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Buying an Unnamed German Gun w/ Provenance

Jun 07, 2024

Going to the Holt’s Auctioneers Fine Modern and Antique guns in and of itself is bigger and
grander than I imagined. Driving through Wolferton was incredibly surreal as it was like going
back in time. Not that it was old and falling apart, but that it was so well maintained you could
literally feel the history coursing through the countryside. Once we made our way to
registration and spoke with Laura and the staff we were on through to the store rooms!
Walking through the aisles upon aisles of guns stacked everywhere throughout several
buildings felt like we were perusing a small countries arsenal. Since we were mainly concerned
with the shotguns we mostly stayed in one of two buildings where we spent a good amount of
time looking over the guns we were most interested in.

The one gun I was most interested in was lot 1518 An Un-Named German 16 gauge boxlock
non-ejector, serial number 16019, circa 1912. So right off the bat we have a lot going on here
with this gun. There is no brand name, it’s a 16 gauge, its over a hundred years old, it looks
incredible, it felt great, and it comes with a little bit of provenance!

The certificate reads:

"I certify that I have investigated the circumstances in which shot gun
Makers Name....H & S (Initials only) 16 bore No.4
came into the possession of No. 4978423 Sgt CROOKES, R.B. and I am satisfied that it was
purchased by him in
FRANCE (crossed out)
HOLLAND (crossed out)

signed John Lawton, Lieut.-Colonel, Commanding The Inns of Court Regiment.
with Orderly Room, The Inns of Court Regt. stamp



So as I went to town looking through everything I could get my hands on regarding the timing,
the name, and the gun. I scoured the internet and quite coincidentally I ran across a S/Sgt
Robert B Crooks of the Bloody Hundredth you could watch on Apple TV. SSgt. Robert B. Crooks
from Luther Bennett Crew According to discharge papers, he completed 80 combat missions, 2
tours of duty in the B-17's and B-25's. He was responsible for inspection, maintenance and
repair of armament. He also manned upper-turret, waste gunner and toggler positions during
combat. He was awarded an air medal with one silver and 2 bronze OLC. He also received the
Distinguished Flying Cross, Good Conduct medal and American Defense medal. He fought
battles and campaigns in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Normandy, Northern France and Rhineland. He
passed away at 89, after a well lived life.

After reaching out to the archives director, it turns out that we don’t think this was his gun, as
he was not in the area during this time. Furthermore Military serial numbers in the US at the
time were 8 digits and this was only 7 digits. Which would coincide with English military serial
numbers. So I was back to the drawing board yet again.

After quite some time, I would up on an older Wordpress website that showed in detail the
British serial numbers. It would turn out that this R.B. Brookes with a serial number of 4978423
would fall in line with The Sherwood Foresters 4,960,001-5,038,000. After looking into the
history of this unit I realized they were quite steeped in history. They were formed in 1881 as
part of the Childers Reforms. Fast forward to WW2 which is where and when our man Brookes
served we found some more interesting tidbits.

According to Wikipedia the regiment served in the Norwegian Campaign, the Battle of France,
Dunkirk, the North African and the Italian campaigns. They also were involved in the Far East.
Around 27,000 men served in the regiments 17 batallions, suffering casualties of 1,500 officers
and men killed in action. It appears that RB Crookes would most likely have been involved with
the Anti-Aircraft Batallions.

Judging from the date of the certificate I would go on to believe RB Crookes did survive the war.
It also seems like a lot guns and other possessions were taken from whomever during the end

of the war, and looks like they were trying to limit the amount of goods being taken under
unsavory conditions. After scrutiny it looks as though R.B. Crookes was given this certificate
acting as a proof of purchase if he were ever again questioned over it.

I did happen to find another gun online that looked quite similar to this one, title was German
SXS Pre WWII 16 gauge, beautifully engraved. The description states it was acquired by the
sellers father and sent home as his 6 th Armored Division advanced across Germany in WWII. It
was little used as his father didn’t want to be around guns much after the war. From what he
could find, it was probably a “guild gun” from Suhl sometime between 1912-1922. It looks
incredibly similar to the one in this auction.

All I know now from this week long ordeal of trying to track down the history of this gun, is that
all guns have a story. It’s just if you can keep track of the paperwork, or can talk to the previous
owners and they remember.

Overall we are very happy with the gun, it is in great condition, looks incredible, and has a good
story. Even if the only story is from me trying to find out the roots of this gun. 





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