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World War One - Snipers

ww1 sniper scope comparison article


The Capture of a German Sniper (What the Boys Did Over There, 1919)

Attached is a remembrance that was written by a Canadian infantryman who participated in the capture of a German sniper in Flanders:

"We wasted no time on the return journey but hustled "Fritz" along at a brisk pace...Like most of his breed there was a wide 'yellow streak' in this baby-killer and he cried 'Kamerad' instantly. By the time the lieutenant had secured his prisoner's rifle our barrage was falling and, under its protection, he began his march back with the prisoner, and met us before he had gone twenty-five yards...The prisoner expected to be killed at once and begged piteously for his life, saying 'he had a wife and three children.' One of the men replied that if he had his way he would make it a 'widow and three orphans.'"

 

British Snipers of W.W. I (The English Review, 1920)

Written by Major E. Penberthy, former Commandant of the British Third Army Sniping School, this is an account of the training and organization of snipers as they functioned within the British Army at the time of the Great War.

"In the early days of the war, when reports of German 'sniping' began to be published, it was commonly considered a 'dirty' method of fighting and as not 'playing the game'."

 

Sniper Scopes Compared (Literary Digest, 1916)

By enlarge, the attached article is a mildly technical piece which compares the German sniper scopes used during W.W. I to those of the British; happily, the amusing part of this essay is contained in the opening paragraph in which a British Tommy returning from the front, is quoted as exclaiming:

"German snipers are better shots than the English because their rifles have telescopic sights that are illuminated at night."

Although little reference is made to this innovation (that would not be realized for another fifty years), the journalist believed, contrary to British soldier, that the enemy sniper scopes only had illuminated cross-hairs in daytime, thanks to the optics of the Goertz prism. I was reminded of an erroneous remark from the earliest days of the Second Gulf War in which an Iraqi soldier insisted that the only way American infantry can carry on in such heavy uniforms is because their clothing was air-conditioned...

 

Sniping on the Western Front (Cornhill Magazine, 1919)

The attached remembrance of sniping on the Western Front was written by Major H. Hesketh-Pritchard, D.S.O, M.C. (author of, Sniping in France 1914-18) and recalls the development and changes of sharp-shooting on both sides during the war. He not only played an active roll sniping but he had also served as an instructor for many of the British Commonwealth, French and American snipers candidates along that front.

"When the sniping was of high class on both sides, all kinds of ruses were employed to get the other side to give a target by various battalions."

The second half is available upon request.

 

A Talent for Sniping: The Native American on the Western Front
(The Stars and Stripes, 1919)

It was not beyond the editors of THE STARS and STRIPES to indulge in ethnic stereotyping from time to time and, no doubt, they exercised that privilege here as well, however the performance of the American Indian soldier got high marks for a number of valued skills from many Allied officers on the Western Front. It was not simply their ability to shoot well which invited these compliments, but also their instincts while patrolling No-Man's Land in the dark in addition to a common sense of bravery shared by all. The article is rich with a number of factoids that the Western Front reader will no doubt enjoy; among them, mention is made of German women serving in combat.

Read some magazine articles about one of the great failed inventions of the Twentieth Century: the Soviet Union.

 

Snipers and the Hague Convention (The Spectator, 1914)

Two and a half months into the war, a devoted reader of THE SPECTATOR responded to an earlier article concerning partisan sniping activity in occupied France and Belgium, wrote to the editors to point out that the Hague Convention (precursor to the Geneva Convention) condemned the practice of summary sniper executions. Mention is made of the fact that the occupying German forces disregarded the law.

 


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