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The Battle of Mons, or What a Handful of Badasses Can Do With a Bolt Gun

This year the 100th anniversary of World War I; Battle of Mons began today, the first, and far from last engagement in that momentous and bloody conflict. At 0900hrs, a company of the Royal Fusiliers defending the Nimy Bridge were attacked by four battalions of the German IX Corps, following a heavy bombardment. Although outnumbered over 20 to 1, the British riflemen laid down accurate and deadly fire, commencing at over 1000 yards with their SMLE MkIIIs and scything through the German ranks like a tornado. Like Spartans at Thermopylae, they held off the the assault for over six hours until their right flank was compromised and they were ordered to retreat in good order.

Five years earlier, the training requirements of an infantryman were revised and the minimum riflery standard set at 15 rounds per minute, hitting a man-sized target at 300 yards – iron sights, reloading from 5 round stripper clips. Any soldier failing to meet expectations was kicked to the curb – most could achieve significantly better than this. The man responsible for imposing this standard was the then commander of the Small Arms School, Lt Col N.R. McMahon AKA, the “Musketry Maniac.” Unfortunately for the Germans at Mons, his next promotion was to Commanding Officer of the Fusiliers facing them. Talk about bad luck.

Today, with our better education, medical care and nutrition, together with increased leisure opportunities, you might expect the average shooter to exceed the performance of a Tommy from a century ago. Next time you’re at the range, why not try it? Make it your own tribute to the warfighters of another era, and remember the sacrifices of those who went before us.


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