Patton's Guns

Patton's Guns

A Fool’s Errand: Patton’s Flawed Mission

On the morning of March 26, 1945, Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cohen’s 10th Armored Infantry Battalion (AIB) was heavily engaged at Aschaffenburg, a town near the Main River in western Germany. Hitler’s Third Reich was in its death throes, crushed between Anglo-American armies in the West and a rampaging Russian juggernaut in the East. But Cohen knew that the end would not be easy and that his foe was like a mortally wounded animal, still capable of inflicting enormous damage with a courage born of desperation.

If nothing else, the demands of commanding an infantry battalion in combat kept Cohen’s mind off his own physical discomfort—from hemorrhoids aggravated by bouncing along in a jeep. The 10th AIB was assisting the 37th Tank Battalion’s lumbering Shermans in the Aschaffenburg push. The two units were part of the 4th Armored Division, considered by many the best armored formation in Lt. Gen. George S. Patton’s vaunted Third Army.

It was in the midst of this melee that Cohen received an order from his immediate superior, Lt. Col. Creighton Abrams: “Prepare your battalion for a special combat mission for General Patton. ETD 1700.” The directive was the start of one of the most controversial American military operations of the war and cast a shadow over Patton’s otherwise illustrious career.

George S. Patton Jr. was no stranger to controversy, but in the spring of 1945 he was at the height of his power. A brilliant commander, courageous and daring, he was also vain, self-promoting and had a tendency to bully subordinates. The impact of his prickly personality was mitigated somewhat by the performance of his men. In the previous few months, the Third Army had done wonders, particularly during the Battle of the Bulge. While his army’s exploits only increased the general’s fame, they also fed his vanity.

Patton’s successes bred a growing arrogance, a conviction that he could achieve miracles by the sheer force of his will. And events seemed to prove him right. On March 23, 1945, the Third Army crossed the Rhine—the first Allied army to do so. Basking in the glow of the accomplishment, Patton sat down that evening to write a letter to his wife, Beatrice. Among topics the general touched on was one of a personal nature: “We are headed for John’s place, and may get there before he is moved.”

“John” was Patton’s son-in-law, Lt. Col. John Knight Waters, who had been captured in 1943 during the fighting in Tunisia, and was eventually imprisoned at Oflag 64 in Szubin, Poland. In January 1945, with the boom of Soviet cannons echoing through the camp, the Germans marched their prisoners westward in an attempt to keep them out of the path of the rapidly advancing Red Army.

The trek was conducted under exceedingly severe conditions. Undernourished POWs endured heavy snow and temperatures that plummeted to 20 below zero without adequate food, shelter or clothing. Many did not survive, but Waters did, and by March he was being held along with several hundred other Allied officers at Oflag XIIIB near the sprawling military complex in and around Hammelburg, Germany.

Patton had gotten wind of his son-in-law’s whereabouts, and two days after his first note to Beatrice, he wrote her again: “Hope to send an expedition tomorrow to get John.” The Third Army’s commander later insisted he had no idea that Waters was in Hammelburg. But intelligence reports had been circulating that indicated Allied POWs from Szubin had been sent to Hammelburg, and Patton’s letters to Beatrice clearly showed he had been contemplating a rescue mission for some time.

At 10 a.m. on March 26, Patton arrived at Colonel Abrams’ command post, accompanied by his aide, Major Alexander Stiller, and Brig. Gen. William M. Hodge of the 4th Armored Division. Patton needed no introduction, dressed as usual in his riding jodhpurs and immaculate Eisenhower jacket. A lacquered helmet was perched on his head, its three stars gleaming.

After the usual salutes and pleasantries, Patton explained that he wanted to send a mission deep behind enemy lines to rescue Allied prisoners he feared would be murdered. He then asked who was to lead the expedition. “I am,” Abrams declared. “And I want to take Combat Command B.” Patton immediately vetoed that idea: “You are not going and neither is your command. This is to be a small force.”

A combat command was a highly mobile, self-contained unit of 3,500 to 5,000 men. Usually consisting of a battalion each of armored infantry, tanks and artillery, plus medical, engineering, recon and service elements, a combat command was flexible but strong enough to stand on its own. What Patton wanted was a smaller force of about 300 men and maybe 50 vehicles. Any debate was soon over, and Patton, as usual, had his way.

The men would come from Cohen’s 10th AIB. The colonel, indisposed because of his piles, could not lead the proposed expedition, so command fell to Captain Abraham Baum, a seasoned officer with plenty of combat experience who took orders in stride. When Patton promised Baum the Medal of Honor if he succeeded, the captain replied, “I have my orders, sir you don’t have to bribe me.”

His wishes made clear, Patton turned to leave, pausing at the door just long enough to say that Major Stiller would remain behind to “fill in the details.” Cohen, Abrams and Baum still had only the vaguest idea of what they and their men were being asked to do. They soon found out.

“There’s a POW camp there with 300 American officers in it,” Stiller breezily offered, “and Patton wants them liberated.” Hammelburg was 60 miles east of Abrams’ CP, and some 50 miles behind German lines.

While the others talked, Baum pored over a map. Surprised to realize that the POW camp was not marked on any of the military maps, the captain immediately asked Stiller the camp’s location. “Don’t know,” Stiller admitted. “But General Patton says you ought to be able to choke that out of some civilian when you get there.”

That was not all. After absorbing Stiller’s nonchalant assessment of the situation, Baum was hit by another bombshell—he’d be on his own. In fact, the entire Third Army was shifting its position northward. Task Force Baum would operate in the Seventh Army’s territory. Stiller assured Baum of the Seventh’s cooperation and added that air support would be available if needed.

The conference was drawing to a close when Stiller mentioned he would be going along for the ride. Red flags shot up in Baum’s mind. Something was not right. Stiller was a staff officer, a “pen pusher,” but as a major he would outrank Baum.

When asked why he was coming at all, Stiller glibly answered: “The general wants me to get a taste of combat. I’m only going along for the laughs and a high old time.” As soon as Stiller left, Baum remarked to Cohen: “Something’s fishy. This doesn’t make sense.” “Can it, Abe,” Cohen replied. “We’ve gotten our orders…and if Stiller says he’s going along for the ride, you don’t have to put up with any shit from him either. You got that?”

The real reason that Stiller had been “offered” the opportunity to see some combat was that he would be able to identify Waters in a crowd of hundreds of prisoners. Stiller would travel in his own jeep.

As unusual as all this was, Cohen and Abrams faced more pressing issues and had to put their doubts aside to focus on matters at hand. Foremost was the need to punch a large enough hole through the German front line to allow Task Force Baum to squeeze through. With little time to consider other options, they decided that one place this could reasonably be achieved was at Aschaffenburg, which was just beyond the bridgehead they had established over the Main River.

Even forcing a passage there would be tricky, however. Typical of that part of Germany, the town was full of narrow, twisting streets—a tanker’s nightmare—and had been recently reinforced by German infantry. The next best option was Schweinheim, about a mile to the south, which was less heavily defended.

Working at a frenzied pace, Abrams and Cohen prepared Task Force Baum, which would comprise C Company, 37th Tank Battalion A Company, 10th AIB and supporting troops from other units. At 8:30 p.m., less than 12 hours since Patton had first presented the idea, American artillery opened up on a narrow section of the front to clear a way for Baum’s 10 M4A3 Sherman medium tanks, six M5A1 Stuart light tanks, three self-propelled 105mm guns, 27 halftracks and eight jeeps. It was not enough. The attack had gotten off to a glacially slow start, and before long infantry had to be called in.

The original plan had been to achieve a breakthrough in two hours. It was well past midnight when Baum’s force bludgeoned its way through the German front lines. After clearing Schweinheim, the pace picked up. Lieutenant William Weaver’s Stuarts, armed with 37mm guns, took the lead. Next came a cluster of jeeps, including Baum’s command vehicle. Behind the jeeps were the 10 Shermans, whose clanking metallic tracks ruled out any hope of a stealthy passage. Following behind the Shermans were halftracks stuffed with infantrymen. Bringing up the rear were the self-propelled guns and a handful of maintenance and supply vehicles.

The first objective for the mile-long column was Highway 26, part of Adolf Hitler’s celebrated autobahn. The task force raced through the village of Haibach-Grünmorsbach without serious opposition, though German soldiers did fire an occasional potshot at the column. Most often, the Germans weren’t even aware that the armored vehicles rumbling by were American. One small town the Americans drove through was full of civilians walking to work and rear-echelon soldiers more concerned with girls than the war. At one point, as the column passed a hospital, some German nurses leaned out the window and waved to the American tankers. The GIs waved back, hoping the young ladies wouldn’t notice that their uniforms were not field gray.

Baum raced up and down the column in his jeep, partly to keep an eye on things and partly to encourage the men on what seemed an impossible mission. Leaving nothing to chance, he ordered the light tanks to knock down the telephone poles that lined the road and infantrymen to follow behind to cut any visible phone lines.

As soon as the task force reached Highway 26, Baum ordered it to move at full speed and the column was soon racing down the road. In the lead in his M5A1, christened Conquering Hero, was Lieutenant Weaver, who must have felt like one as he hurtled down the autobahn on his maiden combat mission. At first all Weaver could make out were trees of a forested countryside, but as the sun came up, the untried officer caught sight of a large parade ground filled with German troops performing their morning calisthenics.

Once they recognized the American tanks, the Germans rushed for their stacked weapons and opened fire. Conquering Hero’s Sergeant Robert Vannett fired back, and other tanks followed suit as they passed. But only some of the Germans actually reached their weapons to unleash a desultory fire American bullets were falling on the parade ground so heavily that most of the stunned men simply sought whatever shelter they could. Next to greet Weaver was a group of Germans marching down the highway just ahead. Rather than fight, these soldiers simply threw down their arms and surrendered.

There was, however, no time to take prisoners, or any room for them in the crowded vehicles if there had been. All the GIs could do was instruct the Germans to lay down their rifles on the road so that the column could pass over them, crushing the weapons under the weight of tons of steel. The bewildered soldiers were then let go.

As Task Force Baum raced into the unknown, the POWs inside Oflag XIIIB rose to face another day. Most, about 4,000 in all, were Serbs captured in 1941 when Hitler’s legions overran Yugoslavia. The first major contingent of Americans had arrived in January 1945 during the Battle of the Bulge. After Waters and the internees from Poland reached the POW camp in early March, the number of Americans held behind the wire was about 1,500—a far cry from the 300 men that Baum believed he would be trying to rescue.

Lieutenant Herndon Inge Jr. of the 94th Infantry Division was one of the officers incarcerated at the camp. Taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge, he had endured forced marches in blizzards and two train rides in freezing boxcars before reaching Hammelburg. Conditions in the camp were appalling. Fleas and bedbugs infested what blankets were available and lice roamed at will through the prisoners’ uniforms. Food was poor, and sometimes the Germans withheld the life-saving Red Cross parcels from the malnourished men.

