Scottish Scoutmaster Saved Hundreds Of Lives From German Snipers In World War I

He was part of one of the first troops in Scotland and after leaving the Army, he went back later on and was brave enough to save the lives of hundreds of soldiers from sniper fire. He left the Army in 1909, as he suffered from numerous wounds from the Boer War and founded the 7th Stirling troop.

Major Frederick Crum went back to serve with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps when the First World War started in 1914. Memoirs of a Rifleman Scout is a new book, put together from letters and diaries written by Major Frederick Crum during his service and it underlines how indifferent the British people were about sniper fire. For many soldiers, the last thing they ever hears was their rifle breaking, just before falling to the ground, after being shot through the head. Crum kept several diaries, in which he wrote his experiences on the front line, including the fact that “for a time the Hun was top dog and, being newcomers, many casualties, as many as nine in a day, took place among our men from sniping,” he wrote. He also said that every single casualty was investigated individually and that 9 times out of 10, they would say it could have been avoided and action was taken to prevent it from happening again, the Daily Record reports.

Major Frederick Crum was second in command of the 8th King’s Royal Rifle Corps, at a time when the men where stationed in trenches at Blagny in northern France, where he came up with a plan to carefully analyze every casualty from each company, after drawing a plan of the trenches they were based in. “In this way, men got over the idea that the Hun sniper did everything superhuman and realized what not to do. It also gave them interest in their work,” he wrote.

When they moved to Blagny, they were very close to the Germans, which forced snipers to dig their spyholes with pen knives and they had to be very quite, so the enemy didn’t suspect there was something going on. In some areas, the trenches were as far as 15 yards from each other and any noise could make it rain with grenades.

That was the moment when Crum received permission to start a sniping school. Major Crum would often ask his men to act as if they are doing everything wrong in some trenches outside the front lines. He also used films and short dramas for teaching.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE