This Colt 1903 is an early WWII Military contract pistol which was originally blued but then at a later date painted black as discussed further in the description. The factory letter states this pistol was shipped to the U.S. Government February 4th, 1942 in a 100 gun shipment. The letter indicates that it was factory engraved with "U.S. Property" which would be underneath the punch struck X's. The trigger guard is W.B. inspected.
Eventually this Colt would be sent to England as part of a 1,000 gun shipment requested by the OSS for the Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.), the British equivalent of the American OSS. As is typical of these S.O.E. guns, the original U.S. PROPERTY marking was obliterated with a series of punch struck X's.
The entire gun was painted with a thick mat black enamel paint, which was the standard British wartime finish at the time. As you can see, part of the wartime finish is worn and chipped away in places revealing the original parkerized finish underneath. Since the black British finish was applied over the parkerized finish and the British proof marks were struck through the British finish it suggests that this 42' may have started it's life as a parkerized government contract .32 Model M.
After being finished and proofed, this pistol was subsequently issued to an S.O.E. agent and carried for the duration of the war. It was then returned to the United States after the war under the provisions of the Lend Lease agreement, but the exact circumstances of its return are not known.
On March 11th, 1941 President Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease bill which gave aid to Britain and China. This aid varied but included military equipment which some was required to be returned after the war.