Unusual WW2 finds – Part 2

Following on from part 1 on this series, this part I take a look at some more unusual WW2 relics, recovered in the UK, some of which were identified the second they came out of the ground. However, other items took a little more time!

When digging for WW2 relics, you get to ‘expect’ certain kinds of finds from individual locations. For instance, I know if I am searching an old WW2 USAAF base, I am going to find bucketfuls of cartridge cases from .30 cal M1 carbine, through .45 ACP, all the way to .50cal and even 20mm (if Lightnings were based there). So with one particular permission of mine, I know I am going to find weapon parts. The problem is, what weapon!

Sometimes it is obvious and the finds are recognise the second they appear. However, this is about using your brain and thinking about parts with bits missing. The commonest thing to be ‘missing’ from a relic is the wooden parts.

So with this first example, the whole handle is missing as it was wood, but it was immediately identified as the carry handle from a Bren.

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Remains of a Bren carry handle

Other items are missing an even bigger bit of wood.

These items were all recovered from one site, and it was the ring and lug that immediately gave them away. Sten smg stocks, Mk 5 to be precise, without the wooden stock itself which had either rotted or burnt away.

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Sten Mk 5 stocks, or at least the remains of the metal work

An original Mk 5 Sten stock, showing the metalwork.

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How the Mk 5 Sten stock should look

Other items require a little more lateral thinking.

Knowing that weapon parts are being recovered from the area, and that it is a British army dump site gives clues that aid identification.

These next items were all related to the same relic. However, they were all quite different and it was only with the knowledge of the magazine and weapon itself, that these items were identified.

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All of these items could be grouped together and included in the same category.

And the category?

Bren gun

100 round magazine

Loading frame, 2 types of winding arm, and the bracket for mounting the mag on the weapon itself.

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Bren 100 round magazine with winding arm, adaptor for mounting it on the gun, and the frame for filling the magazines
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Bren 100 round magazine showing the Mk 2 winding arm, incorporated into the magazine itself

 

In among all these Bren bits was an item that looked more like an attachment from a gas pipe rather than anything else!

However, after trawling through various technical drawings, it was finally ID’d as belonging to a Bren gun……..in a roundabout way!

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Tech drawing of a Motley mount, showing the part recovered in the middle diagram

 

Sometimes though, you think you know what an item should be, but it turns out it isn’t!

These handles were found with the Bren bits, so it was assumed they were Bren related. However, it was soon determined that they had nothing to do with a Bren gun, so must be from another weapon. Perhaps they were the cocking handles from an MG?

After a bit of digging, the true nature of these relics was eventually uncovered.

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Turns out they were nothing to do with a Bren gun, and everything to do with a Hotchkiss!

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Hotchkiss MG feed tray loading tool, showing the winding handle

Last but not least for this part of the series, this rusty heap of crap….

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Recovered from one of the very first digs at this permission, this rusty hunk of nothingness was kept in my ‘to-be-identified’ bucket for a good year or two before finally being identified.

And that identification was just like a number of others. I wasn’t looking for this relic, I was looking for something else, spotted it in a book and thought…..’Hang on! I’ve got one of those!!’

And sure enough I did have one of those!

That little bit of rusty junk turned out to be a rather unusual and very rare little relic.

Boys AT attachment

It had somehow managed to turn the wingnut through 180 degrees, but there was no doubting it. That little hunk of rust was an adaptor for fitting a Lee-Enfield rifle on to a Boys Anti-Tank rifle!

 

Part 3 in the series coming soon…… 🙂

 

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