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Ross Rifle


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« on: April 17, 2009, 02:54:07 pm »




Ross Rifle


Considered one of the most maligned rifles in military history, the Canadian Ross rifle was used and subsequently abandoned by Canadian forces during the First World War.



Long and heavy the Ross, first developed in 1903 and named after its developer Sir Charles Ross, was considered by many a fine target rifle.  It was found however to perform poorly in wet and muddy trench conditions (by this time adopted in its Mk II 1905 and Mk III 1910 guises).



Under such conditions troops found it ill-suited to rapid fire scenarios, frequently locking, and complaints rapidly reached its chief sponsor, the Canadian Minister of Militia and Defense Sam Hughes.  He nevertheless continued to believe in its strengths even following professional advice to the contrary from Sir Edwin Alderson.  The furor over its performance ultimately contributed to Hughes' fall from office the following year.

Examples abounded of Canadian troops throwing down the Ross in preference to the British Lee-Enfield, although the Ross continued to be used for training purposes in both Canada and England.



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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2009, 02:58:12 pm »







The Ross Rifle Scandal

http://www.canadahistory.ca/vimy/Background/weapons/rossrifle.htm
During the South African War of 1899-1902, the Canadian government had experienced serious problems in obtaining weapons from Britain, on whom it relied for its supplies. In particular the .303 Lee-Enfield rifle was unavailable, and efforts to persuade Birmingham Small Arms Company to set up a branch factory in Canada to manufacture the rifle were unsuccessful. Sir Wilfred Laurier, then the Prime Minister, was persuaded by his Militia Minister, Sir Frederick Borden, that Canada would have to make its own rifle. A new rifle, developed by Sir Charles Ross, had recently appeared on the market. It was a fine target and sporting weapon. Ross came to Ottawa and met with a committee set up to evaluate his rifle. One of the committee members was Sam Hughes, who immediately liked the weapon. It was put through a series of tests, including comparison tests with the Lee-Enfield. In spite of the fact that the Ross jammed and often misfired, the committee recommended its adoption and manufacture in Canada. What "small problems" there were, Sir Charles Ross assured them, could be eliminated with the appropriate modifications. Sam Hughes steadfastly defended the Ross rifle in the House of Commons and was opposed to replacing it. Events were to show that he was tragically wrong.

In trench conditions, surrounded by mud and filth, and when it was essential to have a reliable weapon, the Ross was definitely out of place. It had a long barrel and was difficult to use in the trench's confined spaces, and it frequently jammed. It was indeed a fine weapon - on a firing range under controlled conditions. But the First Division's stand at Ypres in the face of a gas attack, Canadian soldiers threw away their Ross rifles in despair and frustration, and picked up Lee-Enfields from dead British soldiers on the battlefield.

In spite of this, the Second Division went to France with Ross rifles and again the results were much the same, with solders throwing away jammed weapons. By July 1916 Sir Douglas Haig, the new Commander-in-Chief, had ordered the replacement of all Ross rifles by the Lee-Enfield, then becoming widely available. To the end, Hughes refused to accept that there were problems with the Ross, and it took the intervention of many influential people to persuade him otherwise. In November 1916, Hughes resigned, after Sir Robert Borden's decision to appoint a Minister of Overseas Forces. He died in 1921 at the age of 69.




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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2009, 04:07:32 pm »

Ya , an interesting rifle...was likely not too bad at start of WW1, but once the battlefields turned to muck and mire , it was a real hazard for the men.. thanks Mike..rong
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2009, 04:20:57 pm »

Not good enough for the mounties in peacetime yet ok for the lads going to the War to end Wars

Service History

The first 1,000 rifles were given to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for testing. Routine inspection before operational testing found 113 defects bad enough to warrant rejection. One of these was a poorly designed bolt lock that enabled the bolt to fall right out of the rifle. Another was poorly tempered component springs that were described as being as "soft as copper". In 1906, the RCMP reverted to their Model 1894 Winchesters and Lee-Metfords.

The Ross rifle was modified to correct these faults and became the Mark II Ross (Model 05 (1905)). In 1907, the Mk II was modified to handle the higher pressure of newly designed .280 Ross, this variant was called Mk II**. The Model 10 (1910) was a completely new design, made to correct the shortcomings of the 1905. None of the major parts are interchangeable between the 1905 and the 1910 Models. The Model 10 was the standard infantry weapon of the First Canadian Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force when it first arrived in France in February 1915.

