1st Canadian Parachute Battalion
Preservation Association International
Enfield no. 4(t) Sniper Rifle
No4 Mk1T Lee Enfield Telescope mounted “sniping” Rifle
With the outbreak of WWII the British military realized that it needed a proper telescope mounted rifle for sniping work. In 1931 and 32 a few thousand Number 4 Lee Enfield rifle had been built at Enfield Lock for troop trials. With the outbreak of the war other factories were set up to produce that rifle. With a few changes to speed production and cut costs it went into production as the Number 4 Mark!* The Birmingham Small Arms Company started production at their main plant and eventually three subsidiary plants. Factories at Maltby and Fazackerly were set up. Canada created the Long Branch Arsenal in Toronto to produce No4 rifle among other arms. A Contract was let with the Savage Arms Company of Chicopee Mass for No4 Rifles.
When a rifle was completed it was fired with “Proof Loads” which were over pressure loads to make sure it was sound. Then there set up in a machine rest that simulated being fired by a soldier. It was a large machine and allowed the sights to be adjusted at the factory so that when the rifle was issued to a soldier it would shoot “where it looked”
As the days production was fired for sighting in rifles that shot particularly good groups were set aside. At the end of the day they were refired and the best were selected for conversion to sniping equipments. They were sent to some of England’s finest gunmakers to have telescopes installed and the stocking up adjusted for optimum accuracy. The result was the No4 Mk 1T sniping rifle.
During the pre war years the Bren Light machine gun was fitted with a telescope for long range shooting. With war time demands on production this luxury was dropped and the Number 32 telescope designed for the pre war Brens was fitted to the No4 T rifles. The No 32 Telescope is a 3 ½ power instrument with a post and cross wire reticle. It has an elevation adjustment calibrated from 100 to 1300 yards. A windage adjustment is in minutes of angle.
The resulting equipment is a very accurate and rugged sniping rifle. Even with service ball ammunition it is capable of exceptional accuracy. They would serve the British military until they were replaced by a much more modern rifle in the late 1990s
Snipers and their kit
Sniping became a military science in the trenches of WWI. Major Hasketh Prichard was in charge of the British School for Scouts, Observers and Snipers. Although necessarily those selected were good shots that was not the only criterion. Their field craft had to be top notch also. Being able to shoot was no good if you could not get into a position where you could take the shot. They also served as observers using their field craft to get into positions to observe the enemy and then report back with their observations.
Move forward to WWII. Snipers most often worked in two man teams. Both were qualified snipers and would trade off between shooter and observer or spotter. They were issued one Sniping rifle, an American M 1907 sling, a pair of binoculars, a signals of scout regiment telescope, a watch, notebook, a camouflage Dennison smock each and extra face veils. The Dennison Smoks were often modified with poacher’s pockets and pockets on the back for water bottles. Some times sections of Vickers machine gun belts were sewed to the cuffs to carry special cartridges.
In the infantry units snipers were part of the Headquarters company. In the Airborne there was one sniping rifle issued to each section.
Article Contributed by Bill Max