100 Years Ago This Week – WWI Commenced

I have been reading several speculations on why WWI got started and how it could have and should have been avoided if only cousins who were the Monarchs of Europe could have just communicated a bit better and just gotten along with each other. Of course that is all mostly a bunch of bull because that war was decades in the making with an arms race of battleships and other more modern means of warfare and old border grudges that were never settled. Of course most every nation that answered the call to arms with lots of parades and singing and young men looking for a bit of adventure knew that it would be a short fast dustup that might last six or eight weeks and then things would be straightened out. A bit of blood would be shed for honor and peace treaties would be signed and then all the men would march back home to wonderful parades and singing with a medal or two.

As we know, that did not happen and the world discovered that modern weapons and ammunition could stop a large army and cause it to dig in and the battles of attrition became the norm. I have been fascinated with the rifles used by the soldiers of all the armies and with the modern cartridges of the time they were formidable. A wonderful description of three of the weapons I am familiar with that the Germans went to war with a hunting rifle, the Mauser, the Americans had a target rifle, the 1903 Springfield and the British had a battle rifle, the Enfield. Of course the Russians had their Mosin which was a bit crude compared to the others but with a powerful cartridge, made by peasants to be used by peasants.

Russian Mosin-Nagant

Russian Mosin-Nagant

And those rifles shooting cartridges more powerful than any used today by our modern forces were fantastic, even with the powders and bullets of the time. In recent years I have collected several different bolt action rifles that shoot these old cartridges from all of the nations mentioned above and in my opinion, with the exception of modern optics, they are still, 100 years later, some of the finest rifles ever designed. The do lack the speed of delivery however the down range accuracy and power offset that a lot. Our US snipers today still use bolt-action rifles in .308 with is just a cut down 30-06 round.

Back to the stories you will see in the news this week about WWI which continued in its sequel, I think the conflicts were inevitable and in the long run they were exactly what happened so speculation of alternate outcomes are just a bunch of noise to fill media space to sell advertising. Anyway, that is my take on the whole thing.

German Mauser 98

German Mauser 98

USA 1903 Springfield

USA 1903 Springfield

British Lee Enfield

British Lee Enfield

About the Author

Joe McElyea
I am an original member and founder of the esteemed High Plains Shooting and Dining Society which is dedicated to fellowship of bird hunters and shooters who also enjoy finding great local places to eat large, unhealthy portions of breaded and fried meats and gravies washed down with the appropriate libations. I am also a retired old man who enjoys fishing, shooting and my wonderful family.

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