Sniping in France

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The Sniper-observer Scout

With Notes on the Scientific Training of Scouts, Observers, and Snipers



Illustrations by ERNEST BLAIKLEY, Artists' Rifles, late Sergeant-1nstructor at the First Army School of S.O.S., the late Liant B. Head, The Hertfordshire Regt., and from Photographs.



IT may fairly be claimed that when hostilities ceased on November 11th, 1918, we had outplayed Germany at all points of the game.

Perhaps as a nation we failed in imagination. Possibly Germany was more quick to initiate new methods of warfare or to adapt her existing methods to meet prevailing conditions. Certainly we were slow to adopt, indeed, our souls abhorred, anything unsportsmanlike.

Had it been left to us, "Gas" would have taken no part in the Great European War.

But, however lacking in imagination, however slow to realize the importance of novel methods, once we were convinced of their necessity, once we decided to adopt them, we managed by a combination of brains and energy, pluck and endurance, not only to make up the lost ground, but to take the lead in the race. In proof of this statement I would instance Heavy Field Artillery, High Explosives, Gas, Work in the Air, etc., and many other points I could mention in which Germany started ahead of us, including Sniping Observation and Scouting.

And for our eventual superiority we owe much to individuals, men who, like the author of this book Major Hesketh-Prichard, combined expert knowledge with untiring energy, men who would not be denied and could not recognize defeat.

In the early days of 1915, in command of the 2nd Division, I well remember the ever-increasing activity of the German sniper and the annoyance of our officers and men in the trenches. I can recall the acquisition by the Guards' Brigade, then in the Brickfields of Cuinchy with Lord Cavan as Brigadier, of two rifles fitted with telescopic sights and the good use made of them. It was the experience of 1915 that impressed upon us the necessity of fighting for superiority in all branches of trench warfare, amongst which sniping held an important position. It was therefore a great satisfaction to me upon my arrival from the battlefields of the Somme in the autumn of 1916 to find Major Hesketh-Prichard's School firmly established in the First Army area, thanks in a great measure to the support and encouragement of Lieut.-General Sir Richard Haking, the Commander of the Eleventh Corps.

From that time onwards, owing chiefly to the energy, enthusiasm, tact and personality of its Commandant, the influence of the Sniping, Observation and Scouting School spread rapidly throughout the British Forces in France. Of its ups and downs, of its troubles and its successes, and of its ultimate triumph, Major Hesketh-Prichard tells the tale with modesty typical of the man.

I may be permitted to add my testimony that in each phase of the war, not only in the trenches, but in the field, we found the value of the trained sniper, observer and scout.

This book is not only a record of a successful system of training, valuable as such to us soldiers, but also will be found to be full of interest to the general reader.