Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   THE MARTINI HENRY. (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=16123)

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 18th September 2012 10:35 AM

THE MARTINI HENRY.
 
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Salaams all ~ For a technical comprehensive analysis of this weapon please see www.martinihenry.com

This thread wishes to examine the route into the Arabian Peninsula and what changes were made to this rifle.

The Martini Henry when it appeared in about 1872 revolutionized infantry warfare. This British Rifle when used by trained soldiers was capable of over 20 rounds a minute. It must have been like issuing all the men with machine guns by comparison to its predecessor. Indeed one of the main problems was that because the 557 / 450 cal bullets were black powder a line of 50 men all firing at once could soon mask target acquisition with smoke.

However what the infantry had was an extremely powerful, easy to operate, very accurate, devastating at all ranges, fast fire, killing machine. So how did the Arabs get theirs and moreover what changes did they make to the weapon?

In Oman local gendarmeries and palace guards (Al Askiris) got issued weapons as the Martini itself began to be overtaken by better designs such as the Enfield and pre WW1; The SMLE Lee Enfield. (It is interesting to note that in 1914 Home Guard units were issued with Martini Henrys with which to shoot down enemy airships over London.)

By the late 1890s, therefor, a lot of weapons were tipping onto the local Arab market through import points like Muscat and Ajman. The locals loved this new weapon and named it "The Sommah". They had no need of a bayonette and found the woodwork, bayonette fitting, and extra long barrel quite cumbersome. By chopping the barrel by about 12 inches they lightened the entire system and found to everyone's amazement very little loss of accuracy or power. The weapon could still knock a man dead at 1000 yards and penetrate 18 inches or more of hardwood at short range except now it was much easier to carry and a whole lot lighter. They also modified the rounds for hunting since a full sized round after hitting a bird or hare left nothing much to cook! So they chopped the bullets in half as bird/small game shot. To engage with tradition often the butt was covered in wolfskin and for good luck silver was worked onto the barrel stock and butt. Often you find ramrods added to these Arabized weapons. Traditional bullet shaped kohl and steel spike containers copied the 577 cartridge shape and rounds were carried on a leather and silver decorated waist belt. So as not to waste anything cartridges were reloaded with gunpowder, re capped with new striker caps and re bulletted ~ a small industry developed refilling and recharging ammo.

By the turn of the 20th Century most Martini Henry marks were available and each type though generally called "Sommah" in Arabia were given extra other names. The weapon continued to be carried through the 40s and 50s and even until today though it has been slowly replaced by the Lee Enfield (called Canad) with both the First and Second World War weapons including the short muzzle Jungle Carbine (called Parachute) and these days by modern 22 rifles imported from Germany, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. (generically named Sectoon)

The first picture shows a quite nicely silver decorated "Sommah" and the middle weapon which is quite rusty is in good working order. The third is an excellent mark and is called a "Sultaniyah" recognizable by its flat topped heavy barrel and florally decorated main body. It has a peculiar safety catch (which doesn't work!) as well as the usual "loaded pointer" on the side. This is likely to be a civilian style hunter.
You can compare the ammo size with one or two modern rounds in the ammo picture.

In conclusion it can be said, therefor, that this famous British Army Rifle went into a time locked weapons freezer where it is still admired and respected as an excellent hunter in Oman and many parts of Arabia.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

estcrh 18th September 2012 05:51 PM

Excellent information, thanks!

kahnjar1 19th September 2012 05:16 AM

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Here is another silver and gold decorated Martini Henry in 577/450 cal with belt and foil cartridges. Later cartridges were drawn brass as shown in Ibrahiim's post.
If the rifles you show do not have British proof marks then it is likely that they were made in Pakistan by "backyard" makers. They are however of exceptionally good quality.
The one shown here falls into that category.

colin henshaw 19th September 2012 11:17 AM

Hi Ibrahiim

Great post, thank you...

I had a couple of these silver-mounted Martinis as wall decoration when I lived in the Gulf (early 1970s). One bought in Mutrah souk and the other from a shop in Al Ain (UAE). Both were ex-British Army examples, cut down. I did see some locals still carrying them especially in the interior, including on camel back, but by then the Lee Enfield .303 was more popular and used by night watchmen etc.

Best regards.

adrian 19th September 2012 11:57 AM

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Hi Ibrahiim,
Some years ago a company in Oman - Historic Arms, Exhibitions & Forts LLC - restored many hundreds of longarms owned by the Govt there (Sultanate) that were in a decrepid state. As part of the process each was stripped, all markings & features recorded & a massive data base populated, many (the majority) were martini, "Sommahs". It is anticipated that the data base will be researched & published etc.

