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Interview Harold J. Turpin june 1943

looking for interview with the inventor of the Sten gun

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Nick_G05/03/2015 12:19:44
1808 forum posts
744 photos


I have a good friend who is a military historian / journalist and the editor of a magazine in the weapons and defense industry.

I had a conversation with him yesterday about a different matter but happened to mention this thread. - I then sent him the link.

This was his reply to me :-


Nick, look at the 'evidence' and analyse it rather than just accepting it at face value as most keyboard warriors seem to have done in the 21st Century.

Turpin was the design draughtsman and as such would have had no say in the name, nor would its designer Major Shepherd - indeed Shepherd (who headed the design team and whose idea Turpin brought to design fruition) is quoted as saying he is not responsible for the name.

The weapon would have been assigned a project number, not a name, throughout its design and prototype stages. On acceptance for production officals from the Ministry of Suppy and the War Office would have named it, not the design team.

As the official history of the Royal Ordnance Factories during WWII, published by HMSO in 1949, says Enfield and not England, I'd go with that rather than an explanation given by a model magazine editor - for it was Percy Marshall and not either Shephherd or Turpin who first said EN stood for England.

Think about it. Would it make more sense to confirm in a hobby magazine at the height of wartime that the Britain's firearms design team had been drawn together in ENfield or to pass off the last two letters as simply being taken from ENgland?

Remember also that the British Forces' rifle of the day was the Lee-Enfield, not the Lee-England.

However as the argument is taking place on t'internet one cannot expect common sense to triumph.

As far as I'm concerned, it's the Shepherd Turpin ENfield ... but I wouldn't waste time arguing about it on t'internet as life's too short.


Ian S C05/03/2015 14:36:44
7468 forum posts
230 photos

I tend to agree Nick, and so does the Imperial War Museum(Sten Gun, bottom of page 2). also Galt Museum/design Department Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield.

A couple of local arms collectors almost had fits when England was suggested instead of Enfield. I think the question has been answered. I suppose you can lable it what ever you please, or it can be accurate, more than what the Sten waslaugh

Ian S C

Ady105/03/2015 15:09:07
3859 forum posts
522 photos

or it can be accurate, more than what the Sten was

My dad used them on national service and said they were useless for anything more than a single shot from the hip at close range (very close range)

on auto it pulled you 90degrees to the right and you shot at all your mates, you simply couldn't stop it

at the same time that finger & face bashing cocking handle would be flying back and forwards so you couldn't even aim it properly

The sten was like the petrol engine in the sherman tank (The tommy cooker) and the liberator replacing the B17 in the European bombing campaign

Built to as low a price as possible in WW2 to do a basic job... and if a few of our people got zapped because they were using inferior gear well that was tough. Long live capitalism! Forwards to victory!

National service guys tended to get the crappy war surplus stuff, he did his time in the 1950s and all their tinned rations were from the 40-45 war

The tinned irish stew was to be avoided at all costs, totally inedible, while the tinned salmon was still delicious and could be traded for extra smokes


Edited By Ady1 on 05/03/2015 15:24:07

ronan walsh05/03/2015 16:59:32
542 forum posts
32 photos

No way ady, the sten would move you that much , it was only a 9mm after all. I always found the 9mm snappy , but its not something thats going to hurt you. Inaccurate, certainly , but probably sub-minute of german. if i was being attacked by a swarm of the enemy, i'd rather a sten to a bolt-action rifle.

Askild Antonsen16/03/2015 17:17:33
9 forum posts

I have written an article on the STEN acronym, but it's in pdf format. I cant find a way to upload this to this forum. Can anyone help me out here?

Roderick Jenkins17/03/2015 14:24:29
1945 forum posts
503 photos


I can't help you with the PDF, I think you may need to contact one of the moderators who would be able publish the PDF on this site.

Are you there Neil?


Neil Wyatt17/03/2015 17:39:40
18232 forum posts
714 photos
77 articles

I am indeed.

Askid, could you send me an email at please?



Peter Tucker17/03/2015 17:42:37
182 forum posts

Hi Askild,
I have no idea how it to upload a PDF file onto this forum, however, if you just want to include what you have written in a post this is what I would try. Open your PDF document, highlight all and copy to clip board; open a forum post where you wish your document to appear and copy the clipboard there.
Hope this helps.

Chris Trice17/03/2015 18:03:39
1362 forum posts
9 photos

From Merriam Webster:

R. V. Shepherd, 20th century English army officer + H. J. Turpin, 20th century English civil servant + Enfield, English

First Known Use: 1942

peter lejeune17/03/2015 19:16:03
3 forum posts

mr turpin told me himself that S was for his boss T for turpin and EN for enfield Thanks Peter Lejeune

SillyOldDuffer17/03/2015 19:52:56
6328 forum posts
1388 photos

I'm looking forward to reading Askild's article because I now think he's on to something! This is because there looks to be strong evidence that at both Shepard and Turpin thought that EN=England. And these guys were far from being ignorant bystanders: Turpin worked for RSAF Enfield and Major Shepard was recalled to the colours after retiring from Woolwich Arsenal to work for BSA.

I initially preferred the idea that EN=Enfield because this is consistent with BREN, ADEN and TADEN. But this may be a red-herring because of these acronyms only BREN predates STEN. Is it possible that on first introduction in 1937 that the EN in BREN also stood for England? I'm beginning to think officialdom started their nomenclature with EN meaning England and then changed to EN=Enfield a few years later.

