Friday, June 12, 2015

June 12th, 1915

- When the Canadian Division went into battle this spring, its infantry was equipped with the Mark III Ross rifle.  Manufactured in Canada, the Ross rifle was the end result of a prewar effort by the Canadian government to create a domestic armaments industry, lest in wartime it be cut off from British supplies, and it has the very public support of the high-profile Minister of Militia, Sam Hughes.  After many iterations to work out various problems, the Ross rifle became the standard-issue weapon for Canadian infantrymen.  It was an excellent hunting rifle, and provided it was used sparingly and in pristine condition it is capable of high-accuracy shots at great distance.  The core issue with the Ross rifle, however, was that these were not the conditions under which it was used in the trenches, and it has proven to be one of the worst rifles in the war.  When soldiers fire rapidly, as they often must, the Ross rifle is prone to jamming, a condition made more common by dirt fouling the firing mechanism.  So useless has the Ross rifle proved to be that, during the 2nd Battle of Ypres, thousands of Canadian soldiers threw their jammed rifles away and picked up Lee-Enfields off of dead British infantry.  Facing reality, the order is issued today to rearm the Canadian division with the Lee-Enfield, the standard rifle of the British army.  Though the Ross rifle will continue to be used by snipers, who can pace their shots and keep their rifles clean, its deployment in the trenches has been an undoubted debacle.

- Though the German 11th Army is to resume its offensive in Galicia tomorrow, an important preliminary attack is undertaken taken today at the town of Sieniawa, where 11th Army's northern flank and the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army meet.  Here a Russian counterattack on May 27th had carved out a salient in the Austro-Hungarian line, and before 11th Army can launch its main advance eastwards the salient must be eliminated.  This morning the German 22nd and 119th Divisions, attacking from the south, quickly collapse the Russian line.  On the western face, the Austro-Hungarian 26th Landwehr Division has more trouble initially, though by evening it has secured Sieniawa itself.  The Russian salient has been wiped out, and two bridges erected over the San to assist in the forward movement of supplies and reinforcements for the main operation.

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