Canadians Against Fire: Canada's Soldiers and Marshall's "Ratio of Fire" 1944-1945
Engen, Robert Charles
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This thesis investigates one of the staples of academic literature on combat motivation, S.LA. Marshall's “ratio of fire,” through the examination of previously untouched primary-source documentation from the Second World War. This evidence, a series of Battle Experience Questionnaires filled out by combat infantry officers of the Canadian Army in 1944 and 1945, details a wide range of tactical issues experienced by soldiers in battle. The interpretation and implications of this data for the “ratio of fire” theory is discussed, as the questionnaires make detailed inquiry into weapon use, infantry co-operation with other arms, and general combat effectiveness. The thesis concludes that this documentary evidence strongly supports the idea that, at the least, Marshall's “ratio of fire” statements are inapplicable to the Canadian experience of the Second World War, and that the body of literature based upon Marshall's conclusions deserves a critical re-examination.