Baum was not aware of any of that, but he did know that he needed to cover a lot of dangerous ground in a very short time. Fearful of what his column might encounter as it charged ahead, Baum decided to place the Shermans commanded by 2nd Lt. William Nutto at its head instead of the lighter Stuarts. It was a fortunate decision, because soon after the change was made the task force ran into a German roadblock near Lohr.

Before the crew of the lead tank could react, a Panzerfaust round exploded against their Sherman. A blossom of smoke and flame burst from the tank with a roar, the explosion marking a direct hit. The Sherman shuddered and swerved to the right before coming to an abrupt halt. The crew quickly scrambled out of the vehicle and scurried to safety, but that exposed the second tank to enemy fire.

This time the American got off the first shot. The second Sherman was ready, and as soon as the lead tank cleared its line of fire, the crew lowered their 76mm cannon and blasted the roadblock to smithereens. They followed by machine-gunning its wrecked remains for good measure. One American tanker had been killed in the firefight, and the lead Sherman was so badly damaged it had to be abandoned.

Hoping to avoid a repeat of that unwelcome encounter, Baum returned Weaver’s light tanks to the point and ordered them to keep their eyes open. The countryside was lovely, with hills carpeted by pines that reminded Weaver of Christmas trees. He began to sing “O Tannenbaum,” but his refrain was cut short by the sight of two German tanks in the distance escorting a truck convoy bearing 88s and their crews.

Believing they were well behind the front, the Germans were completely unaware that the approaching armored vehicles were American. As the two columns passed each other on opposite sides of the road, the Americans opened up with their machine guns. The German tanks swerved, seemingly out of control, and one truck burst into an orange ball of flame. The 88s’ crews scrambled out of the trucks, but many were not fast enough.

The encounter left the German convoy thoroughly decimated, its vehicles burning or angled crazily off the road. As Weaver passed the wreckage, he noticed one German soldier slumped over a vehicle. Weaver was prepared to see combat dead, but he was startled to discover that this enemy casualty was a woman, her hair flowing down in a cascade of blond strands. His reflective mood was shattered by a familiar voice shouting: “Don’t slow down to mop up. Keep moving!” It was Captain Baum, barreling down the column in an effort to encourage the men to redouble their efforts.

The task force passed Lohr and headed for Gemünden, a town at the confluence of the Sinn, Main and Fränkische Saale rivers. As they approached, a German train came into view, chugging earnestly on a track that roughly paralleled Highway 26. It was pulling a mixed combination of freight and passenger cars, all loaded with German troops and anti-aircraft guns.

A 37mm shell from Conquering Hero slammed into the locomotive’s boiler, producing a huge explosion that pulverized the engine and turned the train into a mass of twisted metal. Other tanks joined in the destruction by lobbing thermite grenades into the stalled cars. Closer to Gemünden, Task Force Baum stumbled upon a huge German railroad marshalling yard. The 10 or more trains assembled there were virtually defenseless.

Immediately realizing the value of this target, Baum ordered his tanks to fire into the massed engines and rolling stock. Large 76mm shells ripped through the yards, crippling locomotives and wrecking boxcars, but the job was too big for Baum’s force and he requested an airstrike to eliminate what remained.

While the destruction of the rail yard was without incident, it cost the Americans time—time for the Germans to prepare to stop them. When Baum and his column entered Gemünden itself, they were greeted by enemy soldiers determined not to let them pass. In the ensuing firefight, two—some sources say three—of Baum’s tanks were knocked out by Panzerfausts and abandoned. Enemy machine gun fire accounted for 20 dead or wounded GIs. Among those injured was Baum, who received deep gashes in a hand and knee.

Despite the casualties, the Americans were beginning to make progress when they discovered that engineers from the Germans’ 46th Convalescent Company, consisting of men recovering from wounds and teenage cadets from the navy who were being retrained, had blown up the vital bridge over the Sinn and Fränkische Saale rivers where they joined the Main River. This was the span that Baum knew he had to have if he was going to reach his objective.

With no other option, Baum was now forced to disengage and seek another route to Hammelburg. One German prisoner offered, after receiving a few veiled threats, to lead the Americans to a crossing at Burgsinn. All this took time, however—something Baum could not spare.

It was late morning on March 27 and the column was now only about 10 miles from Oflag XIIIB. When the task force reached Gräfendorf, it came across some 700 Russian POWs. The Russians, delighted to be liberated, celebrated by spending the next few days wreaking vengeance on the German locals.

Task Force Baum was nearly there—but not quite. Outside Hammelburg, Baum’s remaining M4s tangled with seven German Hetzer self-propelled guns. While the Shermans grappled with the German tank-killers, Baum’s light tanks, halftracks and one assault gun encountered two companies of German infantry dug in near the POW camp. They were cleaned out, but only after a long and bloody fight. The Shermans also eventually triumphed and rejoined the force.

The cost was high. Five halftracks and three jeeps had been destroyed. The vehicles that remained were battered, their crews exhausted. Worse, one of the demolished halftracks had contained the extra fuel necessary to make the return trip.

For the “Kriegies” at Oflag XIIIB, none of this mattered. Late in the afternoon on the 27th, the drudgery of their daily ordeal to survive was interrupted by the sound of the battle raging nearby. Then, as Lieutenant Inge recalled, “We saw several American tanks of Task Force Baum appear over the crest of the hill to the west of the camp firing their guns in our direction.” Liberation seemed at hand.

Baum’s Shermans began to fire on the parts of the compound where German opposition was expected. The 76mm shells arced overhead, only to land with a terrifying roar. Camp commandant Maj. Gen. Günther von Goeckel made his way to the office of Colonel Paul R. Goode, the senior American officer in the camp, shouting: “Your army is killing Serbs. You must tell them to stop. The Geneva Convention forbids fighting in a POW camp!

“I am now your prisoner!” the camp commandant announced. “Now it’s your responsibility.” Acting quickly, Goode conferred with Waters, who was a member of his staff. Waters volunteered to ask the American column for a cease-fire, but as he headed out, he was shot in the hip by a German guard who evidently had not received word of the camp’s surrender. Badly wounded and bleeding heavily, Waters was taken to the Serb compound, where its medical staff saved his life.

Lieutenant Inge recalled that at “about 1630 hours, two of the big Sherman tanks broke through the double barbed wire fence, trailing the wires and uprooted fencepost.” German resistance had been sporadic and soon ceased altogether.

Baum radioed the 4th Armored Division that the mission was accomplished, but in his heart he knew that was not quite true. He had reached his objective, but he was still nearly 60 miles behind German lines. Many of the task force’s vehicles had been disabled, and the remainder were in bad shape. Fuel was running low, and on the way back the column would lack the element of surprise that had contributed so much to its success thus far. What concerned Baum most, however, was the number of POWs he found at the camp—the sprawling complex contained 1,500 Americans and the thousands of Serbs who had been incarcerated since 1941.

It fell to Baum to break up the revelry of thousands of joyous men who believed their hour of liberation had come and give them a sober assessment of the situation. The captain hobbled onto the top of his jeep—his knee throbbing—and shouted for quiet. “We came to bring you back to American lines,” he said, “but there are far more of you than we expected. We don’t have enough vehicles to take all of you. Some of you who want to go may be able to walk along with the column, but remember, we’ll probably have to fight our way out of here.”

The news deflated the celebrations, euphoria replaced by frustration and despair. Many simply gave up in disgust and walked back to the POW compound. About 200 elected to take their chances with the task force. Lieutenant Inge was one of them. He happily climbed onto one of the Shermans along with five or six other prisoners. “I felt exposed high up above the ground,” he later recounted. “As we moved out, the cold wind blew in my face and I had an exhilarating and wonderful feeling of freedom.” After loading up what men it could, the task force quickly left the prison compound and probed south.

Baum hoped to reach Highway 27, then race for safety. Colonel Richard Hoppe, the German commander of the Hammelburg training area, was determined to prevent it. Hoppe had assembled a menagerie of several disparate units to stop the Americans. His force included some self-propelled guns and a few Panzerkampfwagen Mark IV tanks. The German commander could also count on personnel from a nearby antitank school, and some 300 men from an officer candidate school. The cadets were veterans with at least one year’s combat experience.

It was not much, but it was enough. Hoppe’s men worked quickly to set up a series of roadblocks that stopped the American column in its tracks. As the Shermans attempted to back up and turn around, they were hit with a torrent of Panzerfaust rockets. Newly freed POW Inge experienced the attack firsthand, still clinging to his Sherman for dear life. “One of the rockets swooshed by my head like a Roman candle as it went past and exploded in the woods,” he remembered. “I felt the heat and crouched down. If the round had been a few inches closer and had hit the tank, all of us hanging on would have been killed.”

Inge was indeed fortunate. Three of Baum’s other tanks were quickly knocked out. Hoping to regroup, the task force commander led his men to an area marked on the map as Hill 427. It was an unfortunate, if coincidental, choice of location. The Americans were right on top of an antitank firing range, one that their opponents used frequently and knew intimately. By now it was clear to Task Force Baum survivors that the odds of their getting home were very long. Some of the recently liberated POWs saw the handwriting on the wall and began their own slow trek back to the camp.

At first light on March 28, Baum and what remained of his task force attempted a final breakout. German tank shells and Panzerfausts pulverized the column. Those Americans not killed were taken prisoner. Only a handful—perhaps 20— escaped the German net. Most had to endure another month of hardship and privation before the war ended and they enjoyed their freedom for good.

The ill-conceived operation was a disaster. The 37th Tank Battalion later reported four officers and 73 men missing in action, and their counterparts in the 10th AIB recorded losses of six officers and 209 men. Subsequent investigation revealed that of those, 25 had been killed in action. It was the 4th Armored Division’s largest single loss of the war. To that figure must be added those men either killed or wounded at Schweinheim forcing a passage for Baum to begin the raid.

To counter any criticism, Patton claimed that Task Force Baum was a diversion for the Third Army’s move northward. He also disingenuously claimed that he did not know his son-in-law was in the camp. When Patton visited the recently freed Baum in the hospital, the captain commented, “You know, sir, it is difficult for me to believe that you would have sent us on that mission just to rescue one man.” The general responded, “That’s right, Abe, I wouldn’t.”

Luckily for the Third Army’s mercurial commander, the war was winding down and his superiors became more concerned with bringing the fighting in Europe to an end than in chastising him. It was not until the posthumous publication of Patton’s memoirs, War As I Knew It, in 1948 that any admission or sense of guilt on his part came to light.

“I can say this,” the general wrote, “that throughout the campaign in Europe I know of no error I made except that of failing to send a combat command to Hammelburg.”

Eric Niderost writes frequently for World War II Magazine. For further reading, see Patton’s Vanguard: The United States Army Fourth Armored Division, by Don M. Fox.

