Some 8 years after the introduction of the No1, the Pattern 13 was already being be trialed as a possible replacement.
The Boers had utilised a mauser in 7×57 that proved devastating in the many contacts with British Forces. As a result from the lessons learnt from the Boer War, H.O Arnald Foster, the Secretary of State for War made sweeping changes to the War Office. As part of this, The War Office commissioned a committee that released what was called the “Esher report”. This report outlined the changes to the occur throughout the Armed forces. The Esher report was going to have far reaching consequences “its consequences can hardly be exaggerated…Without the Esher Report…it is inconceivable that the mammoth British military efforts of two world wars could have been possible, let alone so generally successful” Correlli Barnett, Britain and Her Army, 1509 – 1970 (Cassell, 1970), p. 359
The concept of the P13 and later P14 rifles were such recommendations as a result of the Bore War. It was based on a mauser styled action, with a 5 round internal magazine, the stock consisting of a one piece bottom wood and a two piece top wood. A major shift from the currrent No1.
The only thing that the P14’s were to share with the other variants of the Enfield family was that it chambered and fired the same .303 round! There were other subtle similarities such as the British desire to have an action that cocked on closing, input at a design level by Mr Lee and that the rifle was to be of similar length. But that was about it!
In 1903, 1000 rifles were produced at Enfield in .276 as trials rifles. These rifles fired a 165gr projectile with a velocity of 2800fps. However serious issues soon surrounded the Pattern 1913 rifle and her .276 round. The round suffered from intensive pressure, which in turn resulted in excessive wear on the chamber and barrel. There were even occasions in which round would detonate / go off when chambered.
Befor this could be addressed the outbreak of the 1st world war occurred and the concept of the P13 in .276 Enfield was shelved. However it was by no means the end of the concept as it was merely replaced with the same rifle chambered in the standard .303 round, the Pattern 14.
The Pattern 14 sights were graduated to 1600yrd and it also had volley sights on the left hand side of the rifle. The volley sights allowed well trained groups of soldiers to concentrate long range fire be it either as harassing or directed at soldiers
Vickers was intended as the primary producer of the new Pattern rifle. However there was a serious production issues. Further retooling and training of British factories or staff was not a viable option, as all resources in Britain were engineered and focussed on the SMLE.
This saw the British government approach American manufactures. These manufacturers included Winchester, Remington and Edystone. Edystone was in fact a subsidiary of Remington and was set up in order to help facilitate the manufacture of the P14.
Production started in earnest in 1916 and by 1917 nearly 1.2 million P14’s had been produced.
Unfortunately there were variations in the tooling and making of the parts by the various manufacturers. It was these variations that in effect made each rifle and individual parts to be non interchangeable. A dangerous and costly oversight.
In 1926 the P14 was re-designated as the No3Mk1
In the 1930’s The No3Mk1 was sold in large numbers to the Latvian army but still some 600,000 rifles were still held in stores. Oddly enough fate was going to be visited once again on the poor No3Mk1, as when it was mooted that the rifle be retrialled for a new cal, the 2nd World war broke out.
Prior to World War Two the P14 underwent a FTR type scenario to bring the rifle up to a unified standard, this was known as the Weddon Repair Standard. The rifles were inspected, lobbing sights removed and stocks reduced in weight.
Post Dunkirk and with the great loss of arms that the British forces endured the No3Mk1 suddenly became very much a valued resource. Furthermore once sufficient numbers were built up of the SMLE’s and No4’s the No3Mk1 were either relegated to the homeguard role or that of sniper rifles.
“New Zealand service
When New Zealand ran short of rifles in WW I troops were sent to Europe unarmed and it is therefore probable that New Zealander used the P 14 in training once they arrived in Britain and also as snipers on the Western Front.
From observed marking it would appear that New Zealand imported an unknown quantity of P 14s in March 1917, they are listed in New Zealand Army General Orders No 344 of December 1922 which detailed marking of arms for sale, and also in AGO 84/26 of March 1926, which listed their stores value at 4 pounds 4 shillings.
In the early stages of WW II New Zealand Engineers were armed with P 14 rifles until 1943 when they were replaced by Lithgow SMLEs. They were also issued to RNZAF and Home Guard in New Zealand.
New Zealand P 14s were sold as surplus in the 1950s and 60’s.” [ NZAR ID 354,2012]
I’ve managed to acquire what I think is an exceptional P14 with some great Kiwi history. I am currently researching both through internet forums and local collectors. I hope to be able to update in the near future.
What I will do in the mean time is post the pictures that I have taken as a graphical reference for others for comparison and information. If you have any info or comments please feel free to post or email me.
I have also another P14 that was part of a restoration project, i’ll include that as well as a friends P14 as well. In all hopefuly they will add to the images and show any variations between makers and the models.
Fatboy P14 NZ marked 3/17 614