I went with my son (12 years old) to his scout meeting last night. They had a 1st World War historian there giving a presentation about the 1st World
War. Quite a number of parents turned up and stayed to listen to the presentation.
Information I didn't know, but was quite astounded by...
As part of the presentation the historians son was there dressed as a 1st World War soldier. Full kit with a bolt action Lee-Enfield 303 rifle +
bayonet. Fully loaded the rifle held 10 bullets, however British solders were trained to fire 15 bullets per minute.
Apparently the Germans had stick grenades at the start of the war the British/Allies had no grenades. Initial response from the Allies was to fashion
their own grenades using food tins filled with shrapnel and explosive and fitted with a short ignitable fuse. Ultimately effective at injuring
people, but dangerous to the Allies themselves.
The uniform worn and kit carried by the soldiers was heavy and uncomfortable. The uniform itself would have been wet and muddy nearly all of the time
making it heavier more cumbersome and more uncomfortable.
Many men who tried to sign up for military service wrere rejected because they were malnourished (underweight and weak). Many were signing up because
they thought they'd get fed better!
My grandfather was in the Cameron Highlanders at the start of the war but ended up in the Black Watch as they had to combine regiments due to the
terrible attrition rates.
Many of the Sottish regiment soldiers ended up with horrible legs sores due to their knees chafing with mud given their kilts offered no protection
No1 (adult) son currently has lead role in Progress Theatre's production here in Reading of Sebastian Faulks' First World War epic
Critics have described its as having "extraordinary emotional intensity and depth".
On until 17th November tickets still available from Birdsong search Birdsong - unadulterated plug.
Even though we're away on holiday this weekend well be at a War Memorial somewhere to pay our respects.
Greater loss hath no man etc.
quote:Originally posted by nick205
Full kit with a bolt action Lee-Enfield 303 rifle + bayonet. Fully loaded the rifle held 10 bullets, however British solders were trained to fire 15
bullets per minute.
Not much different to the Lee-Enfield that proceeded the FN FAL "SLR" in British service. SLR was then replaced by the 5.56mm SA80. I
shot Lee-Enfield 303 as a cadet, we did a thing called the mad minute
The bolt action on the Lee-Enfield as a significant advantage compared to the German rifles of the period.
I too shot a 303 and then an SA80 as an army cadet in my school days (1985-90). As I recall the 303 had quite a kick back and being smaller in those
days it was difficult to get the stock properly in my shoulder. The SA80 was easier to use and I don't recall it having as much of a kick back.
That said it was a long time ago now so my memories may not be wholly accurate.
The historian had the 303 and equivalent German rifle. The benefit he demonstrated with the 303 was the ability to use the bolt without having to
drop the rifle from your shoulder making it faster to use than the German rifle.
Interesting video going around Facebook at the moment over "civvies" trying to pack a modern Army bergen with bags of sugar to replicate
what the current British soldier carries.
Most have no idea how much the boys are carrying these days ( probably around 35 kilos minimum). At least though, the modern kit is reasonably good,
good waterproofs, good design of clothing, etc. I have had the pleasure of working with it, and compared even to the kit we were using just 30 years
ago it is great!
One can only imagine how awful it was to be in kit that was so poorly designed in a trench full of water, and as for the rations, well they must have
been dreadful. These days, again, rations are pretty decent by comparison.
Being a shooter, a bit of info, the ww1 rifle was a S.M.L.E calibre .303 ins firing a bullet of around 174g ( 7000 grains to the lb) in weight, the
S.A 80 is a 5.56mm calibre rifle shooting a bullet of around 70g hence the lack of recoil in the modern rifle.
The rifle in the video is a No4 mk2 of the type used in ww2 proberly out of the Ulster arsenal ( the last reserve kept by the army ) I had one until
a couple of years ago.
While during ww1 the S.M.L.E was a cutting edge rifle by ww2 the bolt action rifle was starting to lag behind other countries who were introducing
semi/fully automatic rifles, in fact the British soldier had to wait until the S.A80 to get a fully automatic rifle and to be honest it's a
piece of junk.
The mad minute is a course of fire carried out in many countries, as many on target shots as possible in said minute including mag changes using a
bolt action ( turn bolt ) rifle
As a CCF Cadet I fired the No4 .303 amongst other things. I did an armours course at the School of Infantry at Warminster as well and fired M16,
AK47, Uzi and so on. I then joined the RN and shot SLR (L1A1) which was based on the FN FAL 7.62 x 51 NATO in competition for Portsmouth Command and
won a number of base/command trophies. I fired the SA80 (L85A1) while it was on trial with the RM in the mid 1980s.
Loved the No4 Mk2 for the accuracy over open sights but, having seen the L1A1 in action, the SLR would be my choice of the three although the full
auto FN FALs the boys where bring back from the Argies where next to useless on full auto. The L85A2 is meant to be way better than the crap L85A1
and the A3 variant is meant to be better again.
Brings back memories... I used to do all sorts of full-bore shooting and used to own a Parker-Hale T4, which was a Lee-Enfield No 4 fitted with a
heavy barrel, fancy stock and target sights, converted to use the NATO 7.62 cartridge. Worked really well for long-range shooting at Bisley (I used
to shoot up to 600 yards). I do remember that it had a god-almighty kick if I failed to get it properly located back into my shoulder! Goodness
knows what the Lee-Enfield was like, with it's brass-ended stock...