A small arms heritage museum was also contracted & completed in 2006 - 2007 at Birkat Al-Mauz. Not open yet as the ministry still has minor works to complete. One room there is devoted to the Martini in British service & how it was tribalised & adopted as the "Sommah", some very nice examples there. The museum is absolutely amazing - designed & set up by Dr. Christopher Roads (he was responsible for HMS Belfast on the River Thames in London & also for the well known Duxford Air Museum whilst he was deputy director general at The Imperial war Museum).

Also of interest, by the same company, is an equally stunning artillery museum at the impressive Al Hazm Castle, plus a smaller complimentary display at Barca Castle. The former completed in 2004 but still closed as the Omani's have some minor works to do there also & things move very very slowly indeed with their Govt departments when it comes to doing work.
If you are a student of such arms you could contact HAEF LLC & see if you can arrange to have a look at what they have been doing. I think you will be quite amazed at what has been done there.
Regards, Adrian
A few near the end of construction photos....

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 20th September 2012 09:54 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by adrian
Hi Ibrahiim,
Some years ago a company in Oman - Historic Arms, Exhibitions & Forts LLC - restored many hundreds of longarms owned by the Govt there (Sultanate) that were in a decrepid state. As part of the process each was stripped, all markings & features recorded & a massive data base populated, many (the majority) were martini, "Sommahs". It is anticipated that the data base will be researched & published etc.

A small arms heritage museum was also contracted & completed in 2006 - 2007 at Birkat Al-Mauz. Not open yet as the ministry still has minor works to complete. One room there is devoted to the Martini in British service & how it was tribalised & adopted as the "Sommah", some very nice examples there. The museum is absolutely amazing - designed & set up by Dr. Christopher Roads (he was responsible for HMS Belfast on the River Thames in London & also for the well known Duxford Air Museum whilst he was deputy director general at The Imperial war Museum).

Also of interest, by the same company, is an equally stunning artillery museum at the impressive Al Hazm Castle, plus a smaller complimentary display at Barca Castle. The former completed in 2004 but still closed as the Omani's have some minor works to do there also & things move very very slowly indeed with their Govt departments when it comes to doing work.
If you are a student of such arms you could contact HAEF LLC & see if you can arrange to have a look at what they have been doing. I think you will be quite amazed at what has been done there.
Regards, Adrian
A few near the end of construction photos....


Salaams Adrian ~ That is very interesting and I wonder if the up coming arms and armour conference at Nizwa University in October is related to the adjacent museum you mention at Birkat al Muz(pool of the bananas) ? I will certainly look up the Muscat people to see what they have regarding antiquity
I have a few days in Muscat possibly next week and I want to hit the museums for fine detail on swords and spears. I will look at their guns at the same time. Shukran..
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 20th September 2012 10:28 AM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
Hi Ibrahiim

Great post, thank you...

I had a couple of these silver-mounted Martinis as wall decoration when I lived in the Gulf (early 1970s). One bought in Mutrah souk and the other from a shop in Al Ain (UAE). Both were ex-British Army examples, cut down. I did see some locals still carrying them especially in the interior, including on camel back, but by then the Lee Enfield .303 was more popular and used by night watchmen etc.

Best regards.


Salaams Colin Henshaw, Indeed they still carry the 303 SMLE (Canad). Occasionally there are 303 black powder Enfields that superceded Martini Henrys and of course nowadays M16s are carried by official government guards. I always thought the big heavy SMLE were just too cumbersome for Omani men but they more or less adopted it from its inception and even a few pre WW1 jobs turn up.
The Bedu have a peculiar way of carrying the Martini Henry(and other rifles) which they sling upside down under one arm from the shoulder. In fact, this is really comfortable especially on a camel where the too and fro of the camel movement would otherwise have the weapon thumping up and down on the beast.. Another odd adaption is the gun bag made from goat leather which keeps all the dust off the weapon. It is also notable that they continue even today to carry the old silver powder flasks (talahiq) as a mark of tradition even though they are redundant as weapon accessories from a long gun retired many years ago "The Abu Futtilla". (The One with the Match)

All pictures from the "Thesiger" collection (highly recommended to Forum) except the gun (an Enfield) and bag on the floor of my office !

