Wednesday, March 22, 2017
SNIPERS OF WWI
While the Allies and Central Powers were locked in deadly conflict, fighting tooth-and-nail to inch ahead on the Western Front, a new silent menace crept onto the battlefields, as unsuspecting soldiers were picked off as they lined the trenches – the First World War had entered the dawn of the sniper.
Incredible photographs reveal the primitive equipment deadly Allied snipers were forced to work with during the harsh and unrelenting conditions of the Great War.
Sniping came of age during the First World War, having been an unrecognised skill since the Napoleonic Wars – and modern British sniper training is still based on the curriculum that was devised during the Great War.
Despite the primitive rifles employed, some even without optic sights, there are many great tales of supreme sharpshooting by Allied snipers.
Some of the best snipers were in the Commonwealth forces, and native Indian Canadians and Americans provided many of the highest scoring snipers.
Canadian Francis Pegahmaghbow, an Ojibwa, was credited with 358 Germans while Australian Billy Sing, who was part Chinese, accounted for as many as 200 Turkish soldiers on Gallipoli - and capable of hitting a man's head at 400 yards, he seldom missed a shot.
Sniping was also responsible for the belief that it was bad luck to light three cigarettes from the same match, as the flare can be seen from over a mile and a half away.
On average, it took a good sniper about the same length of time to draw a sight on the target and steady his aim, as it took to light two cigarettes - making the third man a potential target.
These incredible photographs follow the development of sniping from the early battles of 1914, through the trench fighting, renewed open warfare of 1918 and offensives at Gallipoli and Salonika and on the Eastern Front.
A��British sniper poses for the camera, wearing full camouflage clothing. The only clue to his presence is the muzzle of his rifle, just visible above and slightly to the centre right of the photo (circled)
American snipers undergoing training with a British officer of the King's Royal rifles. They have made their own sniper hoods and one wears a partial Ghillie suit
A typical British observation post with camouflaged box periscope. Snipers would sit and observe the enemy lines for hours, frequently not firing a shot. Unusual levels of activity would be noted and times and locations relating to map references carefully recorded
Captain K.W. Brewster of the Royal Fusiliers in early 1915 with a commercial Ross rifle. He has fitted what appears to be a German- manufactured telescopic sight
This German sniper caused much disruption at the crossroads near Bray in August 1918 but was subsequently shot through the neck by an Australian marksman
During the retreat of 1918, a German machine-gunner with light Maxim 08/15 works in conjunction with a sniper, who is using his scope to observe. The soldier at left is wearing the heavy body armour issued from spring 1917
Snipers of the 20th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force. The man on the left has a cut-down Ross, the others have SMLEs with PP or Aldis scopes
One of a series of photos taken by sniping officer, Capt. C.W.R. Knight of the Honourable Artillery Company, in Ypres, late 1915. It shows two of his sniper team in their barn. The rifle at centre is an SMLE with a PP scope. The sniper (left) holds binoculars and watches as his partner cleans his rifle
If there was one thing the German Army was not short of in 1914, it was sniper plates. This photo was taken on the Flanders front late in that year
A neophyte British sniper wearing the simplest of camouflage, a sniper's hood. It would be ideal for sniping from a trench, when the rest of the body was protected from view
US Army snipers in full Ghillie suits advance across typical chalk Somme terrain. Their Springfield M1903 rifles are wrapped in Hessian and camouflage painted, but the scopes have been dismounted, probably to prevent damage while training
Austrian snipers using a commercial variant of the Mannlicher carbine. Although not a military pattern, it would nevertheless have been quite practical for sniping at moderate ranges
A French sniper with Lebel rifle and A.PX Mle. 1916 scope, with its long leather eye-cup, pictured in Tracy-le-Val, Oise, France in February 1917
The Queen of the battlefield: A German Maxim 08 machine gun, in a bunker. These were prime targets for snipers, as evidenced by the armoured jacket
The first true snipers emerged during the American Civil War. Here, California Joeí (real name Truman Head) of the 1st US Regiment of Sharpshooters stands behind Colonel Hiram Berdan. Joe holds an M1859 Sharps rifle with double set triggers
A captured and well camouflaged Turkish sniper. He was a lucky man, as most snipers were killed on the spot
Sniper's lair: A British front-line sniper post with the sniper observing, albeit rather casually, indicating that there may not perhaps be much enemy sniper activity
A sniper of the King's Own Regiment on Salonika, June 1916 holds his PP Co. equipped SMLE. Of greater interest however, are the rifles lying on the wall. The first and third have Galilean sights fitted, possibly of Lattey and Barnett types. These are the only evidence so far found of the combat use of these magnifying sight
An observation section of the Lovat Scouts, with a couple of men of the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry also in the ranks. Two big scout regiment observation telescopes on their tripod mounts are visible in the foreground
November 1918, the first US Marines snipers to graduate from the training school at Quantico, alas just too late for combat. The officer at extreme left is Captain M.M. Marsden, a Canadian instructor seconded from the 1st Canadian Army
Posted by ASC at 6:14 PM