What rifle would be used by WWII soldier European theater?


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wsryno
May 2, 2012, 09:07 PM
My dad was in the 83rd Thunderbolt Division, I think company C but am not sure. He served in France and Belgium from Oct 1944 until after the war's end. He was an infantry soldier, so I believe he would have carried an M1 Garand, Winchester or Springfield Armory. Does this sound right? Was there any other rifle that a foot soldier might have carried in that theater? Unfortunately it's too late to ask my dad, and I'm not sure I would have trusted his memory any time in the last 10 years before he died anyway. I'm hoping I might be able to find a rifle that would be close to what he carried. Thanks for your help,

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351 WINCHESTER
May 2, 2012, 09:14 PM
Your Dad could have carried a Thompson smg, 1903 Springfield sniper or an M1 carbine, but most likely he carried the Garand.

rcmodel
May 2, 2012, 10:29 PM
Or a radio & a 1911 pistol.
Or three spools of com-wire and four field telephones.
Or a bazooka & a 1911 pistol.
Or an aid kit and a medical corp knife.
Or a machinegun tri-pod and 6 ammo cans.
Or a 60mm Mortar and the ammo for it.
Or a BAR and 50 pounds of magazines for it.

All infantrymen didn't carry rifles, or even small arms at all.

Too bad it is too late now to learn more about his service.

rc

Ron James
May 2, 2012, 11:08 PM
RC of course is right, however either a Garand or a M1 Carbine would be close enough for government work.

7.62 Nato
May 3, 2012, 12:46 AM
Would it be possible to contact his unit for the historical information? I've heard of information being archived. Who knows, you might even score some photos.

Ron James
May 3, 2012, 01:15 AM
The US military does not keep long term records of weapon issue. Short term only. However ( and you might already have this info ) his DD 214 may show what weapons he qualified on. A copy can be acquired from uncle sugar but I don't have the details at hand, perhaps someone else has. But once again, seeing this was one of the most important documents he could own, I bet it is in your procession already somewhere. The DD 214 is the document a vet receives at the end of his service. It is what qualifies him for any government services such as the GI Bill and buying a home. It proves he was there and did that. It will also show any awards he received. Added as per Schutzen correction. "" DD214 or what ever document was in use at the time of his discharge from the military. ":D

Tim the student
May 3, 2012, 02:06 AM
Start here (http://www.archives.gov/veterans/) to see his records. I'm not sure if his qualifications would be on there - no weapon quals are on my DD214, but that may be a newer thing.

Good luck with your search.

FWIW, my grandad was a mortarman in the Pacific. He carried an M1 carbine, a 1911, and associated mortar gear.

My bet is that your dad humped an M1. Should you decide to get one, your best bet is the CMP, IMO. Great folks, great rifles, great service, and great prices.

Ron James
May 3, 2012, 11:17 AM
Tim, you may be right on the information available on the DD214, I'm too lazy to dig mien out to check and I very be well be crossing it in my mind with the 201 file.:)

4v50 Gary
May 3, 2012, 11:25 AM
Bruce Canfield has an excellent book on US infantry weapons. Heck, your father could have been a radio man or bazooka man. He could have been behind a M-2 too. Like others suggested, get his DD-214. If you know his unit, contact the Mil Hist Institute at Carlisle Barracks, PA and see what they have on it. You might be able to find a unit history.

That is how I did my Civil War research. I looked up a unit by regiment, its brigade, its division and culled from that. Then I looked into battles and campaigns.

Cosmoline
May 3, 2012, 01:14 PM
I would strongly suggest that you talk to the Thunderbolt folks. There are a number of websites dedicated to this division in WWII and even references to a museum. You might even be able to find photos of your dad, and detailed accounts from his brothers in arms.

Schutzen
May 3, 2012, 10:09 PM
Unless your Father remained in the Service after WWII, even if in the Reserves, he will not have a DD214. The Department of Defense was organized in 1947. Prior to that discharges were documented on a War Department form. The form at the end of WWII was the WD AGO 100 Separation Qualification Record. It will list your Father's unit of assignment and his Military Occupational Specialty, but will not list his record of qualifications with firearms. You will probably be able to make and educated guess about his individual weapon based on his MOS.

4v50 Gary
May 4, 2012, 01:39 AM
I found an 83rf Div reenactment group. If the image they feature is accurate, they had Garands. suggest you contact them.