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

adrian 20th September 2012 12:00 PM

Salaams Adrian ~ That is very interesting and I wonder if the up coming arms and armour conference at Nizwa University in October is related to the adjacent museum you mention at Birkat al Muz(pool of the bananas) ? I will certainly look up the Muscat people to see what they have regarding antiquity
I have a few days in Muscat possibly next week and I want to hit the museums for fine detail on swords and spears. I will look at their guns at the same time. Shukran..
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


Hi Ibrahiim, Yes Nizwa is very close to Birkat al Mauz & the conference attendees will be viewing the museum there, that conference is being organised by Dr. Roads. HAEF have premises not far from Muscat, at/near Bowsher.
Adrian

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 20th September 2012 02:46 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by adrian
Salaams Adrian ~ That is very interesting and I wonder if the up coming arms and armour conference at Nizwa University in October is related to the adjacent museum you mention at Birkat al Muz(pool of the bananas) ? I will certainly look up the Muscat people to see what they have regarding antiquity
I have a few days in Muscat possibly next week and I want to hit the museums for fine detail on swords and spears. I will look at their guns at the same time. Shukran..
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


Hi Ibrahiim, Yes Nizwa is very close to Birkat al Mauz & the conference attendees will be viewing the museum there, that conference is being organised by Dr. Roads. HAEF have premises not far from Muscat, at/near Bowsher.
Adrian


Salaams Adrian ~ I'm determined to get into the conference ! Do you have any phone numbers to hand? Perhaps you may be able to PM me? It is interesting and I have just been given the inside info.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

adrian 20th September 2012 08:32 PM

Salaams Adrian ~ I'm determined to get into the conference ! Do you have any phone numbers to hand? Perhaps you may be able to PM me? It is interesting and I have just been given the inside info.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


Hi Ibrahiim, yes I can give you contact numbers etc, please email me direct on adrian(at)stonehenge.com.au
Regards
Adrian

Jim McDougall 21st September 2012 05:54 PM

This is truly a fascinating and informative thread Ibrahiim, thank you!
While my focus has always been on swords, it is interesting and often surprising how much helpful data which pertains to them, even obtusely, can be gained from firearms production data.
I found a reference online "The Khyber Pass Martini" by Jason Atkin, apparantly a website with interesting data on these produced in Khyber Regions even into recent times by the Adam Khel and associated tribes in Khyber regions. I wonder how many of these would have been transported into Arabia, or would these have been strictly for local tribal use in Khyber areas?
Another interesting reference which might be helpful for research on this topic would be "The Lee-Enfield Story", Ian Skennerton, 1993.

Looking forward to learning more on these! and please keep us posted on outcome with museums and conference.

Shukran!
Jim

rickystl 21st September 2012 08:12 PM

Ibrahiim: Thank you for Posting. I really like these Arab decorated Martinis and Enfields. One day I will run across one for sale here in the States. :D

Kahnjar1: Every time I see your Martini and cartridge belt I keep asking myself: Why is that not at my house? :shrug: :D What a fantastic set!! Rick.

rickystl 21st September 2012 08:22 PM

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Ibrahiim: Forgot to mention......Thanks for the photos showing the rifle carry method. I've never seen this before. Most interesting.

I do own one Martini. It's a civilian sporter made by the Field Rifle Co. in Birmingham around 1895. It's in .303 British smokeless. Barrel marked: "Nitro Proofed". It shoots very well. I have my cartridges loaded to pre-WW1 specs. The sling is original to the gun.

Thanks again for posting. Rick.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 22nd September 2012 03:10 PM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickystl
Ibrahiim: Forgot to mention......Thanks for the photos showing the rifle carry method. I've never seen this before. Most interesting.

I do own one Martini. It's a civilian sporter made by the Field Rifle Co. in Birmingham around 1895. It's in .303 British smokeless. Barrel marked: "Nitro Proofed". It shoots very well. I have my cartridges loaded to pre-WW1 specs. The sling is original to the gun.

Thanks again for posting. Rick.



Salaams rickystl Your Enfield looks immaculate whereas mine has been dragged overland behind various camels Im afraid!!

I don't think yours is a civilian jopb since it has a bayonet lug...?

