I’m standing here, making breakfast and waiting for the rain to stop so I can go do something productive, and my mind was wandering… got to thinking about my last comment to Tolik about crappy stuff being foisted on guys sent to fight…
Being a soldier made me a student of war, which means I’ve gone out of my way to study what we now call “After Action Reports” about previous wars… and I remembered what a guy said about the first world war.
Guys’ name was McBride. He ended up writing a book about his experiences, but that’s beside the point. Short version is: dude was a Captain in the US Army before WWI. The war rolls around and the US isn’t in the fight (yet), so Our Hero resigns his commission and heads to Canada to join up with the Canuks heading for France as a Private.
Here’s where it gets interesting. One of the rifles the Canadians pressed into service was called the Ross rifle. Not many of them left these days, but back then they were around, so the Canuks used them. Accurate? Yep. Very. Powerful? Yep. But nobody figured out it had a fatal flaw – when you shot the thing rapid fire, it would overheat and the bolt would jam shut. Nothing could open that bolt. Our Hero, McBride, said he observed one of his Sergeants hammering on the bolt with the butt of another rifle in an effort to open it, and it refused to budge. (Incidentally, he said the same Sergeant had a real gift for cursing, and when he got on a roll, his men would stand in rapture at the things that came out of his mouth… which, also incidentally, where I learned about The Begats…. ). When the Ross jammed, you had a club. Nothing more. Not until the armorer could un-jam it back at Depot level maintenance.
Second thing was the remarks he made about the ammo they were using. The Herms spent a lot of time, effort and money developing the most effective bullet they could – heavy, aerodynamic and effective. The Allies did not. They just figured a bullet with a point on it was just as good as any other bullet. Wrong. When the Allies engaged the Germans, they would shoot at them and find that their bullets would shed velocity quickly and fall out of the air, while the Herms could lay back and shoot at them all day. Despite the Germans using a heavier bullet, it retained higher velocity over a longer period of time, which means they had a substantial range advantage over the Allies. This resulted in the front line troops crabbing so badly, it sparked a flurry of redevelopment to come up with a better projectile… which they eventually did.
Third thing was when McBride captured a German soldier. Our Hero was carrying a Ross rifle with bayonet attached, which made it almost taller than he was. He had an opportunity to observe what the German was using – a much shorter carbine. Sleek, fast, powerful, handy… everything the Ross was not. The German saw Our Hero comparing the two and actually sneered at him, such was the disdain the German had for Allied weaponry. He knew as well as Our Hero that compared to the German’s true battle rifle, the Ross was little more than a clumsy club that happened to go “bang”…
All kinds of stuff like this are in my mind when I choose a rifle of military usefulness… and I have to say that even though I got a lot of experience carrying and using the M16/M4, I refuse to carry one now. Anyone who wants to know why can just ask, as I’m hungry and the rain is stopping….
The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1