Monday, 29 February 2016

Dad's Army

The new Dad's Army film, I haven't seen it but I have seen this:

Now there's something interesting about this poster, take a look at the rifle they're equipped with. It's not the Lee Enfield No. 1 Mk III usually seen in such contexts. No, it appears to be the Enfield Pattern 1914 or more likely, some examples of the M1917, utilised to stand in for the Pattern 1914, because the Pattern 1914 is quite a rare item. This is interesting because this rifle is much more realistic in the Home Guard setting. The Lee Enfield, in its No. 1 and No. 4 guises, was a front line weapon, whereas the Pattern 1914 had been largely allocated to secondary units. Incidentally, the M1917, which differs in the cartridge it's chambered for, was also issued to the Home Guard but was indicated with red paint on the stock. Isn't it nice to know that someone's making an effort?

The story of the Enfield Pattern 1914 and how it came about is quite interesting. In case you don't know, the Lee Enfield received some attention from the purveyors of received wisdom, because of its rearward locking bolt, which was seen as a dated technology. As is the case with a lot of received wisdom, it's complete tosh and the Lee Enfield went on to prove its superiority in the two world wars. Meanwhile the controversy gave rise to a project that culminated, through a somewhat indirect process, with the Pattern 1914, utilising a modified Mauser style bolt. Most accounts assert that it was pretty decent rifle, even superior in some respects to the Lee Enfield, just a little heavier and with reduced magazine capacity. The great news is, that you can still buy them, you just need a firearms certificate, so do not go knocking the hats off any policemen, otherwise you might find that tricky.


  1. I wouldn't actually mind seeing that movie, just to compare it with the original one and the TV series.

  2. The original flick borrows a bit from Went the Day Well. This film, well I dunno, it might be alright, it's just that war humour is a tricky one to pull off. The original cast, mostly had war records to give some foundation to their portrayals. I will probably get round to watching it though.

  3. I'm no expert on the British armed forces, but I've always assumed that the Home Guard would have been armed with older equipment than the frontline units. Similarly, the US reserve components often have hand-me-down ordnance, so the Army Reserve may have had M-14 rifles while the active duty units had newer M-16's (and, later, M-16A1's while the Regular Army had M-16A2's). And the Air National Guard was flying F-4 aircraft while the active Air Force was using F-15's, and so on.

    Anachronisms and other inaccuracies involving weapons are fairly common in movies and TV, but I'm sure that it's the kind of thing that most audience members don't notice. Westerns set during the American Civil War (1861-1865) or earlier, and the characters are carrying 1873 handguns and 1892 rifles. That kind of thing.

    I have to admit that I probably couldn't tell a Lee Enfield from a 1914 Enfield Pattern; most bolt action rifles look alike to me. (The same with lever actions; I probably wouldn't notice if a cowboy in a Western was carrying a Marlin 1894 instead of a Winchester '73).

    In "Sergeant York," Gary Cooper is shown using a captured German Luger pistol and a (I think) 1903 Springfield rifle. IRL, York used a Colt .45 pistol and a 1917 Enfield rifle. I've read that it was because Warner Brothers had 9mm Luger blank ammunition on hand, but no Colt .45 blanks. And the 1903 Springfield was standard US issue in WWI, but supplies ran short, so York's unit was issued the substitute Enfield 1917. My guess is that Enfields became scarce and were not available to the film makers, since the US Army was still using them (as trainers) in the 1940's.

    War comedy is very hard to pull off. It's easy to unintentionally make war look like a fun romp (e.g., Kelly's Heroes). Or, if there is a strong anti-war moral (Catch-22, M*A*S*H), it's easy to get carried away with self-righteous smugness. IMHO, Mister Roberts and The Americanization of Emily managed a decent balance.

    1. Details I suppose are the difficult thing to get right and as you point out, the limitations of budget and production practicalities play their part. For the most part, I'm willing to suspend disbelief over trivialities.

      Things like the 1873 Colt are slightly different, such anachronisms became ubiquitous, as the genre became more derivative of its own legacy; until eventually the genre became almost entirely stylised. Westerns are some of my favourite flicks though, decent films don't necessarily need to be that authentic.

  4. Hi, how are you doing? Just like I did last year I wanted to ask you a favor, I'm promoting my new comic, as you can see here:

    It would mean a lot to me if you help me spread the link around, and even better yet, if you post something about this on your blog.


    1. Hi, I'll give you a shout, it's just that there's not a lot of traffic here and I'm kinda busy at the mo, so it's a case of getting round to it. Anyway keep it up, because what I've seen of your work deserves attention.