Originally published in the August 2006 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.

Patton’s Peacemaker Blazes Again

At the dawn of the age of automatic pistols, young Lt. George S. Patton relied on reverse technology when he used his famed ivory-stocked, 1873 model Colt in a shoot-out with Capt. Julio Cardenas and two of his fellow Villistas.

(Patton used the same Peacemaker during WWII.) Although this fight was a legitimate military encounter, it had all the earmarks of a Wild West gunfight. The History Channel’s Wild West Tech Producer/Director Martin Kent was so taken with this incident that he included it in the military episode, which aired on April 6.

Wild West Tech is a new weekly series hosted by Keith Carradine that debuted on March 30. Examining the innovations, contraptions and gear that transformed the frontier, the series shows how such advancements laid the groundwork for America’s high-tech future. But sometimes, as a review of Patton’s history shows, improved technology didn’t mean that people used it.

To recreate the historical skirmish, Kent found his Lt. Patton in Sam Dolan, a 24-year-old film production assistant and a historical re-enactor who appeared on Wild West Tech’s gunslingers episode and the Discovery Channel’s Unsolved History program about the O.K. Corral. Dolan’s uniform was matched against 1916-era Patton photos, as were the uniforms of his men, who were outfitted with 1903 Springfield .30-06 bolt-action rifles and other period gear from the segment’s costumer Al Frisch.

The final touch was Patton’s famed Colt. Although Frisch had several Single Action Army (SAA) revolvers that were similar, he and I agreed that we needed a duplicate of Patton’s Peacemaker.

Back in the mid-1980s, I had written an article on a limited-edition commemorative clone of this famed six-gun for Guns & Ammo magazine. This detail-perfect copy was produced by the American Historical Foundation (AHF) of Richmond, Virginia.

I telephoned my longtime amigo , AHF President Robert A. Buerlein, to see if I could obtain a Patton commemorative. He had just one—his personal copy—serial No. P0001 of the series. Excited about the History Channel project, Buerlein agreed to loan us his revolver for the filming.

Arriving just two days before production, the AHF revolver was a spitting image of Ol’ Blood and Guts’ original gun. Patton’s replica .45 Colt-chambered SAA had a 4 3 ⁄ 4 -inch barrel, smokeless powder-era frame (circa 1916) and was embellished with silver plating and hand engraving.

Although Patton’s Colt had two-piece genuine ivory stocks, the AHF Italian-made, Uberti replica sported simulated ivory. However, in keeping with the real McCoy, the right grip panel was incised with Patton’s “GSP” initials and the gun’s butt had a lanyard swivel.

With his dead-on, shooting copy of Patton’s Colt, the handsome, young, flesh and blood “replica” of Lt. Patton joined his troopers and three mounted Villista vaqueros for the recreation of the Cardenas fight. The show will also air close-ups of the Colt commemorative.

Patton’s fight is one of many in-depth subjects airing on the Wild West Tech series, which includes shows on the evolution of the saddle, cardsharp tricks and train robbery techniques employed by the likes of Butch Cassidy.

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Phil Spangenberger has written for Guns & Ammo, appears on the History Channel and other documentary networks, produces Wild West shows, is a Hollywood gun coach and character actor, and is True West’s Firearms Editor.


Development Edit

French Canadian-born Garand went to work at the United States Army's Springfield Armory and began working on a .30 caliber primer actuated blowback Model 1919 prototype. In 1924, twenty-four rifles, identified as "M1922s", were built at Springfield. At Fort Benning during 1925, they were tested against models by Berthier, Hatcher-Bang, Thompson, and Pedersen, the latter two being delayed blowback types. [18] This led to a further trial of an improved "M1924" Garand against the Thompson, ultimately producing an inconclusive report. [18] As a result, the Ordnance Board ordered a .30-06 Garand variant. In March 1927, the cavalry board reported trials among the Thompson, Garand, and 03 Springfield had not led to a clear winner. This led to a gas-operated .276 (7 mm) model (patented by Garand on April 12, 1930). [18]

In early 1928, both the infantry and cavalry boards ran trials with the .276 Pedersen T1 rifle, calling it "highly promising" [18] (despite its use of waxed ammunition, [19] shared by the Thompson). [20] On August 13, 1928, a semiautomatic rifle board (SRB) carried out joint Army, Navy, and Marine Corps trials between the .30 Thompson, both cavalry and infantry versions of the T1 Pedersen, "M1924" Garand, and .256 Bang, and on September 21, the board reported no clear winner. The .30 Garand, however, was dropped in favor of the .276. [21]

Further tests by the SRB in July 1929, which included rifle designs by Browning, Colt–Browning, Garand, Holek, Pedersen, Rheinmetall, Thompson, and an incomplete one by White, [nb 2] led to a recommendation that work on the (dropped) .30 gas-operated Garand be resumed, and a T1E1 was ordered November 14, 1929.

Twenty gas-operated .276 T3E2 Garands were made and competed with T1 Pedersen rifles in early 1931. The .276 Garand was the clear winner of these trials. The .30 caliber Garand was also tested, in the form of a single T1E1, but was withdrawn with a cracked bolt on October 9, 1931. A January 4, 1932 meeting recommended adoption of the .276 caliber and production of approximately 125 T3E2s. Meanwhile, Garand redesigned his bolt and his improved T1E2 rifle was retested. The day after the successful conclusion of this test, Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur personally disapproved any caliber change, in part because there were extensive existing stocks of .30 M1 ball ammunition. [22] On February 25, 1932, Adjutant General John B. Shuman, speaking for the Secretary of War, ordered work on the rifles and ammunition in .276 caliber cease immediately and completely, and all resources be directed toward identification and correction of deficiencies in the Garand .30 caliber. [20] : 111

On August 3, 1933, the T1E2 became the "semi-automatic rifle, caliber 30, M1". [18] In May 1934, 75 M1s went to field trials 50 went to infantry, 25 to cavalry units. [20] : 113 Numerous problems were reported, forcing the rifle to be modified, yet again, before it could be recommended for service and cleared for procurement on November 7, 1935, then standardized January 9, 1936. [18] The first production model was successfully proof-fired, function-fired, and fired for accuracy on July 21, 1937. [23]

Production difficulties delayed deliveries to the Army until September 1937. Machine production began at Springfield Armory that month at a rate of ten rifles per day, [24] and reached an output of 100 per day within two years. Despite going into production status, design issues were not at an end. The barrel, gas cylinder, and front sight assembly were redesigned and entered production in early 1940. Existing "gas-trap" rifles were recalled and retrofitted, mirroring problems with the earlier M1903 Springfield rifle that also had to be recalled and reworked approximately three years into production and foreshadowing rework of the M16 rifle at a similar point in its development. Production of the Garand increased in 1940 despite these difficulties, [25] reaching 600 a day by January 10, 1941, [18] and the Army was fully equipped by the end of 1941. [22] Following the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Winchester was awarded an "educational" production contract for 65,000 rifles, [18] with deliveries beginning in 1943. [18]

Service use Edit

The M1 Garand was made in large numbers during World War II approximately 5.4 million were made. [26] They were used by every branch of the United States military. The rifle generally performed well. General George S. Patton called it "the greatest battle implement ever devised." [13] The impact of faster-firing infantry small arms in general soon stimulated both Allied and Axis forces to greatly increase their issue of semi- and fully automatic firearms then in production, as well as to develop new types of infantry firearms. [27]

Many M1s were repaired or rebuilt after World War II. While U.S. forces were still engaged in the Korean War, the Department of Defense decided more were needed. Springfield Armory ramped up production, but two new contracts were awarded. During 1953–56, M1s were produced by International Harvester and Harrington & Richardson in which International Harvester alone produced a total of 337,623 M1 Garands. [28] [29] A final, very small lot of M1s was produced by Springfield Armory in early 1957, using finished components already on hand. Beretta also produced Garands using Winchester tooling.

In 1939, the British Army looked at the M1 as a possible replacement for its bolt-action Lee–Enfield No.1 Mk III., but decided against it as by January 1940 the Birmingham Small Arms Company was already preparing production of the Lee-Enfield Mk IV. [30] However, surplus M1 rifles were provided as foreign aid to American allies, including South Korea, West Germany, Italy, Japan, Denmark, Greece, Turkey, Iran, South Vietnam, the Philippines, etc. Most Garands shipped to allied nations were predominantly manufactured by International Harvester Corporation during the period of 1953–56, and second from Springfield Armory from all periods. [29]

Some Garands were still being used by the United States into the Vietnam War in 1963 despite the M14's official adoption in 1958, it was not until 1965 that the changeover from the M1 Garand was fully completed in the active-duty component of the Army (with the exception of the sniper variants, which were introduced in World War II and saw action in Korea and Vietnam). The Garand remained in service with the Army Reserve, Army National Guard and the Navy into the early 1970s. The South Korean Army was using M1 Garands in the Vietnam War as late as 1966. [31]

Due to widespread United States military assistance as well their durability, M1 Garands have also been found in use in recent conflicts such as with the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. [32]

Some military drill teams still use the M1 rifle, including the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Team, the United States Air Force Academy Cadet Honor Guard, the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, almost all Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and some Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) teams of all branches of the U.S. military. [ citation needed ]

Features Edit

The M1 rifle is a .30 caliber, gas-operated, 8 shot clip-fed, semi-automatic rifle. [33] It is 43.6 inches (1,107 mm) long and it weighs about 9.5 pounds (4.31 kg). [34]

The M1's safety catch is located at the front of the trigger guard. It is engaged when it is pressed rearward into the trigger guard, and disengaged when it is pushed forward and is protruding outside of the trigger guard. [35]

The M1 Garand was designed for simple assembly and disassembly to facilitate field maintenance. It can be field stripped (broken down) without tools in just a few seconds. [36]

The rifle had an iron sight line consisting of rear receiver aperture sight protected by sturdy "ears" calibrated for 100–1,200 yd (91–1,097 m) in 100 yd (91 m) increments. The bullet drop compensation was set by turning the range knob to the appropriate range setting. The bullet drop compensation/range knob can be fine adjusted by setting the rear sight elevation pinion. The elevation pinion can be fine adjusted in approximately 1 MOA increments. The aperture sight was also able to correct for wind drift operated by turning a windage knob that moved the sight in approximately 1 MOA increments. The windage lines on the receiver to indicate the windage setting were 4 MOA apart. The front sighting element consisted of a wing guards protected front post.

