The Ypres Salient - CWGC

A feature of the defensive fighting throughout 'First Ypres' within the context of all the German attacks along the entire line was the disciplined self control and superb marksmanship displayed by all units of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), who had been trained 2nd Scots Guards in a trench at Ghent, October 1914to fire 15 rounds per minute at targets the size of a head and shoulders at 300 yards. This was the famous '15-rounds rapid' which was mistaken by many German observers for automatic or machine-gun fire. The majority of the British soldiers who fought at Ypres were regulars or reservists well trained in 'musketry' and fully understanding its importance, both in terms of respect for their profession and the monetary bonus that came with a marksmanship qualification.

Frank Richards in his memoir of First World War service (with 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers) recalled a moment at Ypres in 1914 when he and two other Fusiliers may have exceeded the '15-rounds rapid' rate of fire whilst repelling a German raid.  All three were expert marksmen and, according to Richards, quite capable for firing twenty-five aimed rounds a minute. The casualties exacted on the Germans were clearly related to the professionalism of the British defenders: in their use of ground, calmness under fire and their swift and accurate shooting. (See 'Old Soldiers Never Die', by Frank Richards, Faber and Faber, 1933, p.40).


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