundel

Post by Shivaji.Dasgupta » Fri May 06, 2022 8:13 am

Hi James, can you post pics of your weapon where markings can be visible clearly. Then we can give more info on this.
By the way Fort William had a foundry to produce guns and Ammo including cannon balls. In 1830 that was shifted to Gun factory which is Now Gun and Shell factory Ichapore. But till 1840 the production was not started at large scale in Gun factory as the infrastructure was not ready. Many of the jobs were done at fort William.
Probably yours weapon was manufactured at that Era.
Regards

Shivaji

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Re: Tracing a Martini Henry, with Fort William roundel

Post by Shivaji.Dasgupta » Fri May 06, 2022 8:19 am

Madras: Roundel Madras Arsenal
Allahabad: Roundel Allahabad Arsenal
Rawul Pinda: Rawul Pinda, also R.P.
Kirkee: Kirkee Arsenal, also K.K.
Firozpur: Firozpur
Fort William (Calcutta): Fort William Arsenal
Bombay: Bombay Arsenal

These were the colonial/ royalty Era arsenals in India
Regards

Shivaji

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Re: Tracing a Martini Henry, with Fort William roundel

Post by JamesGlenn » Fri May 06, 2022 6:44 pm

Shivaji,
Thank you for your response. I am new on he board and will try to post pictures. The rifle also wears the Enfield roundel above the IV and the Fort William is directly left. I have been reading as much as I can find on Indian army during the turn of the century in hopes to find clues to the additional marks. To add more interest, it is barreled with an smle no1mkIII barrel, and was purchased as surplus in this configuration.
Regards
James
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Re: Tracing a Martini Henry, with Fort William roundel

Post by Shivaji.Dasgupta » Sat May 07, 2022 9:06 am

James proof. Mark shows that once it belongs to fort william s Arsenal. Though the Rifle itself is gone through modifications.
Royal small Arms Enfield was the producer of martini Henry that time,
Probably it was converted to Enfield cal.
May I know which Cal. It is at present. Is it still in original Martini Henry .577/450 or converted to British .303.
It's probably in fort Williams during 1876-1915, though by 1905 onwards largely replaced by Enfield .303.
The Martini Henry was used till 1902/1903 in many parts of India and later on this was given to Police stations to replace the muzzle loaders.
Many of the used Matini was sold to Nepal kingdom with Fresh Stock as well and with modifications it was known as Gahendra Rifle,
A good lot was captured by the tribal forces during NWFP battles and modifications done on them. Also copied at a great extent. These were named by British as pass made Rifle.
I am trying to get as much details as possible for your weapon.
The senior forum members will surely give more inputs on this matter
Regards

Shivaji

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Re: Tracing a Martini Henry, with Fort William roundel

Post by Shivaji.Dasgupta » Sat May 07, 2022 9:19 am

Sorry to mention that Few of the marks are common
1. Manufactured 1886 Enfield
2. Govt. Proof test done.
3. If in the second last image it's 40 then the British govt. Re Issued this Rifle to some department in 1940s.
4. Enfield factory logo is there
5. Serial no. Mentioned
Regards

Shivaji

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Re: Tracing a Martini Henry, with Fort William roundel

Post by timmy » Sat May 07, 2022 1:00 pm

Shivaji.Dasgupta wrote:
Sat May 07, 2022 9:06 am
Many of the used Matini was sold to Nepal kingdom with Fresh Stock as well and with modifications it was known as Gahendra Rifle,
I'd like to add a comment re: Nepalese rifles, both British Martini Henry and Gehendra. This Wiki article has a very brief description of the Gahendra:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gahendra_Rifle

I have the Blackpowder handbook by Sam Fadala referenced in footnote #1 of this article, and it isn't particularly helpful.

However, in an article from a Gun Digest of 2012, it is stated that:
.577/450 Gahendra (Uncleaned $189.95)
This was a Nepalese variation of the usual Martini-Henry .577/450s. This gun is unusual in that removing one pin allows the action to drop as a unit from the receiver for easier cleaning. Almost all of these guns have loose buttstocks. I found that the buttstock could be tightened with a screwdriver after the buttplate had been removed. Many of these guns have broken mainsprings.
The modification mentioned here was referenced in the Wiki article as following a Wesley Richards patent, and that may well be, but I'm familiar with the Gahendra following this pattern as made by the Belgian maker Francotte, which is more recently famous for making shotguns, but which also made Martini-pattern actions with this modification for some time.

Gehendras, being made in Nepal, did not use the same barrel technology as the British. Barrels were made by hammer forging iron stock around a mandrel and their strength is suspect because of this. The 577/450 is a pretty powerful black powder cartridge. I'm not sure I'd care to venture firing a Gahendra, although they are shot without incident.

