British snipers

Discussion in 'General' started by Longlance, May 23, 2015.

  1. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

  2. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    I was a bit surprised by this but it reminded me of something that surprised me when I read it. In Battle Diary by Canadian Charles Martin (CSM The Queen's Own Rifles) he describes going out during the Normandy fighting to capture a prisoner to gain intelligence, with a small team equipped with running shoes, dark faces, Sten guns, knives, garrottes(!), and grenades. "Our weapons would be wrapped in cloth - no additional noises." He also describes them having received training not just in knife and garrotte but also judo. I'm not sure if these were specialized members of the regiment, but training with the kukri seems very much in line with this sort of thing.
     
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  3. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Martin was part of the original cadre of Queen's Own who arrived in England in July 1941. They trained continuously until seeing their first action in Normandy. I suspect that as battle attrition caused them to absorb more and more replacement troops, the level of training and expertise never again reached the level seen in June 1944. In fact, by late 1944, fully trained Canadian infantry were in short supply.
     
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  4. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    I agree. But it seems like there would have been similar levels of training in other units kept in the UK that long, whether Canadian or British.
     
  5. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Of course they would. I'm unsure of the point you're making.

    The Calgary Highlanders arrived in the U.K. in November 1940 so presumably would have received similar, extensive training. Some have suggested that the particular personal choice of the kukri was less for fighting than it was a useful tool in helping to camouflage a sniping position. Kukri's were manufactured in Britain. Canadian forces still use them today and simply talk about their versatility as a tool and not a weapon.
     
  6. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    I would go along with that.
    a kukri is very similar in size to a gulack (spelling) and ideal tool for clearing undergrowth and cutting poles etc.
     
  7. idler

    idler GeneralList

    You'd think they'd have preferred axes...
     
  8. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    Also opening bean cans. I read that was what most bayonets were used for.
     
  9. idler

    idler GeneralList

    One I missed! From Army Training Memorandum 43 of May 1942:
    New Org of Snipers - ATM 43 May 1942.jpg
     
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  10. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Interesting. I have been designing a notional WWII infantry WE. One man in each section is designated as a sharpshooter, carrying either a P14/M1917 Enfield or an M1903 Springfield. I didn't know that the War Office and I thought along similar lines.
     
  11. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The kukhri (sp?) is a mean damn close quarters weapon and was used with great effectiveness by the Indian Army in all theaters during the war. It's on the heavy side (I've held one) but In the hands of a man who knows how to use one (a Gurkha) it can take an opponent's head off in a single stroke.
     
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  12. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    There is actually a great deal of hype about this. For example if one reads "The Sepoy" by Edmund Candler* which analysed all the different ethnic groups that made up the Indian Army in WW1 he has interviews with Gurkhas in which they are much more proud of their ability to use the grenade rather than the blade on trench raids and if you look at the war diaries of the Gurkhas in France in 1914/15 there are plenty of references to the use of improvised grenades and very little about the knife. Rather like the Highland Sgian Dubh† it was of immense traditional and cultural importance but when it came to practical modern warfare the Gurkhas were quite pragmatic and used the best weapon for the job (I met a few in the 60s and they were still pragmatic types then). I think the same applied in WW2. However tales about lopping off heads cannot have failed to be useful in softening up those in the enemy lines.

    * Candler was a real life Indiana Jones - a professor of antiquities in an Indian University he went on a number of wild adventures in Asia seeking lost treasures etc, served as a war correspondent in Tibet and Mesopotamia - he managed to be a personal friend of both Kipling and Gandhi and advised Conrad in writing The Heart of Darkness.
    † The Sgian Dubh was developed from a Scots knife called the Bollock - make of that what you wish.
     

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