Weapons of Wyre

The Devil’s Spittleful, Rhydd and Wyre at War

 ‘THE RIFLE RANGE’ (Formerly ‘The Sutton Park Ranges’)

 The Weapons of Wyre

 

When this range was open many weapons would have been fired here and it would be impossible to record them all. The Range was meant for ‘Small Arms’ as it is not big enough for artillery. We believe that training with mortars and hand grenades was carried out here. There are also reports of Tanks and Armoured cars firing here but no written confirmation that they fired heavy weapons (either blank or live rounds), or machine guns.

 

The Lee-Metford

This weapon led to the opening of this range. The Hartlebury ranges were closed due to the longer range of this weapon needing a range with 3000 yards clear of settlement. This and the similar in appearance Long Lee-Enfield would have been among the first weapons used on this range.

 

The Short Magazine Lee- Enfield (SMLE)

Almost certainly the most commonly used weapon used on this range. Produced in many ‘Marks’ it was the standard firearm of the British and many other armies through both world wars and afterwards.

Lee-Metford_Mk1

 

Centrefire bolt-action magazine rifle

English, Enfield, dated 1889

Lee-Metford, Mk.I

This is an early example of the first magazine loaded rifle issued to the British Army. Introduced from 1888 to replace the Martini-Henry of Zulu fame, it had a short service life being replaced itself by the long Lee-Enfield, Mk.I rifle in 1896. The action was designed by an American, James Paris Lee and the barrel by an Englishman, William Ellis Metford.

This black-powder rifle had a box magazine holding 10 .303” rounds, which could be fired by a good rifleman, at the rate of around 20 rounds a minute. Although capable of reaching a range of 1800 yards (1500 metres), its effective engagement distance was in reality no more than about 800 yards (730 metres).

As a design it was behind those of other European nations who were already introducing rifle using smokeless ammunition, which would explain its rapid replacement by theLee-Enfield rifle which used smokeless ammunition.

None the less this rifle did see service throughout the Empire and in a limited capacity in the 2nd Boer War (1899-1902) and the Boxer rebellion in 1900.

short_magazine_lee-enfield_MkIII

Centrefire bolt-action magazine rifle

English, Enfield, dated 1907

Short Magazine Lee-Enfield, Mk.III

This model was introduced in 1907, replacing the SMLE, Mk.I of 1904. It was the rifle that served in the British and Empire armies throughout WWI and WWII. It has a box magazine holding 10 .303” rounds loaded in 5 round clips. Although capable of reaching 3000 yards (2743 metres), its effective range was 550 yards (503 metres). A good rifleman should be able to sustain a rate of 20 rounds a minute. The British soldier was taught to use aimed shots, hence the need for ranges to practise on.

The original design was intended for cavalry troops, hence the shorter overall length and the steel nose to protect the muzzle when sheathed in the saddle boot. It was a robust design, capable of taking much abuse and it is still in use in parts of the world, especially Pakistan and Afghanistan.

 

The SMLE Mk.III would be succeeded by the other British iconic rifle, the rifle, Lee-Enfield, No.4 introduced in 1939. The Lee-Enfield rifle system as a whole was produced in large quantities, over 17,000,000, in Britain, Canada, Australia, USA, India and Pakistan. There are even copies coming from the tribal lands of Pakistan.

 

Most of the small arms shown below were probably used on the Rifle Range.

The Bishop 25 pounder SP Gun (below) may well have cut the post war tracks on the site, but Churchill and Crusader tanks were rumored to be here.

bishop_25

 

World War One

vickers_MGLewis_MGWebley

 

Vickers MG                                                                   Lewis MG                                                      Webley 

World War Two

Bren_LMGbrowningsten

 Sten                                                                                                 Bren LMG                                                                    Browning