History

That time unmanned rifles and mannequins tricked the enemy at Gallipoli

In December of 1915, allied forces received word that it was time to evacuate from the fight against the Ottoman Empire at Gallipoli.


In order to cover their sneaky retreat, Australian forces needed to find a way to make it appear as if they were still present so that the Turkish wouldn't immediately follow.

One resourceful soldier stepped up and did just that. Lance Cpl. William Scurry came up with a way to rig rifles to fire, unmanned, at different times and at various points to deceive the enemy. So, the "drip rifle" or "pop-off rifle" was born.

Australian soldiers at Anzac Cove, 1915

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After the rifle was loaded and set into a fixed position by using sands bags, two tin cans, used for storing rations, played a key role in this brilliant invention. One was filled with water and had a hole punched into it, while the other, empty, was attached by string to the rifle's trigger.

Over time, water dripped into the empty tin can, eventually filling it to the point where it was heavy enough to pull rifle's trigger, firing the weapon.

One of the drip rifles.

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After the rifles were set, allied forces snuck away into the night. The sporadic rifle fire gave the enemy the impression that they were still up against a mighty power.

On the last night of the evacuation of Gallipoli, troops left behind mannequins and artillery equipment to further sell the illusion and help buy the allies more time — it worked.

The rear guards successfully escaped without suffering any casualties. Later, Scurry received the Distinguish Conduct Medal for his ingenuity.

Check out Simple History's video below to get the complete animated breakdown of this epic story.