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Author Topic: Canadian Snipers  (Read 6871 times)
tweets
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« on: October 08, 2014, 06:13:01 PM »

I don't know whether this photo has been posted yet, but here is an interesting group photo of Canadian Snipers. Notice they are all holding the preferred sniper rifle of the Canadians which was the Ross. Also notice how they are half stocked as in a sporter rifle.
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Barryj
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2014, 07:44:02 AM »

These lads are from the 21st Batt'n (Kingston) and this photo dates back to November 1916. I have all their names and Service Records, should you or anyone else be interested, plus more photos of 21st Snipers taken later, wearing tin hats.
My grandmother's two brothers (Gus & Roy McBride) served with the 21st, and had Enlistment numbers consecutive with another Herb McBride (the Yanqui purveyor of used bull-food- "A Rifleman Went To War" & "The Emma-Gees")
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tweets
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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2014, 10:07:18 AM »

Hi Barry, and thanks for your response.

Besides the common W/S scope, has it been established who modified the Ross rifles for sniper use, as far as half stocking, whether done at the factory, or done in the field by the armourer, or the snipers themselves to suit their own needs.

Tom
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Barryj
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2014, 10:56:03 AM »

Based on my findings only (I'm completely comfortable with being corrected) it appears the only the first Contract to W&S for approx 250 bare Model 1913 'scopes (leather carrying cases were made by M J Wilson in Ottawa in 1916) got to the trenches.....As the Ross plant had not yet been stolen from Sir Charles by the Canadian Gov't, it's a strong possibility that the 1915-dated Mk llls ("FK" serials) were pulled from the line, perhaps after accuracy selection (or perhaps  not) and the walnut cut for the sidemount at that time. I'm almost convinced that the Bubba stock mod was done by Regimental Armourers in the field. As CEF forbid grunts from  even stripping bolts out, surely they wouldn't have half-stocked the rifles themselves, but we'll likely never know now. AFAIK, none of the 1917 Mk llls ("LL" serials) left Canada.
*A container for your Thanksgiving Turkey has been found- details to follow.
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tweets
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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2014, 11:58:18 AM »

Hi Barry

Thank you for the response, and the info., and I love your line  "As the Ross plant had not yet been stolen from Sir Charles by the Canadian Gov't"   Truer words could not have been spoken. Let me know about the turkey container.

Regards Tom
« Last Edit: October 10, 2014, 08:28:24 AM by tweets » Logged
admin
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« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2014, 08:54:06 AM »

I often think about what the factory ledgers may have looked like and what happened to them  Cry
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tweets
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« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2014, 06:36:43 AM »

Indeed, what a find they would be, if they survived.
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280_Ross
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« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2014, 11:42:57 AM »

Have you read this?  It answers some of your questions.  http://www.cefbooks.ca/Code/trenches.html
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"In my opinion there is no such thing as a 'foolproof' firearm and therefore fools should leave them alone." C.C. Meredith referring to the Ross rifle.
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« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2014, 05:26:14 PM »

Thankyou 280 Ross.  I have not read it but it looks very good and I'll pick up a copy.
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Harlton
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« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2014, 02:56:34 AM »

Hi Barry,
               Thanks for posting the photo, and the help you gave me when I first acquired my Ross Rifle. Couple of things, I lost track of my Grandfather, courtesy of WW1 as I have told you previously. He was also in the First expeditionary force, a 21ster along with your relatives. You state above that the Brothers had consecutive serial numbers. Was this a common practice? as my grandfather Sergeant William Harvey Sutherland, I believe served with his brother too, who journeyed from Manitoba to join up with my Grandfather, also named William Harvey Sutherland, He had previously served in the Boer War, with the Scottish Seaforth Highlanders, and yet travelled to ottawa to enlist in the 21st from there.
      He took the pipes and was wounded in battle, losing a leg. My Grandfather was also wounded, being blown up and buried twice in the same night and also suffered various wounds from his ordeal. They too had consecutive serial numbers. They died to young, thanks to the War for me to meet any of my grandfathers, it would be great to put this tiny piece of History together. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
      I would like to give a shout out to Al Lloyd, who has been a great help thru the 21ster's assoc, and does a great job of it, thanks.
    Now onto my second point the fellow in the photo above, middle row, second in holding his rifle on his lap, cross kneed, seem's to have a rifle with a heavier longer Barrel. I notice nearly all if not all, are cut back to the middle band. Could this rifle actually be a 1905 long Hb target rifle, I saw somewhere that so many of them were issued.
      Was it just a matter of course to cut them back, considering the conditions, or was this really a performance enhancing trick. I'm still in the process of restoring mine, I have a Martin sight I could easily fit or an early German Dr Gerard scope, which gives beautiful performance. Must admit I'm not sure what rings I should be looking for, I understand it quite possible this was done at some point, and it would make a really nice combination shooting wise, my main concern, as it has an excellent bore. Thanks for any replies.   
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Barryj
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« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2014, 11:37:59 AM »

