Would AH help me assign Provenance to my rifle?

rookhawk

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I thought this might be entertaining and informative.

I have a 1910 made .318 Westley Richards take down rifle. The original initials are on the case for the first owner. The same owner took a trip in April of 1938 and the picture of the case info in pencil is attached.

I think it's a Leigh V. Le Merchant that I see on the tag? Anyone have good eyes that can confirm? His first name may be in error, as might the last few letters of last name. (Le Merchaut? Le Merchaud?)

Anyone know if he was a hunter of personality of note?

Thanks for joining the sleuthing party!

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cpr0312

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Best I can tell on the last name is Le Merchant or Le Merchaut
 

BRICKBURN

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AfricaHunting.com

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I think @BRICKBURN is right.

It reads: Lieut V. Le Merchant for Lieutenant V. Le Merchant

The date is written the European way starting with the day and followed by the month... 30.4.38 for April 30, 1938.
 

Wheels

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I think @BRICKBURN is right.

It reads: Lieut V. Le Merchant for Lieutenant V. Le Merchant

The date is written the European way starting with the day and followed by the month... 30.4.38 for April 30, 1938.

Wonder what the odds are of a European Lieutenant in April of 1938 making it to May of 1945 and beyond?
 

BRICKBURN

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wesheltonj

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If he was related to the other Le Marchant, very high.
 

rookhawk

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Awesome info:

So here is my updated deductions. The name on the case proper and the name on the travel papers glued to the case in 1938 are relatives, not the same person.

On the case lid is "L. Le M." and not a Lieutenant abbreviation which would be Lt. I would add that no one paraded the fact that they were a Lieutenant in those days leading up to WW1 as such a title would be fleeting.

On the side of the case is the papers which this group clearly identified from April 30, 1938 of a "Lieutenant V. Le Marchant". Since Lieutenant is not an affectionate title that one would possess as an aristocrat from 1910 when the rifle was made to 1938 and since surely intervening promotions would have altered that junior rank, I think there are two people at play:

Person 1: Mr./Sir L. Le Merchant who was an adult of significant physical stature that purchased this rifle new in 1910.

Person 2: Mr./Sir V. Le Merchant who was a young adult of the rank Lieutenant at the lead up to WWII in April, 1938.

I'd suggest that the latter is probably the son of the former.

Anyone have any other great ideas or suggestions on how to pin down who L and V Le Merchant were?

I had the privilege of handling another one of their rifles, a take down Westley .425 magazine rifle that was part of this same collection. It is now owned by Larry Potterfield of Midway USA's son. Both identical stock dimensions, both original stocks, both take downs, both from the same estate, both very long stocked so I infer also Le Merchant's rifle. Since both made it to the States its sure to make an interesting tale if I can put together the story.
 

AfricaHunting.com

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I agree that the case has the initial of the original owner of this rifle L. Le M.. I think that the case was sent by a relative by the name of Lieut V. Le Merchant as the paper labels on the case seem to be from a shipping company, BRITISH RAILWAY, SOUTHERN REGION. The one label reads INSURED. The other reads er's Name, I believe is Shipper's Name Lieut V. Le Merchant.
 

Red Leg

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I think Jerome has this exactly correct. I suspect father and son. To guess a bit more, our young lieutenant may have well been named for the 19th century ancestor illustrated in Brickburn's post. You can try plugging your serial number into Westley Richard's serial number service and you may get the date your rifle was built. https://www.westleyrichards.com/services/gun-histories I say may only because many of the bolt action rifle serial numbers will not have a record. Because this one is cased in a bespoke case, you may get lucky. Knowing manufacture date might give an additional clue. Particularly if it were manufactured closer to the time of the Great War. And Wheels is correct. Were he a serving Lieutenant in '38, the odds of surviving the coming war were not very high. If he did, he likely left service at a much more senior rank, and hence, be more discoverable with a bit more research.

This sort of thing is very special. I have one fully documented Cashmore and a couple of identified swords (one Civil War and one Napoleonic). I am convinced I can feel the owners' souls.
 
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rookhawk

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@Red Leg the gun is a 1910 first year take down per WR records. They aren't sure if they have the books for this gun as it's early but for £75 they'll check. :-/

The Le Merchant family goes back to 13th century Guernsey so no telling who in the subsequent line it could be. The Baronets, the conservative MP and the Denis military / governor lines don't have any male heirs with a first name of V or L that I could find.

I figure someone would have a list of all British officers of WWII in a book somewhere that would give me the key to this puzzle.
 

sierraone

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I think Jerome has this exactly correct. I suspect father and son. To guess a bit more, our young lieutenant may have well been named for the 19th century ancestor illustrated in Brickburn's post. You can try plugging your serial number into Westley Richard's serial number service and you may get the date your rifle was built. https://www.westleyrichards.com/services/gun-histories I say may only because many of the bolt action rifle serial numbers will not have a record. Because this one is cased in a bespoke case, you may get lucky. Knowing manufacture date might give an additional clue. Particularly if it were manufactured closer to the time of the Great War. And Wheels is correct. Were he a serving Lieutenant in '38, the odds of surviving the coming war were not very high. If he did, he likely left service at a much more senior rank, and hence, be more discoverable with a bit more research.

This sort of thing is very special. I have one fully documented Cashmore and a couple of identified swords (one Civil War and one Napoleonic). I am convinced I can feel the owners' souls.
As always RL, a great potential answer to a great question from RH. It's what makes this site outstanding!!!
 

