One of the most iconic photos of a World War II sniper is this one:
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.
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.
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).
Happy Birthday, Royal Marines, founded 28 October 1664.
Two Royal Marine Snipers and an FN MAG-equipped GPMG Gunner of 42 Commando prior to the Assault on Mount Kent. Falkland’s War, June 1982. Note the WWII-ish L42 bolt-action Enfield sniper rifle and the Vietnam-era AN/PNV2 Starlite scope on the shooter in the center of the frame.
42 Commando included a company (J) that was formed around Naval Party 8901– the ill-fated two-platoon force of Marines who garrisoned the islands during the Argentine invasion in April. Repatriated, they came back for a little payback.
And to play us out, here is the RM band…
A British Army sniper demonstrates the superior ‘Hawkins’ prone firing position (right) next to another in the standard position, at the 21st Army Group sniping school near Eindhoven, 15 October 1944. Note the scoped Enfields.
The Hawkins was described by one Tommy as “taking buttons off your shirt to get that much closer to the ground.”
A very Scottish take on cupid.
A sniper from “C” Company, 5th Battalion, The Black Watch, 51st (Highland) Division, in position in the loft space of a ruined building in Gennep, Holland, 14th February 1945