When you found Al Lloyd, you struck the motherlode of Things 21st!
Surely Al turned you on to fellow member Stephen Nichol's 21st Book- "Ordinary Heroes"- do you have a copy on your shelf? If not...you need one!
I cannot decipher just which Ross you refer to in your Post- you mention "a 1905 long HB Target Rifle"- I honestly believe that none of the Mk ll variants ever got further than England in WWl- can you quote your source for this info?
It would not have been a 1907 .280 Long-Range Single Shot, either....non-standard ammo. Only leaves the Mk lll to be considered-If the Ross you have now has a BSAMartin sight on the bridge, it pretty mush has to be a Commercial Target Mk ll, and again, would not have gone to France with the CEF-
Can supply a photo or two of your rifle, or at least report markings found on the right side of the stock (if any)? Is there a serial on the barrel just ahead of the receiver?
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2014, 10:33:39 AM »

The .280 single-shot rifle is literally (i.e. in writing) referred to as the M1905-1910 single-shot rifle so I think we have some explanation in the setup for confusion.
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Harlton
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« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2015, 01:34:56 AM »

Hi Barry,
            I've been picking thru a bunch of WW1 Books I purchased to read on line, so I'm having difficulty retracing the exact source of the info about the 1905 Ross rifles, it is mentioned in Martin Pregler's Sniping in the fist world war, "that many Ross rifles had been fitted with German Scopes in the pre-war years and many made their way to france, a Lt Greener accounting for 44 kills with his before his luck ran out". Also there are pictures of a major Crum posing with his Ross rifle in the trenches and some books credit him with quite the success. I found another with his sporting Ross 05 in france, a Lt Oliver, another of some success. The book then goes on about the aggression of the early Canadian snipers, and leads you to conclude this is due to the pre-war scoped rifles they had.
    In another book it also talks about 500 private purchase scoped rifles, that  our early war sniping contingent got?, I even found a picture of a guy in france looking out over the battlefield with his bino's, with a scoped CLLE rifle beside him, a very German looking scope on it.
    Skennerton mentions a significant number of german scopes that were fitted to Commonwealth rifles, 800 to 1000 roughly off the top of my head, during the early war years.
    On the Bino pages, Euro-something they discuss a backdoor deal, where we supplied the germans Rubber, and we got scopes. Until the Germans pulled out as our snipers were killing to many. You are probably aware of this, but I'm new to this and have never seen it before, so it's news to me.
    I do have the book on the 21st, great job, and Al has been great, I haven't got to meet him yet, due to some illness on my part, but soon I hope.

Regards Ian
« Last Edit: February 24, 2015, 03:43:12 AM by Harlton » Logged
mikerock
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« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2015, 02:51:31 AM »

There is a great book about the service of Frank Iriam which vividly recounts his experiences as a sniper in WW1 called "In the Trenches"
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280_Ross
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« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2015, 10:46:57 PM »

Cutting down of rifles was done near the front lines.  Iriam talks about in his book and why it was done.  Some divisions didn't allow it be done I've read.  Barrels in the Ross MkIIIs were all of standard dimensions.  A MkII with bases was in an auction in Germany a few years ago, but the scope and rings were obviously not original, although the bases may have been.

If the ones we see around are any indication, very few Ross rifles were scoped before WWI.  Sir Charles seems to have had some arrangement with Goerz in the USA, and a few M10s with the Goerz Pernox prismatic scope are around, but very few.

I'd be interested to hear more about this Lt. Oliver you mention.  Please PM me if you wish.

The only record I've found of privately purchased scoped rifles in the CEF is four that were purchased for the 8th Battalion, which Frank Iriam mentions.

German scopes fitted were those bought up from the gun trade in the UK in 1915 when the British authorities began to wake up to sniping thanks to Maj. Crum, Hesketh-Prichard and others.  Some probably were fitted to CLLE's and Lee Enfield MkI's.  The heavier barrels made them much more suitable for sniping than the SMLE.  

At least one captured scope is known to have been fitted to a Ross MkIII, and there must have been others.

The exchange at the Swiss border probably never went ahead for the simple reason that if the troops found out about such a piece of cynicism, and they undoubtedly would have from comparing equipments, it would have been very dangerous to morale.  If it had gone ahead we would would expect to see some of the equipment to this day.  Instead all we see is an occasional "Zeiss London" pair of binoculars with UK service markings and dates as late as 1916, when the supply of parts at the seized London Zeiss factory presumably ran out.



« Last Edit: March 08, 2015, 10:57:41 PM by 280_Ross » Logged

"In my opinion there is no such thing as a 'foolproof' firearm and therefore fools should leave them alone." C.C. Meredith referring to the Ross rifle.
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