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Irish Mannlicher M1904 Rifle
Steyr Mannlicher 1904

Calibre: 8x57 (7.92)
Serial No: 12351
Price: £1350

Very Good to Excellent Condition

Rare Irish UVF Steyr 1904

Caliber 7.92x57mm, used a Gew.88 type clip. 12,000 rifles were sold to the Irish Ulster Volunteer Force (Protestant Militia).

These 1912 Irish Contract rifles look very close to the M93 Romanian Mannlicher, but these rifles were produced with left over parts from the M1892 Romanian Mannlicher.

The rear sight is similar to the M95 Austrian rifle, graduated to 1800 schritt.

Matching Serial Numbers: Action, Barrel, Bolt, Stock

Bore Very Good to Excellent - Proofed this year (Discrete Proof Marks)

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This rifle was originally part of a cache of arms involved in the Larne gun-running operation.
The smuggling exercise was master-minded by Major Frederick Crawford and Captain Wilfrid Spender on behalf of the Ulster Unionist Council, to equip the quite recently formed Ulster Volunteer Force (U.V.F.) with nearly 25,000 rifles and between 3-5,000,000 rounds of ammunition. The U.V.F. had been set-up to fight against the imposition of Home Rule and Crawford was tasked with the procurement of arms. He approached several manufacturers including Steyr and DWM, and after several failed attempts, due to Customs intervention, the Larne plan was hatched.

Crawford secured the services of the S.S. Fanny to transport 216 tons of arms and ammunition, and amongst that consignment were 11,000 Mannlicher rifles built by Steyr in Austria. The arms were loaded aboard the ship on 30th March 1914 on the Baltic island of Langeland and she was ready to set-sail when Danish Customs seized the ship's papers. They had thought the arms were destined for Iceland where there was growing dissent by militants who sought independence from Denmark. However, the Fanny managed to leave harbour and steamed into a gale to hide from her pursuers until she was in international waters. Meanwhile, Crawford had bought another ship, the S.S. Clyde Valley, and she steamed out to meet the Fanny off the Irish coast and on the 19th April, the entire cargo was transferred between vessels. The crew then falsified the ship's name and the Clyde Valley became the S.S. Mountjoy II.

It had been arranged that another ship would enter Belfast Lough and arouse Customs suspicions to act as a smokescreen to the real operation that was about to take place at Larne. The 'Mountjoy II' docked in Larne harbour without hindrance and her cargo was transferred into two smaller vessels that took it to Donaghadee. Here the arms were transferred into many hundreds of motor cars, as the Belfast Evening Telegraph later reported, "It was an amazing sight to see this huge procession of cars stretching nearly three miles in length descending upon the town with their headlights ablaze". The guns and ammunition were then taken to safe houses and secret dumps.

This was the very first time that motor vehicles (civil ones in this case) had been used in any great number for a military operation. Quite naturally the operation aroused enormous interest while it was taking place, but the police did not act or stop any of the cars.
The cache of arms was never to see 'active service' as the outbreak of WWI sidelined political considerations in Ireland. Many of the U.V.F. members enlisted with the British Army's 36th (Ulster) Division and the 10th and 16th (Irish) Divisions. These regiments saw bitter action on the Western Front - (the 10th being amalgamated with the 16th following heavy losses at the Battle of Gallipoli), and by the end of the war both divisions were practically eradicated after further heavy losses at the Battle of the Somme and the 1918 German Spring Offensive.