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World War One - Snipers

WW1 German Sniper Mask Image

Sniper Mask (The Great War, 1918)

As if simply having to be mindful of wind velocity and camouflage was not enough to occupy the thoughts of your average World War I German sniper, some were burdened to a further degree by having to affix this half-inch steel sniper mask to their faces...


American Snipers in France (Literary Digest, 1919)

This article listed the skills required to survive as a sniper in W.W. I France:

"One extremely important rule was that he should swab the muzzle of his rifle after every shot, to make sure that no moisture had collected there. One tiny drop of water would, upon the rifle's discharge, send up a puff of steam that would reveal him to his carefully watching enemies."

To see a diagram of the American W.W. I sniper rifle, click here.

The Springfield 1903 Rifles


A German Sniper Captured (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 on the Western Front (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, this article is a mildly technical piece that 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:

- from Amazon:

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


Sharp-Shooting 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. Pritchard broke down the scouting and sniper involvement on the Western Front into four phases:

Phase I (1914 - 1915): German snipers weigh heavily on Allied soldiers (Clear German advantage)

Phase II (1915 - 1916): British sniping organized (Advantage even)

Phase III (1916 - 1918): British sniper program takes off (Slight British Advantage)

Phase IV (1918 through to the Armistice): Allied Offensive takes effect (Snipers began scouting)


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