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Simon R

Piling swivel

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What exactly is it about a 'piling swivel' (as found on some Mks. of SMLE) that makes it 'pile'?

Why is it not just a 'swivel'?

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I`ve wondered that, Simon. We had the SMLE in the mid 50s but neither swivels nor piling was ever mentioned. Perhaps it didn`t apply to that model? Phil B

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so that men could pile arms.

Chris Henschke

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And here`s how!

Chapter four of the 1935 British Manual of Elementary Drill (All Arms) (London: His Majesty's Stationary Office, 1935: 55-56) instructs:

67. Piling and unpiling of arms.

1. Piling Arms.

Pile Arms—One.

The front rank will turn about, placing the butts of their rifles between their feet. The odd numbers will turn the magazines of their rifles towards the right flank of the squad, the even numbers towards the left flank of the squad, at the same time the rear rank will take a pace forward, turning the magazines of their rifles to the rear.

Two.

The odd numbers of the front rank will seize the rifles of the even numbers with the left hand crossing the muzzles, magazines turned outwards, at the same time raising the piling swivels with the forefinger and thumb of both hands.

The even numbers of the front rank will resume the position of attention.

Three.

The even numbers of the rear rank will incline their muzzles to the front and place their rifles under their right arms, guards uppermost, at the same time seizing the piling swivel with the forefinger and thumb of the left hand. They will then link swivels through the crossed muzzles of the front rank, lower the butts to the ground, placing them six inches to the right of and in line with their right toes.

Four.

The odd numbers of the rear rank, and supernumerary rank (if any), will place their rifles perpendicularly against the pile nearest to them and resume the position of attention.

Stand—Clear.

Ranks will step back one pace and turn to the right flank of the squad, i.e. the front rank turns to the left and the rear rank to the right.

i. If ranks have been changed the squad, etc. will be renumbered before arms are piled.

ii. If piling arms on parade the command Fall—Out will be given after Stand—Clear. On again falling in the men will place themselves as they stood before falling out.

2. Unpiling Arms.

Stand—To.

Ranks will turn inwards and take a pace forward.

Unpile Arms—One.

The whole will seize their rifles at the band with the right hand.

Two.

The whole will incline their butts inwards until the swivels become unlinked, and return to the order, at the same time the original left-hand man of the front rank will raise his disengaged arm to an angle of 135 degrees, the rear rank looking in his direction.

Three.

Taking the time from the original left-hand man of the front rank, who will cut his hand to his side, the front rank will turn about and the rear rank will turn their head and eyes to the front and take a pace to the rear.

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Pile Arms - four

post-671-1171729906.jpg

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The piling swivel always make me think of the Henry Reed poem Naming of Parts.

S

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If there was a smiley for epiphany I'd post it!

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NO wonder they took the swivels off by my time!

Daggers

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On the No 4 I assumed it was just an alternative place to attach the sling. Isn`t it identical to the two sling swivels? Phil B

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Similar but with a gap to accommodate the other chaps' swivels.

Daggers

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Thank to Simon Jones for posting the poem. I remember doing it at school but had forgotten what it was called. And now I know what a piling swivel is too. How I would have impressed if I'd known that at the time!

Keith

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Similar but with a gap to accommodate the other chaps' swivels.

Daggers

Dunno about no 4's but,on a 3 or 3* its offset.Altogether a total waste of space except on training grounds.

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On the M1903 and M1917 rifles used by the U.S. in the Great War piling swivels are called "stacking swivels." The WW II U.S. M1 rifle also has a stacking swivel that works the same way as those on U.S. Great War rifles. In 1977 I was taught how to make a pyramid of three M16A1s using the slings of the rifles. That training was the only time I saw M16s stacked that way.

Stacked M1 Rifles

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Ive seen a cloth bandolier thing for propping up lots of smle's used in conjunction with a tent centre post.Lookin for a photo now.

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Ive seen a cloth bandolier thing for propping up lots of smle's used in conjunction with a tent centre post.Lookin for a photo now.

The "cloth bandolier thing" is a tent rifle rack, available as a leather and cloth version for SMLEs and an all leather version which fits the MLM/MLE.

As for piling arms, I have photographs of the four motions of 'Pile Arms', if anyone is interested.

Tom the Walrus.

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Yes. Please post your four motions. The single motion from Chris was useful. :)

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As requested:

Piling arms.

Pile Arms-One.

The squad being in two ranks at the order, the rear rank will take a pace forward and turn the barrels of their rifles towards the front rank. The front rank will turn about and place the butts of their rifles between their feet.

Pile1.jpg

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Two.

The odd numbers of the front rank will incline the muzzles towards those of the even numbers, barrels downwards, slipping the right hand to the nose cap; the odd numbers will then seize the rifles of the even numbers with the left hand in the same manner and hold up the piling swivels of both rifles with the forefingers and thumbs, crossing the muzzles to bring the swivels together. The even numbers will drop the right hand to the side.

Pile2.jpg

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Three.

The even numbers of the rear rank, holding their rifles sling upwards at the band (Lee-Enfield and Lee-Metford rifles at the lower band), will incline the muzzles forward, and with the left hand will link swivels through the crossed muzzles of the front rank, raising their butts as high as necessary to do so. The odd numbers of the front rank will now turn the barrels of their rifles towards the even numbers of the rear rank, who will then place the heels of their butts 6 inches to the right of the toe of the right foot so as to make the pile secure.

Pile3.jpg

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Four.

The odd numbers of the rear rank will lodge their rifles against the pile, and will then drop their hands to the side.

Pile4.jpg

Stand-Clear.

Ranks will step back one pace and turn to the right flank.

Does that help?

Tom the Walrus

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Done that a few times Eh Tom ? ;)

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Done that a few times Eh Tom ? ;)

Once or twice :P

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Tom,

Thanks very much, that clears it up.

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