During World War II the M1 rifle's semiautomatic operation gave United States infantrymen a significant advantage in firepower and shot-to-shot recovery time over enemy infantrymen armed primarily with bolt-action rifles. The semi-automatic operation and reduced recoil allowed soldiers to fire 8 rounds as quickly as they could pull the trigger, without having to move their hands on the rifle and therefore disrupt their firing position and point of aim. [37] The Garand's fire rate, in the hands of a trained soldier, averaged 40–50 accurate shots per minute at a range of 300 yards (270 m). "At ranges over 500 yards (460 m), a battlefield target is hard for the average rifleman to hit. Therefore, 500 yards (460 m) is considered the maximum effective range, even though the rifle is accurate at much greater ranges." [34]

En bloc clip Edit

The M1 rifle is fed by an en bloc clip which holds eight rounds of .30-06 Springfield ammunition. When the last cartridge is fired, the rifle ejects the clip and locks the bolt open. [38] The M1 is then ready to reload. Once the clip is inserted, the bolt snaps forward on its own as soon as thumb pressure is released from the top round of the clip, chambering a round and leaving it ready to fire. [39] [40] Although it is not absolutely necessary, the preferred method is to place the back of the right hand against the operating rod handle and press the clip home with the right thumb this releases the bolt, but the hand restrains the bolt from slamming closed on the operator's thumb (resulting in "M1/Garand thumb") the hand is then quickly withdrawn, the operating rod moves forward and the bolt closes with sufficient force to go fully to battery. Thus, after the clip has been pressed into position in the magazine, the operating rod handle should be released, allowing the bolt to snap forward under pressure from the operating rod spring. The operating rod handle may be smacked with the palm to ensure the bolt is closed. [35] [40]

Contrary to widespread misconception, partially expended or full clips can be easily ejected from the rifle by means of the clip latch button. [35] It is also possible to load single cartridges into a partially loaded clip while the clip is still in the magazine, but this requires both hands and a bit of practice. In reality, this procedure was rarely performed in combat, as the danger of getting debris inside the action along with the cartridges increased the chances of malfunction. Instead, it was much easier and quicker to simply manually eject the clip, and insert a fresh one, [41] which is how the rifle was originally designed to be operated. [40] [42] [43] Later, special clips holding two or five rounds became available on the civilian market, as well as a single-loading device which stays in the rifle when the bolt locks back.

In battle, the manual of arms called for the rifle to be fired until empty, and then recharged quickly. Due to the well-developed logistical system of the U.S. military at the time, this consumption of ammunition was generally not critical, though this could change in the case of units that came under intense fire or were flanked or surrounded by enemy forces. [42] The Garand's en bloc clip system proved particularly cumbersome when using the rifle to launch grenades, requiring removal of an often partially loaded clip of ball ammunition and replacement with a full clip of blank cartridges.

By modern standards, the M1's feeding system is archaic, relying on clips to feed ammunition, and is the principal source of criticism of the rifle. Officials in Army Ordnance circles demanded a fixed, non-protruding magazine for the new service rifle. At the time, it was believed that a detachable magazine on a general-issue service rifle would be easily lost by U.S. soldiers (a criticism made of British soldiers and the Lee–Enfield 50 years previously), would render the weapon too susceptible to clogging from dirt and debris (a belief that proved unfounded with the adoption of the M1 Carbine), and that a protruding magazine would complicate existing manual-of-arms drills. As a result, inventor John Garand developed an en bloc clip system that allowed ammunition to be inserted from above, clip included, into the fixed magazine. While this design provided the requisite flush-mount magazine, the clip system increased the rifle's weight and complexity, and made only single loading ammunition possible without a clip.

Ejection of an empty clip created a distinctive metallic "pinging" sound. [44] In World War II, it was rumored that German and Japanese infantry were making use of this noise in combat to alert them to an empty M1 rifle in order to catch their American enemies with an unloaded rifle. It was reported that the U.S. Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground began experiments with clips made of various plastics in order to soften the sound, though no improved clips were ever adopted. [43] However, this claim regarding the risks of a pinging empty clip is questionable due to hearsay produced as fact by the only known source, the otherwise fairly reliable author Roy F. Dunlap in Ordnance Went Up Front in 1948. According to former German soldiers, the sound was inaudible during engagements and not particularly useful when heard, as other squad members might have been nearby ready to fire. [45] Due to the often intense deafening noise of combat and gunfire it is highly unlikely any U.S. servicemen were killed as a result of the ping noise however some soldiers still took the issue very seriously. [46] Some US Veterans recalling combat in Europe are convinced that German soldiers did respond to the ejection ping and would throw an empty clip down to simulate the sound so the enemy would expose themselves. [47]

Gas system Edit

Garand's original design for the M1 used a complicated gas system involving a special muzzle extension gas trap, later dropped in favor of a simpler drilled gas port. Because most of the older rifles were retrofitted, pre-1939 gas-trap M1s are very rare today and are prized collector's items. [33] In both systems, expanding gases from a fired cartridge are diverted into the gas cylinder. Here, the gases meet a long-stroke piston attached to the operating rod, which is pushed rearward by the force of this high-pressure gas. Then, the operating rod engages a rotating bolt inside the receiver. The bolt is locked into the receiver via two locking lugs, which rotate, unlock, and initiate the ejection of the spent cartridge and the reloading cycle when the rifle is discharged. The operating rod (and subsequently the bolt) then returns to its original position.

The M1 Garand was one of the first self-loading rifles to use stainless steel for its gas tube, in an effort to prevent corrosion. As the stainless metal could not be parkerized, the gas tubes were given a stove-blackening that frequently wore off in use. Unless the gas tube could be quickly repainted, the resultant gleaming muzzle could make the M1 Garand and its user more visible to the enemy in combat. [42]

Several accessories were used with the Garand rifle. Several different styles of bayonets fit the rifle: the M1905, with a 16-inch (406 mm) blade the M1 with a 10-inch (254 mm) blade (either made standard or shortened from existing M1905 bayonets) and the M5 bayonet with 6.75-inch (171 mm) blade.

Also available was the M7 grenade launcher that could easily be attached to the end of the barrel. [48] [49] It could be sighted using the M15 sight, which was attached with screws to the left side of the stock, just forward of the trigger. A cleaning tool, oiler and grease containers could be stored in two cylindrical compartments in the buttstock for use in the field.

The M1907 two-piece leather rifle sling was the most common type of sling used with the weapon through World War II. In 1942, an olive drab canvas sling was introduced that gradually became more common. [50] Another accessory was the winter trigger, developed during the Korean War. [51] It consisted of a small mechanism installed on the trigger guard, allowing the soldier to remotely pull the trigger by depressing a lever just behind the guard. [51] This enabled the shooter to fire his weapon while using winter gloves, which could get "stuck" on the trigger guard or not allow for proper movement of the finger. [51]

Sniper models Edit

Most variants of the Garand, save the sniper variants, never saw active duty. [44] The sniper versions were modified to accept scope mounts, and two versions (the M1C, formerly M1E7, and the M1D, formerly M1E8) were produced, although not in significant quantities during World War II. [52] The only difference between the two versions is the mounting system for the telescopic sight. In June 1944, the M1C was adopted as a standard sniper rifle by the U.S. Army to supplement the venerable M1903A4, but few saw combat wartime production was only 7,971 M1Cs. [53]

The procedure required to install the M1C-type mounts through drilling/tapping the hardened receiver reduced accuracy by warping the receiver. Improved methods to avoid reduction of accuracy were inefficient in terms of tooling and time. This resulted in the development of the M1D, which utilized a simpler, single-ring Springfield Armory mount attached to the barrel rather than the receiver. The M1C was first widely used during the Korean War. Korean War production was 4,796 M1Cs and 21,380 M1Ds although few M1Ds were completed in time to see combat. [53]

The U.S. Marine Corps adopted the M1C as their official sniper rifle in 1951. This USMC 1952 Sniper's Rifle or MC52 was an M1C with the commercial Stith Bear Cub scope manufactured by the Kollmorgen Optical Company under the military designation: Telescopic Sight - Model 4XD-USMC. The Kollmorgen scope with a slightly modified Griffin & Howe mount was designated MC-1. The MC52 was also too late to see extensive combat in Korea, but it remained in Marine Corps inventories until replaced by bolt-action rifles during the Vietnam War. [53] The U.S. Navy has also used the Garand, rechambered for the 7.62×51mm NATO round.

The detachable M2 conical flash hider adopted January 25, 1945 slipped over the muzzle and was secured in place by the bayonet lug. A T37 flash hider was developed later. Flash hiders were of limited utility during low-light conditions around dawn and dusk, but were often removed as potentially detrimental to accuracy. [53]

Tanker models Edit

The Tanker name was invented after the war as a marketing gimmick for commercial Garands built on welded demilled receivers. There are three 18-inch M1 Garands variants the M1E5 and T26 both never saw service. And the PWB rifle saw very limited service in the pacific. [54] The M1E5 is equipped with a shorter 18-inch (457 mm) barrel and a folding buttstock. The T26 also uses an 18-inch (457 mm) barrel but retains the standard buttstock. PWB rifle uses an 18-inch (457 mm) barrel also retains the standard buttstock and has forgrip secured by M1903 barrel band.

It was recognized that such an arm might be particularly valuable for paratroopers, as it was more powerful than the carbines and submachine guns currently in use. Preliminary testing revealed it had excessive recoil and muzzle blast, but it was recommended that it be developed further. The Infantry Board directed Col. Rene Studler to proceed with the project.

The task was assigned to Springfield Armory, and John C. Garand began work in January 1944. The resultant experimental arm, designated as the “U.S. Carbine, Cal. 30, M1E5,” was fitted with a specially made 18" barrel (not a shortened standard M1 rifle barrel) marked “1 SA 2-44” and a pantograph metal stock that folded neatly underneath the rifle. The receiver was marked “U.S. CARBINE/CAL. .30 M1E5/SPRINGFIELD/ARMORY/1.” It is interesting to note that it was designated as a carbine and not a rifle.

Other than the folding stock, the basic M1 rifle was essentially unchanged with the exception of the short barrel, a correspondingly shortened operating rod (and spring) and the lack of a front handguard. The overall length was 37½" and it weighed approximately 8 lbs., 6 ozs.

The M1E5 “Garand Carbine” was tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground in May 1944. It was determined that while accuracy at 300 yds. was on a par with the standard M1 rifle, recoil, muzzle blast and flash were excessive. It was recommended that a pistol grip be installed, which was done for subsequent testing.

Photos of the M1E5 in stocks with and without the pistol grip exist, which might suggest there were two different models, but this was not the case. The folding stock had been repaired several times and it proved to be rather uncomfortable when firing. Work began on a modified folding stock, designated as the “T6E3,” to improve the deficiencies found in the original pattern, but it was not fully developed.

The M1E5 suffered from the “compromise syndrome,” as it required a trade-off between compactness and performance. It was indeed more compact than the standard Garand rifle, but the short barrel made it an unpleasant gun to fire—and the advantages were not judged to be sufficient to offset the disadvantages. Further development of the M1E5 was suspended as other projects at Springfield, such as the selective-fire T20 series, were deemed to have a higher priority. Only one example of the M1E5 was fabricated for testing, and the gun resides today in the Springfield Armory National Historic Site Museum.

