Why Canadians Ditched the Ross Rifle During World War I
When soldiers in the throes of battle discard their rifles and pluck a different weapon from the hands of dead allies, there’s clearly a serious problem.
So it was with the Ross rifle, the weapon that Canadian soldiers took with them to the start of the First World War a century ago.
It was the brainchild of Sir Charles Ross, a wealthy Scottish-born engineer and inventor who offered it to the Canadian government as a military firearm well before the war began.
To Sir Sam Hughes, Canada’s minister of militia — defence minister in modern parlance — at the time, the Canadian-built Ross was highly accurate and the perfect tool for his soldiers, whom he saw as frontier marksmen.
But troops, some of whom sneered at the rifle as “the Canadian club,” soon discovered the Ross was not suited to dirty, rough-and-tumble trench warfare. They preferred the robust Lee-Enfield carried by their British comrades, picking them up from the battlefield when they could.
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