A Shovel with a Hole in it — The MacAdam Shield Shovel,
One of the great Canadian inventions in history, the MacAdam Shield Shovel was an interesting tool designed to give Canadian soldiers extra protection while fighting in the trenches of World War I. Invented by Ena MacAdams, secretary to Canadian Defense Minister Sam Hughes, the MacAdam shield shovel was intended to be used both as a tradition shovel and as a piece of armor for the soldiers. The shovel was made from 3/16ths of an inch thick steel and had a 3.5×2 inch hole in it.
The handle was detachable and revealed a spike which was to be driven into the ground. The shovel’s hole served a port through which a soldier inserted the muzzle of his rifle, the hole being just large enough for the soldier to have a small sight picture, and thus the soldier could fire from prone while the shovel would deflect enemy bullets.
Unfortunately the MacAdam shield shovel made neither a good shield nor a good shovel.. Despite being made of thicker steel it was incapable of sufficiently deflecting bullets. Due to it’s extra weight it became a nuisance to carry and was harder to wield as a shovel. Finally, it made a terrible shovel for the same reason that a spoon with a large hole in it would make a terrible soup spoon.
24,000 shield shovels were produced, most being ditched by Canadian soldiers shortly after arrival in Europe. The shield shovel project was discontinued, and most shovels were collected and sold for scrap metal.