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Thompson Guns in British & Aussie Service


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#41 rpbcps

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Posted 05 May 2020 - 03:35 AM


In 1940, when the British placed their order for Thompson sub machine guns, the weapons were planned to be distributed as unit weapons. At that time, unit weapons, such as Vickers machine guns, Lewis and Bren light machine gun, were all stored in transit chests, as they are nobody's personal responsibility and were issued to whoever ‘signed for them’, from the units armoury, with a set of ancillaries, (magazines, cleaning rod / kit, spares), which were required for the weapons.

 

Therefore, the War department arranged contracts for the manufacture of transit chests designed specifically for the Thompson, and the weapon serial number was pencilled inside the lid.

 

The chests were designed to hold not only the Thompson gun, but also three 50 round ‘L’ drums, five stick magazines, cleaning rod and spare parts kit.

 

There were several contractors producing these chests, so perhaps one was Cogswell & Harrison, a total of 63,051 Thompson transit chests were produced.

 

Thompson Model of 1928’s, were initially shipped abroad to India and Australia etc. in these transit chests. Indeed, some found their way to Norway and were still in use with the Norwegian Navy until around 1985, as were their Thompson 1928’s.

 

Yep, done in the same way for the same reasons, as the No.15 chest for the No.4(T) sniper rifles. Even use the same hinge and fastener design.

 

Yes, maybe Coswell & Harrison, as you say were one of the contractors, as they likely would have been involved in WD work in some capacity during the war, much as Holland & Holland were with the contract for the conversions of the No.4(T) sniper rifles. (one of my other major interests, as I own a mint live firing 4(T) with full chest and all contents.

 

Are you aware there is a guy in the UK that remakes the Thompson chests to that W^D spec?

 

Interesting about the Norwegian Navy and still having Thompson that late. I also have a slight interest in that, as my live firing K98 is an ex-Norwegian Navy rifle, allocated to the KNM from captured German stock at the end of WW2. Mine is doubly rare as by chance it was also, an original German Kriegsmarine issue K98, made in Jan 1940, so likely went to to Norway in April 1940 with the Kriegsmarine during the invasion of Norway. Most of the captured K98's were re-barreled in the mid 1950's to 30-06 to make use of free 30-06 ammo stocks being handed out by the USA, but the KNM retained all their K98's in original 7.92x57.

Seems the KNM preferred hanging onto the good old stuff  :D

In my collection I have a 'KNM' marked Thompson Recoil Tool which I bought a few years ago.

 

Attached File  KNM Marked Stripping tool.jpg   74.65K   4 downloads

Attached File  KNM Marked tool profile.jpg   51.07K   7 downloads

 

Here is a picture of a Norwegian Navy Transit chest that a colleague sent me.

Attached File  TSMG Chest Norway 2018.jpg   83.66K   13 downloads

Attached File  TSMG Chest Norway 2018 Inside.jpg   113.48K   32 downloads

 

 

Yes, the Germans left a lot of small arms in Norway in 1945.

 

Attached File  1945 Captured weapons.JPG   58.36K   33 downloads

 

 

The furniture industry was making the chests, not gunmakers, who were given tasks more suitable to their talents. 

 

Good point. Perhaps Coswell & Harrison obtained the chest complete with Thompson, post WW2, and they modified the gun to semi auto only. One of the Deactivated Thompsons in my collection is an early Model of 1928, which had been modified to semi auto only for civilian ownership and use, prior to the changes in the UK firearms act in 1988. 


Edited by rpbcps, 05 May 2020 - 03:52 AM.

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#42 GeeRam

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Posted 05 May 2020 - 03:38 AM

 

 

I bought this M1928A1 back in 1991/2 ish, and the dealer I bought it from said it was one of a batch that came out of an armoury disposal in India 6 months or so earlier, which included some early dated Bren’s as well.

 

Clearly it’s a British/Commonwealth issued gun, but other than AO acceptance mark, and these marks, the only other stamps are the sold out of service double arrow mark alongside a P on top of the barrel joint, as shown attached, but I’ve always wondered why there are no British marks though in all this time.

I’m aware of the D^D mark normally associated with Aussie stuff, and the N^Z mark for New Zealand as well etc.

 

I’ve just been doing a bit of digging, and found a post on another board about 5 years ago, from a Canadian asking about an identical mark to the butt stock posted above by Bridgeport28A1 above, stamped on the side of the stock of a Mannlicher 88/90 rifle he owns. He had been advised by another Canadian, that it was Indian. An Australian poster also suggested it was also a pre-1947 Indian acceptance mark, especially as a lot of Italian East African rifles captured by the British & Commonwealth armies in Ethiopia in 1941 were shipped to India. The mark is apparently typical of Indian Service markings.