I looked down the inside of the barrel of mine (at #7 above) the other day and .. oh dear ...it needs a serious clean. You will find various stamps on the body including the usual Enfield Marks and a capital E over the end of the barrel over the breach. There is also a date. BSA Factory Mark.The Crown Mark; V.R. Various proof marks including on the falling block cocking lever etc. This has to be one of the shortest military rifles (and most powerful) ever made. I have put a photo of the ammo; Black powder 303. The weapon was so short that no modifications were needed for use by the smaller statured Arab end users where they even retained all the woodwork and the bayonet lug, though, the blades themselves were discarded.
Photos show the E mark and original Ammo in belt compared to Lee Enfield 303 ammo(above)which arrived shortly after with the famous, new, magazine fed, Lee Enfield SMLE ..thus making this a redundant weapon available therefor to the various guard units and civilian use throughout the East.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 22nd September 2012 04:13 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
This is truly a fascinating and informative thread Ibrahiim, thank you!
While my focus has always been on swords, it is interesting and often surprising how much helpful data which pertains to them, even obtusely, can be gained from firearms production data.
I found a reference online "The Khyber Pass Martini" by Jason Atkin, apparantly a website with interesting data on these produced in Khyber Regions even into recent times by the Adam Khel and associated tribes in Khyber regions. I wonder how many of these would have been transported into Arabia, or would these have been strictly for local tribal use in Khyber areas?
Another interesting reference which might be helpful for research on this topic would be "The Lee-Enfield Story", Ian Skennerton, 1993.

Looking forward to learning more on these! and please keep us posted on outcome with museums and conference.

Shukran!
Jim


Salaams Jim ~ Thank you for your post. I have noted the important references and will look them up. As it happens there are a couple of Khyber chaps only across the street from us. They work in a small weapons workshop refitting woodwork and repairing old rifles including abu futtila. Its true that we tend to link the manufacture of these weapons to Afghan sources but everyone forgets the other side of the mountains in and around the Khyber Pass and Peshawar regions where there were dozens of workshops making stuff. Some of the locally made long guns could out shoot and out range the British in the 19th C ; most notably in the battle with the 44TH Regiment of Foot. For sure Afghan/Khyber manufactured weapons leached out around the adjoining regions and as far as here and Yemen however they are easier to spot and often had mistakes on the spelling but there are several that pass muster and some which are as good as or even better looking than originals!

The normal dead give away of the trigger guard being flimsy looking as on other long guns doesn't apply to the Khyber made Martini Henry simply because those parts were obtainable from other bastardized weapons and from imported parts. If the main body could be knocked up it would be a simple matter to add the other bits and pieces. How they made the barrels, however, is beyond me !

What I find poignant regarding gunpowder weaponry is that it is inside this timezone that so much changed regarding blades. Indeed the fog caused by these guns hides the demise of many a hand held weapon including the spear, sword and bow. The spear (probably the most important Arab weapon) virtually fell off the map as it was essentially superceded and couldn't be iconized as it was too clumsy whilst the bow and arrow vanished... despite the fact that it was faster than the gun and remained so until the discovery of the magazine fed rifle after 1900. Gunpowder weaponry mainly through the advent of rifle and cannon points to the demise of the Omani Battle Sword and could be responsible for the green light being given for the long flexible Omani dancing sword in about 1744 / 1800. (A date I defensively place as initially the Busaidi dynasty start date; 1744)

The gun in the Rifle configuration therefor has a lot to answer for (Pistols never really took off here) The Rifle on the other hand filled the role of spear and bow and for hunting was excellent whilst it was also devastating at closer ranges and thus largely retired the sword (but not always)

Both the dagger and sword have retained a "traditional place" within Arab society as "badges of office" and "head of the family"status symbols.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 5th November 2012 04:33 PM

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Note To Forum Mutrah Souk Guns; 1 Nov 2012.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 17th May 2013 03:51 PM

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Salaams All ~ The idea originally was to have Martini Henrys right the way around my dining room... I need a few more !
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

RhysMichael 29th May 2013 10:31 PM

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From Theiger Vol 5 I think it is a Martini

RhysMichael 29th May 2013 10:50 PM

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This may be one also

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 31st May 2013 02:55 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by RhysMichael
This may be one also


Salaams RhysMichael ~Yes there are a lot of Martini Henry in Wilfred Thesigers books. This one could be either one of those or perhaps an Enfield black powder 303 which came just after the Martini Henry ~ Looking at his gunbelt they dont seem to be the big Martini Henry Cartridges but may be 303.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

RhysMichael 31st May 2013 05:25 PM

Great information and I really enjoyed this thread thank you for sharing the information Ibrahiim

kahnjar1 31st May 2013 09:16 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams RhysMichael ~Yes there are a lot of Martini Henry in Wilfred Thesigers books. This one could be either one of those or perhaps an Enfield black powder 303 which came just after the Martini Henry ~ Looking at his gunbelt they dont seem to be the big Martini Henry Cartridges but may be 303.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

The Martini was also made in 303 cal

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 1st June 2013 04:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
The Martini was also made in 303 cal


Salaams, Never saw one ... though I'm sure you are right...

