30 Comments

  1. Even more interesting, the person wearing the M43 cap has a slung weapon and binoculars, and there is KZ-Lager or border type fencing behind the Tommy MP in the background. There must be some story behind this photograph. Not many rifle/SMG armed Germans coexisted with Allied troops in immediate post war Germany. When was the Bundesgenshutz formed?

    • Do you mean the fence in the upper-left quadrant of the picture? That sort of fence was very common in German around military installations of all kinds long after the war, at least into the 1990s, and when I passed through nearly-abandoned Rhein-Main Air Base (the military side of the Frankfurt airport, which I presume reverted to commercial use) in 2002, it still had a perimeter fence much like this, with the distinctive reinforced/precast concrete poles usually in an inverted J-shape (sometimes straight).

      Thefore, the fence is of little us in dating the photo. Or even locating it: while the fence is probably German-engineered, other European nations use similar installations, and the Germans left a lot of barracks and other installations behind in territory that was not German post-1945.

      The picture has a look of a posed shot, and the best bet for dating it is finding its original source, in my opinon. Military and governmental photographers everywhere were meticulous about recording metadata, and their notes generally stayed with the photos in national archives.

  2. I think there is a magazine in that Sterling. It’s just masked by the dark pants. Given the terrible accuracy of the Sterling with untrained personnel (it’s actually quite accurate and reliable most of the time) and its ergonomic inefficiency, I suppose the British guy would have preferred a Lanchester or an MP-40.

    In any case, a submachinegun is perfect for checkpoints-quick to use in the event of some unwanted border-crosser, more accurate than pistol fire. Unless you would prefer having a pintle-mounted MG-42?

  3. The vehicle is a DKW Munga, they were built from October 1956, so obviously the picture is not from the immediate post-war period.

  4. Interesting that the Sterling appears to be blued rather than “British Black” or the infamous””crinkle” finish..

  5. Looks like he’s pointing the Sterling at his foot-maybe that’s why they didn’t give him a mag?

    I thought the Sterling wasn’t actually issued until the 50’s so maybe the guy in the M43 is some kind of cop or border guard?

    • THERE IS A MAG! LOOK CLOSER AT THE PANT LEG!!! THERE IS SOME “UNIDENTIFIED FABRIC CREASE INTERRUPTION” CLOSE TO THE MAN’S KNEE!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAARGH!

      [either this or my Sherlock-scan is wrong]

  6. Keith, the steering wheel is on the wrong side. I would guess that is a 151 MUTT. The SMG may be a Patchett and is definitely unloaded, but there is probably a mag or two on that Tommy. As for the German (or Austrian perhaps), they used that style of hat for a long time after the war. He is probably BGS. It would be nice to see what he has slung. I wonder if it is a BGS G1?

    • The car is a DWK Munga (called LKW 0.25 t in the Bundeswehr). It was produced from about 1955 onwards and also used by Bundesgrenzschutz (BGS, border police).

        • You – and the connection problems – beat me to it.
          It’s a DKW Munga, type 4. The hubcaps are a giveaway, as the from fender would be, we’re it an bit more visible. (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/DKW_Munga). The MUNGA was standard in both Bundesgrenzschutz and Bundeswehr – and used by French and British troops in Germany and Berlin as we’ll. This would place the photo in the timeframe after 1956/7, after the MUNGA was adopted.
          The letters barely visible in the back of the two standing soldiers strongly reminds me of writing on the signs of the allied sectors in Berlin. But that would negate a German Bundeswehr-soldier as well as a border guard (due to the status of Berlin).
          Given the timeframe, I’d rather place the photograph on the British Army on the Rhine, maybe in the Bergen training area, which was given back to the Bundeswehr in 1958, and which had extensive barracks (and a place called Bergen Belsen not far away…).

          • Excuse the typos, but apart from lacking internet access, the autocorrect of my iPhone is really trying to get on my nerves. So far, quite successful…

  7. I have no idea what current (post-9/11) Navy policy is, but when I was standing Petty Officer Topside on a ballistic missile submarine in the 70s – there were duty officers somwehere below, but two armed enlisted men topside were the visible guards/ ID checkers and representatives of the command – we always had our 1911s unloaded, with magazines pouched on the white belt. (insert Marine Corps wisecrack about sailors with guns here) But there were so many levels of security between the front gate (in Rota, it was 14 miles from the pier) and the brow that unloading the .45s every four hours for watch turnover would have been much more likely to result in an accidental discharge than counter an armed threat that had somehow managed to get on base, into the submarine area, and through the tender. Actually, I never ran into a problem – drunken shipmates coming back from liberty during the midwatch – that I couldn’t handle with the nightstick. As a come-along, not as a club.