 

So, the story told by the dealer nearly 30 years might have correct, but I’m still puzzled that my gun has no other markings showing British or other Commonwealth acceptance marks BEFORE it might have been handed over to the Indians, unless it was issued direct to an Indian Regt in Burma/Far East when new in WW2?

 

All alternative theories happily considered  :happy:

Is you 1928A1 an Auto Ordnance built gun?

Yes, it is.

The Serif P proof mark on the barrel is the giveaway. Original Savage barrels are stamped with a Sans Serif P. By the way, your gun's sn is only 1850 away from My AO 28.

Wow......what's the odds on that...!!

What's that 2 days worth of production apart?

 

I've tried working out an approximation of build for mine, but not worked it out for the AO serials, any idea?

I think I've managed to work it out for my early Savage made 28 based on the serials, and monthly production figures, but not for the AO prefixed ones.


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#43 GeeRam

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Posted 05 May 2020 - 03:48 AM

The furniture industry was making the chests, not gunmakers, who were given tasks more suitable to their talents. 

 

Good point. Perhaps Coswell & Harrison obtained the chest complete with Thompson, post WW2, and they modified the gun to semi auto only. One of the Deactivated Thompsons in my collection is an early Model of 1928, which had been modified to semi auto only for civilian ownership and use, prior to the changes in the UK firearms act in 1988. 

 

That's a very plausible reason indeed. 

I can remember seeing a few s/a converted TSMG's for sale back in those heady pre-88 days in the UK.


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#44 m3bobby

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Posted 06 May 2020 - 02:48 AM

Messers Cogswell and Harrison were the receivers of the crate from Karrachi. Box No 100 of 258 to be stored in the locked hold of the ship.

The box manufacturer is stamped in to the box at the end before the 1940 date but I cant make it out.
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#45 m3bobby

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Posted 06 May 2020 - 02:57 AM

Just remembered this thread with more boxes from the same C&H shipment and the same chest manufacturer.

http://www.machinegu...pic=11386&st=0#
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#46 GeeRam

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Posted 06 May 2020 - 03:39 AM

Interesting about the Cogswell & Harrison Cannon works address being Bollo Lane, Acton.....a road and area I used to know very well in my youth...!!

 

As I mentioned, while I know most people hear are only interested in original stuff, this guy in the UK make a not too bad reproduction of the cases, although the marks and stencilling may not be correct, as he probably thinks these boxes are US rather UK design.

 

See here....

 

http://www.wwiiboxes...pon Related.htm

 

The only issue I can see from photo, will be trying to replace the clips used to secure the cleaning rod to the case lid?


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#47 AlanDavid

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Posted 10 May 2020 - 04:53 AM

The furniture industry was making the chests, not gunmakers, who were given tasks more suitable to their talents. 

 

True.

 

But, Cogswell & Harrison were one of the contractors for making the standard WW2 W^D binoculars. They also did a small contract run for the FS fighting knives, and perhaps are better known for making many of the bespoke and secretive clandestine equipment for the SOE.


Agree with MkVII about the furniture industry making chests.

 

The gunmaker associated with SOE is Wilkes Bros of Soho, London. They are mentioned in the official history of the SOE Arms Section written in 1945.

No mention of Cogswell & Harrison. However, this firm did much worthwhile work in reconditioning and repairing thousands of small arms for the war effort.


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#48 AlanDavid

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Posted 10 May 2020 - 04:58 AM

Sounds similar to mine, apart from mine being an AO made one, and mine doesn't have the REME stock mod, and having what I think is the Aussie marks.

 

Is the E A S broad arrow stamp the Aussie marking?

 

I have a M1 butt stock with "Britiish" modifications the same stamping.

 

mAQYZM3l.jpg

6F91uXXl.jpg

2dUjJEkl.jpg


Looks like an Indian marking to me. The Mannlicher rifles mentioned in another post, even appear in the Indian Priced Vocabulary of Stores.

Regards

AlanD


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#49 GeeRam

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 11:50 AM

 

The furniture industry was making the chests, not gunmakers, who were given tasks more suitable to their talents. 

 

True.

 

But, Cogswell & Harrison were one of the contractors for making the standard WW2 W^D binoculars. They also did a small contract run for the FS fighting knives, and perhaps are better known for making many of the bespoke and secretive clandestine equipment for the SOE.


