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Band of Brothers weapon question

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Weedy, Dec 2, 2009.

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  1. Weedy

    Weedy Member

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    I DVR'd the whole series when it was on Spike last week and watched it for the first time, loved it, I wish I could shake hands with some of those guys. Anyway, I have a question: I noticed that some of the guys had Garands, some had Thompsons, and some had .30 Carbines. Also, some enlisted men had 1911's. How was it determined which weapon a soldier was issued? Did they have a choice? Sorry if this is posted under the wrong category, "General Gun Discussions" seemed like a good choice.
     
  2. devildog4329

    devildog4329 Member

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    Currently There are fireteams made up of a team leader, gunner, A gunner, and rifleman. There are variants to this depending on mission requirements but for the most part there are 2 M-16's, a 203, and a 249 in each team. I beleive this is true also for that time period just insert the different weapons and the position names.
     
  3. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    As I understand it, enlisted men were issued M1 Garands. They were the most common and probably the best battle rifle/implement in that war.
    NCOs and officers were issued M1 Carbines and or Thompsons. The carbine was really considered a "rear echelon" weapon; it was developed to replace the role of a pistol since it was easier to train non-gun familiar people to use long arms than handguns, but the light easy handling weapon was popular enough to find its way into the front lines and when ranges weren't great, proved quite effective in combat.
    Thompsons were issued to platoon leaders. However both the Thompson and carbine found their way into the hands of others. When an officer was killed they just didn't leave his weapons lying there.
    The Thompson was expensive and complicated to make. The original model of 1928 was simplified to the M1 and later the M1A1 which eliminated the firing pin from the bolt. There were never really enough of them as they were very useful in city/town fighting where there was close range fighting. Later the M3 greasegun was developed and while the Thompson was never really replaced, the ease of manufacture of the greasegun provided enough submachine guns to help meet the need for them.
    The M1 Carbine was cheap to make in comparison to the Thompsons and six million were made, and about five million or so Garands (IIRC).
    If you would like to learn a little more I suggest locating a book titled US Infantry Weapons in Combat ~~ Personal Experiences From World War Two and Korea by Mark Goodwin. It has a huge compilation of stories told by soldiers and their weapons -- people that "been there, done that."
    Complicating your question is it seems that sometimes soldiers changed out their weapons as they moved out and entered new areas. For example a soldier might have landed on D-Day with a Garand, then as they went into a town he might be able to grab a Thompson or Carbine, then if they went back out to open areas, he'd pick up the Garand again. Keep in mind that these were of course not personnally owned guns, they were issued by Uncle Sam.
     
  4. TexasBill

    TexasBill Member

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    Standard GI issue was the Garand. There would also generally be one soldier with a BAR as the platoon's "heavy" weapon. A soldier assigned to a weapon that precluded carrying a rifle (like a bazooka) would be issued a sidearm. Thompsons generally went to NCOs.

    I am not sure how the M1 carbines were assigned. It was originally developed for officers who didn't like the .45 pistol but a lot of them wound up in the hands of enlisted men.
     
  5. Weedy

    Weedy Member

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    Good explanation Tommygunn, thank you. I'll see if I can find that book.
     
  6. 61chalk

    61chalk Member

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    Don't forget the BAR...Usually the bigger stronger guys hauled them. I think alot
    may of been determined in basic at how good you performed with a weapon. Then
    sometimes you didn't want to give up your Garand to have to haul around the BAR,
    but higher ups decided for you.
     
  7. Tim the student

    Tim the student Member

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    For what its worth, my Granddad was a mortarman in the Pacific.

    He was originally issued a .45, but he decided after his first firefight he didn't much like that .45 so he got a carbine and carried it (along with that .45 and the rest of his equipment) for the duration of the war. I don't know if he picked it up off the ground, or had it issued, but the bottom line is that he wanted one, and found a way to keep it.
     
  8. X-Rap

    X-Rap Member

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    The old ones are going fast but go to any airport or to a WalMart around any post and you will find guys just like those and you can wear the skin off your hand.
    Just look for the uniform.
     
  9. Mark whiz

    Mark whiz Member

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    All good accurate info on WWII armament given so far.

    As far as the M1 Carbine is concerned - it was issued in droves to paratroopers because it was a WHOLE lot easier to jump with than the Garand because of its size. And since Band of Brothers is based on "Easy" company of the 101st Airborne..............most of the enlisted men would have been issued the carbines for the D-Day jump. After hitting the ground...........they would have picked up whatever they wanted.

