previous post next post  

Honoring the Turks on ANZAC Day

They did, in the end, win.

And this is rubbing the Brit's nose in it, anyway.

As John (Not The Armorer) noted in a comment to my ANZAC Day Dawn Service post, I neglected to mention another Gallipoli vet that resides at Castle Argghhh!.

The Frankenfauser.

Castle Argghhh!'s Turkish Frankenfauser rifle.

One day in October, 1914, just as the War to End War was shifting from a war of maneuver to the horror of the trenches that was to be its hallmark, an armourer of the Queen's Own Dorsetshire Yeomanry put away his punch set, picked up his screw driver, screwed in a stock disk and a Short Lee Enfield rifle entered the books as rack number 324.  Somewhat later, in 1915, the Birmingham Small Arms company completed and handed over to Commonwealth forces another Short Lee Enfield, and both those rifles found themselves headed to Gallipoli.

Neither of them ever came home again.

Doing a little research, John (Not The Armorer) dug this up:
The Dorsett Yeomanry landed at "A" beach, Suvla Bay on August 18, 1915 with 15 officers and 362 "other ranks." Five days later they moved to Lala Baba and bivouacked on the beach, as part of the 2nd South Midland Mounted Brigade. The following day they were part of a divisional advance south of Salt Lake, halting at Chocolate Hill. From there they charged the enemy trenches on Scimitar Hill. The Dorsett Yeomanry took and held the forward trenches, but heavy casualties caused the regiment to fall back to their original lines after dark. In this action they lost 7 officers and 119 other ranks killed or wounded, presumably along with many of their weapons. In September 1915 the survivors of the Dorsett Yeomanry, Berks Yeomanry and Bucks Yeomanry were consolidated into 2nd South Midland Regiment of the 1st Composite Mounted Brigade, situated in the support line east of Chocolate Hill. The served in the front line trenches September 13-25, 1915, and again October 8-20, 1915. At the end of the month, the 65 survivors of the Dorsett Yeomanry embarked for Mudros.
At some point along that timeline, Johnny Turk cleaned up the battlefields, and both rack #324 and the BSA rifle were picked up, cleaned up, and put into storage as spoils of war.

Time moved on, and Benito Mussolini's Italy got a little feisty in the Mediterranean basin, and the Turkish government decided they needed to do some rearming.  But Turkey is a poor country, and the Europeans are busy rearming, too.  And while Turkey has settled upon the 8mm Mauser round as its standard bullet, there's not a lot of leftover production capacity in the major european manufacturers to supply Turkey's needs at a price she can afford.  So, she improvises.  She's already been rebuilding her older M1893 and M1903 Mauser rifles to a new standard, the M38, and they have plenty of experience doing that - what about all that captured Brit stuff?

So, they remove the barrel, strengthen the action with a bar on the right side (just like the M1893s), do a little judicious grinding here and there to facilitate charger loading with the longer Mauser cartridge.  Rework the magazine from a removeable 10 round magazine to an integral 5 round magazine, screw in a new barrel and replace the forward wood and add a sight calibrated to the 8mm cartridge.  Then they grab a buttstock from the bin 'o butts, screw it into the action body, and you've just morphed a SMLE into a Mauser. 

Plus, you've already been cutting down those captured Pattern '07 bayonets and reworking the quillons to mount to your Mausers, so now you've got a rifle that's Brit at both ends and Turk in the middle.

Or, as we collectors called 'em when a few trickled in back in the 90's... a Frankenfauser.  Or Enf-Ausers.  A very unique, and for a military weapon, very low density treasure for a collector. 

There is speculation (and that's all it is) that the Turks left the stock disks and most markings intact as a subtle reminder to Turkish troops that they had successfully dealt with European invaders before...  That speculation was fueled by the fact that they often ended up sterilizing their Mausers during with rework process.

And, given the Armorer's preference for rifles with history, over pretty-boy rifles that never saw the light of day after they were built until they were sold as surplus... this is a real treasure with some built-in historical provenance.

It was great fun on the collector boards as we realized we had come into something special and new and previously unknown, and now Ian Skennerton's definitive book on the Enfield has been expanded to include these rifles as well as some other lesser known Enfield conversions and revivals.

This rifle made it's way to the Arsenal via the good offices of John (Not The Armorer) who is a gun seller and sophisticated collector in his own right - he and his business partner Marc's wares are offered at Antique and Collectible Firearms and Militaria Headquarters.

From bottom to top: Brit SMLE, "turked" Enfield/Mauser hybrid, Turkish M38 Mauser.

From bottom to top: Brit SMLE, "turked" Enfield/Mauser hybrid, Turkish M38


Rifles with history over pretty, unused goodes, yes! That's what gives them life.
 Very cool and learned something new! Never realized this had been done.