Forgive me for lack of photographs, hopefully soon rectified but, I must inform readers about a 12 bore gun that was used by the Aux-Units. Double barrel, side by side hammer, top lever, double trigger made by Fred. Williams London & Birmingham probably between 1880 and 1910. Barrels might have originally been about 30 inches long but shortened to 20 inches. Handier to carry and conceal and removed any muzzle choke that was deemed by many to be dangerous when firing cartridges such as solid lead ball. Eley manufactured these in the early war period fully aware that such ball might be fired down tubes restricted to full choke with perfect safety. However, fear of "over pressure" was removed when shortening barrels behind their choked muzzles. The ribs that would be exposed with shortening have been filled expertly and a bead foresight has been fitted along with an aperture backsight in the form of a swivel loop from a service revolver let into the breech end of the top rib. However, the main mods have been done to the trigger guard which has been re-profiled to almost a circle rather than oval and the front trigger has been amputated to less than half its normal length, the bottom re-profiled and reshapen as has the full length rear trigger. Why ? This mod allows the trigger finger to slide off the front trigger after firing the right tube and onto the rear therefore enabling immediate contact to both triggers without the need to take finger out of the guard, move it to the rear and replace it behind the front trigger and in front of the rear to fire the left tube.
Internally, the half cock notch on the tumblers have been removed to do away with any problem of the hammers being in the half cock (safe) position. There must be nothing worse than trying to fire a gun with hammers in half cock in a life or death situation. The top lever has been modified to allow the gun to be opened with the hammers cocked. Why ? Out of the O.B., maybe in a plowed field, laid in a furrow, raining, cold, can hear gutteral German voices, dogs snarling, growling, have I loaded my gun with the right loads to do the job ? Not the time to lower hammers down to open the breech, thus modified, can open the gun, feel the cartridges and close up when satisfied whilst still having a cocked gun ready to kill at least one German and his dog.
If chance permitted and someone was asked to modify a gun into the perfect combat 12 bore given a 30" side by side hammer gun, this would be the ultimate result. Short, handy, any safety restrictions done away with that would be fully acceptable in peace time but a liability in war, this would be the result.
This gun was used in its original format by the land owner before the war, modified at the start and used post war until the owners death in the early '60's, he was a Great War soldier and it would be very hard to better a modified 12 bore to ward off any German invasion. Yes, its range might only be 50 to 75 yards and in 1940, we had little else to evade occupation but just imagine as an invading soldier looking down two tubes of almost 3/4" diameter held by a very annoyed local, medically speaking, it would have the same result as taking a packet full of Senacot full strength tablets in one go only with far quicker results ! Looking down a 9mm/.38" muzzle is one thing but staring down two gutter down pipes held by a determined resister has that feeling of seriously bad health should the owner decide to pull the triggers !
For anyone interested, I will try to include photographs soonest. The large ring trigger guard and "button" front trigger wasn't new in 1940. Joseph Manton, the celebrated London gunmaker made the same on his flintlock fowling double barreled guns in 1820/1830, perhaps for gloved hands but most probably, to allow a rapid second shot should the first one fail to fill the fridge. Tesco's was shut in 1830.
Kindest regards to you all.