Lee-Metford trench art of the Boer War

    The .303 Lee Metford bolt action rifle filled the needs of the British Empire between the Martini-Henry of Zulu lore, and the SMLE that would fill the hands of Tommy infantrymen for the next half century. The rifle wasn’t in service very long, but it did serve in a number of British conflicts, most notably the Second Boer War of 1899-1901.

    This particular Lee Metford showed up at a gunshop in Australia, where according to our sources it was found in the attic of someones house! The trench art pictured is commemorating a certain “PSM”, Percival Scrope Marling, a Knighted Colonel in the British Army, who served in a number of wars of the British Empire, to include the First and Second Boer Wars fought in South Africa. During a campaign in Sudan he became a Victoria’s Cross recipient. In the Second Boer War he was in command of the 18th Royal Hussars, a cavalry regiment that has a long and distinguished history. It still exists today, having been folded into various other units in the 20th century, finally tracing its lineage to the Light Dragoons.

    Either way, the rifle appears to have been a commemorative piece presented to the commander probably after hostilities had ended. Notice what appears to be the 19th century style of “stippling” with all the pockmarks in the wood. Compared to modern stippling frequently done on Glocks, it just goes to show that we have much more in common with our past than we think we do. The coins inlaid in the stock are a 2 Shilling coin of South African origin at the time of the wars.

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    Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

    Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at [email protected]