WW 1 weapons

The 146th Overseas BattalionA unit in the Canadian Expeditionary Force(CEF)

Ross rifles


The story of the Ross rifle as a Canadian military arm begins in 1901. At that time, there was difficulty in obtaining weapons from England when required, and the plans adopted for the defence of the Empire, combined to make the building of an arms factory in Canada desirable. The Ross rifle went through many changes but was still a rifle designed as a sportsman's and marksman's rifle. It could never stand up to the conditions of trench warfare and prolonged rapid fire. The soldiers showed their disregard for the weapon as 3,050 of them had discarded the Ross and rearmed themselves with the Lee-Enfield on the battlefields of Ypres and Festubert. The orders came on the 12th June for re-armament forthwith. The infantry, in some cases, made the exchange when fatigue parties carried up the new weapons, even into the front lines, and brought back the Ross for consignment to England. In each battalion a few, usually fitted with telescopic sights, were retained for the use of snipers.

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The Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Rifle ( S.M.L.E.)


The Lee-Enfield bolt-action, magazine-fed, repeating rifle was the standard issue weapon to rifle companies of the British Army and other Commonwealth nations during the First World War. These included Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa, among others. It featured a ten-round box magazine which was loaded with the .303 British cartridge manually from the top, either one round at a time or by means of five-round chargers.


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Ross Rifle 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.


Lee Enfield Bayonet


Pattern 1907 Bayonet

Canadian adoption of the Short, Magazine, Lee Enfield (SMLE) The sword bayonet was carried in a variety of frogs; shown from the top are the 1908 Pattern web frog with helve carrier attached, leather Canadian 1915 Pattern Oliver Bayonet Frog, and the narrower 1937 Pattern Web No 1 Mk III Bayonet Frog with retaining strap.


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Lewis Machine Gun



The Lewis Machine Gun was the early light machine gun widely adopted by British and Empire forces from 1915 onwards. It had an air cooling jacket and fins. It was nicknamed 'the Belgian rattlesnake' by German forces who came up against the weapon in 1914. Although in 1915, each battalion on the Western Front had just four Lewis Guns, by 1917 each infantry section boasted its own Lewis gunner. and backup, with battalions by now deploying 46 Lewis Guns.


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Vickers Machine gun



The British Army formally adopted the Vickers gun as its standard machine gun on 26 November 1912, using it alongside their Maxims. There were still great shortages when the First World War began.The Vickers machine gun was based on the successful Maxim gun of the late 19th century. After purchasing the Maxim company outright in 1896, Vickers took the design of the Maxim gun and improved it, reducing its weight by lightening and simplifying the action and substituting components made with high strength alloys. A muzzle booster was also added. When the Lewis Gun was adopted as a light machine gun and issued to infantry units, the Vickers guns were redefined as heavy machine guns, withdrawn from infantry units, and grouped in the hands of the new Machine Gun units.

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The Mills Bomb (Grenades)



The Mills Bomb introduced into battle by the British, looks like a hand grenade that would be used today. It was adopted by the British Army as its standard hand grenade in 1915, and designated as the No. 5. The Mills was a classic design; a grooved cast iron "pineapple" with a central striker held by a close hand lever and secured with a pin. A competent thrower could manage 15 metres (49 feet) with reasonable accuracy, but the grenade could throw lethal fragments farther than this.

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Oliver Pattern P14 webbing


Oliver Pattern P14 webbing
In 1914, the Canadian Militia was issued with a variety of different equipment, most of it the Oliver pattern and Mills Burrowes 1913 pattern in leather. A Canadian version of the 1908 pattern webbing was also available. When the CEF was formed, there was hardly enough equipment to go round, so a variety of all three sets of personal kit were in use. The leather equipment did not survive long in France, as it was found to be inferior. Webbing took over, although in some cases, the 1914 pattern equipment, produced in England, was also available to the CEF.

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