They carried the Martini Henry and the 303 black powder Enfield as well as the First and Second WW SMLE . including the WW2 jungle carbine version and the K98k German Army WW2 issue etc etc .

Both Bin Gabaisha and Bin Kabina are pictured carrying either the SMLE and Martini Henry.. as is Thesiger variously and he also gifted Martini Henrys to them. The picture may even be misleading in that the belt of ammo and the weapon are unrelated... and just for the picture.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

kronckew 1st June 2013 06:37 PM

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the martini-henry was present for one of the worst disasters in british military history. the defeat at islandlwana in 1879. one of the accepted reasons for the defeat of the british armed with these rifles, aside from arrogance, was the cartridge. the foil had a nasty habit of crushing, especially after the rifle had been fired rapidly and heated up, resulting in a massive jam. 1300 brits dead. one contested opinion was the quartermasters did not distribute ammo fast enough, and the troops ran out of ammo. an effect of the rifle's massive rate of fire (compared to earlier rifles). wellington broke the old guard at waterloo with three volleys, and he had smoothbore muskets.

it took more for the zulus. zulu distraction tactics and sheer stupidity of lord chelmsford and his officers ensured the brits were too widely separated for the martini to be effective.

at rourke's drift at the end of the battle of islandlwana, 4000 zulu attacked 139 brits with martini's. chard made better use of his troops behind primitive defences. he repelled the zulu by more skilful use of the martini's firepower - with plenty of ammo. the movie zulu, while one of my favourites, and one that made michael caine a superstar, showed the zulu repeatedly engaging in hand to hand combat at the barriers. in truth, most of the zulu were killed at 400-600 yards. the martini in skilled hands handled correctly showed what it could do. (the zulu had about a thousand rifles and some ammo themselves, having borrowed them earlier in the day, thus actually being better equipped than the brits. but they were not proficient with them. most were not at that later battle anyway.) the zulu king had told his brother not to attack any fortified positions. his brother ignored that at the drift.

the thin cartridge walls were thickened in later production runs.

the rifles are still being made. not only in the west for enthusiasts, but in pakistan where they have been skillfully copied by hand for a hundred years or so. (tho the ak-47 has become even more popular)

it even comes in pistol:

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 2nd June 2013 04:01 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
the martini-henry was present for one of the worst disasters in british military history. the defeat at islandlwana in 1879. one of the accepted reasons for the defeat of the british armed with these rifles, aside from arrogance, was the cartridge. the foil had a nasty habit of crushing, especially after the rifle had been fired rapidly and heated up, resulting in a massive jam. 1300 brits dead. one contested opinion was the quartermasters did not distribute ammo fast enough, and the troops ran out of ammo. an effect of the rifle's massive rate of fire (compared to earlier rifles). wellington broke the old guard at waterloo with three volleys, and he had smoothbore muskets.

it took more for the zulus. zulu distraction tactics and sheer stupidity of lord chelmsford and his officers ensured the brits were too widely separated for the martini to be effective.

at rourke's drift at the end of the battle of islandlwana, 4000 zulu attacked 139 brits with martini's. chard made better use of his troops behind primitive defences. he repelled the zulu by more skilful use of the martini's firepower - with plenty of ammo. the movie zulu, while one of my favourites, and one that made michael caine a superstar, showed the zulu repeatedly engaging in hand to hand combat at the barriers. in truth, most of the zulu were killed at 400-600 yards. the martini in skilled hands handled correctly showed what it could do. (the zulu had about a thousand rifles and some ammo themselves, having borrowed them earlier in the day, thus actually being better equipped than the brits. but they were not proficient with them. most were not at that later battle anyway.) the zulu king had told his brother not to attack any fortified positions. his brother ignored that at the drift.

the thin cartridge walls were thickened in later production runs.

the rifles are still being made. not only in the west for enthusiasts, but in pakistan where they have been skillfully copied by hand for a hundred years or so. (tho the ak-47 has become even more popular)

it even comes in pistol:


Salaams ~ Although its full of inacuracies Rourkes Drift "The Film" is still worth watching...I find myself saying no they didnt do that or yes thats accurate of no they didn't sing that... etc etc

The power of the Martini Henry was incredible being able to penetrate thick trees and walls and with the full rate of fire at 21 rounds a minute it must have been devastating ~ as you point out at far greater range than on telly ! It could, in fact, knock a man off his horse at 1,000 yards. Thats the first time I've seen a pistol like that Enfield... :)

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

kronckew 3rd June 2013 05:26 AM

wa'alaikum salaam, ibrahiim

zulu indeed has many inaccuracies. first off they were not a welsh
regiment yet. i still love the song 'men of harlech' with it's gleaming spearpoints.

