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Thread: Official Martini Henry Rifle cleaning

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub yulzari's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    France Nouvelle Aquitaine

    Official Martini Henry Rifle cleaning

    I came across an old post I had made elsewhere and I thought that I would repeat it here as an antidote to the surgical cleanliness folk.

    I couldn't help showing this classic example of petty government 'generosity' to the troops: 'The General Commanding in Chief has also entered into an arrangement with the War Office, by which “Cloth Selvages” will be issued to Regiments and Depôts with the annual supplies of clothing in such quantities as to allow for each Soldier twelve strips, eight inches long by one inch in width. Each of these strips would make two or three wipers or sponges, which, with care and economy, would be sufficient to last a year.

    The unused strips should be carried in the men’s knapsacks, and be produced at all inspections of necessaries. The wiper in use should be carried in the expense pouch, in which a perfectly clean piece should also be kept, for the purpose of being inserted in the jag of the ramrod when the arms are examined, and shown to the Officer inspecting the Company, who will thus have the means of satisfying himself as to the state of the barrels of the rifles. Care must be taken when the barrels are washed out with water that the wiper is not placed with the ammunition in the expense pouch till thoroughly dry.'

    It reminds me of the old Red Army where the conscript was issued with x4 footcloths to wrap his feet in his boots (in lieu of socks) and they were to be handed back at the end of his service in good condition.

    One 8" x 1" strip per month and you have to always have an clean piece for inspections. Nothing but the best for the rude and licentious!

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    curator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Fort Myers, Florida
    My grandfather who served in the British Army during the Boer War told stories of the ridiculous rules the common soldier had to observe and the punishments exacted for the smallest of infractions. Then there is the story of the supply sergeants at the Battle of Isandlwana who refused to issue ammunition without proper requisition forms signed by a company commander resulting in the slaughter of more than 1300 of them. No ammo but a clean wiper cloth!

  3. #3
    Boolit Bub yulzari's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    France Nouvelle Aquitaine
    That story is untrue Curator. The ammunition asked for was from a different unit and the ammunition they used was not 577/450 so they had nothing to issue them. In case anyone brings up the lack of screwdrivers story too every man carried a combination tool with a screw driver and the ammunition boxes could be opened by a Martini butt or iron shod boot as has been demonstrated. The real ammunition issue was getting it from the reserve to the troops in the line. Another reason for a smaller perimeter and a denser line. But I digress.

    Your grandfather served with mine then. Orange River and the Transvaal and elsewhere in the Northamptonshire Regiment in the South African War. He finished as RSM of the 2nd Battalion and went on to serve through WW1 from 1914 to the end and as a Home Guard Staff Sergeant in WW2 and got medals from all three. Would that I could wax my moustache as fiercely as he could.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    State of Denial
    "That's me lucky cleaning patch, that is"

    There was similar frugality within the American military in the Civil and Plains Wars period. Given that every single cartridge a Martini Henry or Trapdoor Springfield fires is probably right around two ounces, and that you had to transport it all pretty much on foot you really can't blame them. In the case of the British, they were fresh from several centuries of naval warfare in which the daily requirements of a warship and crew had been scienced down to the last stitch of canvas. Couple that institutional bean counting with the perception that the average army private couldn't pour used Guinness out of a boot if instructions were written on the heel, and it stands to reason that their superiors would find it necessary to have a manual covering distribution and rate of consumption for bore patches.

    You CERTAINLY wouldn't want them to THINK for themselves and improvise anything!


  5. #5
    Boolit Master
    Ed in North Texas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    When I look down the barrel of one of the old M-Hs or Sniders I'm often amazed at the bright and shining bore. Given the above, it's even more amazing. A couple of old NYSM RBs are also in that condition, amazing for a State Militia weapon bought in 1872 and kept in service until 1895 and then who knows where.

    CW3 USA (Ret)
    VFW Life
    NRA Benefactor
    TX State Rifle Assn Life
    SAF Life
    NY State Rifle and Pistol Assn Senior Member because I don't have to fight that fight in TX
    JPFO Member

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Walks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    I just saw a English Documentary on "Isandlwana" (spelling iffy). They did an Archaeological dig just as they did at Little Bighorn in the 1970's.
    They found bent ammo box screws & handles from opening the ammo box tin liners right out on the firing line.

    But they also mentioned the ECLIPSE of the SUN that came on as the ZULU center started it's advance. The soldier's couldn't see to shoot accurately in the dark with powder smoke all around.

    Plus the lousy coiled brass ammo jammed in their rifles when they heated up and got fouled with powder residue.
    Just as the carbines of Custer's men jammed too.

    Both debacles a combination of errors, just bad timing.
    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

    My Experience and My Opinion, are just that, Mine.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check