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Boer Lee-Speed Rifle from the Jameson Raid

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The Jameson Raid in December 1895 was one of the key events in the lead to the second Boer War. Leander Jameson took a force of about 600 men on December 1895 to make a surprise attach on Johannesburg, incite support form the multitude of British miners who felt oppressed by the Boer government, and ultimately bring in British forces to take over. The plan failed in a complete and public manner, though, as Boer forces knew about it from the very beginning. The raiding party was ambushed at Doornkop outside Johannesburg and forced to surrender. It was a tremendous public relations setback for supporters of British intervention.

In addition, the Boers captured a nice selection of very modern arms, including half a dozen artillery pieces, a dozen Maxim machine guns, and about 500 Lee rifles. This Lee-Speed is one of them, given to a Boer burgher who used it in the war that eventually broke out in 1899. He carved his name into the stock, as was common for the Boers. This is one of only two known and documented surviving rifles form the Jameson Raid, and it is both a very cool piece of history for that reason as well as a great time capsule of the Lee-Metford MkI pattern of rifle. Most of the early Lees in British military service were updated and repurposed over the decades, and finding them in original configuration is quite difficult today.

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