Rieder automatic rifle
The Rieder automatic rifle was a cheap and efficient conversion for the SMLE rifle. By fitting a gas tube to the right side of the weapon, Henry J. Rieder, who was not an arms designer by trade, managed to convert the Lee-Enfield No.1 Mk.III to fire automatically, thus giving it a massive advantage over other bolt-action rifles. The gas tube could be detached at any time, converting the rifle back to it’s original bolt-action state. The British Ordnance Board investigated Rieder’s conversions from 1942 to 1944, but felt that they had no place in British service.
Henry Rieder was a South African citizen and his rifles were some of the most ingenious developments in South African military history. Another SMLE conversion came from Africa, designed by Howard Francis, but it was a semi-automatic carbine and it did not perform well during trials. A very similar design to Rieder’s came out of Australia, designed by William Denis Ekins in 1944, but there are no records of it ever being produced.
A surviving example of a Rieder automatic rifle can be seen at the South African national memorial at Delville Wood in France.