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British 55 (13,9mm) Boys anti-tank rifle stopped Soviet reinforcements in the archipelago

The first evidence of the use of British 55 (13,9mm) Boys Anti-Tank Rifles in the WW2 (1941) battles for the islands in the Hanko archipelago surfaced last week when we surveyed the sites of battle in the archipelago north of Hanko.

The Finns received a hundred of these guns in early 1940 and apparently some more from Germany before the Continuation War. There were three main versions of the Boys: the finds apparently are from an early model (Mark I) which had a circular muzzle brake and T-shaped monopod.

The markings on the ammo clips found “in situ” during our battlefield survey read M.S. I 1939. M.S. stands for "Myers & Sons" and the I stands for Mark 1 ammunition/rifle. The W Mark 1 (60 g AP at 747 m/s) could penetrate 23.2 mm of armour at 100 yards, about the thickness used on the frontal armour of a half-track or armoured car, or the side or rear armour of a light tank.

The gun firing the ammunition was positioned behind a low shelter, hastily built from rocks on the nearby beach. It effectively hindered Soviet reinforcements (in landing crafts) from reaching the beach where retreating Soviet soldiers were pinned to the ground by Finnish forces.

Thank you Petri and Lasse and others. We will continue our battlefield archaeology surveys in the area as soon as possible. A scientific publication of all our discoveries will be out in 2025. All finds are kept by Hanko Museum or Hanko Fron Museum.

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Finnish troops attacking a Soviet held island in the Hanko archipelago in the summer of 1941. Photo SA-Kuva.

© 2020 by MA Jan Fast 

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