n Malaya the British lost because of a complete lack of understanding of jungle warfare and underestimating the Japanese. The British were consistently out manoeuvred and often out fought by the Japanese in this period. This largely continued until the British learned that they could operate in the jungle just like the Japanese, once that happened they began pushing the Japanese out of Burma after stopping them at Imphal and Kohima. In Malaya the Japanese fought by launching daring attacks across difficult terrain, outflanking and out manoeuvring the road bound British forces, isolating units, sowing confusion etc. The Japanese troops were at home in the jungle - until the British and Commonwealth troops became comfortable fighting there too, the Japanese generally won. Of course by that point, Malaya and Singapore had already long since fallen. Far more to it that who had the better rifle.
What Jungle fighting did the Japanese do before Malaysia? Simply better tactics and more determined by there commanders (you will go there an do this and they did) as well as vastly more experienced in combat).
I don't bring that up to do anything other than demonstrated that it all goes back to context. It does not matter if the LE was the finest bolt action rifle on the parade ground or in an artificially contrived maneuvers environment where its capacity advantages looked really good but proved to be of no advantage in combat.
And yes its comparison in WWII should include the context, which include the M1.
The Ethiopians may have had the finest spears in the world but when they ran into the Italian forces armed with modern weapons....... back to context.
So, I will conclude (or maybe should have just stated in the first place), you cannot put out a statement that is out of context and have the following discussion be of any relevancy.
There were two infantry weapons that were game changers.
2. The M1
Everything and everyone else were so close on par to teach other that it was then tactics,
The LE was not clearly superior to all other bolt action combat rifles, let alone the context it found itself in. The Mauser action was superior (and if they had been intelligent enough to add magazine capacity easily on par in that regard. The LE action died with the rifle. It was a weak action that worked with a weaker cartridge and had no future. The Mauser action lives on and could be and was chambered to the most powerful cartridges.
The LE was on par with its contemporaries as far as a bolt action rifle but overall in combat it was not superior.
1. Its only superior aspect was it had some advantages in its capacity initially. After the initial firing that it was close to or on par with any other rifle as it took longer to fully reload or just matched its contemporaries.
2. The stock was a weakness and needlessly complex adding nothing to the rifle.
3. The bedding and accuracy was a weakness
4. The cartridge while adequate was definite below par with the contemporaries (note that it died out rapidly despite something like 6 million LEs built) .
The cartridge choice also dictated the associated machine gun choices and while the 30-06 could reach out to something around 5500 yards the 303 could not. Again context is relevant.
5. Sight were poor (though generally all were though the M1917 was good as was the latter 1903A3.
6. The head spacing was an issue, you can swap bolts around in 1903s with no issue but had to have the array of adaptors for the LE bolt head.
7. Lastly by thinking it was “so superior”, it meant no thought was given to replacing it and the British military suffered for it during WWII.
And lest you think I am anti Brit, I am not. They are a fine people and a fine nation.
They created some clearly superior weapons
1. 17 lb gun was clearly superior to the US 75 and 76 mm and it should have been adapted to the US Sherman tank which would have saved countless lives. People should have been hung over that one, and the British troops hugely benefited by that fine weapon.
2. You cannot begin to question how good the Spitfire was (though hubris found them trying to out turn the Zero and found it was not as good in that aspect as the pilots thought and paid for it)
3. The Bren gun was superior to the BAR (and balanced out the failings of having LE rifles just like the M1 balanced out the failing of not having an MG42 type machine gun.
4. Twice the British attempted to shift to a much more superior cartridge (270-280 caliber) with the 1914 and after WWII with a similar caliber cartridge that likely would have been a better cartridge than the 5.56 we wound up with (despite the statistic having an effective range out to 800 yards is worth the small cost in slight heavier combat load or slightly less magazine capacity as evidence by the capability of the 6.5 Genedell)
There was clearly some superior thinking going on as to the general overfill capacity of the caliber and range of cartridges used (granted that also would change the medium machine gun issues but that’s happened anyway)
Ok, I am done.
Its been an interesting discussion and I indeed learned a lot, but nothing presented has changed my mind. Some really like the LE and I certainly can respect persona preference but that does not make the initial proposal true.