Birth of a Regiment

 

The Rifle

The Patricia’s were initially equipped with the Canadian made Ross Rifle much beloved by Sam Hughes, the Minister of Militia.  In the period 1910 to 1914, the government had spent almost $2.9 million equipping the militia with the Ross.  Despite its drawbacks, with the rapid expansion on the outbreak of war, there was little alternative but to proceed with the Ross as the standard Canadian rifle.  British factories were already stretched trying to produce enough of the rugged Lee-Enfield to equip troops.  The SMLE or Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield was perhaps one of the most successful combat rifles of all time. It remained in service in the Canadian Army from 1914 when first issued to the Patricia’s until it gave way to the semi-automatic 7.62 FN after the Korean War.

When the Patricia’s tested the Ross rifle during training at Levis before their departure they found it seriously deficient. Although there has been much focus on the tendency of the Ross to jam during rapid fire or in the dirt of the trenches, there were a number of other obvious drawbacks that would have been evident to any infantryman – even more so the Patricia veterans who were familiar with the Lee-Enfield. Three major differences would immediately stand out to any soldier before the first round was fired.
First, the Ross was both heavier and longer than the Lee-Enfield. Second, the smooth bolt-action of the Lee-Enfield made it easier  to deal with a hard extraction.  Finally, the magazine of the Lee-Enfield carried more rounds than the Ross and could be quickly reloaded using a five round clip, a critical advantage in combat.
The Ross was not without some advantages.  A longer, heavier barrel provided greater accuracy at long range. The straight pull bolt made it easier to maintain the point of aim when reloading. Both features meant the Ross would be the preferred weapon for snipers throughout the war. For more on the rifle go to Ross Rifle or SMLE

Rifle

Weight

Length

Magazine Capacity

Lee Enfield 8 lbs 13 oz 44.5 in 10 rounds
Ross 9 lbs 14 oz 60.5 in 5 rounds
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