The Rifleman Who Went to War (Part II)

By Terry Edwards

The Twisted Tales of Sir Sam, Sir Charles and Mac
Continued from Small Arms Review Vol. 22, No. 8

Herbert Wesley McBride was often called the Father of the American Sniper. He was a champion shot and brilliant soldier, and his books are still read and loved. Both of McBride’s books are in the public domain and can be found online. The Emma Gees, published in 1918, is McBride’s story in World War I. His second and larger book, A Rifleman Went to War, appeared in 1933. Aside from great tales and advice, they reach out to grab and infect the reader with McBride’s raw spirit and leadership. As instruction for anyone going to war, they remain unsurpassed.

Here now is the continuation of McBride’s story...

Capturing the Flag

McBride was blooded at Captain’s Post. The rebuilt house is neat and nice today, but in late 1915 the battlefield looked eerily empty by day … churned soil, tangled wire and blowing litter. And, every inch was studied by hidden eyes ... McBride’s spotter, Bouchard first saw the man in civilian clothes within their lines. He was sniping Canadians in the back further down the slope toward no-man’s-land. McBride aimed his Ross and killed the interloper with a single shot. He confessed he was shaken. He and Bouchard didn’t know what to do next. He told Hugh Norton-Taylor about it later. The sergeant and McBride hid the dead shooter and his rifle under some bushes.

After dark, life reappeared along the lines. Men crept into no-man’s-land to fix and string barbed wire. Since hammering posts would instantly draw fire, both sides used the “cork-screw” stakes originally devised by the Germans. The war wire had a knot bristling with sharpened steel every inch. Guards protected the work parties while both sides hunted each other.

Opposite McBride’s machine gun post at Sniper’s Barn, a small blue and white flag fluttered in front of the enemy line. The elite German Brandenburger Regiment, named for Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, had flown it before their trenches until French soldiers had stolen it. The French...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N10 (December 2018)
and was posted online on October 26, 2018


Comments have not been generated for this article.