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What rifle would be used by WWII soldier European theater?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by wsryno, May 2, 2012.

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  1. wsryno

    wsryno Member

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    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,
     
  2. 351 WINCHESTER

    351 WINCHESTER Member

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    Your Dad could have carried a Thompson smg, 1903 Springfield sniper or an M1 carbine, but most likely he carried the Garand.
     
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    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
     
  4. Ron James

    Ron James Member

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    RC of course is right, however either a Garand or a M1 Carbine would be close enough for government work.
     
  5. 7.62 Nato

    7.62 Nato Member

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    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.
     
  6. Ron James

    Ron James Member

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    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
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2012
  7. Tim the student

    Tim the student Member

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    Start here 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.
     
  8. Ron James

    Ron James Member

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    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.:)
     
  9. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    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.
     
  10. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2012
  11. Schutzen

    Schutzen Member

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    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.
     
  12. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    I found an 83rf Div reenactment group. If the image they feature is accurate, they had Garands. suggest you contact them.
     
  13. Trebor

    Trebor Member

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    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).
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2012
  14. Husker1911

    Husker1911 Member

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    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.
     
  15. hang fire

    hang fire Member

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

    mgkdrgn Member

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    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.
     
  17. PBR Streetgang

    PBR Streetgang Member

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    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.
     
  18. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    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.
     
  19. shep854

    shep854 Member

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    M1903s were issue for 'rear-echelon' units, though wartime 'flexibility' prevailed.;)
     
  20. JLDickmon

    JLDickmon Member

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    My Dad was in an domineering stallion, and he carried an M1 Carbine..
     
  21. Tim the student

    Tim the student Member

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    PBR, do you know what BN your dad was in? I was in 3-505 for much of my time in the army.
     
  22. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    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.
     
  23. carbine85

    carbine85 Member

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  24. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    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.
     
  25. wsryno

    wsryno Member

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    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.
     
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