5 AUGUST 1916, Page 11


[To THE Enrroa or THE "IneeeTATOE."1 Sta,—Knowing the interest you take in the above, from letters in your -valuable paper and editorial remarks thereon, I wish to give a short description of a tool that I have designed which could be adapted to what you suggest. The original design was to replace the present entrenching tool carried as part of the equipment of the infantry soldier, which seems to me an unsatisfactory implement, as it is in two parts, the head carried in a bag and somewhat difficult to get at, and the shaft alongside the bayonet, consequently taking time to put together for use, also stewing away. In my entrenching tool you get exactly the same work out of it, plus being able to shovel with it. It could be carried in a frog on the belt and made as light as the one in use. For attacking purposes the same action would be used, but a bullet- proof shield would take the place of the shovel-head, still retaining the pick, which forms a very serviceable weapon. Of course, it would be too heavy to carry as part of the equipment, but could be served out as occasions require. My idea was to arm, say, a front line of bombers with it. savoorted by lines espied with rifle and baronet, the Iron% Ina forming a partial shield to those behind ; at the end of a rush the pia to bo driven into the ground and the shield used as cover ; when the objective is attained, the second line to go through the first and attack with rifle and bayonet. I claim that a higher percentage of men would gain their objective if armed as above than a force without it. The tool can also be adapted for trenching purposes alone, with, of course, a larger shovel-head and chisel-headed pick. As it is a combination implement (some military authorities object to a com- bination tool, why, I don't know), it would save fifty per cent. of space, weight, and shafts when packed in wagons. Here are some of the advantages claimed for the shovel-pick :—(1) It is an efficient pick, shovel, and shield, in one. (2) When carried as part of the equipment of the soldier, it is superior to the present tool as it can be used both as pick and shovel. (3) The shovel and pick being forged in one, of hardened steel of proper thickness, say 3-16 in. tapering to 1-16 in. to render it bullet-proof, forms an efficient shield against rifle fire while rushing to attack or lying prone. (4) It is also useful in the following cases : pushing through loose barbed wire ; a certain amount of protection while cutting barbed wire, and at all times ; breaking down doors, &o., and protection while searching cellars and dark places. (5) It forms an efficient weapon of offence and defence at close quarters, especially in trench fighting. (6) Useful as shield for snipers, the shovel being covered with grass or branches, the two holes in shovel face being used for tying on. (7) When used solely as a trenching tool, it economizes fifty per cent. of space when packed in wagons (the ordinary pick being dispensed with), and also saves fifty per cent. of shafts and weight. Greater expedition in trench digging. (8) Useful in sapping and mining and more convenient than the present mining tools, as the danger from

n oise of clashing tools is eliminated. (9) Well adapted for mountain fighting, as it affords assistance when scaling precipitous heights and shelters the soldier from vertical fire while so doing. (10) Made in sizes and weight according to requirements; for instance, the tool serried as part of equipment is considerably smaller than that used solely for trenching purposes. (11) A number of shovel-picks placed at irregular intervals in front of an infantry force with the shovel driven into the ground and the pick up with the shaft pointing towards enemy would check a cavalry charge. (12) In rushing a position a larger per- centage of a force carrying the shovel-pick would reach their objective than a similar force without it, consequently a larger percentage of enemy casualties. (13) It gives a man confidence if he possesses a certain amount of protection which he can use in many ways. (14) Simplicity. I have shown and explained it to many of all ranks in the Service who are competent to give an opinion on it, and the weapon has met with strong approval.—I am, Sir, &c.,

Strathallan, Ryde. RANALD M. ALEXANDER. [We deal with the suggestion made in this letter in our leading columns.—En. Spectator.]