Lawrence's SMLE and other LOA musings

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dennis Nicholls, Oct 3, 2002.

  1. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    It always struck me as odd that the "bell-ringing Turk" in the attack at Akaba is clearly shown holding a No. 1 Mk. III Short, Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE, lovingly pronounced "smelly"). Why would some Turk carry a SMLE when the standard rifle of the Turks was the 8mm Mauser?

    Now I find that Lawrence's own SMLE was a Turkish capture from the Dardanelles, gold-plated and given by the Turks as payoff to Feisal and his brothers. Feisal in turn gave it to Lawrence.

    Is it possible that the Turks at Akaba were in fact equipped with captured SMLEs? Or was David Lean unconcerned with using the right rifle for a scene? After all, in Dr. Zhivago during the "old officer head bashing" scene, the foreground troops are holding the correct M1891 Mosin-Nagants whereas the background troops are holding Mausers and other incorrect rifles. Or was it simply deuce difficult to get quantities of these rifles in the early 1960's? (Note: I have examples of all of these in my personal collection.)
     
  2. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I doubt that this would have gotten past David, but if it had, it would certainly not have made its way past Eddie Fowlie, David's property manager.

    I would surmise that the SMLEs were in the hands of the Turks in Arabia just as the Continental Militia was armed with Brown Besses.

    RAH
     
  3. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Interesting. Although I've just discovered that M1891 Mosin-Nagants were available for $12 each in a 1965 catalog:
    http://www.geocities.com/k98byf/fantasy/page.4.150x.gif So availability in the 1960's couldn't have been a problem in Zhivago. I picked up a pair of M1891s this spring for $35 each so inflation hasn't been too bad.
    Until I saw LOA in 70mm this past weekend, I always thought the bell-ringing Turk may have been using a model 1905 Carbine Turkish Mauser, since the full-length stock and front sight protector gives it the rough profile of a SMLE. I couldn't tell the difference on the DVD. Now in 70mm I could tell it was a SMLE.
    As I learn more about old military rifles I'm amazed how "captured" rifles are important historically. I received a Nazi-era 1939 K98k Erfurt Mauser this week, Russian capture. I also own a 1915 US-made Westinghouse M1891 Mosin-Nagant that was captured by the Finns and used against the Russians.
     

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