  8. Definitely not a Mutt; those have very distinctive cutouts in the side panels and weren’t in service until 1959.

    Wikipedia says there were 120 Patchett guns made for trials, and some of them were used in combat by airborne troops. Aside from that, the Sterling wasn’t adopted by the army until 1953. This makes me think this is probably a photo from ’53 or later, which would also explain the armed German.

    Oh, and it does look to me like the Sterling has a mag in it. Either that, or there’s a light-colored stain on the Tommy’s left leg, right where the end of the mag would be.

  9. Judging by a combination of uniforms (“battle dress” and peaked cap) and the Austin champ ( I haven’t checked this but it’s my first thought) and the sterling I would date the picture in the late 1950’s.

    The British soldiers are RMP (royal military police) and I think because they are lance corporals ( one stripe only) this makes them national servicemen (conscripts doing two years service) rather than regular volunteer soldiers.

    As to the German I have no idea.

    Regards

    Richard

  10. Indeed, the magazine is (inconspicuously) present, but the bolt is still forward. I would think that would give checkpoint runners an unfair advantage.

  11. The Sterling SMGs issued to Canadian Forces in the late 50s & into the 60s could use the 15(?)round mags. from the std. issue Canadian Browning 9mm service pistol.

  12. The weapon is definitely an early-production Patchett Machine Carbine, the forerunner of the L2 series Sterling. You can tell by the muzzle end of the receiver/barrel jacket, which has the muzzle and its support nearly flush with the front of the casing, rather than the protruding barrel end of the “true” Sterling. Also note the apparent lack of a lug for the Rifle No. 4 knife bayonet; This was the reason for the barrel protrusion on the L2 series guns.

    Note the folding pantograph stock, as well. It’s made of flat strips rather than the L and U-shaped pressings typical of the later weapon. This flat strip stock, more or less copied from that of the MP-40, proved to be weak and prone to bending in service, so the later stock design was revised and strengthened accordingly.

    BTW, a bit of trivia; George Patchett designed the Patchett/Sterling for Sterling Engineering Ltd., based on the mechanism of Sterling’s previous SMG, the Lanchester 9mm, made for the Royal Navy from 1939 to 1942. Basically, the design is a Lanchester re-engineered to make maximum use of stampings, etc., and with a pistol grip and steel folding stock instead of the wood SMLE-type stock of the earlier arm.

    The Lanchester was fundamentally a copy of the German MP-28. The MP-28, of course, was an updated version of the original MP-18 aka Bergmann “Muskete”,designed by Hugo Schmeisser. (This was the real “Schmeisser Machine Pistol”, a term incorrectly applied mainly by novelists to the Erma MP-38/40 family.)

    So, the Sterling was literally an updated version of the very first SMG in history.

    I love the history of firearms. There are so many interestingly odd turns in it.

    cheers

    eon

    • That makes it not ‘ready’ – in the British military at any rate, any weapon with a magazine fitted is ‘loaded’. Having a blowback SMG made ready when not actually about to engage the enemy was not thought wise.

  13. Jon is not quite right, a Browning pistol mag will definitely NOT fit, but both the Stirling and Canadian C1 SMGs had a 10 round magazine available “for parades, guard duties etc”.

    Also, commercial production Sterlings had the famous crinkle finish, most military guns were not made by Sterling, and were either parkerized or had baked semi-gloss paint over parkerizing.

  14. I don’t think the German guy is either Bundeswehr or Bundesgrenzschutz (army or border guards) but most likely Zoll (customs). He’s got shiny buttons and some form of emblem on his hat while BW and BGS used flat buttons and just the black-red-gold kokarde in the center. He’s probably carrying a M1 carbine.

  15. Up to the mid 1970s UK practice was to have an empty magazine fitted to all weapons when not loaded. I assume this practice carried over from the Lee Enfield series which always had the magazine fitted, empty or not.

    After the change in policy, unloaded weapons had the magazines removed allowing all sorts of muck to enter the working parts. It also made no point holding an obviously empty weapon on guard.. (you can see where I stand on this policy!)

    The two RMP in the picture have the Red Circle Berlin Brigade insignia on the arms of their Battle dress. I would therfore guess they are somewhere on the border, perhaps at Marienberg, which I think was manned from the Berlin contingent..

    • Sorry.. not Marienberg – Marenborn/Helmstedt the border crossing point!
      Other than that the RMP barracks in Berlin used to be in the Old Olympic stadium..

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