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Who shot at the Germans first?

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CB27
717252.  Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:29 am Reply with quote

I think QI missed a wonderful opportunity in Firsts, Guns or History to include the little known fact that the first shots by an allied army in both World War I and World War II were fired from the same gun.

I stumbled across this article after doing a search on something I spotted elsewhere, and if true, I find it to be Vi (Very interesting), rather than just Qi :)

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/08/03/1091476490096.html?from=storylh

 
suze
717295.  Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:17 am Reply with quote

If that stacks up, it goes beyond the VI to what Ms M Moon once described as FI !

Some sources claim that the first shot of WWI was fired by one Edward Thomas of the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards, near Mons, Belgium on 22 Aug 1914. That's just not correct though; at the most, that was the first shot fired on the Western Front.

Others give that dubious accolade to one Alhaji Grunshi of the Gold Coast Regiment. His regiment invaded Togoland (now Togo), which was then a German colony but with minimal German military presence. He fired on a German police officer in Togoland on 7 Aug 1914, and indeed the colony fell to the British within three weeks. So WO Grunshi clearly beat Cpl Thomas to it by 15 days.

But the article to which CB links suggests that an unnamed Australian fired on a German steamer two days earlier. The only question I would raise at this point is why, if this did happen, it isn't generally acknowledged as the first Allied shot of the War.

As for that German steamer, the Australians took possession of it and it formed part of a convoy which sailed to Europe. It then had various adventures in the European war, before returning to Australia full of homeward bound Australian soldiers in 1919.

Another source

 
Sadurian Mike
717374.  Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:08 pm Reply with quote

Hmm. It depends a lot on interpretation.

An "allied army" would normally also include Poland, which was obviously in action before the 4th of September (even if you only include it as an ally after Britain and France declared war).

"First shot" is another one. Various airforces flew missions before the 4th, mainly reconnaissance (the first RAF recce mission was on the 3rd), and it was customary to test-fire guns before entering enemy airspace. Now that isn't really combat firing the guns as most would prefer the interpretation to be, but on the 4th of Sept the RAF also flew their first bombing raid against German warships. Again, interpreting bombing as "first shots" is arguable, but given the low-level nature of the raid (at least one aircraft was thought to have been lost due to the blast of its own bomb) it is highly likely that the guns were fired as well. They took off at 1600hrs GMT, so we would need to know what time the Australian guns opened fire and whether it was GMT or local time (and date).

 
CB27
717382.  Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:45 pm Reply with quote

According to the link below it was 1:30am on 4th September, and as it's an Australian document I'm guessing it means Australian time, which would put it around 16:30 GMT on 3rd September.

http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/resources/22_2157.pdf

 
Sadurian Mike
717424.  Wed Jun 09, 2010 3:29 am Reply with quote

That makes sense. Britain declared War at 11am on the 3rd, Australia and New Zealand were not far behind (by minutes). The Australian coastal gun therefore was the first land-based gun from the Britain, the Commonwealth and France to fire in anger.

I would still argue that Poland fired the first shots on the allied side, however.

 
woubit
717653.  Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:19 pm Reply with quote

I don't know who shot at the Germans first. But recent experience indicates that if it had been an Englishman given a free shot from twelve yards, he would have missed.

 
Sadurian Mike
717798.  Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:03 am Reply with quote

During the period between the Boer and Great Wars the British Army were extensively trained in marksmanship and rapid firing. This came as a nasty shock to the Germans at the Battle of Mons who thought that they were being attacked by a line of machine-guns.

So, whilst the English* might not have got it in the goalmouth, that was only because so many bullets were caught by the huge numbers of German goalies.

It was the only time that the Germans played their infamous 160 000 - 80 000 - 0 formation.


*British really, of course.

 
Sadurian Mike
717799.  Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:10 am Reply with quote

Talking of first-and-last coincidences; at Casteau on August 22nd, 1914, just 24 hours before the famous Battle of Mons was the occasion of the first British shot of WWI, when Drummer Edward Thomas of the 4th Dragoon Guards shot a German cavalry trooper. In the same engagement, the first enemy soldier to be killed by a British soldier using a sword during WWI was despatched by one Captain Hornby (the 4th DG were still mounted as cavalry at this stage).

Coincidentally, on 11th November 1918 the 116th Canadian Infantry Regiment were firing the last (official) shots of WWI also in Casteau, and only yards from the very spot where the first engagement had occurred.

 
Efros
717803.  Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:27 am Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
only yards from the very spot where the first engagement had occurred.


That really about sums up the whole of WWI.

 
Sadurian Mike
717805.  Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:28 am Reply with quote

Quite so, although it really only applies to the Western Front.

 
Sadurian Mike
718057.  Thu Jun 10, 2010 1:47 pm Reply with quote

Another QI "First Shot"; the first Allied bomb dropped on German soil* during WWII happened on 3rd December 1939... and was an accident.

A Wellington bomber had been attacking German shipping in the North Sea and had suffered a so-called "hang-up", where one of its bombs had not released properly.

Whilst flying over Heligoland on the return, the bomb released itself and fell onto the island.


*As opposed to the first bombs dropped on the Germans themselves, which inevitably came from the Polish air force but within their own country.

 
tetsabb
718085.  Thu Jun 10, 2010 2:38 pm Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
a so-called "hang-up", where one of its bombs had not released properly.



I hate it when that happens

 
ah@alhart.net.au
1266204.  Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:49 pm Reply with quote

I'm not sure above what all the discussion is around September, the first shot fired across the bow of a German vessel directly as a result of the declaration of war was in Port Phillip (near Melbourne) on 5 August 1914

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-11/the-mystery-of-the-first-bullet-fired-in-world-war-i/5083444

Around noon on August 5, 1914, a gun crew stationed at Fort Nepean on the Mornington Peninsula fired across the bow of German cargo steamer SS Pfalz.

 
ali
1266207.  Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:02 pm Reply with quote

ah@alhart.net.au wrote:
I'm not sure above what all the discussion is around September, the first shot fired across the bow of a German vessel directly as a result of the declaration of war was in Port Phillip (near Melbourne) on 5 August 1914

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-11/the-mystery-of-the-first-bullet-fired-in-world-war-i/5083444

Around noon on August 5, 1914, a gun crew stationed at Fort Nepean on the Mornington Peninsula fired across the bow of German cargo steamer SS Pfalz.


On this very spot in 2010...

 
Alfred E Neuman
1266218.  Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:53 am Reply with quote

ah@alhart.net.au wrote:
I'm not sure above what all the discussion is around September


A very quick skim through (or failing that, a superficial knowledge of history) would suggest that all the discussion around September is specifically September 1939.

 

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