by Cal Pappas
It is amazing what historical information lies deep within the soul of a ﬁne British double riﬂe. Such is the case with Harrison and Hussey box lock ejector, number 3xxx, calibre .450-400×3-inch.
My acquisition of the riﬂe should serve as a proper introduction.
By the mid-1990s I had developed a solid interest in double riﬂes from the UK – England and Scotland. My ﬁrst double, a Mortimer and Son .500×3-inch black powder express, set the hook, and I could not get away.
Of course, I purchased the ﬁrst edition of an excellent book, Shooting the British Double Riﬂe by Graeme Wright. Having limited experience with reloading and shooting my Mortimer, I did have some reloading data I thought Mr Wright could use. I snail-mailed my information to Australia: the use of IMR 4198 powder at a charge of 40% of the original black powder charge would regulate in older black-powder doubles. To make a long story short, Graeme and I became friends and he visited me several times in Alaska.
When I mentioned I would like a nitro double to pair with my Mortimer, Graeme told me of a .450-400 soon to be sold in Australia. I sent the funds, obtained the proper paperwork from the US Government, and Graeme took care of the details on his end. The riﬂe was soon at my doorstep.
What a riﬂe it was! Well, not really. It was a thrill to me as it was my ﬁrst nitro double but, in all honesty, it was a rather plain riﬂe – straight-grain walnut with no cheek piece, border engraving, the standard three-leaf sight marked for 100-200-300 yards, and in used but not abused condition. The barrel length was 26 inches.
Jardine’s .450-400 3-inch Harrison and Hussey at rest in its case.Jardine’s .450-400 3-inch Harrison and Hussey at rest in its case.
The riﬂe’s pull ﬁtted me and she did balance well. Regulated charge was 55 gr of cordite. I sent the riﬂe and case to Grifﬁn and Howe in Bernardsville, New Jersey, for a reﬁnish. Of course, Paul Chapman did a magniﬁcent job. After a bit of shooting with my newfound knowledge of nitro double-riﬂe reloading from Graeme’s book, I took the Harrison and Hussey back to Australia for a successful water buffalo hunt. I also obtained a copy of the factory ledger from the Harris and Sheldon Group in the UK that gave an insight into the riﬂe’s details and prior owners. The ledger contained the following sketchy information:
“Double hammerless A&D riﬂe. Top lever, Baker ejector, .450-400, Kynoch cordite, auto safe, 3″ chamber, pistol hand, rubber recoil pad, standard & 2 leaves; 1-2-300 yds. 10 pounds, 3½ ounces, barrels 5 pounds, 12 ounces, 14 13⁄16″ x 1¼” x 2⅛ “. Serial number 3xxx.
November 16, 1920 – completed
May 14, 1925 – sold to Major L. Athill
December 7, 1929 – repurchased
December 15, 1929 – sold to Capt. Hon. c. Weld Forester
September 4, 1934 – sold to D. R. Jardine
February 22, 1958 – repurchased from Mrs. Jardine
March 22, 1963 – sold to Knight Frank Rittey (auctioneer)
The .450-400 has been used over the past two decades to take numerous plains game in South Africa and Zimbabwe, leopard, lion, hippo and crocodile in Tanzania, water buffalo in Australia, white-tailed deer in Texas, and over a dozen caribou in Alaska.
As my writing career prospered and my web site (www.calpappas.com) drew attention from many around the world, I was pleasantly introduced to numerous like-minded individuals. One e-mail (August, 2009) struck me like a bolt of lightning. It was from a gent in the UK who mentioned that D.R. Jardine was a well-known cricket player and I should Google his name to learn about the former owner of my riﬂe. This I did and what I learned added greatly to the intrinsic value of my riﬂe – not a monetary gain such as if my riﬂe were owned by the King of England – but it was a thrill to me personally to place a face on my riﬂe’s past.
“The feeling is f—ing mutual.” The Australian cricket commentator, Alan McGilvray, said of Jardine: “He was the most notorious Englishman since Jack the Ripper.”