Agree with MkVII about the furniture industry making chests.

 

The gunmaker associated with SOE is Wilkes Bros of Soho, London. They are mentioned in the official history of the SOE Arms Section written in 1945.

No mention of Cogswell & Harrison. However, this firm did much worthwhile work in reconditioning and repairing thousands of small arms for the war effort.

 

Coswell & Harrison certainley made the special run of the McLacklin-Peskett Close Combat Weapon for the SOE, as well as a number of SOE derived 'push daggers' as examples exist in museum collections that are stamped with Cogswell & Harrison name.


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#50 rpbcps

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 09:13 AM

On the subject of the acronym 'ESA' with the Broad Arrow, over the last week or so, I have been trying to research further into the acronym with limited success.

 

The book I always forgot to refer to, which is full of information, is the Ian Skennerton, Small Arms Identification Series volume on the Thompson Sub-machine gun. In that book it says that the letter 'FR' refers to ‘Factory repair India’, but have found no other references to India.

 

Incidentally, the answer may be in another book published by Skennerton, 'The Broad Arrow - British and Empire Factory Production, proof, inspection, armourers, unit & issue markings'. But it is out of print and listed on Abebooks for $573, and on other sites for $1000. Fortunately, I have discovered that the 2nd edition of the book has been printed in Thailand, however, due to the Coronavirus, the stock is still in Thailand. So, sometime in the future when the book becomes available, it may shine further light on the acronym ‘ESA’.

 

Another link lists the 'Indian Broad Arrow', as an 'I' above the arrow.

 

A list ‘MOD Acronyms and Abbreviations’, that I found on line has ESA listed as ‘End Stage Assessment’, but I have been unable to find out what an ‘End stage assessment’ is, so still no further forward on that and I am not sure it would have been stamped on weapon stocks in the past.

 

Finally, note contractor No. 3 below, which may just be a coincidence, and I can't recall where I read this information now, but I made a note of it: 

 

"A total of 63,051 Thompson Machine carbine transit chests were produced, by the following contractors:

  1. Nichols & James produced 24,601 (including 48 contract overruns which the Ministry took anyway)
  2. Harris Lebus produced 17,000
  3. ESA produced 16,400
  4. India (Karachi) produced 5000"

Before anyone mentions it, I noted the listed production numbers do not add up to the total given of 63.051, but not my error, that was in the original text!

 

Stay safe

Richard


Edited by rpbcps, 22 May 2020 - 09:14 AM.

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#51 Bridgeport28A1

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 09:44 AM

My former British Home Guard Thompson chest was marked Nichols and James. Thanks for the additional information.


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#52 Mk VII

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 04:40 PM

The Educational Supply Association made school desks, chairs, etc. A neighbour (now dead) worked for them in a secretarial/administrative capacity in the 1970s.  The National Archives indicated that the company's surviving records are deposited at our county records office so I went there to see what they might have on the subject. My spirits fell as I was handed a slim envelope - nothing about the wars years, and very little at all - just one or two brochures from the '20s or '30s and a company director's report to the employees from the 1960s.

They made concertina doors that went all down the side of the TB hospitals so that they could open up the room to fresh air, which was supposed to be good for consumption. 


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#53 rpbcps

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Posted 23 May 2020 - 09:38 AM

The Educational Supply Association made school desks, chairs, etc. A neighbour (now dead) worked for them in a secretarial/administrative capacity in the 1970s.  The National Archives indicated that the company's surviving records are deposited at our county records office so I went there to see what they might have on the subject. My spirits fell as I was handed a slim envelope - nothing about the wars years, and very little at all - just one or two brochures from the '20s or '30s and a company director's report to the employees from the 1960s.

They made concertina doors that went all down the side of the TB hospitals so that they could open up the room to fresh air, which was supposed to be good for consumption. 

James,

Thank you for that confirmation, we can eliminate that link for the stock then.

 

I have also updated my own notes, replacing 'ESA' with Educational Supply Association.

 

Stay safe

Richard


Edited by rpbcps, 23 May 2020 - 09:44 AM.

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#54 Bridgeport28A1

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Posted 23 May 2020 - 03:54 PM

The Educational Supply Association made school desks, chairs, etc. A neighbour (now dead) worked for them in a secretarial/administrative capacity in the 1970s.  The National Archives indicated that the company's surviving records are deposited at our county records office so I went there to see what they might have on the subject. My spirits fell as I was handed a slim envelope - nothing about the wars years, and very little at all - just one or two brochures from the '20s or '30s and a company director's report to the employees from the 1960s.