Despite the concept being shelved at Springfield Armory, the idea of a shortened M1 rifle was still viewed as potentially valuable for airborne and jungle combat use. Particularly in the Pacific Theater, there was widespread dissatisfaction with the M1 carbine’s range, power and foliage-penetration (“brush-cutting”) capability. The Ordnance Dept. was not responsive to these complaints coming in from the Pacific and maintained that the M1 rifle and M1 carbine each filled a specific niche.

Nonetheless, by late 1944 the Pacific Warfare Board (PWB) decided to move forward with the development of a shortened M1 rifle. Colonel William Alexander, chief of the PWB, directed an Army ordnance unit of the 6th Army in the Philippines to fabricate 150 rifles in this configuration for testing. Since the previous M1E5 project was not widely disseminated, it is entirely possible that the PWB may not have been aware of Springfield Armory’s development of a similar rifle, and conceived the idea independently.

Some of the shortened M1 rifles were field-tested in October 1944 on Noemfoor Island, New Guinea, by an ad hoc “test committee,” which included three platoon leaders of the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) Combat Team. While the members of the test committee liked the concept of the short M1 rifle, it was determined that the muzzle blast was excessive and was compared to a flash bulb going off in the darkened jungle. The conclusion of the test report stated that the shortened rifle was “totally unsuitable for a combat weapon.”

Even while the shortened M1 rifles were being evaluated by the 503rd PIR, two of them, Serial Nos. 2291873 and 2437139, were sent to the Ordnance Dept. in Washington, D.C., by special courier for evaluation. One of these rifles was then forwarded to Springfield Armory. The guys at Springfield must have felt a touch of déjà vu, as the rifle was very similar to the M1E5 built by the armory and tested at Aberdeen several months earlier.

The major difference was that the PWB rifle retained the standard M1 rifle wooden stock rather than the M1E5’s folding stock. The M1s shortened in the Philippines under the auspices of the PWB had been well-used prior to modification, and the conversion exhibited rather crude craftsmanship, including hand-cut splines on the barrel.

Upon receipt of the PWB rifle, Springfield Armory’s Model Shop fabricated a very similar shortened M1 that was designated as the “T26.” One of the more noticeable differences was that the shortened PWB rifle had a cut-down front handguard (secured by an M1903 rifle barrel band), while the T26 rifle was not fitted with a front handguard. It had been determined that the full-length stock was superior to the M1E5’s folding stock, so the T26 used a standard M1 rifle stock.

It is sometimes claimed that Springfield Armory simply put the existing M1E5 action into an M1 stock and dubbed it the T26. This was not the case, as the T26 did not use the M1E5’s purpose-made (and marked) receiver, but was made with a standard M1 rifle receiver and newly made, specially modified parts.

Regardless, it is a bit curious that the Ordnance Dept. decided to go to the trouble of having Springfield Armory make up another shortened Garand for additional testing when the M1E5, which differed primarily in the type of stock, had been thoroughly tested several months previously with less than spectacular results.

The PWB rifle, Serial No. 2437139, and Springfield Armory’s T26 were sent to Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) on July 26, 1945, for testing. The APG report related that a standard M1 rifle, Serial No. 1,032,921, was the “control” rifle to which the shorter rifle was compared during the testing. The results mirrored those of the M1E5’s previous testing. As related in the test report:

“The rifle tested was a standard cal. .30 M1 with barrel shortened approximately six inches. This alteration was accomplished in the Philippine Islands by an Ordnance Maintenance Company and the rifle was delivered to the Chief of Ordnance by a USAFFE Board representative for the test.

“The object of the test was to compare, by observation, the muzzle flash, smoke and blast of the shortened M1 rifle, with and without the flash hider, to that of the standard rifle.

“The muzzle flash of the modified rifle, with and without flash hider, was approximately eighty (80) percent greater than the flash of the standard rifle.

“The muzzle smoke of the modified rifle, with and without the flash hider was equivalent to that of the standard rifle.

“The muzzle blast of the modified rifle, with and without flash hider, was approximately fifty (50) percent greater than that of the standard rifle.

“The recoil of the modified rifle was noticeably heavier than that of the standard rifle.”

In addition to the increased recoil and muzzle flash/blast, functioning problems related to the shortened operating rod and the location of the gas port in the shortened barrel were noted during the testing. The fact that the gas port was positioned closer to the chamber as compared to the standard M1 rifle resulted in increased port pressure, which was detrimental to proper functioning.

Only the shortened PWB rifle, and not the T26, was discussed in the Aberdeen test report. It is reported that the T26 rifle was damaged during the testing, which is presumably why it was left out of the final report. The ultimate disposition or whereabouts of the T26 rifle are not known, although it has been speculated that it was salvaged for parts.

Somewhat inexplicably, despite the less-than-stellar results of the previous testing, including the 503rd PIR test committee’s conclusion that the modified rifle was “totally unsuitable as a combat weapon,” the concept was still of interest inasmuch as approval was forthcoming for procurement of 15,000 shortened M1 rifles. As related in the “Record of Army Ordnance Research and Development, Vol. 2”:

“In July of 1945, the Pacific Theater requested that they be supplied with 15,000 short M1 Rifles for Airborne use. A design of a short M1 Rifle was delivered by a courier from the Pacific Warfare Board. A comparative study of the sample short M1 Rifle and the M1E5 (a 1944 program to develop a short-barreled, folding stock M1, that was dropped as being of low priority) indicated a definite preference for the M1E5 action equipped with the standard stock the rifle so equipped was designated as T26. A study by Springfield Armory resulted in a tentative completion schedule of five months for the limited procurement of 15,000 T26 Rifles however, with the occurrence of V-J day on 14 August 1945 this requirement was dropped.” [55]

T20E2 Edit

Another variant that never saw duty was the T20E2. It was an experimental, gas-operated, selective fire rifle with a slightly longer receiver than the M1 and modified to accept 20-round Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) magazines. The rifle was machined and tapped on the left side of the receiver for a scope mount, and included the same hardware for mounting a grenade launcher as the M1. The bolt had a hold open device on the rear receiver bridge, as well as a fire selector similar to the M14. Full automatic fire was achieved by a connector assembly which was actuated by the operating rod handle. This, in turn, actuated a sear release or trip which, with the trigger held to the rear, disengaged the sear from the hammer lugs immediately after the bolt was locked. In automatic firing, the cyclic rate of fire was 700 rpm. When the connector assembly was disengaged, the rifle could only be fired semi-automatically and functioned in a manner similar to the M1 rifle. The T20 had an overall length of 48 1/4", a barrel length of 24", and weighed 9.61 lbs. without accessories and 12.5 lbs. with bipod and empty magazine. It was designated as limited procurement in May 1945. Due to the cessation of hostilities with Japan, the number for manufacture was reduced to 100. The project was terminated in March 1948.

Quick reference Edit

U.S. Army designation U.S. Navy designation Description
T1 N/A Prototype
T1E1 N/A A single trial rifle that broke its bolt in the 1931 trial
T1E2 N/A Trial designation for gas-trap Garand. Basically a T1E1 with a new bolt.
M1 N/A Basic model. Identical to T1E2. Later change to gas port did not change designation
M1E1 N/A M1 Garand variant modified cam angle in op-rod
M1E2 N/A M1 Garand variant prismatic scope and mount
M1E3 N/A M1 Garand variant roller added to bolt's cam lug (later adapted for use in the M14)
M1E4 N/A M1 Garand variant gas cut-off and expansion system with piston integral to op-rod
M1E5 N/A M1 Garand variant 18-inch (457 mm) barrel, pistol grip and folding stock, for Airborne use
M1E6 N/A M1 Garand variant sniper variant
M1E7/M1C N/A M1E6 Garand variant M1C sniper variant with 2.2× magnification M73 scope (later modified as the M81, though the M82 or M84 scope could be used) in a Griffin & Howe mount affixed to the left side of the receiver requiring a leather cheek pad to properly position the shooter's face behind the offset scope [53]
M1E8/M1D N/A M1E7 Garand variant M1D sniper variant with M82 scope (though the M84 scope could be used) in a Springfield Armory mount attached to the rear of the barrel allowing quick removal of the scope but similarly requiring the leather cheek pad [53]
M1E9 N/A M1 Garand variant similar to M1E4, with piston separate from op-rod
M1E10 N/A M1 Garand variant variant with the Ljungman direct gas system
M1E11 N/A M1 Garand variant short-stroke Tappet gas system
M1E12 N/A M1 Garand variant gas impingement system
M1E13 N/A M1 Garand variant "White" gas cut-off and expansion system
M1E14 Mk 2 Mod 0 M1 Garand variant rechambered in 7.62×51mm NATO with press-in chamber insert, enlarged gas port, and 7.62mm barrel bushing. [56]
T20 N/A M1 Garand variant select-fire conversion by John Garand, capable of using BAR magazines
T20E1 N/A T20 variant uses its own type of magazines
T20E2 N/A T20 variant E2 magazines will work in BAR, but not the reverse
T20E2HB N/A T20E2 variant HBAR (heavy barrel) variant
T22 N/A M1 Garand variant fully automatic select-fire conversion by Remington, magazine-fed
T22E1 N/A T22 variant unknown differences
T22E2 N/A T22 variant unknown differences
T22E3HB N/A T22 variant stock angled upwards to reduce muzzle climb heavy barrel uses T27 fire control
T23 N/A M1 Garand variant upward angled stock like T22E3HB standard clip fed.
T25 N/A T25 variant had a pistol grip: the stock angled upwards to reduce muzzle climb and chambered for the new T65 .30 Light Rifle cartridge (7.62×49mm). [57]
T26 N/A M1 Garand variant 18-inch (457 mm) barrel and standard stock, 1 prototype made by Springfield Armory used for testing, propsed use was for airborne and jungle operations.
PWB rifle N/A M1 Garand variant 18-inch (457 mm) barrel and standard stock and shortened foregrip secured with M1903 barrel band. 150 made in the pacific theater of operations upon request by the Pacific War Board for airborne and jungle use. [58]
T27 N/A Remington select-fire field conversion for M1 Garand ability to convert issue M1 Garands to select-fire rifles fire control setup used in T22E3
T31 N/A Experimental bullpup variant
T35 Mk 2 Mod 1 M1 Garand variant rechambered for 7.62×51mm NATO While the majority used the standard en bloc clip, a small number were experimentally fitted with a 10-round internal magazine loaded by 5-round stripper clips.
T36 N/A T20E2 variant rechambered for 7.62×51mm NATO using T35 barrel and T25 magazine
T37 N/A T36 variant same as T36, except in gas port location
T44 N/A T44 variant was a conventional design developed on a shoestring budget as an alternative to the T47. [57] With only minimal funds available, the earliest T44 prototypes simply used T20E2 receivers fitted with magazine filler blocks and re-barreled for 7.62×51mm NATO, with the long operating rod/piston of the M1 replaced by the T47's gas cut-off system. [57]
T47 N/A T47 variant same as the T25, except for a conventional stock and chambered for 7.62×51mm NATO. [57]

Demilitarized versions Edit

Demilitarized models are rendered permanently inoperable. Their barrels have been drilled out to destroy the rifling. A steel rod is then inserted into the barrel and welded at both ends. Sometimes, their barrels are also filled with molten lead or solder. Their gas ports or operating system are also welded closed. Their barrels are then welded to their receivers to prevent replacement. Their firing pin holes are welded closed on the bolt face. As a result, they cannot be loaded with, much less fire live ammunition. However, they may still be used for demonstration or instructional purposes.