Trebor
May 5, 2012, 12:07 AM
Your best bet is if you find someone who actually knew your Dad. Unfortunately, the odds of that get worse any day. Look online and see if there have been any reunions for his unit and see if any of the contact info is still good. You might get lucky.

Btw, you'll need to know more than just what Division and then what company. A Division has many other sub units before you get down to the Company level. There are multiple Battalions, each of which would have a "Company C."

Here's a link to a breakdown and info on the 83rd ID.

http://www.history.army.mil/documents/ETO-OB/83ID-ETO.htm

EDIT: If you want a rifle to help you connect with your Dad's wartime service, get a USGI M-1 Garand from the CMP. He definitely would have trained on the Garand, and most likely been issued one at some time, even if he wound up as a specialist with some other weapon later. At the very least he would have been very familiar with it.

If you want more than one I'd go:

Garand
M-1 Carbine (the other most common long arm)
Springfield 1903A1 (These were issued for grenade launching purposes early on in the ETO, one per squad).

Husker1911
May 5, 2012, 01:06 AM
wsryno, A simple shoutout to your father, for his service and sacrifice. I'm fortunate in knowing precisely what firearm my own father operated in the war. Dad was a B-17 waist gunner, and served 31 missions. He was with the 483rd Bomb Group, with the 15th Army.

He told me of dissembling and reassembling his Browning whilst blindfolded.

hang fire
May 5, 2012, 01:18 AM
Your Dad could have carried a Thompson smg, 1903 Springfield sniper or an M1 carbine, but most likely he carried the Garand.

Or the grease gun, which was a sub par relacement for the Thompson.

mgkdrgn
May 5, 2012, 08:00 AM
The "smart money" is on him carrying an M1 Garand. If he wasn't issued one (ie, got a carbine instead), he would be spending a good bit of time trying to figure out how to get one. (at least that is they way it was with my dad in the Pacific. If they got issued carbines they would loose 'em, break 'em, shoot 'em, bury 'em until they were issued Garands.)

The manufacturer doesn't much matter any more, unless you are going to pop 4 figures for a "correct" grade rifle. Garand is a Garand is a Garand.

Your best source for a quality rifle at a good price is the CMP (http://www.odcmp.com/sales.htm). A few hoops to jump through, but it's well worth it. "Service grade" should do you just fine.

PBR Streetgang
May 5, 2012, 08:23 AM
My Dad was a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne during WW2. He trained on Springfield 03-A3, M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, M3 Greasegun, 1918 BAR, 1911 pistol and the M1 Thompson submachinegun.
Most of the guys in my Dads unit had no love for the M3 or the M1 Carbine especially with the paratrooper folding stock, they usually traded them off to other units for M1 Garands.
Their leading General, James (Slim Jim) Gavin even carried M1 Garand into battle.
My Dad personally carried a M1 Garand or a M1 Thompson most of his time along with a 1911 .45acp, with the exception of his time being attached to his units G2 intelligence unit where he carried a 03-A4 with a 10x scope.
Many guys in his unit also carried unauthorized weapons (captured machine pistols,sawed off shotguns and various handguns including .45 Colt SA's) and the majority of the officers turned a blind eye to this.

Carl N. Brown
May 5, 2012, 08:31 AM
There are photos of US MPs in Europe carrying 1903A3 Springfields in Dec 1944.

However, by WWII production figures M1 Carbine 6.5 million, M1 Garand 6 million, Thompson SMG 1.5 million, were most common in frontline combat.

shep854
May 5, 2012, 08:54 AM
M1903s were issue for 'rear-echelon' units, though wartime 'flexibility' prevailed.;)

JLDickmon
May 5, 2012, 01:42 PM
My Dad was in an domineering stallion, and he carried an M1 Carbine..

Tim the student
May 5, 2012, 03:07 PM
PBR, do you know what BN your dad was in? I was in 3-505 for much of my time in the army.

