Rethinking the Ross: The decision to use the Ross rifle during World War I

Canadian snipers with Ross rifles, c1914-1918, courtesy www.milsurps.com
Canadian snipers with Ross rifles, c1914-1918, courtesy http://www.milsurps.com

The Ross rifle and its place in the history of the CEF has been a source of controversy since its adoption in 1914 by Minister of Militia, Sam Hughes, as the weapon the first Canadian soldiers going to France would use. After more than a year of in-fighting and disappointing performance on the field, the Ross carried by members of the 1st Division was replaced in June 1915, 100 years ago this month, and replaced with the British Lee Enfield. For many, the Ross symbolised everything that was wrong with Sir Sam Hughes tenure as minister; it was a preferential deal, given to man who was his personal friend, for a piece of equipment that was not only not functional, but down- right dangerous to the user in battlefield conditions. Like many of the other decisions that he made, Hughes stood by the rifle, and it was only once his influence in Canadian politics had started to wane, in the spring of 1915, that the CEF was finally able to get rid of the Ross. Continue reading “Rethinking the Ross: The decision to use the Ross rifle during World War I”

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