...and hook was not a drunken scoundrel. and many more of course.

the impressive displays of the impi shield wall on the top of the surrounding hills always gives me a laugh. they did not have enough zulus, so they nailed about 10 shield cut-outs to poles with a real zulu either end and they now had 5 times the 'man' power :) they re-used previously 'dead' zulus in the closeup crowd shots. i heard the zulus had a grand old time making the movie.

the final battle scene at the redoubt with the spitting bugler & volley fire scene is my favourite, as is the narrative at the very end with men of harlech again in the background. i watch it every time it comes on TV (and have the dvd). i've seen it dozens if not a hundred times. in spite of, and maybe because of, the inaccuracies, it is still one of the most stirring movies.

i was highly amused when i saw 'gladiator' (the russel crowe one in 2000) and heard the chanting germans in the initial battle scene. the use of the zulu singing sound track was a tribute.

Ngithanda isiZulu. Hamba kahle!

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 11th April 2014 06:50 AM

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Here is an old picture of Omanis with Martinis..by A. R. Fernandez displayed on http://butlerslife.blogspot.com/201...nsula-afro.html

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi. :shrug:

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 12th April 2014 06:35 PM

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:shrug: Interesting Martini Henry from Islamic-arts.org below...

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 23rd April 2014 04:20 PM

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Rourkes Drift !! I just couldn't resist...

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 23rd April 2014 04:38 PM

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I don't see many 303 Martini Henrys but they do exist... heres one.

trenchwarfare 30th April 2014 02:39 PM

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The above mentioned pistol, reminded of the one I have. While most of these are in .303 caliber, this one is in a .25 caliber "Rook" round. It turns out, that the British military used a modified rook cartridge as an indoor gallery/practice round. I think this one was specially commissioned as a target pistol. The rear sight I added, to replace the plastic pistol scope it was sporting when I got it.

I think this is an older model, as the fake British markings are quite crude. The guns being made today, have markings, that are spot-on. What's sad is, they take original Royal Afghan Arsenal made rifles, remove the Afghan markings, and replace them with British ones. I guess the GIs prefer British guns.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 1st May 2014 02:09 PM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by trenchwarfare
The above mentioned pistol, reminded of the one I have. While most of these are in .303 caliber, this one is in a .25 caliber "Rook" round. It turns out, that the British military used a modified rook cartridge as an indoor gallery/practice round. I think this one was specially commissioned as a target pistol. The rear sight I added, to replace the plastic pistol scope it was sporting when I got it.

I think this is an older model, as the fake British markings are quite crude. The guns being made today, have markings, that are spot-on. What's sad is, they take original Royal Afghan Arsenal made rifles, remove the Afghan markings, and replace them with British ones. I guess the GIs prefer British guns.


Salaams trenchwarfare..Amazing weapon. Here are a few I found on the web. It seems these were also made up the Khyber....as were many of the rifles.
Ibrahiim al Balooshi

trenchwarfare 1st May 2014 10:03 PM

Yes, these are very interesting pistols. Wish I hadn't let the other one I had, get away. Rule number one at a gun show: If you don't wanna sell it, leave it at the house!

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 11th May 2014 08:21 AM

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Salaams All ~ I have to record the following detail en masse~ since it is vital for our records~ from the newspaper The Muscat Daily, by M. Najmuz Zafar,
October 15, 2012.

Quote".At the end of the 19th century tribes across the Middle East region - even as far away as Afghanistan - were labelled by the firearm they preferred, ie, a Snider tribe, or a Martini tribe. With Muscat being the small arms centre or entrepôt for the whole region and beyond, and its special preference for Martini Henrys, it was perhaps a Martini tribe..

One Belgian offer in 1907 alone was for 50,000 absolutely new military Martini Henrys along with 8mn cartridges. In 1908 in Muscat there were 5,000 Martinis marked ‘Martini Masqat’, probably of German origin but priced at only R40 (290bz; in those days Indian rupee was the local currency in Oman) with 100 rounds, while those with the Enfield Factory roundel still visible on the butt commanded R70 (508bz).

