World War 2 was not the first time that Canadians came to cut down trees on the Balnagowan estate.

Sir Charles Ross, owner of the estate, had a strained relationship with the Canadian government. Sir Charles was a keen inventor and an excellent shot with a gun. He designed and built several guns, including the infamous Ross Rifle. In 1903, Sir Charles won his first contract to sell the rifle to the Canadian government.

Problems with the Ross Rifle

It was not until World War I that the gun's problems became evident.  Although the rifle was an excellent shot, it was very delicate, and could not cope with the muddy conditions of trench warfare.

In April 1915, at the 2nd Battle of Ypres, these guns jammed up and stopped working, leaving many Canadian soldiers left defenceless. In addition, when cleaning the rifle, it was easy to reassemble it incorrectly; several soldiers were injured from the rifle backfiring into their face.

The Canadian government wanted compensation from Sir Charles for the guns, but he ignored their demands. A legal battle began, which ended at the House of Lords in the mid-1930s. The British government agreed that the Canadian government could fell the trees on Sir Charles' Balnagowan estate to repay the debt.

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