He was also one heck of a curler

One of the most iconic photos of a World War II sniper is this one:

All photos, Library and Archives Canada

The man shown above is Sgt. Harold A. Marshall of the Calgary Highlanders‘ Scout and Sniper Platoon. It was taken by renowned Candian Army Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit shutterbug Ken Bell during a scouting, stalking and sniping course in recently-liberated Kapellen, Belgium, along the Dutch border, 6 October 1944.

His kit includes a Lee–Enfield No. 4 Mk 1 (T) sniper rifle with a No. 32 MK 3 scope. These rifles were standard issue for marksmen use during WWII with about 26,000 manufactured in conjunction with Holland & Holland for the Commonwealth forces and remained in service until the early 1960s when it was replaced by the L42 series, the latter basically an accurized No. 4 Enfield in 7.62 NATO.

Sergeant H.A. Marshall of The Calgary Highlanders cleans the telescopic sight of his No.4, MkI(T) rifle during scouting, stalking and sniping course, Kapellen, Belgium, 6 October 1944 LAC 3596658 Ken Bell, photographer

Marshall wears a modified camouflaged paratrooper’s Denison smock. On his belt is a single No. 36M Mill’s Bomb grenade and a Gurkha kukri — because badass, that’s why. Around his head is a skrim camouflage face veil in place of the typical Highlander Tam hat or red and white diced Glengarry, the official field and garrison caps, respectively, of the unit at the time.

Marshall’s spotter, Cpl. Steven Kormendy, was also captured by Bell.

He wears much the same kit but notably has a captured German Walther P-38 9mm pistol as his sidearm.

Corporal S. Kormendy and Sergeant H.A. Marshall of The Calgary Highlanders cleaning the telescopic sights of their No.4 MkI (T) rifles during scouting, stalking and sniping course, Kapellen, Belgium, 6 October 1944. LAC 3596657 Ken Bell, photographer

Sergeant H.A. Marshall (left) and Corporal S. Kormendy, both of The Calgary Highlanders, observing terrain from a concealed firing position during scouting, stalking and sniping course, Capellen, Belgium, 6 October 1944. LAC 3596661 Ken Bell, photographer

Cpl. Steven Kormendy, left, and Sergeant Harold Marshall of the Calgary Highlanders sniper unit pose for photographer Ken Bell in Belgium on Oct. 6, 1944.

Lieutenant-Colonel D.G. Maclaughlin of the Calgary Highlanders speaks with scouts Corporal S. Kormendy and Sergeant H.A. Marshall, Kapellen, Belgium, 6 October 1944. Note they have switched to their Tams with cap badges and the size of Marshall’s kukri. LAC 3257124

As noted by the Calgary Herald,

“Harold Marshall was one of the original Calgary Highlanders who sailed for the United Kingdom on S.S. Pasteur in 1940. Four years later, he was part of an elite platoon of scouts and snipers. Specially equipped and trained in stealth and camouflage, they were the forerunners of today’s reconnaissance troops. It was a dangerous job as scouts advanced ahead of troops and snipers were often exposed to enemy fire.”

Marshall took a bullet in the leg on 15 December 1944, a wound that ended his war. He went on to work for the City of Calgary Electric System from 1946 until 1975 and died just short of his 95th birthday in 2013. 

He was also notably an avid curler, a sport he was shown partaking in his obituary.

Ken Bell would go on to profile Marshall in his excellent book, Not in Vain. 

As for the Calgary Highlanders, formed in 1910 as the 103rd “Calgary Rifles” Regiment, they still exist in battalion strength as a reserve unit, based at the Mewata Armoury in Calgary. Active in Afghanistan in recent years, their Scottish motto is Airaghardt (Onward).

Hand Salute, CPT Crozier

The (Acting) SECNAV Thomas B. Modly has booted the skipper of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Brett E. Crozier (USNA 1994), from his post over the leaked letter the carrier’s commander penned in reference to the spreading COVID-19 cases among his embarked 4,000-man crew.

Several sources told USNI News ahead of the announcement that Navy leaders in the Pacific did not recommend Crozier’s removal from command.

Modly’s two minutes of reasoning is in the video below, essentially boiling down to breaking the chain of command on the face of it, with the unpardonable sin of making Big Navy look bad on the sniff test.

Loose lips sink ships, or at least careers, anyway.

Of course, all the public attention has resulted in the crew getting the attention they needed, which was the meat of Crozier’s concerns.

Crozier had a big send-off from his crew.