Presenting these facts and more at the recently concluded annual conference of the International Committee for Museums of Arms and Military History (ICOMAM) in the wilayat of Nizwa, Dr Christopher Roads threw light on historic arms like the abu futilla and the somma (Martini Henry), which are part and parcel of a cultural heritage unique to Oman, but surprisingly little is known about their origin.

Dr Roads for the last 15 years researched and restored thousands of historic firearms and artillery in the sultanate, and is the managing director of Historic Arms, Exhibitions and Forts.

From 1996 to 2002, he covered most of the country in search for historic ordnance and small arms. “One of the messages that came over clearly almost everywhere was that ‘these are our arms and they have always been here’. It is therefore reasonable to presume that the arms that we eventually gathered in for maintenance or restoration reflected past local circumstances.

"That they were, in effect, the arms that the arms trade, centred around Muscat, had provided. Obviously there would have been some dilution, some exchange with neighbours but, by and large, they reflected earlier preferences,” he said.

Going into the history of small firearms, Dr Roads said that no flintlock guns of any description seem to have been found in Oman. Documentary sources endorse the view that most tribes went from matchlock muskets (abu futilla) straight to breechloading rifled arms, usually the Martini Henry, though in some cases it may have been a quantum leap from matchlock to the .303 Lee Enfield.

“No pistols have been recorded except the Mauser (C96) 7.63 at the Bait al Zubair Museum and which belonged to the father of H E Mohammed al Zubair, although many were offered for sale in Muscat.

"For example the Mauser C96 was on sale for R74 (537bz) with 400 rounds thrown in - there were no fewer than 500 of these for sale. Personal armament was the musket or rifle plus sword and khanjar. Distribution of types today reflects, as one might expect, trading routes and trading ports and a strong conservatism.”

Turning to the matchlock abu futilla, he said it is hard to pinpoint the origin of these deeply fluted barrels with prominent poinçons (proofmarks). “Our quest for Portuguese examples of these early matchlocks has failed both in specimens and illustrations. So the legend that their very distinctive fluted barrels demonstrate a Portuguese origin remains exactly that.”

However, he added that the most striking fact is that these matchlocks with side plates resemble quite markedly some matchlocks from the Scinde, (the British spelling for the province of Sindh when they ruled it during 1850s). “With the Sea of Oman connections to Gwadar going back many centuries, it seems more likely that Scinde designs would be found on the Omani coast.”

Coming back to Martinis, Dr Roads said that the greatest density of Martini Henrys were in the area around Muscat and the lowest around Salalah. “Ex-French military arms are far more frequent at Mirbat, Sadah and Taqah castles near Salalah than anywhere else in the country.”

On his exploration drives around the sultanate in various castles, Dr Roads found Martini Henrys in large numbers. In Ras al Hadd castle, there were 34 arms. All, save one, were Martini Henrys and the odd one was a .303 Martini Enfield.

In another isolated castle in Mintirib, where alongside 20 Martini Henrys nestled five serious matchlocks, three percussion trade guns, one Gras and, strangely, one Snider.

“Sniders are rare in the sultanate’s castles, but not in the country. All those encountered are of BSA 1875 make and believed to have been originally intended for Portuguese-occupied West Africa. A large number, perhaps exceeding 1,000 were in one of the royal armouries and today they are common on the walls of officers’ messes.”

In the relatively isolated castle of Sunay Silah on the coast near Sur, 26 Martinis and one Gras were found. But one of the Martini Henrys was a Mark IV long lever - the first to that date encountered in the sultanate and still there are very few indeed. Perhaps more interesting was another Martini Henry, Serial number 8282, which still had its full military forend and original cleaning rod inside it.

Also on the coast is Quriyat. It shares with Sunay Silah the presence of a complete British military Martini Henry made by the NA & A Co Ltd in 1880. “From the superb quality of its silver work this must have been the prized possession of a sheikh who had imported it privately.”

In Quriyat only 13 guns were found, ten being Martini Henrys. In Jaalan Bani bu Hassan castle, out of 51 guns, all are Martinis, save five Gras and four trade guns from an earlier era.

At Nakhal castle there were 43 guns which interestingly included a number of Belgian Francotte arms, including their superb Martini look-alikes, but with the entire mechanism immediately detachable within a frame (CA059). All the arms here were Martini types and a strong reminder of the immense extent of Belgian sales.

At Rustaq, not far away but buried rather more deeply in the mountains, there were about 78 arms, predominantly Martinis, but with five matchlocks and a very interesting percussion ultra-small bore birding gun.