Douglas Robert Jardine was born in Bombay, India, on October 23, 1900. He was educated at Winchester, where he was captain of the cricket team, showing great skill for his young age. He entered Oxford in 1919, received his ‘blue’ in that year and continued as well in 1920-1921 and 1922. In 1921, during a match against Australia, Jardine was approaching a score of 96 not out. However, the Australian captain, Warwick Armstrong, refused to allow play to continue past the scheduled match end. This may have been the beginning of Jardine’s dislike of any and all things Australian.
Jardine was an outstanding player and was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1928. He became the Captain of the English team in 1931 and also in 1933-‘34. In 1932-‘33 he was a major factor in the defeat of the Australian team, using a ‘bodyline’ bowling technique. This means that the balls are bowled towards the batsman at a high speed, aimed at the batsman’s chest area, causing the batter to make errors in defending himself. The bodyline tactic strategy was unethical but not illegal at the time. During one match he responded to the crowd’s jeers with: “All Australians are uneducated and an unruly mob.” Later, when a fellow team-mate commented: “They don’t seem to like you very much over here, Mr Jardine,” his reply was: “The feeling is f—ing mutual.” The Australian cricket commentator, Alan McGilvray, said of Jardine: “He was the most notorious Englishman since Jack the Ripper.”
Jardine’s bodyline tactic was developed to defeat the Australian, Don Bradman, who held an unbeaten record of an aggregate score of 974 and an average of 139.14 runs. The fast bowlers on the English team (Jardine, Arthur Carr, Harold Larwood and Bill Voce) speciﬁcally designed their tactics to counter Bradman, to whom Jardine referred as “The little bastard”. With the use of bodyline, Bradman’s average fell from the 90s to the 50s – showing that bodyline bowling worked. When Larwood and Voce hit the Australian batsman with fast balls, the fans were outraged and Jardine would shout: “Well bowled!”
When the Australians threatened to cancel a tour of England in 1934, the bodyline tactic was called into question and, being seen as a direct attack on the batsman, was deemed unfair. That was the end of the short-lived bodyline tactic and Jardine retired from ﬁrst class cricket in 1934, when he was still only 33 years old.
Douglas Jardine married Margaret Peat (1914-1998) in 1934 and fathered four children, Fianach, Marion, Iona and Ethan. He served in WW II in the Royal Berkshire Regiment in France and India. In the year of his marriage, the year in which he retired from cricket, Jardine purchased the Harrison and Hussey .450-400. Not much has been written about Jardine’s hunting exploits but it is safe to assume that his 1957 trip to Southern Rhodesia (today’s Zimbabwe) was not his ﬁrst hunt since purchasing the riﬂe 23 years earlier.
D.R. Jardine was a well-known cricket player
Douglas Jardine and his wife, Margaret
In Rhodesia Jardine became ill with tick fever and returned to England. He did not recover as expected and further tests revealed he had lung cancer. The doctors determined the cancer was incurable with the techniques available at the time and Jardine then traveled to Switzerland for additional treatment. Here he passed away on June 18, 1958. Approximately four months earlier, Margaret Jardine sold his riﬂe back to the company – apparently knowing her husband would not be using the riﬂe any longer.
Each year my .450-400 collects more game and my closeness to Jardine grows. Perhaps I could meet his grandchildren some day as they would be approximately my age. My loading for the riﬂe has not changed in over 20 years: 80 gr of IMR 4831 powder and a .411″ 400-gr Woodleigh soft-nose bullet. I use 78 gr of the same powder when shooting a Woodleigh solid. (Many doubles use .410″ diameter bullets. When I tried .410s, my 50-yard target group opened from 2 inches to nearly 5 inches!)
An honest admission: when vacationing in Zimbabwe or in town prior to, or after, a hunt, my hosts are amazed at my ignorance of cricket. After viewing a dozen or more matches on television, I’m still lost. The information on cricket in this article came from Wikipedia when I Googled Douglas Jardine.
And, to close with a question: Would Jardine be angry I took this riﬂe to Australia to hunt? ASM