A Seahawk and later Hornet driver who flew with the Warhawks of VFA-97, the Mighty Shrikes of VFA-94 and the Rough Riders of VFA-125, Crozier completed numerous downrange deployments during OIF and the Global War on Terror. Serving as the XO of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for two years and then as skipper of 7th Fleet flagship, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), for another two before moving into the captain’s cabin of The Big Stick, Crozier was on the path for a star after 26 years of honorable service.

Instead:

Winslow Homer on the Springfield Rifled Musket

Cavalry Soldier Loading a Rifle” by Winslow Homer, circa 1864. Black chalk and white crayon on gray-green laid paper. Donated to the Smithsonian in 1912 by Charles Savage Homer, Jr..

At the time the sketch was made, Homer was a relatively unknown 28-year-old artist filing war art from the camps of the Army of the Potomac for Harper’s Weekly.

Assention 1912-12-99, via Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Recto: A soldier in Civil War uniform, stands in the foreground, feet spread, holding a rifle placed diagonally across his body in his left hand, using a long rod in his right hand to tamp gun powder down the barrel of the rifle.

Army’s new SDMR rifles start shipping

Heckler & Koch announced Thursday the first batch of Squad Designated Marksman Rifles left the HK-USA facility in Georgia, headed for the U.S. Army.

The platform, designated the Squad Designated Marksman Rifle (SDMR) in military service, is a variant of HK’s 7.62 mm NATO G28/HK417. The base guns are produced at HK’s factory at Oberndorf, Germany then shipped to the States where HK-USA workers in Columbus, Georgia install optics and accessories drawn from a dozen U.S.-based manufacturers.

The SDMR in all its glory, complete with HK German roll marks, offset backup sights, a Geissele mount, suppressor and Sig Tango6 optic. (Photo: HK)

More in my column at Guns.com. 

 

Sacramento’s Own

From the California Military Museum archives:

An unidentified infantry sergeant of Sacramento’s Company E (former Yuba Light Infantry) 2nd California Infantry Regiment (now the 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment [Second California]), National Guard of California. Circa 1906-1912. It is a really nice cabinet photo of a pre-WWI infantry NCO.

This photo was taken by Hodson Fotografer (sic) of Sacramento and Oakland. California Military Department Historical Collection No. 2020.11.60.

This soldier is attired in the Army’s standard M1902 pattern new service dress uniform complete with a six-button dark blue coat and cap with service cords. He has an early model Springfield M1903 .30-06 rifle at the ready, which only began replacing the Guard’s Krags in about 1906. The rifle’s companion 20-inch spear-point M1905 bayonet is on the sergeant’s belt, another new item that only began fielding in 1906.

Via Survey of U.S. Army Uniforms, Weapons and Accoutrements
https://history.army.mil/html/museums/uniforms/survey_uwa.pdf

45 Years Down the Road

In the late 1960s, Swiss arms maker SIG began working on a modern combat handgun, a double-action 9mm single-stack pistol, in an effort to replace the Swiss Army’s standard handgun, the Pistole 49, perhaps best known as the SIG P210 (SP47/8). The new model was successful and accepted as the Pistole 75 (P75) in 1975.

SIG then teamed up with West German gun maker J.P. Sauer and Sohn to produce the P75 in the FGR for easy overseas export as the Sig-Sauer P220.

These early guns were first imported into the U.S. by Browning, who branded them as the Browning Double -Action, or BDA. Offered in 9mm, .45ACP and .38 Super, it was pitched as a competition gun and soon appeared in the Bianchi Cup match.

Boom. For reference, $319 on BDA in 1977 is $1350 today

The gun was even reviewed in American Handgunner magazine in 1977, a magazine haunted by Col. Jeff Cooper, the man who would advocate for the 10mm Auto.

Now, fast forward to this week and the now-45-year-old P220 is available in a tricked out 10mm-chambered SAO model, which Cooper would likely approve of.

More on the latter in my column at Guns.com.

Coming in hot

ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 29, 2020) A P-8A Poseidon aircraft assigned to the “Skinny Dragons” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 flies alongside the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) during a photo exercise, March 29, 2020.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Juan Sua/Released) 200329-N-CR843-0264 

Formed in 1943, VP-4 is currently forward deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations and is assigned to Commander, Task Force 67, responsible for tactical control of deployed maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadrons throughout Europe and Africa.

After cutting their teeth flying the PV-1 Ventura/PV-2 Harpoon during WWII, the Dragons switched to the P2V-1 Neptune in 1947 then the P-3 Orion in 1966. VP-4 become the first squadron at NAS Whidbey Island to covert to the P-8 Poseidon in October 2016.

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