Sten Submachine Gun

A Sten gun equipped member of the Maquis (the French Resistance or Forces Franšaises de l'IntÚrieur, the FFI) guards an operation, Dreux, France, 1944. Allied airdrops provided weapons and explosives to the french patriots.
A Sten gun equipped member of the Maquis (the French Resistance or Forces Franšaises de l'IntÚrieur, the FFI) guards an operation, Dreux, France, 1944. Allied airdrops provided weapons and explosives to the French patriots.

Today in WW II: 30 Apr 1940 Two killed on the ground in Clacton-on-Sea by the crash of a German Heinkel aircraft, England's first civilian casualties of the war.  More 
30 Apr 1945 Germans abandon Stalag Luft I -- near Barth, Germany -- as advancing Russian forces near, liberating nearly 9,000 Allied airmen imprisoned there.
30 Apr 1945 American troops enter Munich, Germany, the Bavarian capital, finding the city largely destroyed and undefended.
30 Apr 1945 Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his bunker in Berlin.
30 Apr 1945 Following Hitler's suicide, Adm. Karl D÷nitz succeeds him as President of Germany while Joseph G÷bbels succeeds as Chancellor.
30 Apr 1945 Soviet flag raised over the Reichstag in Berlin.
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Sten Submachine Gun

Prior to 1941, the British were using Thompson submachine guns supplied by the US under Lend-Lease. In early 1941, a prototype of a new weapon was put forth by the Royal Small Arms Factory in England, based on the design of captured German MP40s.

It was named Sten by using the initials of its its designers, Sheffield and Turpin, plus the first two letters of Enfield, the location of a British arsenal. The Sten Gun was first used at Dieppe by Canadian troops, and completely replaced the Thompson by D-Day in June 1944.

Sten Submachine Gun with silencer
Sten Submachine Gun with silencer.

The Sten was extremely simple to manufacture, with only the bolt and barrel as machined parts, the rest stamped. It did not have the range or accuracy of a rifle, but it was rapid-firing and effective in close encounters. In the photo to the left, an American officer and a Sten-equipped partisan were photographed during a 1944 street fight in a French city.

The 9mm British Sten Gun (submachine gun) was simple, tough and easily concealed, a perfect weapon for World War II resistance forces.

Furthermore, its 9mm Parabellum cartridge was the same used by many German weapons, eliminating the need for resupply. Airdropped into Norway during World War II, Norwegian resistance forces used this sub-machine gun extensively. In the photo to the right, a British Military Policeman leads prisoners in England, 8 June 1944.

The Sten featured a 32 round detachable box magazine that projected to the left, horizontal, a unique feature that instantly identifies it. It had an overall length of 30 inches and weighed between 6.5 and 8.5 pounds, depending on model. The cyclic rate of fire was 550-600 cpm.

Three models were produced after the short-lived Mark I: Mark II (2 million), Mark III and Mark IV.

Sten Submachine Gun

Silencer for the 9mm Sten

Sten Submachine Gun with silencer
Sten Mark IIS with Silencer.

The silencer for the Sten gun was issued in 1943 at the request of the Special Operations Executive, the British Special Forces. With the silencer the direction of fire could not be easily determined since both noise and flash were suppressed. This was a clear advantage for covert operations including assassinations. A Sten is belived to have been used to kill the Norwegian traitor, Ivar Grande, in 1944 and during Operation Ratweek, when the SOE targeted collaborators in 1943. See the page on Sound Suppressors / Silencers for more information.

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