A Trench Periscope adaptation of the Lee-Enfield Rifle

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The NRA Museum holds this First World War example of a SMLE rifle

modified for use over a trench parapet.

The unit can be fitted moderately quickly to any SMLE rifle without need of any tools;

the parts clamping in place and being tightened with wing-nuts.

It is of a design patented by J. Chandler in September 1915.

( The two large rectangular vertically orientated brackets, each with two silver screws, are only the display wall mounting supports)

Below and right, the Patent application for the equipment,

granted to J.E. Chandler on 17th. September 1915

( Extract from Patents for Inventions - Small Arms)

Stocks ; sighting, - accessories ; firing -appliances
applicable generally; breech actions, sliding breech-block

Relates to rifles having a set-down auxiliary stock provided with hyposcope reflectors and an auxiliary trigger connected to the main trigger for firing from cover. The invention consists mainly (1) in combining with such a stock means for actuating the breech-bolt, and (2) in special means for securing the auxiliary stock to the ordinary butt stock. The bolt is operated by a reciprocating and rotating rod N1 adapted to be rotated by a crank 01, link P, and lever P', and to be reciprocated by a bell-crank Q, link Q1, and lever R. The top of the auxiliary stock is provided with a saddle-piece B adapted to embrace the ordinary stock and to be secured by a screw clamp D. The lower end of the stock is formed with a pistol grip. The hyposcope mirrors E, I are hinged to brackets F, J on the auxiliary stock, the top bracket F being vertically adjustable.

It can be seen, in the image below, how the design permits not only the firing of the rifle from a protected position using a remote trigger, but also the actioning of the bolt; there being one lever to rotate the handle to unlock/lock the bolt, and another to draw the bolt open and push it home.

The arrangement therefore allows of the firing of a complete magazine contatining ten rounds before any necessity to dismount the rifle from its (probably hidden) position.

Below: The main unit is held in place by single clamp on the underside of the butt-stock








Side view of the remote arm

carrying the trigger unit,

bolt operating levers,

and the lower periscope mirror.

The bowden cable, leading to the rifle's trigger

from the remote trigger,

can be clearly seen.







Below: the socket clamp making the connection to the bolt-handle.

It can be seen, above, that the unit is fitted to a Rifle, Short, Magazine Lee-Enfield, No.1 Mark III*

The markings are:





Above: bolt closed, and clamp shown locking the end of the Bowden cable 'inner' to the trigger.

Above: the rifle's action viewed from above.

Below: the sight picture




Perhaps not the clearest image for the

purpose, but it should be possible

to see the sight picture obtained

in the lower mirror which lies

just above the remote trigger unit.


The rather indistinct image in the mirror

is that of a "sand and sky" type

Tin Hat target

viewed over the rifle sights.









Interestingly, less than a week earlier, on 11th. September, a patent was granted to an applicant named Gérard for a remarkably similar design incorporating a Bowden cable operated remote trigger.

13,031. Gerard, G.
Sept. 11
Sighting- accessories; stocks ; firing-appliances applicable generally:
Relates to guns having hyposcope attachments for sighting from cover, and consists in the combination of a special mounting for the hyposcope on a depending or set-down stock, and an auxiliary trigger connected to the main trigger by a Bowden wire or the like. The hyposcope is mounted by two pairs of trunnions k, m, which enter slots o, n in side plate;; fixed to a depending extension of the stock. The upper stocks are vertical and the lower ones curved, so that as the hyposcope is elevated its inclination is automatically adjusted.


See also the Youlten Hyposcope

For Enfield and Lee-Enfield training rifle accessories and adaptations, see also: Miniature calibre adapters and conversions

Click here to access a Chronology of Enfield genre Training Rifles, Adapters & Cartridges

There were a multiplicity of trench periscope designs,

but purely for observation rather than sighting,

including standard but bulky square section wooden " tubes" with inset mirrors, purpose built

tubular telescopic type periscopes much favoured by officers as personal equipment,

and the easily portable type such as the Vanderlip,

shown here because it can loosely be described as

an adapter unit to a Lee-Enfield rifle - or, at least, the bayonet of that rifle.

Should you have an example of an unusual Lee-Enfield rifle conversion or adaptation, and be willing to provide photographs, then we would be grateful to receive details.

Full acknowledgement of any published images would be afforded.

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