POTD: Protect The Noggin – Trench Rifle Periscope Sighting Device
Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! Here we have one of those neat and odd inventions that never would have happened if World War One did not happen. This is a Springfield 1903 trench rifle paired with a Cameron-Yaggi Trench Periscope sighting device. this sort of device was not used in any real capacity in the war and very few examples exist. The idea was that during the stalemate of trench warfare it is hard to poke one’s head out to take shots at opposing heads. One supposed remedy was these Cameron-Yaggi Trench Periscope sighting devices fitted to Springfield 1903 trench rifles in order to take shots without getting shot in the process. The operator puts the device and rifle up on their shoulder and they peer into the device which gives the operator a sight picture. A whole separate trigger corresponds to the actual one as well as a bolt action mechanism attached to the actual bolt action.
“This is an exceptionally rare WWI era Cameron-Yaggi Trench Periscope sighting device that is fitted with an original WWI Springfield Armory Model 1903 bolt action rifle. This rifle and sighting device comes with a short document that states “this rifle and periscope design was originally in the Bill Brophy collection and currently is from the Bruce Canfield collection”. Similar trench rifle designs are shown in the book “The 1903 Springfield Rifle” by Brophy,” pgs 217-220. This specific device was originally developed as a join venture by J.L. Cameron and L.E. Yaggi towards the end of WWI to enable infantry men to fire at the enemy while still safely hunkered down inside a trench. This design actually raised the rifle (and its line of sight) approximately two feet up and over a trench parapet, and allowed the infantry man to load and fire the rifle via a mechanical manipulation of the bolt and trigger. For sighting the rifle, it was equipped with a non-magnifying elbow periscope/optical device, which is believed to have been specifically made for the Cameron-Yaggi. The rifle was fitted with a large steel bracket on the left side that has a dovetail in the middle which allowed this periscope to be attached. It was separate from the actual rifle sights. These rifles were also equipped with a 25-shot magazine that allowed the rifleman to remain in position for some time before reloading. This design still incorporated the standard leather sling so that the rifle (with the device still attached) to be carried on the infantryman shoulder. There were three different versions of “Trench Periscope” rifle devices developed during the later days of WWI; two different Cameron-Yaggi devices, the first model (as shown here) and a second later improved design and then a third model (that was completely different from the Cameron-Yaggi design), design by Guiberson. The Guiberson design used a specially designed Model 1903 stock that was “hinged” at the middle barrel band which used a set of reflecting mirrors to sight and fire the rifle.”
Lot 2535: Rare Cameron-Yaggi Expermental 1903 Springfield Trench Rifle – Exceptionally Rare World War I Experimental Cameron-Yaggi M1903 Springfield Trench Rifle with Periscope Sighting Device. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved October 26, 2022, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/72/2535/rare-cameronyaggi-expermental-1903-springfield-trench-rifle.