Relic Weapon Parts – Part 2 – Sten and Bren

Both the Sten and Bren are perhaps two of the most recognisable weapons of WW2.

At the start of WW2, the British army used the American Thompson SMG, but soon realised that they needed to make a cheaper and easier to produce SMG. The name of ‘Sten’ was derived from the first letters of the last names of its designers, R.V. Shepherd and Harold John Turpin, as well as the Enfield Royal Small Arms Factory, which played a major role in its development and manufacture. Chambered for the 9 x 19 pistol cartridge, the Sten was an ugly weapon, prone to jamming, and also prone to firing if dropped, yet it was loved by the troops that used it. Over 4,000,000 Stens were produced during the 1940s.

The Bren was a licensed version of the Czechoslovak ZGB 33 light machine gun, which in turn, was a modified version of ZB vz. 26, which British Army officials had tested during a firearms service competition in the 1930s. The later Bren featured a distinctive top-mounted curved box magazine, conical flash hider, and quick change barrel. The name Bren was derived from Brno, the Czechoslovak city in Moravia, where the Zb vz. 26 was designed, and Enfield, the British Royal Small Arms Factory.

Parts from these two iconic weapons have been recovered from a British army dump site permission. As they are largely made of steel, and most of the parts are relatively thin, many come out of the ground and crumble away. However, plenty still survive and are readily identifiable, after a little bit of TLC!

Lots of different parts of the Sten can be recovered from this site, and so far, 4 different marks of Sten have been shown to pass through the base.

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Early and late type cocking handles
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Return spring housings & return spring housing caps
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Barrel shrouds
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Trigger mechanism covers
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Return spring
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Two different types of stock. Early ‘tube’ stock from the Mk 1 and the later ‘T’ stock
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Magazine housings
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Remains of Mk 5 stocks. The wooden component will have been used as fuel for the fires set at this dump in an effeort to destroy the items thrown in there,
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Sten magazines. Made of very thin steel, these have been cleaned and preserved. There are numerous holes in them where they have rusted right through.
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And with magazines, you need the loading tools as well. Mk 2 loading tools and 3 handles. The box part of the tool virtually always rusts through in the ground, meaning it is lucky to find one with the box still attached. Mostly you just find the brass handle. Also in this picture are the later, simpler to make Mk IV loading tools.

Not quite enough to make a complete Sten, but not far off.

Bren parts are harder to find in this dump. The Bren was a much bigger weapon and widely used, being such a versatile and accurate weapon that it was still being used in some military & police forces into the 1980s.

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Bren magazine in remarkable condition considering it has been in the ground for 70+ years
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Bren butt plate
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Remains of the metalwork of the carry handle
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Bracket for mounting the 100 round drum magazine

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Mk 1 Bren 100 rnd magazine winding handle
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Mk 2 Bren 100 rnd magazine winding handle
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Stock bracket (mounting pin)
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Bren oil bottles, brass and early plastic

The trick with most of these parts is in the removal of the rust and preventing further corrosion. Once that’s done, they should last another 70+ years!

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