In relation to Lee Enfield No.4s 'Irish Contrat'. I've seen this mentioned in other, often American forums and invariably they quote some guy called Stratton who saidWell (duh) I don't recall any political problems in 1953 that would have stopped the delivery of those rifles. I can't help but think it's one of those myths that grew legs.
When I was in the FCA and trained on the .303. I saw brand new .303s both wrapped and unwrapped in the armoury in Griffith barracks. I also believe after the FCA transitioned to the FN, that many older .303s were dumped in the Irish sea but the 'new' and cleaner rifles sold onto the market. There was a so called controversy at the time from certain newspapers who worried they would fall into the hand of terrorists. This at a time when all terrorists had an AK-47.
So does anyone here know the truth. Was there an Irish contract that was never delivered or were they in fact war surplus British stocks as suggested by some. Or are they in fact actually surplus ex Irish army never issued and sold on to America?
There was definitely an Irish contract that was never delivered but that was for a lot of thompson submachine guns and it was back in the early 1920s. They were intercepted by US customs if I remember right, and only a few made it to Ireland, having been shipped in as a sample lot. At the time, thompson were rather eager to see the submachine gun get "proven" in combat so they could sell more of them to the US Army and other customers.
I always believed that the 303s were milsurp from the UK. Same as the Spitfires the Air Corps had. Those were shipped to Australia for SE Asia before Singapore fell and remained in crates there, sold to us after WW2. The FNs were bought for the troops going to the Congo. At that time machine guns were Gustav for officers, (who also had a choice of Webley 45s or 1911 Colts and there were Bren and water-cooled Lewis's for emplacements.
AFAIK what are referred to as "Irish Contract" are the ones sold by the Irish Government after the FCA were given the FN
Do a search on http://www.vcrai.com/phpBB/phpBB3/index.php (the Irish Classic rifle forum) and you will get more info
NB updated link !
Pedroibar, I can safely that I never saw a .303 dated earlier than the 1950s when I was in the FCA. Some were actually 'new' out of the wrapping and dated 1953. They were all No.4 rifles. The ones you refer to must be No.IIIs and were probably issued to the army in the 1940s until replaced by the No.4s probably in the 50s.
I never saw any rifles dated earlier than the 1950s, which is not to say they didn't exist.
Thanks bunny, I think so too. I just wonder where this idea of an impounded batch came from.
Sikamick,who posts on here, might be the man to talk to
Link updated above !
There was one for sale on the other forum recently too, came from UK I believe
In reality the "Irish contract" rifles were nothing more than rifles that had the FF Oglich na Eireinn stamp on them.They ran a specific serial number.[Cant remember what it is]
They were apprently only partially deliverd due to either money problems in the Govt here[Whats new] or the FN SLR was starting to debut and Army decided to upgrade totally to the FN.
ASFIK they were sold to the US in the late 1980s early 1990s,or when the FN went to the FCA.They were sold to Century Arms in Canada for the US and Canada markets.Those that I have seen are pristine never fired rifles ,and some smart buyers still have them in their "sleeping bags".Be lucky now if you could get one for around $400 plus.Alot of US collectors have twigged the FF stamp value.
Irish Contract "Blondes" dated 1950 - 1955 with the PF serial number where sold to Century Arms in the us for £10 punts a rifle I believe. These where the ones stored in Ireland. There was I believe a consignment of Irish Contract Rifles held in the UK that where manufactured in the Fazerkly plant but the consignment never left the UK
As to why they didn't get delivered, well if you look at the fact bolt action rifles for general military issue where being phased out in other European countries and the FN was being looked at in most as the replacement plus the cartridge of choice was moving to the NATO 7.62 x 51 round not the .303.
To re-barrel all those rifles, estimated 50,000 in the contracted, to the new smaller 7.62, not economical . I think this is why they were not delivered personally.
TMC121, wasn't sure if you'd be lurking
Found the thread on other forum
There was also UK territorial .303 No4 MkII dated 1950 - 1955 with serial registry starting with UF (year) A******
The ones I have seen are unfired and in mint condition.
I have also had some South African issue No4 MkII's PF 49 *****. These where the oldest No4 MkII's I have seen.