Nomenclature National Stock Number Description
Rifle, Inert,
Caliber .30, M1
1005-00-599-3289 Demilitarized and barrel plugged. US Air Force instructional use.
Rifle, Training Aid, Caliber .30, M1 1005-01-061-2456 Demilitarized and barrel plugged. Instructional use.
Rifle, Dummy Drill, Caliber .30, M1 1005-01-113-3767 Demilitarized. Barrel is unplugged but is welded to the receiver. ROTC instructional use.
Rifle, Ceremonial, Caliber .30, M1 1005-01-095-0085 Gas cylinder lock valve is removed and the gas system has welds permanently joining the lock and gas cylinder to prevent reversion. Barrel is unplugged but is welded to the receiver. The weapon has been converted from semi-automatic to a repeater and can only fire blanks. The bolt must be cycled to eject the spent cartridge case and reload a fresh round from the internal clip. Used by American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars honor guards for parading and firing ceremonial salutes.

Japanese Type 4 Edit

The Type 4 Rifle, often referred to as the Type 5 Rifle (Japanese: 四式自動小銃 Yon-shiki jidousyoujyuu), was a Japanese experimental semi-automatic rifle. [59] It was a copy of the American M1 Garand but with an integral 10-round magazine and chambered for the Japanese 7.7×58mm Arisaka cartridge. [60] Where the Garand used an en bloc clip, the Type 4's integral magazine was charged with two 5-round stripper clips and the rifle also used Japanese style tangent sights. The Type 4 had been developed alongside several other experimental semi-automatic rifles. However, none of the rifles entered into service before the end of World War II, with only 250 being made and many others were never assembled. There were several problems with jamming and feed systems, which also delayed its testing.

Beretta Models Edit

During the 1950s, Beretta produced Garands in Italy at the behest of NATO, by having the tooling used by Winchester during World War II shipped to them by the U.S. government. These rifles were designated Model 1952 in Italy. Using this tooling, Beretta developed the BM59 series of rifles. The BM59, which was essentially a rechambered 7.62×51mm NATO caliber M1 fitted with a removable 20-round magazine, folding bipod and a combined flash suppressor/rifle grenade launcher. The BM59 is capable of selective fire. These rifles would also be produced under license in Indonesia as the "SP-1" series.

M14 rifle Edit

The M14 rifle, officially the United States Rifle, 7.62 mm, M14, [61] is an American selective fire automatic rifle that fires 7.62×51mm NATO (.308 Winchester) ammunition. The M14 rifle is basically an improved select-fire M1 Garand with a 20-round magazine. [62] [63] [64] The M14 rifle incorporated features of both the M1 rifle and the M1 Carbine, including the latter's short stroke piston design originally developed by Winchester Arms.

Ruger Mini-14 Edit

Designed by L. James Sullivan [65] and William B. Ruger, and produced by Sturm, Ruger & Co. the Mini-14 rifle employs an investment cast, heat-treated receiver and a version of the M1/M14 rifle locking mechanism. [66] Although the Mini-14 looks like the M14, it utilizes a reduced-size operating system, a different gas system and is chambered for the smaller .223 cartridge. [67]

Springfield Armory commercial production Edit

In 1982, years after the closure of the U.S. Springfield Armory, a commercial firm – Springfield Armory, Inc. – began production of the M1 Rifle using a cast, heat-treated receiver with serial numbers in the 7,000,000+ range, along with commercially produced barrels (marked Geneseo, IL) and G.I. military surplus parts. [68]

United States citizens meeting certain qualifications may purchase U.S. military surplus M1 rifles through the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). The CMP is run by the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearms Safety (CPRPFS), a not-for-profit corporation chartered by the United States Congress in 1996 to instruct citizens in marksmanship and promote practice and safety in the use of firearms. [69] The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code. From 1903 to 1996, the CMP was sponsored by the Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM), a position first within the Department of War and later in the Department of the Army. The DCM was normally an active-duty Army colonel.

In 2009, an effort by the South Korean government to export about 850,000 firearms to the United States, including 87,000 M1 rifles, for eventual sale to civilians, was initially approved by the Obama administration, but it later blocked the sale in March 2010. [70] A State Department spokesman said the administration's decision was based on concerns that the guns could fall into the wrong hands and be used for criminal activity. [70] However, in January 2012, the U.S. and South Korea agreed on the sale of 87,000 M1 Garand rifles, and the South Korean government entered into discussion with U.S. civilian arms dealers. [71] Korea has sold tens of thousands of M1 Garand rifles to the U.S. civilian market between 1986 and 1994. [71] In 2018, the CMP reported they had received a shipment of more than 90,000 M1 Garand rifles from the Philippines and also stated plans to restore many of those rifles for civilian sale.

In August 2013, the Obama administration banned future private importation of all U.S. made weapons, including the M1 Garand. [72] [ better source needed ] This action did not preclude the return of surplus U.S. weapons, including M1 Garands, previously loaned by the U.S. to friendly nations, to the custody of the U.S. Government in recent years, the CMP has received most of its surplus weapons through such returns from foreign countries. However, all civilian and military firearms imported into the U.S. after January 30, 2002, are required by federal law to have the name of the importer conspicuously stamped on the barrel, slide, or receiver of each weapon. [73] This requirement significantly lowers a military weapon's value relative to those without the importation markings as they distract from its original state. [74]

Military surplus Garands and post-war copies made for the civilian market are popular among enthusiasts. In 2015, John F. Kennedy's personal M1 Garand was auctioned by Rock Island Auction Company and sold for $149,500. [75] This rifle was acquired by Kennedy in 1959 from the Director of Civilian Marksmanship and has the serial number 6086970. [76]

Driving Force

The recipient of Patton’s letter, Major General Campbell, knew his way around ordnance of all kinds. He had served in many capacities at ordnance facilities throughout the country since 1918. Before becoming the Chief of Ordnance, he spent time at the Office of the Chief of Ordnance, Washington, D.C. Stockton Ordnance Depot, California Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland and Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. Clearly, the War Department had the right man for the job.

In the hands of countless U.S. soldiers, the M1 Garand proved itself worthy of Patton’s praise. Image: National Archives

Patton knew that it was under Campbell’s guidance and direction that enough M1 rifles — and other ordnance — were produced in such quantities that allowed his unconquerable veterans to cause utter destruction to the enemy. During World War II, all the aspects of Army Ordnance boomed, becoming a $30 billion-a-year industry.

Campbell retired in 1946, but he didn’t sit idle. He took a job as the Executive Vice President for International Harvester, a well-known producer of farm equipment. Interestingly enough, International Harvester went on to produce 337,623 M1 Garand rifles between 1952 and 1956. Campbell had retired from the company by the time production began, but the connection there is still quite intriguing. Today, International Harvester-marked M1s are highly prized by collectors because of their overall low production quantity.

International Harvester produced more than 300,000 M1 Garand rifles, with three variations of markings on the heel. Image: Bruce Canfield

M60 tank

The M60 is an American second generation main battle tank (MBT). It was officially standardized as the Tank, Combat, Full Tracked: 105-mm Gun, M60 in March 1959. [1] Although developed from the M48 Patton, the M60 tank series was never officially christened as a Patton tank, it has been sometimes informally grouped, as a member of the Patton tank family. The design similarities can be noted in the original variant of the M60 and the M48A2. The US Army considered it as a "product-improved descendant" of the Patton tank's design. [13] The United States fully committed to the MBT doctrine in 1963 when the Marine Corps retired the last (M103) heavy tank battalion. The M60 tank series became America's primary main battle tank during the Cold War. [14] Over 15,000 M60s were built by Chrysler. Hull production ended in 1983, but 5,400 older models were converted to the M60A3 variant ending in 1990. [5]

  • M60: 3.67 in (93 mm) at 65°
    8.68 in (220 mm) LoS
  • M60A1: 4.29 in (109 mm) at 65°
    10.15 in (258 mm) LoS
  • M60A2: same as M60A1
  • M60A3: same as M60A1
  • M60: equals 7 in (180 mm)
  • M60A1: equals 10 in (250 mm)
  • M60A2: equals 11.5 in (290 mm)
  • M60A3: equals 10.87 in (276 mm) [10]
  • M60: M68 105 mm (4.1 in) [11]
  • M60A2: 152 mm (6.0 in) M162 Gun/Launcher [11]
  • M60A1/M60A3: M68E1 105 mm (4.1 in)

It reached operational capability with fielding to US Army units in Europe beginning in December 1960. [15] The first combat usage of the M60 was with Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War where it saw service under the "Magach 6" designation, performing well in combat against comparable tanks such as the T-62. In 1982 the Israelis once again used the M60 during the 1982 Lebanon War, equipped with upgrades such as explosive reactive armor to defend against guided missiles that proved very effective at destroying tanks. The M60 also saw use in 1983 with Operation Urgent Fury, supporting US Marines in an amphibious assault into Grenada. M60s delivered to Iran also served in the Iran–Iraq War. The United States' largest deployment of M60s was in the 1991 Gulf War, where the US Marines equipped with M60A1s effectively defeated Iraqi armored forces, including T-72 tanks. The United States readily retired the M60 from front-line combat after Operation Desert Storm, with the last tanks being retired from National Guard service in 1997. [16] M60-series vehicles continue in front-line service with a number of countries' militaries, though most of these have been highly modified and had their firepower, mobility and protection upgraded to increase their combat effectiveness on the modern battlefield.

The M60 underwent many updates over its service life. The interior layout, based on the design of the M48, provided ample room for updates and improvements, extending the vehicle's service life for over four decades. It was widely used by the US and its Cold War allies, especially those in NATO, and remains in service throughout the world today, despite having been superseded by the M1 Abrams in the US military. The tank's hull also developed a wide variety of prototypical, utility and support vehicles such as armored recovery vehicles, bridge layers and combat engineering vehicles. As of 2015 Egypt is the largest operator with 1,716 upgraded M60A3s, Turkey is second with 866 upgraded units in service, and Saudi Arabia is third with over 650 units.

How Patton’s All-Black Tank Battalion Took the Fight to the Nazis

With the blessing of General George S. Patton, the 761st Tank Battalion, also known as the Black Panthers, became the first all-black tank unit to see combat during WWII.

