Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Historic UVF rifle found in Belfast attic

Clockwise from top: history enthusiast Ernest White with the 1908 UVF rifle that he found in the attic of his house after having lived there for over 15 years, UVF men in 1913 with similar-looking rifles, and a handgun and the UVF red hand insignia also discovered at the same time

A rifle smuggled into Northern Ireland nearly a century ago by the old UVF has been uncovered in a Belfast attic in pristine condition.

The gun, believed to be a M1904 Mannlicher rifle smuggled in during the Larne gun-running of April 1914, was found in the roofspace of the house alongside a small pistol — and bullets for both guns.

The chance discovery of the weapons and ammunition was made by local history buff, Ernest White.

Mr White is now the proud owner of the rifle which, unlike most of the arms smuggled during the gun-running, bears the UVF red hand cartouche and was never decommissioned.

It’s thought the weapon - discovered nearly 100 years after they were first smuggled in - in pristine condition, and with live rounds is rare.

Mr White told the Belfast Telegraph he was laying insulation in his roofspace when he made the chance discovery, finding a package he first thought to be a fishing rod.

“I opened it and I found a rifle, along with 15 live rounds of ammunition and there was also a small pistol which had live rounds as well.”

Mr White contacted the police because of the live rounds but now has it back in his hands and it is legally his property.

Mr White said he will attempt to find out the name of the owner of his house in the 1920s and if that can be matched up to a signatory of the Ulster Covenant, signed in 1912.

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