    I know what you mean. I had the great priviledge of meeting Gen Paul Tibbets (pilot of the Enola Gay) about 5 years ago before he passed away. Something I'll never forget.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2009
  10. SharpsDressedMan

    SharpsDressedMan member

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    My dad was in the Pacific, Phillipines, etc. He was a heavy mortarman, was issued a carbine (as he had to carry an extra 40-50lbs of mortar rounds or gear), but snatched up a Garand immediately (from a dead G.I.), as he had no faith in the carbine, and claimed it "wouldn't hit the broadside of a barn". I never understood that; later in life, every carrbine I shot was certainly "combat worthy", accuracy-wise. He felt the extra 5-6lbs of Garand and .30-06 ammo was worth it over the lighter weight of the carbine, even though they sometimes toted 80lbs of gear at any time on the move. As for the carbine knocking down Japs, that was another story. They were tough fighters, and were known to dope up or get adrenaline highs from psycho-workups before attacks, etc. My dad also said they would go on 2-man recon patrols in addition to mortar duty, and one was issued a BAR and .45, the other a rifle, and .45's when running com lines, in addition to their rifles.
     
  11. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    The real answer is that each unit or type of unit had a Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E). That stated the number of men in the unit, their ranks and their weapons, as well as any other equipment, such as radios, that the unit was responsible for. As a rule, the company was the basic unit, and its TO&E included its platoons and squads.

    Were those Tables always followed? No, but the Army tried to keep things straight because support, such as ammo supply, was based on the TO&E, not on what some GI got somewhere and decided to carry.

    Carbines were intended to replace pistols, but prior to their development, many more people carried pistols than did in WWII or today. In WWI, pistols were carried by machinegunners and assistants, BAR men and assistants, mortar men, artillerymen, horse handlers, messengers, and platoon and squad leaders, as well as by company grade officers. In WWII, most of those folks were issued carbines, so there were a fair number of carbines issued in an infantry unit. They were NOT "rear echelon" or issued to "cooks and bakers" as they usual saying goes. (Cooks and bakers usually carried rifles; they were expected to fight as infantry if necessary.)

    SMGs were also issued per the unit TO&E, but were sometimes issued "ILO" (in lieu of) a carbine or M1 rifle. SMGs were the standard weapons of tankers. (The "tanker M1 rifle" was never a military weapon; it was a postwar civilian invention and the name was an advertising gimmick.)

    Other units commonly issued carbines were signal troops, military police, and others whose primary job was something other than fighting.

    P.S. In a movie, a "TO&E" weapon is whatever the director thinks looks good, even if it hasn't been invented yet.

    Jim
     
  12. marcograms

    marcograms Member

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    This is my first post so please bear with me. My grandfather served in the Philipines and Okinawa in WW2. He told me that in basic training he and several other men were trained on the flamethrower. He said that the fumes made him sick so he was "tried" on other weapons. He was eventually issued the Browning .30 caliber machinegun that was carried with a shoulder sling. Apparently whoever was in charge was impressed with his accuracy on the gun. He said he just didn't hold it so tight and could even shoot single and double rounds. He was only 5'4" so I asked him if it was heavy and he told me that the it was and the sling had cut his shoulder to the bone after a few months overseas. So I guess in his case it was what he was best with. BTW, he also said that he was issued a "colt automatic pistol" but he never shot it because in training it cut the web of his hand. I really miss him and his attitude towards it all. He said it was just the right thing to do.
     
  13. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Did the Marines utilize the M1 carbine to the same extent as the Army?
     
  14. tpaw

    tpaw Member

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    Weedy asks:

    I was issued an M-16 before going to Vietnam. Once there, you picked up and used whatever you wanted, as long as you could find ample ammo for it. AK's, Swedish K's, Thompsons, SKS's, M1 Garands, M1 and M2 Carbines, BAR's, .45 Cal's, .38 Cal's, 9mm Lugers, the list goes on. In my infantry company there were no holds barred. That country was full of every military weapon you could think of dating back to WW2 and before.
    I would say the AK47 was the most popular because it didn't deflect off the elephant grass the way the M-16 or CAR 15 did. In most cases it would plow right through.
     
  15. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Member

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    Not as much but they had a lot.
    [​IMG]

    I enlisted in the Marines in 1955. We were issued M1 Garands and BAR's. One BAR to a 8 man squad and everyone carried BAR magazines.
    I never even saw a M1 Carbine.
     
  16. snakeman

    snakeman Member

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    It really comes down to the conditions each man will be fighting in. The carbine and thompson were best suited to cqc. Whereas the Garand open areas and concrete.
     
  17. Trebor

    Trebor Member

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    The Marines used *A LOT* of Carbines in the late Pacific fighting. They liked the fast firing and high mag capacity. The short range wasn't as much of a problem in most of the island fighting. Watch newsreel footage from Iwo Jima and Okinawa and you'll see a lot of M-1 Carbines. (Along with the usual Garands and BAR's)

    Unfortuantely, the Marines had problems with M-1 Carbines during the Korean War. Because of that they pretty much withdrew them from service after Korea. That's probably why you didn't see any when you served back in '55.
     
  18. Trebor

    Trebor Member

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    The TO&E for the WWII Airborne Divisions changed a bit over time. Originally it was mainly Garands. Later more M-1 Carbines were introduced after the M-1A1 paratrooper version was introduced. The Thompson was also used heavily. As far as I know, the M-3 Grease Gun was used very little, if at all.