They made concertina doors that went all down the side of the TB hospitals so that they could open up the room to fresh air, which was supposed to be good for consumption. 

James,

Thank you for that confirmation, we can eliminate that link for the stock then.

 

I have also updated my own notes, replacing 'ESA' with Educational Supply Association.

 

Stay safe

Richard

 

So my M1 Broad Arrow ESA butt stock was likely modified by Educational Supply Association in England?

 

qr1yEV8l.jpg

7r84I3el.jpg

2dUjJEkl.jpg


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#55 Mk VII

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Posted 23 May 2020 - 05:36 PM

I think that's more likely to be an Indian mark. You see similar ones on Short Lee-Enfields with Indian history.


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#56 AlanDavid

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Posted 24 May 2020 - 12:20 AM

Bridgeport28A1

 

The modification to the butt with two wood screws was announced in the British, Army Council notifications, being 1909 from 1942. "Thompson M/C Carbine - modification to  butt by inserting two wood screws.".

 

However in the case of your butt I think the modification would most likely have been done in India due to the Indian marking on the butt. Can't be 100% certain though, as the weapon could have been modified in the U.K. before seeing service with Indian forces. The former is the most likely scenario I would think.

 

Regards

 

AlanD

 


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#57 AlanDavid

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Posted 24 May 2020 - 05:17 AM

On the subject of the acronym 'ESA' with the Broad Arrow, over the last week or so, I have been trying to research further into the acronym with limited success.

 

The book I always forgot to refer to, which is full of information, is the Ian Skennerton, Small Arms Identification Series volume on the Thompson Sub-machine gun. In that book it says that the letter 'FR' refers to ‘Factory repair India’, but have found no other references to India.

 

Incidentally, the answer may be in another book published by Skennerton, 'The Broad Arrow - British and Empire Factory Production, proof, inspection, armourers, unit & issue markings'. But it is out of print and listed on Abebooks for $573, and on other sites for $1000. Fortunately, I have discovered that the 2nd edition of the book has been printed in Thailand, however, due to the Coronavirus, the stock is still in Thailand. So, sometime in the future when the book becomes available, it may shine further light on the acronym ‘ESA’.

 

Another link lists the 'Indian Broad Arrow', as an 'I' above the arrow.

 

A list ‘MOD Acronyms and Abbreviations’, that I found on line has ESA listed as ‘End Stage Assessment’, but I have been unable to find out what an ‘End stage assessment’ is, so still no further forward on that and I am not sure it would have been stamped on weapon stocks in the past.

 

Finally, note contractor No. 3 below, which may just be a coincidence, and I can't recall where I read this information now, but I made a note of it: 

 

"A total of 63,051 Thompson Machine carbine transit chests were produced, by the following contractors:

  1. Nichols & James produced 24,601 (including 48 contract overruns which the Ministry took anyway)
  2. Harris Lebus produced 17,000
  3. ESA produced 16,400
  4. India (Karachi) produced 5000"

Before anyone mentions it, I noted the listed production numbers do not add up to the total given of 63.051, but not my error, that was in the original text!

 

Stay safe

Richard


Richard

 

The information on the Thompson wooden chests will have come from the contract ledgers in Kew. I think this info is also in Tom's book.

 

Nicholas & James   750

Nicholas & James   2800

Nicholas & James  10003

Harris Lebus  8000

Educational Supplies Assn Ltd 7400

Harris Lebus 9000

Educational supplies Assn Ltd 9050

Nichol & James 9000

India 5000

 

Total 61,003  - This figure is what is shown in the right hand column of the ledger page, on the left column a figure brought forward of 73,000 is show.

 

The cost of each chest varied being just under a Pound to about one Pound five shillings.

 

The fist order of 750 chests has three dates attached to it, 1st February 1940, 20th April 1940 and 13th May 1940.

 

On a more general note, it will be seen these dates are before the LDV or Home guard came into being, so it is quite erroneous for collectors to  refer to them as the Home Guard chest. The HG has them but so did the Army & Navy. As Richard has in his post they are Thompson Machine Carbine transit chests.

 

Regards

 

AlanD


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#58 rpbcps

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Posted 24 May 2020 - 05:24 AM

Thank you Alan,

I'll update my notes with this new information that you have provided, which is very comprehensive.

 

Stay safe

Richard


Edited by rpbcps, 24 May 2020 - 05:31 AM.

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