Vern Humphrey
May 5, 2012, 07:18 PM
Would it be possible to contact his unit for the historical information? I've heard of information being archived. Who knows, you might even score some photos.
The 83rd Division is no longer on the rolls. There may be a division association, but the members would be pretty long in the tooth by now.

carbine85
May 5, 2012, 09:48 PM
Maybe these will help. Good luck with it.
http://ww2.vet.org/
http://www.militaryindexes.com/worldwartwo/

jmr40
May 5, 2012, 09:56 PM
My dad was issued a brand new Garand as soon as he stepped off the boat in January 1945. He was sent over as a replacement during the Battle of the Bulge. Said he spent the better part of a day cleaning all the cosmoline out of it only to have it taken away the next day. They painted a red cross on his helmet and made him a medic. He spent the rest of the war driving an ambulance to the front and picking up wounded and transporting them back to a hospital.

The only gun he ever carried was a small .32 pistol he picked up and kept hidden. Just in case.

As RC pointed out there was a wide variety of weapons. The Garand was the most common, but most of the men in rear areas where dad spent most of his time were issued M-1 Carbines. Dad has told me that anytime he sees a WW-2 movie the number of mortar crews depected in film are far fewer than he actually saw. At least at the time and places dad served they were apparently very common. 1911's are depected in film far more often than he actually saw. Once again, where you were could have greatly influenced the types commonly used.

wsryno
May 6, 2012, 01:03 AM
Thanks for your comments. From what you've all said, and from my limited knowledge of his service, it seems he most likely carried a Garand. He didn't talk much about his service, in fact it wasn't until I was in my early twenties that I had a long talk with my mom and realized that his frequent nightmares were probably PTSD. Whenever he did start to talk, he became undone in fairly short order and just couldn't get much out. My mom tried to get some of his service records back in the early 1990's, but apparently there was a fire at a record storage facility in the 1970's and his were among the destroyed records.

I think my best bet is to try an 83rd division association, or if there is one, a reunion group. Although obviously the survivors are now in their 90's as my dad would be if he were still alive. If his service records are truly lost I have no idea how to figure out what battalion or other branch he may have served with, where he might have traveled, when or how, etc.

As far as a weapon goes, it would seem the M1 Garand would be the best choice to honor dad. And to those of you reading this who have carried a weapon and defended my freedom, a heartfelt thanks.

PBR Streetgang
May 6, 2012, 07:53 AM
Tim,
if I remember correctly it was C company 1-505 He made all of the RCT combat jumps in WW2. My Dad has long since passed but he considered all 82nd paratroopers no matter what time frame they served, his brothers.

Hacker15E
May 6, 2012, 08:03 AM
My Dad was in an domineering stallion, and he carried an M1 Carbine..

Still chuckling while trying to figure out what you really meant before the auto-correct kicked in.

Did you mean "engineering battalion"?

Personally, I'd be pissed if I went to war and I ended up in a domineering stallion.

dprice3844444
May 6, 2012, 08:10 AM
or in front of one

HankB
May 6, 2012, 08:36 AM
You might try through official channels to find records, but be aware that in 1973 a huge fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) destroyed approximately 16-18 million military personnel files; there were no backups or microfilm copies, so that information is gone.

As previously stated, most combat infantrymen in late WWII were issued the Garand - many noncoms had SMGs, and officers frequently carried M1 carbines . . . but there was a lot of overlap here, and once in combat, individuals frequently swapped out for a "better" weapon.

Milamber
May 6, 2012, 09:12 AM
Did you look through his belongings after his death. You may turn up some pictures that may reveal your answer. My grandfather was in the Royal Horse Artillary and was issued the Lee Enfield .303. As was I in basic in the late '70's ! My father in law is a Iwo Jima Marine Vet and he carried a Thmpson and a 1911. He has a bunch of pictures from the period but few of Iwo Jima, too busy i would think. He carried a Gerand in Korea. Pictures are the way to go if you can find some. Search through media galleries to you may be lucky. Are any of his buddies still alive, maybe they can help.

CZguy
May 6, 2012, 05:59 PM
Quote:
My Dad was in an domineering stallion, and he carried an M1 Carbine..

Still chuckling while trying to figure out what you really meant before the auto-correct kicked in.

Did you mean "engineering battalion"?

Personally, I'd be pissed if I went to war and I ended up in a domineering stallion.

Thank you for posting that. I have a defective auto correct. :o

shep854
May 6, 2012, 06:12 PM
After reading a thread with similar (and even worse) bloopers, I turned those features off. Any bloopers will be my own!;)

To the OP; here's a chance to start a collection of WWII-themed guns--go ahead and cover as many possibilities as you can. Pick up an M1 Carbine and an M1903 as well as a as-near-GI-M1911 pistol as you can.
Not only will you honor your dad's service and sacrifice, but you will have tons of fun shooting them!

