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Old September 21, 2012, 01:10 PM   #41
Senior Member
Join Date: June 9, 2011
Posts: 133
Yup, volley fire was irrelevant by WW1. Long range volley sights were not entirely irrelevant, as illustrated by the execution done to field artillery crews in open ground by massed distant riflemen (still, not quite what their shrapnel did to troops in open ground). Not something there was much call for once trench warfare set in though, and like the magazine cutoff they were deleted on the SMLE in 1915 with the MKIII*.

I feel the tactics of WW1 are being a bit oversimplified here though. By this stage everyone knew that massed infantry attacks against prepared positions Napoleonic style was not a good idea. Tactics developed and evolved constantly during the war.

Perhaps the archetypal mass slaughter after going over the top was the Somme - but the thing is the army genuinely thought, and not without good reason, that it would be a complete success. The biggest preparatory bombardment in history up to that point came before the attack, huge numbers of shells. We know with hindsight that these weeks long bombardments singularly failed to deliver the required results, they did not know that in 1916. The men making these decisions were not morons, nor were they any more careless with their men's lives than other generals in other large scale wars, they were adapting to vast technological changes.

From the first months of trench warfare the British, French and Germans all started developing innovative ways of breaking the deadlock; underground mining, massive bombardment, tanks, trench raiding, poison gas, infiltration tactics etc. The Germans and Australians developed the best infiltration tactics, the British the most advanced artillery concepts. It took a while to hit on the correct formula to win against entrenched opponents, but it was not for want of trying (despite the lamentable tendency of the British to insist on having the cavalry ready for the big breakthrough right up until 1917).The point is, tactics evolved constantly as the war went on.

Anyhoo, still reckon the SMLE was the best bolt action battle rifle.
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