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Old September 24, 2012, 05:31 PM   #99
Senior Member
Join Date: June 9, 2011
Posts: 133
Quite right Mike

I would also argue that total wars are won in the factories and farms and railyards as much as on the battlefields, and that generally on those same battlefields the superiority of one rifle over another is overshadowed by artillety, armour, air power, tactics, the overall tacitcal and strategic situation. Mons 1914 was an abberation in that riflemen won a major battle in a war which was dominated by artillery - that does not make it any less relevant to this particular debate.

That the British were kicked out of mainland Europe at Dunkirk is an argument for precisely nothing to do with rifles. What it is an argument for, is superior German handling of armour. Ask any tank expert in the world, who had better tanks at the outbreak of WWII, France or Germany, the answer, as surely as can ever be in such debates, is France. By a country mile. The Germans handled theirs better, concentrated them, coordinated with their airforce and fought a modern war. The French, and the British with them, tried to refight WWI. That is why Dunkirk happened, nothing whatsoever to do with the SMLE. Just as the fact that the Germans won the Battle of France does not mean they had better tanks.

You have picked a battle in which the rifle was not the decisive instrument of battle. Armour and German close air support is what was. Therefore, proclamations about rifles based on it, need to be taken with a bit of a pinch of salt, surely?

Also, just to contradict myself a wee bit, if you look at what actually happened on the ground at Dunkirk, it doesn't stack up. The Germans halted their tanks, ostensibly to refuel and let the airforce finish off the British - these orders came from Berlin. Battlefield commanders realised this was mad and attempted to reduce the British beachhead with infantry as the primary attack arm. The artillery had not got close enough to provide enough support, so despite substantial close air support, the Germans were halted by British infantrymen - armed predominantly with the SMLE. The British escaped across the channel, manpower in tact. (Worth noting, that the final British evacuation was covered by a heroic last stand by French troops, fully aware they were sacrificing themselves for the British withdrawal.)

Ultimately a crushing victory for German combined armed tactics, not the Mauser rifle.

Again, rational, logical arguments have been laid out as to why several of us consider the Lee Enfield to be the best bolt action battle rifle in history, to accusations of being biased etc.

Our case has been stated, the only thing to refute it I have seen really has been the number of countries who adopted the Mauser vs the SMLE - in return this has been rebutted by the very reasonable explanation that the Lee Enfield was predominantly made for and by states, the Mauser by a private, profit making company. Makes sense to me.

Please, someone now tell me why the Mauser is better as a battlefield weapon.

EDIT - Nice analogy with the production figures for Kalashnikovs Tahunua

EDIT - Scorch, just picked up on your wee comment at the bottom there about loss of Empire. Nope, sorry, again doesn't wash. The British realised the world had changed and walked out, lowered flags with a nice ceremony, handed over power peacefully to successor state in the vast majority of what was once the British Empire. When independence movements tried to fight it out, they usually lost. True story.

Last edited by Scouse; September 24, 2012 at 05:40 PM.
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