None of the early references to the BREN gun I've found explain how the BREN was named: they just call it the Bren Gun. Askild has made a strong case using Model Engineering Magazine that EN probably meant England when the STEN was first introduced. Can anyone undermine his case by proving that the EN in BREN definitely meant Enfield before 1941?

Clive Hartland17/03/2015 21:44:12
2607 forum posts
40 photos

The Bren gun was made under licence by Enfield and as has been stated before the name is an acronym for BRNO-Enfield. Ergo BREN.

Regarding the talk that the STEN gun walked all over the place or rode up when firing, I did not find it so. I was able to place shots singly and in short bursts of 3 or 4 shots and maintain a 9" group centrally.

Back to the BREN, this light machine gun was too accurate and did not scatter bullets like most machine guns. It fired as well as a rifle in single shot mode and on Repetition would still maintain grouping but vertically. It was fun to fire and I still have burn scars on my wrist where hot cases fell into my sleeve when firing. I was often designated to carry the BREN and would stuff my pouches with magazines and even put them in my side pockets.

Covering an assault with the BREN usually meant you had someone to watch the bullet fall/impact and thump you on the shoulder if the lads got near the impact area.I never hit anyone but one time someone ran through my sight picture as i was firing. The barrel would get quite hot and you carried 2 barrels to swop, the BREN was a closed breech cycle and it was possible if the barrel was hot to cook off a round.

Clive PS. thats why I am deaf!

Oompa Lumpa17/03/2015 21:46:20
888 forum posts
36 photos
Posted by ronan walsh on 05/03/2015 00:19:39:

P.s, isn't discussion of naughty things like firearms banned on here like it is everywhere else by the politically correct nazi's ?

No Ronan, Guns aren't naughty, people are. On a personal note I think I show great restraint considering what I actually do in my workshop. And for those interested, I am taking delivery on Thursday of the barrels I have been looking for for a double rifle build. Now that is going to be interesting.


Chris Trice18/03/2015 00:57:05
1362 forum posts
9 photos

If you assume BR repesents Brno (a town), it makes more sense that EN represents Enfield otherwise it would be a Czen Gun.


Edited By Chris Trice on 18/03/2015 00:59:59

Chris Trice18/03/2015 01:04:09
1362 forum posts
9 photos

There doesn't appear to be a 'U' in the name assuming this is the same company:

Askild Antonsen18/03/2015 07:17:31
9 forum posts

I have forwarded my article in pdf to editor Neil Wyatt to have it presentet in this tread. I'm looking forward to seeing the article here too.

@ Cris Trice

I'm not shure if Webster, Wikipedia or other internett sources are correct in this case? That's why I'm investigating into this question. I beleive one has to go behind the digital wall to se int the sources and learn from them what is correct.

@Peter Lejune

It's most interesting what you have to tell. I have looked into the history and found references to Mr. Turpin stating EN is for England. With your statement I'm more confused than ever. It isn't easy to get a grip of the history when one and the same source is refered to have said to opposing things on the same topic.


I haven't been looking into the acronym BREN. I am therefore not able to paricipate in the discussion on the interpretation or meaning of this. all I can say is that it's not possible to draw a siple line connecting the two even if they are verry similar.

Neil Wyatt18/03/2015 11:16:56
18232 forum posts
714 photos
77 articles

Hello all,

I have uploaded Askild's document on the STEN name.

I am no great authority, but my reading of the evidence is:

1) The name 'STEN' was partly chosen for conformity with the names of other automatic weapons.

2) The 'England' connexion was stressed by the inventors to underline their independence from Enfield.

Though the origin of the S and T is beyond doubt, perhaps the last two letters were effectively arbitrary, and we are arguing which of two 'backronyms' has priority, but I do think the fact it was presented to a parliamentary committee.long before the Enfield claim was made is pretty compelling.

Interesting that Turpin and Shepherd ended up in the same place as John Harrison, hundreds of years earlier, pleading for recompense for a great service to the Country.


Ian S C18/03/2015 11:28:33
7468 forum posts
230 photos

When I started High School, we had an army cadet scheme. Our platoon commander went off on a training course during the school holidays, and he got to training on the Sten Gun, his problems started when he picked it up, and fired it. Being left handed, that's how he held it, and emptied a magazine of cartridge cases up the sleeve of his overalls, which caused him to do a bit of a dance as he tried to get the hot cases away. When he got to school he still had the marks of the burns on his arm.

Ian S C

Michael Gilligan06/05/2015 16:21:40
16369 forum posts
714 photos

As a brief footnote:

television programme BBC2 06-May-2015 13:00 hrs "How we won the War" featured a visit to the BSA factory (which produced quite a few STENs), with some excellent photos.


Ady107/05/2015 01:03:15
3859 forum posts
522 photos

I reckon that "in the war"

There could be a bunch of guys who did stuff and made their own conclusions about stuff

and then there was the "government guys" who stated the official position

The bottom line being: both were correct

...and if we lost no-one was going to care anyway

BUT WE WON! thanks to the Russkies

So here we are, prevaricating over stuff that wasn't even that important to start with

Edited By Ady1 on 07/05/2015 01:06:47

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