Garand - how did they fight at night?


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dave3006
January 25, 2004, 09:58 PM
I am curious how the GIs shot the Garand at night during WWII and Korea? You obviously would not want to mount a flashlight to it (bullet magnet). You could not get tritium sights or red dots. Did they just point shoot the gun?

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DMK
January 25, 2004, 10:18 PM
Parachute flares, fires from burning vehicles/debris, starburst shells, muzzle flashes of the enemy's weapons, etc.

Depending on where and when you are, sometimes night time isn't all that dark anyway once you get used to it, especially when there is snow on the ground.

jame
January 25, 2004, 11:50 PM
My duck hunting experience and setting decoys in the early AM reminds me that all you really need is just a little bit of moon light to be able to see just fine.

That said, (and frankly, I don't know) but I'm not sure there was much night time action in WW II, because as tradition was, it was generally time to rest.

That is only an assumption, however. I will happily stand corrected.

Nightcrawler
January 26, 2004, 12:21 AM
There was plenty of night fighting in World War 2. But without night vision, the ranges were short. VERY short. And as such the fighting was vicious.

Telperion
January 26, 2004, 12:32 AM
There was some very limited deployment of infrared night vision devices during WWII and Korea. These were modified M2 carbines. According to this site, despite their flaws, they were highly effective: "Although fewer than 500 units were actually used, the Sniperscope accounted for about 30% of total Japanese casualties suffered by small-arms fire during the first week of the Okinawa campaign."

Infrared Sniperscope M1 (http://www.rt66.com/~korteng/SmallArms/m1irsnip.htm)

DnPRK
January 26, 2004, 12:36 AM
Before he passed away a few years back, a bud of mine told me some troops used to tie a white string between the rear peep and front sight. If there was enough moonlight, flares, etc. you could sight down the string.

artherd
January 26, 2004, 12:41 AM
I have to say, with all due respect, and considering my point of reference (I work with high-end night vision FLIR gear mounted to aircraft) that they fought at night, but poorly :P

That said, little tricks like looking to the side of what you want to focus on (to expose the slightly more luma-sensative parts of your retina in your peripherial) does work, as do good old flares and star/moonlight.

seeker_two
January 26, 2004, 11:57 AM
Grenades, mortars, & aiming for muzzle flashes...

It's amazing what you can see in the "dark" when you use high explosive rounds...:evil:

Mike Irwin
January 26, 2004, 01:04 PM
Some of the most vicious fighting of the entire Pacific War happened at Guadalcanal, at night.

The Battle of the Tenaru River (actually took place at Alligator Creek) was, according to first hand reports, absolutely horrific. I THINK, but am not certain that there were 3 Medals of Honor awarded for that night action.

Bart Noir
January 26, 2004, 02:38 PM
Was that the one where the Marines used 105mm howitzers as direct fire weapons? And supposedly fired so many rounds they got one glowing? Read that in a book on Chesty Puller.

Bart Noir

cdbeaver
January 26, 2004, 08:00 PM
In the Korean War, the Chinese almost always attacked at night and withdrew before daylight. They seemed to relish close-in combat at night. They were highly respectful of GI rifle fire and artillery accuracy during daylight hours.

Soldiers with the M-1 Garand weren't especially successful in night fighting. Normally, one round with resulting muzzle flash was sufficient to render a fighting man nightblind. That's when hand grenades became the weapon of choice.

I had occasion to accompany a regimental commander into the field to test a (then) new .30 M2 carbine equipped with a sniperscope. We spent an entire night during rather frigid weather lying on our bellies during an ambush patrol. Alas, the Chinese refused to co-operate and we returned to our lines at dawn with an unfired carbine and a ticked-off bird colonel.

Mike Irwin
January 26, 2004, 08:16 PM
Bart,

IIRC, artillery ranges were down to 1600 yards at a couple of points, which with the 105 was virtually over the barrel sighting.

There are also accounts, I think from Tenaru, of machine gunners doing anything they could to cool the barrels of their guns, including urinating on them, but many still were glowing red.