The Francotte modification design has been reported as subject to cracking in a few cases, apparently.

Briefly, my understanding of Martini Henry and Gahendra rifles in Nepal is this: Nepal had conflicts with Chinese-controlled Tibet in the 19th Century, and also had conflict with the British East India Company. Beginning in 1846, Jung Bahadur Rana (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jung_Bahadur_Rana) began to establish control over Nepal, and he worked in concert with the British in India. As part of this, the British supplied weapons to Nepal, ranging from various muzzle loading rifles and 577 Snider rifles to 577/450 Martini Henrys. As the British developed the Martini-Henry from Mark I through Mark IV variations, they also developed a new cartridge of 40 caliber for the Mark IV, but this cartridge didn't make it into general use because the .303 cartridge was already on the brink of being issued. The British didn't want the logistical problem of three different cartridges in use at the same time, so the Mark IV 40 caliber guns were rebored and rechambered to 577/450. As the various models of .303 Lee bolt action rifles were introduced, the British gave these Mark IVs to Nepal in some quantities, just as they had given earlier Marks of Martini Henrys in the past.

Note that "Martini" is the name of a Swiss designer, who developed the striker fired ignition system. The action originally was designed by a Peabody in the USA and went through a number of modifications over the years.

"Henry" is the designer of the Martini Henry's odd rifling, which consists of seven lands and grooves. The lands are not square, and there is a considerable taper from the chamber to the rest of the bore. Because the Mark IVs were rebored, they tend to have a larger groove diameter of 0.468" to 0.470" as compared to the earlier Marks with a groove diameter of ~0.464"

Later, Martinis were issued in .303. The barrel thread of the Lee rifles was the same as the Martini Henry, and the earlier versions were called "Lee Metford" as they had the earlier .303 Metford style of rifling, and the later ones with Enfield rifling (like the SMLE with five lands and grooves) were called "Martini Enfield."

Finally, as these Martini Henry's and Gahendras became obsolete, they were stored in a Nepalese palace, along with earlier weapons, including Sniders and muzzleloaders, along with cannon. Eventually, Nepal sold most of these guns to American surplus dealers to gain money for modern weapons needed at the time.

Here's a short story about what is often called the "Nepalese Cache": https://www.guns.com/news/2012/01/31/th ... earms-ever

My own Martini Henry is a Mark IV from this cache.
“You should tell someone what you know. There should be a history, so that men can learn from it."

He smiled. “Men do not learn from history. Each generation believes itself brighter than the last, each believes it can survive the mistakes of the older ones. Each discovers each old thing and they throw up their hands and say ‘See! Look what I have found! Look upon what I know!’ And each believes it is something new."


Louis L’Amour - "The Californios"

JamesGlenn
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Re: Tracing a Martini Henry, with Fort William roundel

Post by JamesGlenn » Sat May 07, 2022 4:12 pm

Thank you for the responses. I am familiar with the common marks, I cannot find the QPP.
Is it possible the QPP could be a police force in the colonial time ? I have read references to Quetta.
The rifle has a 1942 ShtLE barrel. Chambered in 303 .
It was purchased in this configuration from a local surplus dealer. I am somewhat familiar with the Nepalese cache, do not believe this in not one.

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Re: Tracing a Martini Henry, with Fort William roundel

Post by Shivaji.Dasgupta » Sun May 08, 2022 9:45 pm

JamesGlenn wrote:
Sat May 07, 2022 4:12 pm
Thank you for the responses. I am familiar with the common marks, I cannot find the QPP.
Is it possible the QPP could be a police force in the colonial time ? I have read references to Quetta.
The rifle has a 1942 ShtLE barrel. Chambered in 303 .
It was purchased in this configuration from a local surplus dealer. I am somewhat familiar with the Nepalese cache, do not believe this in not one.
Most likely this weapon was reissued to some dept or agency in 40s. Not in the armed forces b.coz they were with Enfield .303 and other Rifles.
QPP, I am also searching for. Called to the Fort William, they do have a display area about the old history but no body is concerned about the marking of last century.

As you mentioned Quetta, so I recall one thing. British captured Quetta in 1876 though from 1860 onwards the process was on. After capturing Quetta there was a force initially started with pro British Local Militia headed by British officers. That time it was called Provincial Police . As Quetta was the last town with afgan frontier and strategically important in NWFP.
Regards

Shivaji

JamesGlenn
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Re: Tracing a Martini Henry, with Fort William roundel

Post by JamesGlenn » Mon May 09, 2022 5:19 am

Many thanks for adding information to my quest. It is the search for historic information which makes collecting these guns enjoyable
Jim

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