Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sam Hughes and the Ross Rifle

Minister of Militia and Colonel, Sam Hughes was the driving force behind Canada's mobilization in August 1914. He was what we would call a Type-A personality, but he made a lot of mistakes.
One of Hughes' more glaring ones was his insistence that the Canadian army carry the Ross rifle. The Ross was made in Canada, and Hughes was its natural champion. Superbly accurate, the Ross was used to win international shooting competitions, but it proved to be unreliable under battle conditions. That didn't deter Hughes, however, who had so much of his own personality invested in the Ross that it was impossible for him to back down, and he continued to champion it at all costs. Early photos of Canadian troopers show them sporting the Ross during training.
In spite of that, the Canadian Mounted Brigade, made up of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), and the 2nd King Edward Horse, crossed the Channel in early 1915 and went into battle--carrying the British-made Lee Enfield Short Rifle. It was not the only time the cavalrymen broke away from Hughes' guidance.


Sincere Endeavour said...

And a very good thing, too, that breakaway! Having the courage to go on-field with the Enfield shows real leadership.

Pat and Marcus said...

That's very interesting. I was unaware that the Canadian Mounted Bde first deployed to combat with the SMLE.

As an aside, when my great grandfather and his sons first went about sponsoring the Irish Canadian Rangers (infantry) they started to equip them with .303 Savage lever actions, a somewhat eccentric choice.

Robert Mackay said...

Interesting as well that when the Brigade landed in France in early 1915 for duty in the trenches, they still wore spurs.

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