    Generally, your "average" Patatrooper rifleman would have a M-1 Garand. The Carbines were more for Officers and sometimes NCO's. The Thompsons were issued about one per squad to give the squad a little more close range firepower.

    The Airborne units didn't issue the BAR on D-Day. Instead they issued more model 1919 MG's. The BAR wasn't considered to be safe to jump with so if the weapon had to be put in a equipment bag and dropped separately, why not jut put a belt-fed MG in the bag instead?

    Later in the war some Airborne units did issue some BAR's, but I'm not sure on the details of which units and how common they were.

    On D-Day most troopers didn't have pistols. Later there was an effort to issue more pistols to enlisted troopers so they would have a weapon ready to go when they landed. The Garand had to be taken down to three pieces for the jump. I believe by Market Garden the goal was for every trooper to have a pistol, but I don't believe that goal was actually met.

    Once on the ground paratroopers would switch out weapons as needed, depending on ammo availability and weapon availability. It wouldn't be hard for someone to swap out a Garand for, say, a Thompson once they found a gun that "wasn't needed by a trooper" anymore. Of course, later they might be ordered to switch back.
     
  19. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Member

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    It's odd, but in my church (under 175 members) I have three WWII vets - one Army (Pacific) and two Navy (Pacific). I also have one Korea vet and a handful of Vietnam vets.

    To keep it on-thread, in his book ABOUT FACE, David Hackworth talked about soldiers in Korea picking up other's weapons; Thompsons ("beautiful, musical Thompsons," he called them) were in high demand. I imagine some of that took place in WWII, too.

    Q
     
  20. Jubjub

    Jubjub Member

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    In Major Dick Winters' book, Beyond Band of Brothers, he mentioned why he carried an M1 Garand. This was after seeing another officer get hit by a sniper while leading an attack.

    "I was still afraid of snipers after seeing Brewer get hit, so I put my map case under my pants belt. I next pulled my fatigue jacket over the map case and the binoculars, to conceal both. I then turned the collar of my jacket up to conceal my rank. I tried as much as possible to look like just another GI, which was why I always carried an MI rifle. It just felt good knowing that I could take care of myself in all situations."

    They seem to have taken very good care to be correct about the weapons in the mini-series. In Normandy, you see only Garands, Carbines, M1919A4 machine guns, Thompsons, and 1911 pistols. Later in the war, you start to see M1919A6 machine guns (the ones with buttstocks and bipods), M3 submachineguns, and BARs.
     
  21. John_galt

    John_galt Member

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    One of the unexpected pleasures of my carreer as a physician is the number of WWII vets I have been priveleged to have as patients. The scope has amazed me. I have had WWII vets Pacific and European, officers to enlisted men, nearly all branches of the sevices. Two men were in it from Normandy, the Bulge, to the very end of the war. I have a married couple that were in the Dutch underground resistance. A man who was a medic in the German infantry on the Eastern Front, his perspective is really interesing (hated the Nazis, more scared of them than the Russians.) It ia an amazing privelege to get to know and talk to these people.
     
  22. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

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    My late grandfather was in the army Signal Corps on Okinawa. He was issued an M1 Carbine. He told me he was a good shot, and nearly qualified as a sharpshooter, but by the 3rd day of training the M1 Garand had beaten his shoulder black and blue and he flinched. I believe it, having seen him shoot. When the military liquidated its stash of carbines, he purchased one and I have it now. It's a nice little rifle.

    He did mention that soldiers would sometimes find weapons and pick them up, and swap whatever they were issued for them. He picked up a Garand at one point, but stuck with his Carbine. Honestly, the TO&E didn't matter as much as you would think. Keep in mind that, if the weapon is there, the supplies have already been requisitioned for it. A little more of this and a little less of that didn't matter too much.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  23. jobu07

    jobu07 Member

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    A great answer Jim. This is exactly correct from an administrative standpoint. Everyone seems to forget the military has a supply system and MTOE. If a soldier did a battlefield "swap" you better believe the weapon they were assigned out of the arms room didn't get tossed on the ground - it had to be accounted for and go back into that company's arms room.
     
  24. Hillbillyz

    Hillbillyz Member

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    My father was issued an M1 as his basic weapon, but as others have said you tended to use what you liked and found. He "found" a 1911 and carried that for a while but said he never could hit much with it. Later he got a P38 and used that until the end of the war.
     
  25. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Member

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    Forgot to mention, on my internship as a "student pastor," I met a veteran from the ARIZONA. Yes, he was there on December 7, 1941. No, he couldn't tell me about it - after that sentence "I was there..." he choked up and started weeping.

    Seriously...find a vet, from any war, and tell him thanks. When I can, I usually buy them a cup of coffee, lunch, or dinner as a very, very small token of appreciation.
     
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