Jim K
January 26, 2004, 08:17 PM
The eyes can adjust to semi-darkness so that it is possible to see in the dark. Until you fire the first shot. After that, you can't see anything for quite a while.

Jim

Jeff White
January 26, 2004, 08:49 PM
We never had a true night fighting capability with rifles until very recently when the AN/PAQ-4 infrared aiming light and AN/PVS-5 NVG combination was first fielded. Now the technology has improved and we're using the AN/PVS-14 monocular and some units are using the AN/PEQ-2 combination laser aimer/illuminator. It's this technology that allows our light Infantry forces to own the night.

In the 70s we played with promethieum and then tritium front sight posts on our M16A1s but that really didn't address the fact that you still had to see the target to put your glowing sight on it.

The early NODs were heavy and bulky and too expensive to be widely distributed. Even the AN/PVS-4 makes an M16 a clumsy load to carry and the use of an image intensifier type sight will knock out your night vision. So after you've looked theough the sight, you now have to readapt your eyes to the dark.

Prior to that we relied on artifical illumination. besides parachute flares ranging in size from handheld to those fired out of howitzers, we fielded searchlight units. These were large searchlights like you see in a B grade WWII movie picking out the allied bombers for the AAA. They were also employed in batteies whose mission was to provide battlefield illumination. They would light up large areas by reflecting light off clouds. As late as the 1980s we still had searchlights on M60 tanks, I think it was one per platoon. Those xenon lights could also operate in the IR mode, lighting the battlefield so that our tank crews could have the advantage through IR periscopes and sights.

As an aside, I had an M1D at the old 47th Division Sniper School in 88. We fired several night exercises under artificial illumination. It didn't take a lot of light to make the old M84 telescopes useable. I don't remember the muzzle flash being that distracting. We were firing match ammunition.

Jeff

Buckskinner
January 26, 2004, 09:12 PM
try and get a bead on that critter under the bush. Its purt near impossible. Low light/ No light and peep sights don't go together...

Battlefield conditions may supply enough light to sight by, but you can't hunt at dawn/dusk with 'em, that's for sure.

Teufelhunden
January 26, 2004, 09:56 PM
They seemed to relish close-in combat at night. They were highly respectful of GI rifle fire and artillery accuracy during daylight hours.

...not to mention the fact that the Marine Corps was perfecting close air support at the time... :)

-Teuf

Mike Irwin
January 27, 2004, 01:09 AM
"not to mention the fact that the Marine Corps was perfecting close air support at the time..."

Rediscovering it, actually.

Navy and Marine fliers, some of them veterans of WW II, made pretty quick use of the lessons that had been learned in WW II.

Interesting side note is that the Corsair was the preferred vehicle for close air support.

In fighter mode it was capable of over 400 mph. Loaded down for ground support missions it was often lucky to make 240 mph and had to be catapult launched.

IIRC the Marines operated 5 day fighter/bomber Corsair squadrons in Korea for most of the war, and one unit of night ground attack aircraft. That must have been hairy as all hell.

VG
January 27, 2004, 06:40 AM
I am curious how the GIs shot the Garand at night during WWII and Korea? You obviously would not want to mount a flashlight to it (bullet magnet). You could not get tritium sights or red dots. Did they just point shoot the gun?

The technique taught was to lay the front sight onto the target, looking over the rear (peep) sight. This was still being taught in Army Infantry training in the 80's with the M16, and probably still is. I haven't hear the white string technique before but it sounds clever.

In Korea many attacks were so close that aiming wasn't necessary. One account in the GCA Journal recounts a night where an Army unit fired so many rounds through their Garands that the front handguards were charred. The M1 Carbine was less popular in the extreme cold, because the action is not as reliable under those conditions.

The weapon of choice for night patrols was the Thompson submachine gun, for obvious reasons. Or the Schmeisser on the other side.

In a defensive postion, when possible, machine guns are tripod mounted so elevation and angle can be set precisely. Otherwise, firing stakes are set in the ground to define your sector of fire. Trip wires, trip flares and noise makers (C ration cans filled with rocks for 40 years) were set up in likely avenues of approach.

