This section seeks to exploit material gathered for Guns of the Gurkhas, published in 2005 by International Military Antiques Inc., www.ima-usa.com, partly to prepare the ground for long-term study and partly to market the tens of thousands of guns (some British, others made in Nepal) that IMA and its partners had purchased from the Nepalese government several years earlier.
I was privileged to undertake the work with the assistance of David Harding, whose unmatched knowledge of the firearms of the East India Company enabled us to proceed surprisingly quickly. Since then, seeking to address as many of the unresolved questions as possible, I have been able to work with many other enthusiasts—in particular, Marcus Ray of The Ray Collection, Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.A., and Brigadier Prem Singh Basnyat of the Nepalese Army.
However, much contextual information which would have been useful to an industrial-archaeological historian had been lost in the random way in which many of the older guns had been stored in the Silekhana Palace in Kathmandu. And, in addition, very few written records have ever been found apart from reports made by the British Resident in Kathmandu and a few helpful India Office papers now held in the British Library.
Recognising that the pioneering Guns of the Gurkhas could not include all of the information being provided as containers of guns were gradually emptied, I wrote a series of articles for Classic Arms & Militaria and The Armourer in 2006–7. These advanced our knowledge, particularly of the Nepalese-made Francotte-Martini and Lee-Enfield rifles (neither of which were known to exist prior to 2002), and so this section of the archivingindustry website simply tries to keep the flow of information going. It also allows a variety of ideas to be tested in the absence of documentary evidence, but not with the permanency that is implicit in the printed page…
The information given here is concerned primarily with the guns that were made in Nepal; British weapons which were gifted to (or captured by!) Nepal are not currently included, as details can usually be found in Guns of the Gurkhas—still available from IMA.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
The December 2017 edition of The Armourer contains an article summarising the current knowledge of these particular guns. However, there are still problems with the dates being ascribed to the Francotte-Martini-Henrys. An attempt is being made in the USA by Vern Easley—contact him directly on firstname.lastname@example.org—to correlate the markings and characteristics of as many surviving guns as possible. The most important questions are:
1. Is the butt plate iron or brass? (assuming it isn't missing!)
2. Is the knoxform, the breech-end of the barrel, long or short?
3. Does the gun have a cocking indicator and/or a transverse pin through the lower left side of the body?
4. Or have the holes for the indicator and the pin been welded shut?
5. Is there a chequered thumb-rest on the upper rear right side of the body?
6. Is the barrel held by a transverse pin through the fore-end between the body and the band, or does it hook into the front of the body beneath the barrel?
The markings also need to be photographed or described accurately, as identification of the suffix characters can be critically important. The Armourer reproduced an illustration showing the position of the individual marks, but the published version was too small to be readily understood. Click on the image below to retrieve a larger version!
Please help Vern by offering data from your guns, as this may ultimately unlock the secrets of the 'Nepalese Martini'.
Click on the individual illustrations below for more information...