We've asked Stephen Taylor of WW2 Treasure Hunters fame to contribute a monthly guest article on all the remarkable artefacts he discovers on his digs. In the first instalment, Stephen uncovers a trove of WW2 rifles.
Since the filming of ‘WW2 treasure Hunters’ finished, I’ve gone back to work on weekdays, and back to recovering relics at weekends.
One of my latest digs produced some great finds, from a location of an old British army camp. I located the base dump and recovered some unbelievable relics from WW2.
A quick note on the legal stuff. I have landowner’s permission to dig this site, which is needed for every inch of land in the UK. You also have to ensure the site is not covered by things like SSSI status, Nature Reserve, Heritage Protection Order, by-laws…...or anything else that would prohibit relic recovery. Once you’ve got permission and done all your checks, the digging can commence!
In among these magazines, I also recovered quite a few Lee-Enfield No 1 nose caps. This piece of metal furniture is what gives the No 1 its distinctive look. It has the foresight and mounting for the 1907 pattern bayonet. Again…..too rusty to save? Not by a long shot!
Here are the Lee-Enfield magazines after a little bit of work. Rust gone, and metal stabilised, these should now last for hundreds of years! Note also the No 1 nose cap, in particular the bayonet lug. This is different to the normal lug so, time to test your knowledge! What bayonet would have fitted this nose cap?
These No 1 nose caps have been de-rusted and show the normal bayonet lug for comparison.
Also recovered from the dump were a couple of Lee-Enfield rear sights, badly corroded, along with a chunk of ammunition belt from the Besa MG, the standard MG used in British tanks.
The items along the top are from a Vickers MG, specifically the adapter for attaching the condenser pipe to the water jacket.
Also recovered were these brass items. These are easily identifiable if, like me, you’ve been doing this kind of thing for many many years.
The tubular item is a Lee-Enfield rifle oil bottle. The two items next to it are the top and bottom pawl springs from the Vickers MG feed block. Not something you see every day, and may have ended up in the dump after being worn out in the weapon and replaced with new ones from the spares box.
Now onto the two brass hooks. When I first recovered these, I thought they were from the Bren sling but, on closer examination and hours of trawling the internet, I can find NO sling hooks for the Bren MG that match these.
It isn’t every day an item catches me out, but these were proving to be troublesome to identify. People are often amazed at how quickly I can identify WW2 relics but I always point out that it is impossible to know everything! Even I learn something new every single day. It took me two weeks, but I did finally identify them!
Time to test your knowledge again. What are they off? I will give you a couple of clues. Earlier than WW2 and American. Email us if you know what they are.
If you want to see more of the relics I recover, visit my website, where I regularly post blogs about my finds, as well as pages of information to help you identify WW2 relics!