THE genesis of all modern
armament is to be found in the simple weapons of antiquity. The siege
artillery which shattered the Belgian fortresses barring the immense thrust
into Northern France by the German hordes in the Great War was the modern
version of the catapult which hurled its huge rocks to crash the thick
walls of fortified and beleaguered cities of ancient times.
The sling shot of Biblical
days was the simple forerunner of the arrow, then the musket and finally
And it would be perfectly
logical to presume that the first of History's Davids to put two or more
stones in his sling shot instead of the orthodox one, touched off that
inventive spark that was to sputter, flame up, die down and then flame
up again and at long last, produce the modern machine gun.
You may safely presume also
that this innovation caused no end of heated discussion around the tribal
fires, if and when they were got going. Indubitably, it would be
pointed out that while the intended victim might be made a trifle busier
dodging three stones instead of one, the firer had undoubtedly sacrificed
something in the way of accuracy. And if there happened to be a tribal
story-teller handy, there also was the beginning of military history.
The realms of conjecture
and supposition may be left behind at this point. There is historical
confirmation of the idea of "multiple missiles."
William, Duke of Normandy,
threw consternation into the ranks of the sturdy Saxons of our own King
Harold and arrows in "sheaves of ten" from a "multiple bow" at the Battle
of Hastings. The arrows were discharged simultaneously. The
breezes and range saw to it that they were scattered wide enough.
It was the first historical bid for a superiority of "fire power" and a
saving in man power - the principles of which have actuated the whole evolution
of tactical handling of improved armaments right down to this very day.
The evolution of the musket
and rifle from its bow and arrow origins carried through a lot of centuries.
And the "multiple missile" principle was never far behind. Here and
there it caught right up. Here and there it lagged - maybe a century
The "multiple bow" of the
Normans was an adaptation of the bow and arrow.