As much as I despise the culture of obsequious kowtowing to “the Empire” there are some icons that connect me to it in a more positive yet strange way. Some are old history books. Biggles stories are another connection – they formed up some perspectives as a ten year old which seem humourous now. Winston Churchill’s various memoirs. And the Lee Enfield .303. On reflection they are all inputs from my childhood. (The negative reaction came later in my studies of archives for my Masters but that is another story). The .303 seemed to be in every house and old ammunition in some places seemed to be in every draw, shed and glove box. At least on all the farms we knocked around on. So it was nice – yes, strange way to describe firing a weapon – to get the .303 in my hands again. It has so many links to so many places and people for me.
Interestingly the .303 has been manufactured pretty much continuously over the last 100 years or more – you can still buy “new” .303s in some markets in Pakistan. Indian police still patrol with them as they check your tickets on the train. Used across the empire and beyond, and in both World Wars and Korea you can imagine the variety of ammunition is also extensive. The older stuff burns with more fouling and more flash but is more spectacular than modern ammunition. We had some 1917 rounds which we let loose to nice effect as the light dimmed and which was captured by the camera here. Mind you, having this amount of flash was not helpful in places like Gallipoli – as soldiers reported, it tended to give away their positions.
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