Wheels

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This is a fun thread Rook. I did a little research for you and came up dry. Will check back to see how things go. Hope you find out some interesting facts.

Also hope you don't find any of the AH derelicts like @Royal27 in your line of provenance. It might devalue your fine firearm.
 

Red Leg

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@Red Leg the gun is a 1910 first year take down per WR records. They aren't sure if they have the books for this gun as it's early but for £75 they'll check. :-/

The Le Merchant family goes back to 13th century Guernsey so no telling who in the subsequent line it could be. The Baronets, the conservative MP and the Denis military / governor lines don't have any male heirs with a first name of V or L that I could find.

I figure someone would have a list of all British officers of WWII in a book somewhere that would give me the key to this puzzle.

So, I am more convinced that L and V are father and son. Good hunting!!
 

CAustin

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We have a mystery to solve here folks!
 

Royal27

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This is a fun thread Rook. I did a little research for you and came up dry. Will check back to see how things go. Hope you find out some interesting facts.

Also hope you don't find any of the AH derelicts like @Royal27 in your line of provenance. It might devalue your fine firearm.

You say that, and yet there is a very fine rifle named the "Royal." Never heard of one called the "Bob." :E Big Grin:
 

Wheels

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You say that, and yet there is a very fine rifle named the "Royal." Never heard of one called the "Bob." :E Big Grin:

Can't believe you have never heard of the "Bob". The most accurate firearm yet. Lets you approach to within two feet of your subject. It strikes fear in liberals everywhere. Legal only within 50 miles of the Pacific coast and within a 50 mile radius of the Acela Express!:sneaky:

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rookhawk

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Update:

The rifle was perhaps made for:

Lieutenant Colonel Louis St. Gratien Le Marchant

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205384401

He was in the Transvaal and in several Zulu campaigns and surely had it made for his experiences in Africa. He died October 8th, 1914 during WWI.

He had no direct heirs so the rifle passed to his nephew, Major Valentine Evelyn de Saligny Le Marchant of the Royal Artillery, who would have been a Lieutenant in 1938, he was promoted to Captain on the last day of January and the shipping label still refers to him as Lieutenant in April of 1938.

It may not be correct, but its my best leads so far thanks to some helpful archivists that have the records of this noted family in Guernsey and London.
 

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http://www.priaulxlibrary.co.uk/articles/article/family-major-general-john-gaspard-le-marchant

http://boards.ancestry.co.uk/search...&_88000003=Le Marchant&gskw=Le Marchant&hc=50

http://www.theislandwiki.org/index.php/Le_Marchant

http://forebears.io/channel-islands/guernsey

LE MARCHANT, LOUIS ST GRATIEN, Captain, was born at Little Rissington, Bourton, Gloucestershire, 2 December 1866, son of the Reverend Robert Le Marchant, Rector of Little Rissington. He joined the East Lancashire Regiment 10 November 1886, from the Gloucester Militia; was promoted Captain 11 December 1895; served in the Chitral Expedition in 1895 (Medal and clasp). He was Adjutant, 1st Battalion, from 29 October 1898 to 28 October 1902. Captain Le Marchant served in the South African War, 1900-2, as Adjutant, 1st, Battalion East Lancashire Regiment, taking part in operations in the Orange Free State, February to May 1900, including actions at Karee Siding, Vet River (5 and 6 May) and Zand River; operations in the Transvaal in May 1900 including action near Johannesburg; operations in the Transvaal 30 November 1900 to October 1901; operations in Orange River Colony, October 1901 to 31 May 1902. He was mentioned in Despatches [London Gazette, 10 September 1901 and 29 July 1902]; received the Queen's Medal with three clasps, King's Medal with two clasps, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 27 September 1901]: "Louis St Gratien Le Marchant, Captain, East Lancashire Regiment. In recognition of services during the operations in South Africa". The Insignia were presented by the King 24 October 1901: the Warrant, sent, 4 November 1902. He was promoted Major 11 April 1906; became Brigade Major, 1906; DAAG, 2 March 1908, and Lieutenant Colonel 1913. When the European War commenced, Lieutenant Colonel Le Marchant accompanied the Expeditionary Force to France and Flanders. He was mentioned in Despatches 19 October 1914, and 10 December 1914, and fell at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, at the Battle of the Marne, 9 September 1914. He was unmarried. One of the Senior Officers of the regiment, in writing to the family, says: "It is with the deepest regret that I have to inform you of the death of our Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Le Marchant, on Wednesday, 9 September, about 10.30 am The battalion was at that time in action in a town, and he went forward to visit and encourage a party of men who were in a loft of one of the houses. As he reached the loft and passed a small window he was struck by a bullet in the neck and expired immediately. He was, as you know, absolutely without personal fear, constantly exposing himself to danger in encouraging others, and cool and collected in action. To us, as you know, his loss is irreparable, and we can only ask you to accept our deepest sympathy in the grief you must feel. He was loved and honoured by all ranks, but by none more than by those who knew him best".
Source: DSO recipients (VC and DSO Book)
 

Keith V Fahl

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I appreciate all the forgoing post as the histories of the guns in my collection are very important to me.

This .318 rifle was purchased by me last year to take to Africa in 2018. I collect Westley Richards guns and rifles exclusively and it is now one of 5 Westley Richards .318's in my collection. I arrived in South Africa on June 20th to live and hunt for 6 months. I will be here until December 5th hunting with the .318, a Westley Richards .476 double and a 20 bore Fauneta. The .318 has been serving me well and is a great caliber for the bushveldt. Hunting for everything from Impala to Elephant.
 

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