Courtesy of the Patton Museum

Joseph E. Wilson Jr.
January 1998

The 761st “Black Panther” Tank Battalion was the first African American armored unit to see combat.

Before and during mobilization for World War II, officials in Washington, D.C., debated whether or not African American soldiers should be used in armored units. Many military men and politicians believed that blacks did not have the brains, quickness or moral stamina to fight in a war.

Referring to his World War I experiences, Colonel James A. Moss, commander of the 367th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Division, stated, “As fighting troops, the Negro must be rated as second-class material, this primarily to his inferior intelligence and lack of mental and moral qualities.” Colonel Perry L. Miles, commander of the 371st Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division, voiced a similar opinion: “In a future war, the main use of the Negro should be in labor organizations.” General George S. Patton Jr., in a letter to his wife, wrote that “a colored soldier cannot think fast enough to fight in armor.”

The armed forces embraced these beliefs even though African Americans had fought with courage and distinction in the Revolutionary War and every other war ever waged by the United States. These commanders overlooked the fact that during World War I, four regiments of the 93rd Division had served with the French. Their valiant efforts were recognized by the French government, who awarded the coveted Croix de Guerre to three of the four regiments and to a company of the fourth, as well as to the 1st Battalion, 367th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Division.

Lieutenant General Leslie J. McNair, chief of the U.S. Army ground forces, was the main reason African Americans were allowed to serve in armored units. He believed his nation could ill afford to exclude such a potentially important source of manpower. The black press, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Congress of Racial Equality also placed increasing pressure on the War Department and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration to allow black soldiers to serve on an equal footing with white soldiers.

In the summer of 1940, Congress passed into law the Selective Training and Service Act, which said, “In the selection and training of men under this act, there shall be no discrimination against any person on account of race and color.” In October, however, the White House issued a statement saying that, while “the services of Negroes would be utilized on a fair and equitable basis,” the policy of segregation in the armed forces would continue.

In March 1941, 98 black enlisted men reported to Fort Knox, Kentucky, from Fort Custer, Michigan, for armored warfare training with the 758th Tank Battalion (light). The pioneer black tankers trained in light tank operations, mechanics and related phases of mechanized warfare, as enlisted men from other Army units joined their ranks.

The 758th trained on the M-5 light tank, which carried a crew of four. Powered by twin Cadillac engines, it could reach a maximum speed of 40 mph and had an open-road cruising range of 172 miles. It was armed with a .30 caliber machine gun mounted to fire along the same axis as the tank’s main armament, a 37mm cannon. When the tracer bullets from the .30 caliber registered on a target, the cannon would be fired, hopefully scoring a direct hit. The M-5 was also armed with two more .30-caliber machine guns, one on the turret and one in the bow. The light tank was employed to provide fire support, mobility and crew protection in screening and reconnaissance missions.

The 5th Tank Group, commanded by Colonel LeRoy Nichols, was to be made up of black enlisted personnel and white officers. With the 758th Tank Battalion in place, two more tank battalions were needed to complete the 5th Tank Group.

On March 15, 1942, the War Department ordered the activation of the 761st Tank Battalion (light) at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, with an authorized strength of 36 officers and 593 enlisted men. (The final battalion—the 784th—would be activated on April 1, 1943.) On September 15, 1943, the 761st Battalion moved to Camp Hood, Texas, for advanced training there they changed from light to medium tanks.

On July 6, 1944, one of the 761st’s few black officers, Lieutenant Jackie Robinson, was riding a civilian bus from Camp Hood to the nearby town of Belton. He refused to move to the back of the bus when told to do so by the driver. Court-martial charges ensued but could not proceed because the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Paul L. Bates, would not consent to the charges. The top brass at Camp Hood then transferred Robinson to the 758th Tank Battalion, whose commander immediately signed the court-martial consent.

The lieutenant’s trial opened on August 2 and lasted for 17 days, during which time the 761st departed Camp Hood. Robinson was charged with violating the 63rd and 64th Articles of War. The first charge specified, “Lieutenant Robinson behaved with disrespect toward Captain Gerald M. Bear, Corps Military Police, by contemptuously bowing to him and giving several sloppy salutes while repeating, O’kay Sir, O’kay Sir, in an insolent, impertinent and rude manner.” The second charge stipulated, “Lieutenant Robinson having received a lawful command by Captain Bear to remain in a receiving room at the MP station disobeyed such order.” Robinson was eventually acquitted, and he was not charged for his actions on the bus. Three years later, Robinson was riding buses in the major leagues after breaking baseball’s color barrier.

In October 1944, after two years of intense armored training, the 761st Tank Battalion, known as the “Black Panthers,” landed in France. The tankers received a welcome from the Third Army commander, Lieutenant General George S. Patton Jr., who had observed the 761st conducting training maneuvers in the States: “Men, you’re the first Negro tankers to ever fight in the American Army. I would never have asked for you if you weren’t good. I have nothing but the best in my Army. I don’t care what color you are as long as you go up there and kill those Kraut sons of bitches. Everyone has their eyes on you and is expecting great things from you. Most of all your race is looking forward to you. Don’t let them down and damn you, don’t let me down!”

On November 8, 1944, the Black Panthers became the first African American armored unit to enter combat, smashing into the towns of Moyenvic and Vic-sur-Seille. During the attack, Staff Sergeant Ruben Rivers, in Able Company’s lead tank, encountered a roadblock that held up the advance. With utter disregard for his personal safety, he courageously climbed out of his tank under direct enemy fire, attached a cable to the roadblock and removed it. His prompt action prevented a serious delay in the offensive and was instrumental in the success of the attack.

Staff Sergeant Ruben Rivers was fatally wounded providing cover fire while his men retreated from an enemy attack. (U.S. Army)

On November 9, Charlie Company ran into an antitank ditch near Morville. The crack German 11th Panzer Division began to knock out tanks one by one down the line. The tankers crawled through the freezing muddy waters of the ditch under pelting rain and snow while hot shell fragments fell all around them. When German artillery began to walk a line toward the ditch, the tankers’ situation looked hopeless.

After exiting his burning tank, 1st Sergeant Samuel Turley organized a dismounted combat team. When the team found itself pinned down by a counterattack and unable to return fire, Turley ordered his men to retreat, climbed from the ditch and provided covering fire that allowed them to escape.

Correspondent Trezzvant Anderson described Turley’s devotion to duty: “Standing behind the ditch, straight up, with a machine gun and an ammo belt around his neck, Turley was spraying the enemy with machine-gun shots as fast as they could come out of the muzzle of the red-hot barrel. He stood there covering for his men, and then fell, cut through the middle by German machine-gun bullets that ripped through his body as he stood there firing the M.G. to the last. That’s how Turley went down and his body crumpled to the earth, his fingers still gripped that trigger….But we made it!”

On November 10, Sergeant Warren G.H. Crecy fought through enemy positions to aid his men until his tank was destroyed. He immediately took command of another vehicle, armed with only a .30-caliber machine gun, and liquidated the enemy position that had destroyed his tank. Still under heavy fire, he helped eliminate the enemy forward observers who were directing the artillery fire that had been pinning down the American infantry.

The next day, Crecy’s tank became bogged down in the mud. He dismounted and fearlessly faced antitank, artillery and machine-gun fire as he extricated his tank. While freeing his tank, he saw that the accompanying infantry was pinned down and that the enemy had begun a counterattack. Crecy climbed up on the rear of his immobilized tank and held off the Germans with his .50-caliber machine gun while the foot soldiers withdrew. Later that day, he again exposed himself to enemy fire as he wiped out several machine-gun nests and an antitank position with only his machine gun. The more fire he drew, the harder he fought. After the battle, Crecy had to be pried away from his machine gun.

William G.H. Crecy fearlessly fought the Nazis, drawing enemy fire and wiping out machine-gun nests. “You’d never think that here was a ‘killer,’ who had slain more of the enemy than any man in the 761st.” wrote correspondent Trezzvant Anderson. (HistoryNet Archives)

Trezzvant Anderson said of Sergeant Crecy: “To look at Warren G.H. Crecy (the G.H. stands for Gamaliel Harding) you’d never think that here was a ‘killer,’ who had slain more of the enemy than any man in the 761st. He extracted a toll of lives from the enemy that would have formed the composition of 3 or 4 companies, with his machine guns alone. And yet, he is such a quiet, easy-going, meek-looking fellow, that you’d think that the fuzz which a youngster tries to cultivate for a mustache would never grow on his baby-skinned chin. And that he’d never use a word stronger than ‘damn.’ But here was a youth who went so primitively savage on the battlefield that his only thought was to ‘kill, kill, kill,’ and he poured his rain of death pellets into German bodies with so much reckless abandon and joy that he was the nemesis of all the foes of the 761st. And other men craved to ride with Crecy and share the reckless thrill of killing the hated enemy that had killed their comrades. And he is now living on borrowed time. By all human equations Warren G.H. Crecy should have been dead long ago, and should have had the Congressional Medal of Honor, at least!”

The Black Panthers pushed on. It was rough going through the rain, mud, cold and driving sleet, fighting an enemy who bitterly contested every inch of ground. The 761st smashed through the French towns of Obreck, Dedeline and Château Voue with Rivers leading the way for Able Company.

Rivers, a tank platoon sergeant, became adept at liquidating the enemy with his .50-caliber machine gun. The dashing young fighter from Oklahoma was soon a legend in the battalion. One lieutenant recalled telling Rivers, via radio, “Don’t go into that town, Sergeant, it’s too hot in there.” Rivers respectfully replied, “I’m sorry, sir, I’m already through that town!”

On the way to Guebling, France, on November 16, 1944, Rivers’ tank ran over a Teller antitank mine. The explosion blew off the right track, the volute springs and the undercarriage, hurling the tank sideways. When the medical team arrived, they found Rivers behind his tank holding one leg, which was ripped to the bone. There was a hole in his leg where part of his knee had been, and bone protruded through his trousers. The medics cleansed and dressed the wound and attempted to inject Rivers with morphine, but he refused. He wanted to remain alert. The medics informed River’s commanding officer, Captain David J. Williams II, that Rivers should be evacuated immediately. Rivers refused. Pulling himself to his feet, he pushed past the captain and took over a second tank. At that moment a hail of enemy fire came in. The captain gave orders to disperse and take cover.

The 761st was to cross a river into Guebling, after combat engineers constructed a Bailey bridge. The Germans tried desperately to stop the construction, but the Black Panthers held them off. The bridge was completed on the afternoon of November 17. Rivers led the way across, and the Black Panthers took up positions in and around Guebling. On the way into town, Rivers, despite his wounds, engaged two German tanks and disabled them both. Still in great pain, he took on two more tanks and forced them to withdraw. The Black Panthers spent that evening in continuous combat.