Hand grenades are much preferred because they do not reveal your position. New troops would learn very quickly not to fire in response to a probing attack. Prepared night attacks would try to fire flares behind your position, so you were silhouetted but they were not.

An Army study found that 75% of all combat is at 100 meters or less, and 95% is at 200 meters or less. Almost all Army tactical training is at night.

You can make yourself mighty small at 100 meters. In a famous attack by the 1st Ranger Battalion against an Italian fort, the Rangers low-crawled across a field. Although discovered, the Italians failed to depress their fire enough and shot over the heads of the disciplined Rangers. When they reached the fort and rushed it, the Italians surrendered almost immediately, believing themselves to be overwhelmed. Unfortunately, this same Ranger Battalion was later ordered to attack a German Panzer Brigade, which they did, with nearly every man killed or captured.

The 6th Ranger Battalion also low-crawled undetected across a wide field at night to liberate the POW camp holding the Bataan survivors. Aided by an Army Air Force plane overhead which distracted the guards.

bjengs
January 27, 2004, 09:28 AM
The 6th Ranger Battalion also low-crawled undetected across a wide field at night to liberate the POW camp holding the Bataan survivors. Aided by an Army Air Force plane overhead which distracted the guards.Forgive a self-indulgent post.

I'm currently working on the movie about said raid at Cabanatuan, titled The Great Raid. The rangers crawling across the field is my favorite shot in the movie. It doesn't feature any fancy computer graphics, it's just a "through the binoculars" perspective of Lt. Col. Mucci as he oversees from a nearby hilltop. It's an educational battlefield perspective.

They had an excellent advantage as far as the shooting at night issue as the camp was lit up. So they swooped in from the shadows and laid waste to a few hundred Japanese soldiers.

I should point out that the Rangers actually traversed the better part of the field in BROAD DAYLIGHT, which makes it all the more impressive. Then they just lay still for several hours until nightfall and resumed the crawl.

cdbeaver
January 27, 2004, 10:02 AM
Mike Irwin, you are so right about the Marine fliers and their Corsairs. Many times I saw Marine Corsairs swoop down to lend close-in support to troops on the ground, and not only Marine troops.

We ground pounders thought we could establish the marital status of pilots by the manner in which they attacked. A shallow, short dive told us the guy was married, probably with a family. A long, deliberate, steep dive showed us the pilot was a hell-for-leather, unmarried, gung-ho guy.

On another matter, during one prolonged battle for a Chinese-held hill (Operation Showdown), our troops were forced to give up ground won during the day when Chinese forces counter-attacked in great force. All during the night, Air Force twin-engine planes circled the hill and dropped parachute flares to keep the position illuminated. Meanwhile, our artillery poured thousands of rounds into enemy-held territory. Next day our guys advanced and took the objective, though the outcome was not decided before much fierce fighting took place .

Mike Irwin
January 27, 2004, 01:18 PM
Navy and Marine fliers pounding the hills and denying the Chinese the high ground has been largely credited with the success, instead of failure, of the withdrawal of American troops from the Yalu River/Chosin Reservoir area.

I've read accounts of where pilots flew as many as 7 missions a day, in some cases being rearmed and refueled without the engine being shut down. Sounds incredibly dangerous.

GD
January 27, 2004, 08:53 PM
General Terry Allen preferred the night time fight. It was fairly common for him to launch a night time raid in North Africa. The Germans and Italians feared the night time raids he employed. It keeps the enemy on their toes 24 hours per day - no time to rest. A common technique is to use averted vision - you look at the object indirectly and move your eye around until you get your best image.

natedog
January 28, 2004, 12:53 AM
I guess these Mforgeries (or Mthreegeries, depending on how you look at it) have been going on for a long time :neener:


http://www.thegunzone.com/images/rooney-m4.jpg


Like father, like son :neener:

http://www.rt66.com/~korteng/SmallArms/images/snprscm3.jpg

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