A breech cover was used to prevent dirt and debris from getting into the action of a rifle when it was being carried on a long and dusty march. The Lee Enfield breech cover was used from the First World War through to the Second and was a short cover that protected the bolt and magazine:
The Breech cover is fully described in LoC 17368, 24 June 1915.
“the Cover is made of Double texture waterproof drill, and is fitted with 3 press studs on the left side of the rifle. Two eyelets are fitted in the cover for a lace which is knotted on the inside to retain it in position:
The cover is attached to rifle by means of the lace as follows-
Rifles Short MLE– To the guard sling swivel, or through the swivel screw hole in the lugs on the trigger guard.”
A small piece of reinforcement is sewn into the cover where the bolt handle would sit to give this vulnerable area a little more durability, note also that on this example an inspector’s mark and /|\ mark are also stamped here:
This cover was made by Albert Gill, and this company’s mark is indicated by a large dark ink stamp:
This cover is almost certainly Second World War in origin. World War One examples can be found marked either ‘1’ or ‘2’, the former for use with SMLE rifles and the latter for the P14. The covers can also be found in a range of colours from different shades of tan through to green.