The shortcomings of the rifle were made apparent during the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915. The rifle showed poor tolerance of dirt when used in field conditions, particularly the screw threads operating the bolt lugs, jamming the weapon open or closed. Another part of the jamming problem came from the bolt's outer face hitting the bolt stop, then deforming the thread shape. The bolt could also be disassembled for routine cleaning and inadvertently reassembled in a manner that would fail to lock but still allow a round to be fired, leading to serious injury or death of the operator as the bolt flew back into his face. "Thankfully such incidents were minor."[3] Another well-known deficiency was the tendency for the bayonet to fall off the rifle when the weapon was fired.[4] Many Canadians of the First Contingent (now renamed the First Canadian Division) at Ypres retrieved Lee Enfields from British casualties to replace their Ross rifles.[5] Lieutenant Chris Scriven of the Tenth Battalion commented that it sometimes took five men just to keep one rifle firing. [6]

Complaints rapidly reached the rifle's chief sponsor, the Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence Sam Hughes. He nevertheless continued to believe in its strengths, following professional advice from Sir Edwin Alderson. In particular, the Ross was more accurate at long range than the SMLE, and this potentially overcame the serious problem British and Canadian troops had faced during the Boer War, with the accurate long-range fire from the 7 mm Mauser.

In all, approximately 420,000 Ross service rifles were produced, 342,040 of which were purchased by the British. [7]
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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2009, 01:05:23 pm »

Holy moly Mike, i hadnt seen this stuff before.. i wonder why the politicos allowed its purchase at all?? I guess its hard to get the feel today of whta it was like back then, but  the weapon was a disaster from the start..rong
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2009, 09:40:05 am »

There was quite the scandal after wards, Ron. Funny enough, history would repeat itself in Korea where Canadian soldiers often ah, replaced their weapons with American Garands. Not surprisingly, the semi automatic capability over the bolt action was greatly appreciated... when hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Chinese and North Koreans are attacking you trenches.

Some more info, this time on the bayonet. Which, by the sounds of it, was more effective then he rifle.  Wink

Ross Bayonet

The adoption of the all-Canadian Ross Rifle prior to World War One was an important milestone for the nation's fledgling arms industry; its impact on the fighting abilities of Canadian soldiers in 1915 was equally marked. The Ross came with its own bayonet, worn in a brown leather frog (here we see the Mark II) as part of the Oliver Pattern infantry equipment with which Canadian soldiers were equipped prior to and in the early years of World War One.
   

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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2009, 09:44:43 am »

  Pattern 1907 Bayonet

Canadian adoption of the Short, Magazine, Lee Enfield (SMLE) came about unofficially at first, as SMLEs from British casualties were obtained by Canadian soldiers dissatisfied with the performance of the Ross under battlefield conditions. In time, the SMLE officially replaced the Ross in line infantry units. The SMLE (later also called No. 1 Mk III) would soldier on until 1943 when replaced by the later No. 4 Rifle.

The sword bayonet was carried in a variety of frogs; shown at right from the top are the 1908 Pattern web frog with helve carrier attached, leather Canadian 1915 Pattern Olvier Bayonet Frong, and the narrower 1937 Pattern Web No 1 Mk III Bayonet Frog with retaining strap.



http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/weapons/bayonets.htm
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2009, 01:49:04 pm »

Alot of work to keep that sucker sharp.. and no good for throwing either.. but would sure run an enemy thru.. rong
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2009, 09:28:47 am »

Mike,

Besides his advocacy of the Ross Rifle, Sam Hughes also promoted the 'Canadian shovel' for the Canadian soldiers.  His belief was that the shovel would not only dig trenches but would also provide protection so he provided it with a slot in the foot pad on one side upon which the rifle could be rested while also providing the firer with metal to hide behind.  Alas, once planted the handle sticking up in the air was a perfect designation for enemy fire, the one-eighth inch steel provided no protection at all and the slot destroyed the integrity of the design, causing the metal to fold around it when it encounted hard-pack earth.  Sam Hughes remains one of the villains of Canadian military history, for good reason.  aldi
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« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2009, 09:37:38 am »

I did not know that, Al. Thanks.
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« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2009, 01:19:32 pm »

Yes , youre right Aldi.. i recall reading this in many WW1 accounts , books and stories.. too late now, but he was generally condemnd back the.. i wonder who made all the money to push these gadgets, including the rifle on trusting soldiers, many , which paid with their lives...rong
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« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2009, 02:44:31 pm »

Whomever he was, he must have had a lot of influence in official circles. The Lee Enfield was in service during the Boer War and the change to an inferior Ross was conducted prior to the War to end all Wars. 

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