Flatbush Harry
May 6, 2012, 06:23 PM
My uncle was a company commander in the ETO and participated in the landing at Utah Beach. He carried an M1 Garand by choice even though many in his place carried either Thompson SMGs or M1 Carbines. His thought was to carry the most effective weapon he could that most of his men carried.

My father was an NCO in the PTO and carried an M1 Garand until promoted to E5. At that point he switched to a Carbine. I bought each a CMP M1 Garand as a commemorative; they both willed them back to me upon their passing.

FH

Johnm1
May 7, 2012, 10:49 AM
I'm not sure if wartime security would disallow this but you may find that letters written during the war and kept by your family will provide information on his unit. Any letters sent home may have a return address on them identifying his unit.

The obvious source would be his mother or wife. But don't exclude brothers and sisters or even aunts and uncles.

Tim the student
May 7, 2012, 11:49 AM
if I remember correctly it was C company 1-505 He made all of the RCT combat jumps in WW2. My Dad has long since passed but he considered all 82nd paratroopers no matter what time frame they served, his brothers.

I'm sure he did - that seems to be a very common thing. I know I feel the same way.

There is a reunion every year at Ft. Bragg during All American Week, and all sorts of guys from WW2 show up. I remember that some would make one trip because they knew they would die soon, and they wanted to see their brothers-in-arms one more time before they went to the final manifest call. It was an important thing for them to do before they died.

Its crazy - these guys that have multiple combat jumps and spent a lot of time in combat would be amazed at the amount of jumps that we had, while we would stand in awe of them because a) they were WW2 vets and b)even though they may only have 10 or less jumps, many had 4 combat jumps. It was always a good time to be able to hang out with those guys for a while. Just the most regular guys, nicest guys, that did amazing things.

They helped to save the world. I am truly thankful for all vets, but I do have a special place in my heart for WW2 vets. What they did was nothing short of amazing, and we should be thankful that we had men like that every single day.

CZguy
May 7, 2012, 12:37 PM
They helped to save the world. I am truly thankful for all vets, but I do have a special place in my heart for WW2 vets. What they did was nothing short of amazing, and we should be thankful that we had men like that every single day.


Amen to that. Men of that era were truly tough. My Dad and Uncle were both WWII Vets, and no matter what life dealt them, they just stoically forged ahead.

Men of honor, and iron. They are both long gone, but will always be my role models.

PBR Streetgang
May 8, 2012, 07:15 AM
Tim,My Dad was one of the old timers that made that pilgrimage a couple of times to Ft Bragg. I have to say it was the highlight of those guys that you younger troopers took such good care of them when they visited. I had the honor to meet and listen to many of their stories and all those guys were nothing short of amazing.
The paratroopers of the 82nd Abn were all brothers in arms and the young troopers of today are their legacy.
Thanks for your service and as Dad would say " All American, All the Way"

Kymasabe
May 8, 2012, 07:34 PM
My father was in anti-tank artillery and carried 1911 and M1 carbine.

Bojangles7
May 8, 2012, 09:05 PM
My grandfather was in the 93rd Cavalry Recon Squadron, 13th armored division in WWII. I wish I would've asked him what firearm he carried, but I do have a homemade knife he carried and used to cut off his buddies leg after they were hit by a mortar. He was in a half track recon vehicle when they got hit. It's a damn shame we're loosing the greatest generation so fast.

He would to talk to me about his experiences in WWII once I got back from the sandbox, it was a bond I'll always treasure. I just wish I would have kept more detailed records of his service. I know he was always haunted by what he saw at Dachau. God rest his soul.

Tinpig
May 8, 2012, 10:50 PM
in 1973 a huge fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) destroyed approximately 16-18 million military personnel files; there were no backups or microfilm copies, so that information is gone.


That's what I always was told, but I recently did a NPRC/NARA records request for a family friend whose Dad was in the Army in the Philippines during WWII. I received a letter saying that his records had been among those destroyed in the fire, but that they had been able to piece together from other sources the equivalent for that era of a DD214.
Included was information on dates of service, MOS, rank, overseas service, decorations and citations, and weapon markmanship awards.
So it's always worth a try.

Tinpig

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