Encyclopedia - Ross Rifle

Canadian troops with Ross rifles, Ontario 1915 Considered one of the most maligned rifles in military history, the Canadian Ross rifle was used and subsequently abandoned by Canadian forces during the First World War.

Long and heavy the Ross, first developed in 1903 and named after its developer Sir Charles Ross, was considered by many a fine target rifle.  It was found however to perform poorly in wet and muddy trench conditions (by this time adopted in its Mk II 1905 and Mk III 1910 guises).

Under such conditions troops found it ill-suited to rapid fire scenarios, frequently locking, and complaints rapidly reached its chief sponsor, the Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence Sam Hughes.  He nevertheless continued to believe in its strengths even following professional advice to the contrary from Sir Edwin Alderson.  The furore over its performance ultimately contributed to Hughes' fall from office the following year.

Examples abounded of Canadian troops throwing down the Ross in preference to the British Lee-Enfield, although the Ross continued to be used for training purposes in both Canada and England.

The "Red Baron" was the allied nickname for German air ace Manfred von Richthofen, the leading ace of the war.

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