And at Jabrin, far away on the other side of the mountains and therefore very isolated, all the guns were also Martinis except for one Gras, one Werndl, one Mauser 1898 and one Winchester 1866 (CA49). The Winchester bears no marks to elucidate its journey there. Perhaps it has come via Saudi Arabia from Turkey.

At Nizwa and in its region over 120 arms were noted. Again Martinis were dominant but 23 were jezails and a Mauser 1898, two Lee Enfields, two Werndls and a Gras rounded off an impressive selection." Unquote.

For interest I have added below The Muscat Arms Seller artwork that could be as late as the early 20th C..and which I found as part of the modern portfolio of literature at Barka Fort last week.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Norman McCormick 11th May 2014 05:56 PM

12 Attachment(s)
Hi,
Muscat Martini cal .303., reputedly for the Sultan of Muscat's Camel Corps.
Regards,
Norman.


Photos, Highwood Classic Arms.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 13th May 2014 10:05 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
Hi,
Muscat Martini cal .303., reputedly for the Sultan of Muscat's Camel Corps.
Regards,
Norman.


Photos, Highwood Classic Arms.



Salaams Norman... Thats a fine bit of kit... my Martini 303s look like they went in to bat against Boudicea... Yours is in pristine condition and has superb woodwork.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 14th May 2014 03:22 PM

See http://www.klm-mra.be/icomam/downloads/issue07.pdf for general background on Martini Henry in Oman etc :shrug:

Pieje 15th May 2014 03:26 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Hi all, I accidentally came by an interesting 15 pages long article “Les Martini-Henrys de Mascate. Le commerce des armes à Oman 1900-1914”…in French, but translated from Wilsey, R. Martinis from Muscat. The Arms Trade in Oman 1900-1914 published in Classic Arms and Militaria (n°XIX, fasc. 4 & 5). Here some images I scanned…

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 15th May 2014 03:59 PM

Salaams Pieje, Great pictures !!! Westley Richards... I handled one once... It has that peculiar second switch at the left ...I think for safety...can't remember...Bayt Rudaydah has the small arms museum in it...I will visit there. The Turkish, Lee Enfield, Peabody and other marks are very nice to see... :shrug: Thanks for showing those...More !!!! :)

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 16th May 2014 02:04 PM

In another report from the same source as #34 there are interesting notes on abu futtila and Martini Henry as well as on cannon (which I have recorded on the Omani Cannon thread) viz;


By M Najmuz Zafar
January 22, 2013
Muscat - Bayt Rudaydah Birkat al Mooz..

Quote''The centre houses 24 of the most treasured matchlocks of the Royal Armouries of the UK, which are on loan to Oman, apart from small arms like abu futilla (matchlock muskets) and the somma (Martini Henry) from around the Sultanate.

The entire collection of small arms at the centre was showcased to the delegates who had come from around the world at the conference of the International Committee for Museums of Arms and Military History (ICOMAM) held in Nizwa in October 2012. The delegates vouched for the collection’s uniqueness and variety, said Christopher Roads, who manages the centre at Bait ar Rudaydah.

“Oman's position is unmatched in terms of its vast reservoir of historical military arms,” said Roads, who has been in the country for the last 15 years and has contributed in restoring thousands of small arms, cannons and carriages that form the pride of Oman’s forts and castles. Roads said the conference helped shed new light on Omani firearms. “Till now it was believed that Omani matchlocks found around the coast had Portuguese origin, but that theory could not be verified directly.

However, after visiting Bait ar Rudaydah, one of the experts at the conference suggested that the matchlocks from the coasts could have European-German origin. This could be an interesting feature for a new research.” The matchlock which constitutes the vital link will be on show in the proposed limited viewings. According to Roads, another leading world expert who attended the conference said that one of the rarest cannons of British origin is present in Oman.

“The cannon belongs to the English Commonwealth era, which was from 1649 to 1660. After Charles II came back to power in 1660, he ordered defacing of all arms and cannons which had the conjoined shields of England and Scotland from the Commonwealth era. The cannon in Oman could be one of the only two known to exist from the period.

But this needs to be verified through tests before making a final judgement.” Roads believes that Oman has an amazing collection of muzzle-loading cannons and carriages from more than ten countries. “There are 27 different carriages at Barka Castle and Al Hazm Fort and there are plans to add another six. With Iberian cannon and carriages, the variety in Al Hazm far exceeds those existing in Spain and Portugal combined together.”

Roads said there is immense tourism potential in the sector. “There are about 2mn European and American travellers interested in military history, and if we want them to come to Oman we should preserve the military heritage in its original form.”Unquote.


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