Saturday, October 13, 2007

Book: A Rifleman Went to War

This man McBride writes the way my grandfather writes.

This book was recommended by Colonel Cooper, and his recommendations haven't disappointed yet.

This books is about the military explois of the author, H. W. McBride, who was an officer in the Indiana National Guard when World War One broke out. He was disappointed that the United States was dragging its feet about getting into the scrap, so he went to Canada and joined THEIR army as an enlisted man in order to get to the front sooner rather than later.

His style is plain spoken, and many reviewers ding him for that. I liked it. It has the flavor of the times. I can hear my grandfather's 'voice' in his style. (My grandfather was born in 1906, the book was published in the mid 30's.)

McBride did 3 things in the War. He ran a Machine Gun Squad, acted as a Rifleman, and acted as a Sniper, and he described all three extensively. Of course he grew up shooting, and joined the army already a skilled armed outdoorsman. He thought the 2 things most valuable about basic training for the general soldier was rifle range practice to get better with your weapon, and marching about to get in shape for the rigors ahead.

It was from this book that I learned why the flip up sight on my Springfield 03 has graduations out to 2000 yards. A single man wasn't aiming at a target 2000 yards away, but a Battalion of men might be directed to, invoking a hail of lead onto a general area to deadly effect. McBride also described how a .30 caliber machine gun can be used to similar effect shoot indirect fire like artillery to a general area, even at night when you can't see your hand in front of your face.

McBride's sniper tips are still valuable. Shooting PAST something to your front at an enemy beyond plays with the sound waves, and the target will think you are shooting from that tree or ledge or building you are shooting past instead of your actual position. Sneaky.

McBride had no time for the silliness that Hollywood injected into war depictions, even then. Too much emoting. The movie then was the Oscar winning whine fest "All Quiet on the Western Front" but it sounds like the XO of my ROTC unit. My XO was a Lt. Colonel in the Marines, and at a screening of the movie "Platoon" was on his feet more often than not shouting "BULLS***!!! BULLS***!!!" at the screen, much to the consternation of his wife.

McBride recognized an army isn't going to have goodly proportion of rifleman as skill as he. Maybe 1 in 20. But it is still a good idea to maximize this number. An Army of McBrides against a modern Army of today, with the today's army armed with modern equipment, and the McBride army armed with bolt action rifles, and I would bet on the McBride Army.

Read this book.

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