RUSSIA AND THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR
The cause of much political unrest at the time, the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, has now largely faded from history, lost in the wake of the Second World War. In terms of advancing both sniping technology and methodology it was actually an important conflict, for it enabled two major powers, Russia and Germany, to test weapons and tactics in the guise of 'military aid'. The method was simple, involving supplying the respective sides with modern firearms and a suitable number of 'advisers' to make use of them. Once the war had settled into the inevitable trench fighting, there was great opportunity for sniping but there were no suitable scoped rifles, and little shooting expertise on either side. Unlike Germany or Russia, there was no hunting tradition in Spanish society to provide men for the army to draw upon. Indeed, it was a very young army with hardly any seasoned veterans so many soldiers only had the sketchiest idea of how to load and fire their rifles. It was the Nationalists, supported by the Germans, who first began to make use of the telescopic-equipped Mauser rifles. Some were of Great War vintage, while others were newly manufactured, short side-rail equipped K98ks. Under German tutelage the Nationalist army began to produce trained snipers who worked within their own infantry companies, soon totally dominating areas of the front, for the Loyalists initially had no sniping rifles of any description. It was not long before the Soviet advisers noticed this imbalance and numbers of Mosin-Nagant rifles with 4x PE scopes were introduced. Each Loyalist unit provided 15 to 20 of its best shots who were trained in marksmanship and began to take up camouflaged forward positions from where they could seek out enemy officers and soldiers:
'The sniper positions worked very well. In December 1937, the positions of the Ninth Brigade located on the front to the north of Huesca, killed 150 fascists in two weeks. Similar positions were set up by another brigade on the river Ebro. Here the line of Republican trenches was 500 metres away ... shooting over that distance the snipers were able to put 5-6 of the insurgents out of action every day.'
Tactics were developed that were to be widely adopted in the Second World War, such as siting snipers near machine-gun posts, where the occasional well-aimed shot was masked by the rattle of machine-gun fire. Snipers were also sent to infiltrate enemy lines and prevent reinforcements and supplies from reaching the front:
'Three snipers spent five days in their post. In the end they had killed about fifteen mules and the same number of men. After this the Fascists completely stopped using the path and had to deliver food by a longer route.'
Both sides learned much about sniper deployment and the Russians, in particular, began to understand the tactical importance of using snipers in both defence and attack.
Saludos a tod@s
Solicito a los moderadores que cambien este mensaje al Foro de la Guerra Civil Española, que es donde debería figurar de no ser por una metedura de pata. Muchas gracias.