Field Artillery Training is clear that “the management, care, and handling of his gun and horse must always be the principal aim in the artilleryman’s training, but he must also have some knowledge of musketry and field engineering, either of which he may be called upon to employ in the course of a campaign.” (1) Or, as Grout says, “proficiency with a rifle was an essential skill for every soldier … — even artillerymen, who might one day be called upon to defend their guns from an advancing enemy or who could, in an emergency, be pressed into service as infantrymen.” (2)
Ross Rifle MK III: From the Canadian War Museum
Until late 1916 Canadian troops used the Ross Rifle, which is described as a “fine shooting rifle” (2) with a range of up to 2500 metres – not that it could kill anyone at that distance. (3) It had the disadvantage – vividly displayed in Canadian infantry engagements on the Somme – of jamming when fired as rapidly as the British Lee Enfield, which could achieve fifteen shots per minute. That speed was “the goal to emulate.” (4) The Ross’s defenders blamed the poor quality of British ammunition; its detractors, its mechanism. Most were relieved when Canadians were issued the sturdier and more reliable British Lee Enfield.
Both weapons had bayonets, for hand-to-hand fighting.
(1) Field Artillery Training. HMSO. 1914. 8
(2) Grout, Derek. Thunder in the Skies. A Canadian Gunner in the Great War. Toronto: Dundurn, 2015. 95
(3) Information and photographs from the Canadian War Museum: Canada and the First World War-> Battles and Fighting -> Weapons on Land -> Rifles.
(4) Cook, Tim. At the Sharp End. Canadians Fighting the Great War Vol. 1 1914-1916. 2007. 43
(5) Cook. 62, 83.