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.
Besides his Mk II Standard No.2 binoculars, 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).