Gallipoli Inventors: The Periscope Rifle

The periscope rifle was an ingenious ANZAC device, improvised from the need for soldiers to find a way to snipe at the Turkish enemy, a short distance away, without showing their heads above the trench parapet. 

A box-wood frame held aloft a rifle that rested on top of the parapet. Reflecting mirrors set into the frame allowed a soldier, safely hidden below, to see across to enemy lines. The soldier then used a length of wire to pull the trigger whenever the enemy was spotted.

These rifles were used constantly at ANZAC Cove, from late May 1915 until the evacuation. A “factory” was even set up on the beach to make the frames. The periscope rifle saved many ANZAC lives, especially at Quinn’s Post, where the enemy line was very close. 

An interesting question is whether South Australian soldier, Private George Tostet, 10th Battalion, AIF was involved in the invention of the periscope rifle? A photograph held in the collection of the Australian War Memorial certainly suggests this possibility. It is most likely, though, that Victorian soldier, William Beech, was the original inventor with others, including Tostet, making various adaptions and improvements.

Source: Australian War Memorial