Before dawn on November 18, the captain and the medical team visited each tank. When they reached Rivers, it was obvious that he was in extreme pain. Rivers’ leg was reexamined and found to be infected. The medical team said that if he was not evacuated immediately, the leg would have to be amputated. Rivers still insisted that he would not abandon his men. Throughout the day, both sides held and defended their positions.

At dawn on November 19, the 761st began an assault on the village of Bougaltroff. When the Black Panthers emerged from cover, the morning air outside Guebling lit up with tracers from enemy guns. Rivers spotted the antitank guns and directed a concentrated barrage on them, allowing his trapped comrades to escape with their lives.

Rivers continued to fire until several tracers were seen going into his turret. “From a comparatively close range of 200 yards, the Germans threw in two H.E. [high explosive] shots that scored,” Anderson wrote. “The first shot hit near the front of the tank, and penetrated with ricocheting fragments confined inside its steel walls. The second scored inside the tank. The first shot had blown Rivers’ brains out against the back of the tank, and the second went into his head, emerging from the rear, and the intrepid leader, the fearless, daring fighter was no more.”

Ruben Rivers did not have to die on that cold, dreary November morning in France. Three days earlier, he had received what GIs called a “million-dollar wound.” He could have been evacuated to the rear and gone home a war hero with his Silver Star and Purple Heart, knowing that the Black Panthers loved and respected him as an outstanding soldier and comrade. But he stayed—and he died.

The Black Panthers pushed on. From December 31, 1944, to February 2, 1945, the 761st took part in the American counteroffensive following the Battle of the Bulge. In a major battle at Tillet, Belgium, the 761st operated for two continuous days against German panzer and infantry units, who withdrew in the face of the Black Panthers’ attack. The operations of the 761st in the Bulge split the enemy lines at three points—the Houffalize–Bastogne road, the St. Vith–Bastogne highway, and the St. Vith–Trier road—preventing the resupply of German forces encircling American troops at Bastogne.

Later, as the armored spearhead for the 103rd Infantry Division, the 761st took part in assaults that resulted in the breech of the Siegfried Line. From March 20 to 23, 1945, operating far in advance of friendly artillery and in the face of vicious German resistance, elements of the 761st attacked and destroyed many defensive positions along the Siegfried Line. The 761st captured seven German towns, more than 400 vehicles, 80 heavy weapons, 200 horses and thousands of small arms. During that three-day period, the battalion inflicted more than 4,000 casualties on the German army. It was later determined that the 761st had fought against elements of 14 German divisions.

The Black Panthers were also among the first American units to link up with Soviet forces. On May 5, 1945, the 761st reached Steyr, Austria, on the Enns River, where they joined the Russians.

Through six months of battle, without relief, the 761st Tank Battalion served as a separate battalion with the 26th, 71st, 79th, 87th, 95th and 103rd Infantry divisions and the 17th Airborne Division. Assigned at various times to the Third, Seventh and Ninth armies, the Black Panthers fought major engagements in six European countries and participated in four major Allied campaigns. During that time, the unit inflicted 130,000 casualties on the German army and captured, destroyed or aided in the liberation of more than 30 towns, several concentration camps, four airfields, three ammunition supply dumps, 461 wheeled vehicles, 34 tanks, 113 large guns, and thousands of individual and crew-served weapons. This was accomplished in spite of extremely adverse weather conditions, difficult terrain not suited to armor, heavily fortified enemy positions, extreme shortages of replacement personnel and equipment, an overall casualty rate approaching 50 percent and the loss of 71 tanks.

In 1978—33 years after the end of World War II—the 761st Tank Battalion received a Presidential Unit Citation. In 1997, 53 years after giving his life on the battlefield, Sergeant Ruben Rivers was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The motto of the 761st Tank Battalion has always been “Come Out Fighting.” In World War II, that is exactly what the Black Panthers did.

This article was written by Joseph E. Wilson, Jr. and originally published in World War II magazine in January 1998. For more great articles subscribe to World War II magazine today!

Patton's Guns - HISTORY

I was just looking at a book on WW2 and saw a picture of Patton wearing his
famous ivory handled, SAA .45. A short google search gave a good history on the
General's famous sidearms, but I was not able to come up with any information
on where they are all at now.

Does anyone know if they are in either a museum or in a private collection?

As far as I know they are on display at the Patton Museum, Fort Knox, KY. Don't
have their web address but I suppose a "Google" type search will come up with
it. If now there they might be on display at the Frazier Arms Museum,
Louisville, KY
Harvey C. Scobie
Radcliff, KY

In news:csfe2f$fuo$***,
Lungshot1 <***> pecked:
# I was just looking at a book on WW2 and saw a picture of Patton
# wearing his famous ivory handled, SAA .45. A short google search gave
# a good history on the General's famous sidearms, but I was not able
# to come up with any information on where they are all at now.
# Does anyone know if they are in either a museum or in a private
# collection?
# Ed

#From Director's Notes about the movie:

Of all the Second World War commanders, George S. Patton is undoubtedly the
one most remembered for his personal display of firearms. His ivory-handled
revolvers became the trade mark of his flamboyant leadership and gave him an
image instantly recognizable to the troops. The pistols usually photographed
being worn by him were not a matched pair. One was a Colt .45-Long Single
Action 1873 Army Model and the other a Smith & Wesson .357 revolver, both
now displayed in the Patton Museum at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Patton had, of course, been issued with the standard 1911 .45 Government
Model semiautomatic pistol. We are told that he ground the hammer notch down
so fine that it reputedly went off when he stamped his foot, grazing his
thigh. This story, although recounted by several sources, is rather
difficult to believe of an expert "pistolero" who had already competed in
the Olympic Games in 1912. The Colt .45 Auto is a difficult weapon to render
unsafe and also the grip safety would have to be taped down and safety catch
left off.

Be as it may, the fact remains that Patton was known to prefer revolvers and
he purchased a new Colt Single Action from Shelton Payne Arms Company in El
Paso. Texas in 1916, The Colt .45 was still accepted as a substitute
personal side-arm and, carried in the traditional Western manner of a
"five-shooter," it hung on his right hip when he went to Mexico in 1916 as
aide to General Pershing after the Pancho Villa brigade had attacked the
border town of Columbus. Traveling widely in northern Mexico, (in 1916 Model
Dodge touring cars), Patton personally led an attack on the rancho San
Miguelito later that year. In the gunfight that followed, "General" Julio
Cardenas and two bodyguards were killed and, as a result, Patton carved two
notches on the left-hand ivory grip of his Colt. The Smith & Wesson .357
Magnum had been sent to Patton on October 18, 1935 while he was serving on
Hawaii as an intelligence officer. This was worn with the Colt in matched
holsters made by S. D. Myers, the Smith & Wesson having initialed ivory
grips to match the general appearance of the Colt. The belt also held a
Myers handcuff case, containing a compass, and a Myers slide-on cartridge
carrier to hold twelve .45 cartridges. When the belt and pistols were
donated by the Patton family to the West Point Museum in 1952, the slide
contained nine rounds—as it still does today. General Patton also entered
World War II with a .38 Colt Detective Special with the old "long" grip,
purchased before the butt shape was changed in 1934, but he is usually only
seen wearing this pistol in behind-the-line staff offices. A small
automatic, a .32 Colt, was also carried concealed under his blouse in a
"fast draw" waistband holster.

In 1944 there was a general issue of the Colt .380 Government hammerless
model with the General Officers Pistol Belt designed and made by the Swank
Leather Company to a specification laid down by General George Marshall. It
became as much an insignia of rank as actual General's stars. Patton wore
his pistol with ebony grips inlaid with ivory stars and it is the gun most
seen in photographs taken of him (with both three and four star grips),
prior to his death in 1945
Dave Thompson

Dave Thompson wrote:
<snipage of Director's Notes quote>

# General Patton also entered
# World War II with a .38 Colt Detective Special with the old "long" grip,
# purchased before the butt shape was changed in 1934, but he is usually only
# seen wearing this pistol in behind-the-line staff offices. A small
# automatic, a .32 Colt, was also carried concealed under his blouse in a
# "fast draw" waistband holster.
# In 1944 there was a general issue of the Colt .380 Government hammerless
# model with the General Officers Pistol Belt designed and made by the Swank
# Leather Company to a specification laid down by General George Marshall. It
# became as much an insignia of rank as actual General's stars. Patton wore
# his pistol with ebony grips inlaid with ivory stars and it is the gun most
# seen in photographs taken of him (with both three and four star grips),
# prior to his death in 1945

General George S. Patton, Jr. WWII 75th Anniversary Tribute Pistol

America’s entry into World War II was one of the most defining moments of our country’s history. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously remarked, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, “December 7th, 1941… a date which will live in infamy,” Americans from all walks of life then went on to serve their country with honor and determination, ultimately securing victory and ensuring freedom for people around the world.

As Americans remember the anniversary of World War II, we honor the many brave leaders and all the members of the Armed Forces who played pivotal roles. One legendary leader of this era is General George S. Patton, Jr., one of the most brilliant military men of all time. He continually strove to lead his troops to the highest standard of excellence and is regarded as one of the most successful United States field commanders of any war.

Today, America Remembers is proud to announce the General George S. Patton, Jr. WWII 75th Anniversary Tribute Pistol, issued on a working stainless steel Colt .45 pistol. This is a pistol that, like Patton, was born for combat. It has earned its place in the hearts of America’s fighting men, and we have chosen it as the medium for this historic Tribute. We are pleased to be able to issue this Tribute with authorization and approval from The Family of General George S. Patton, Jr.

A Fitting Tribute

The General George S. Patton, Jr. WWII 75th Anniversary Tribute Pistol highlights four major campaigns from World War II—North Africa, Sicily, Battle of the Bulge, and Crossing the Rhine into Germany. Craftsmen commissioned specifically for this project by America Remembers polish and decorate each stainless steel pistol with sparkling 24-karat gold artwork and blackened patinaed highlights on a magnificent mirror polished stainless steel background to create an overall stunning effect.

Developed by legendary gun maker John Moses Browning, the incomparable Colt ® Government Model ® Pistol in Caliber .45 ACP was the official U.S Army sidearm from 1911 to 1985, from World War I through Vietnam, longer than any other military sidearm in American history. It has been called the greatest handgun ever made. The model has hardly changed since its inception over a hundred years ago, and it continues to be used in the military today, occupying a position of respect unparalleled in the world of military firearms.

General George S. Patton, Jr.

During World War II, Patton acquired the nickname “Old Blood and Guts,” because of his enthusiasm for battle. Soldiers under his command at times quipped, “our blood, his guts”. Still, he was known to be admired widely by the men under his charge. Patton was also known simply as “The Old Man” among his troops.

General Patton’s colorful personality, hard-driving leadership style and success as a commander, combined with his frequent political missteps, produced a mixed and often contradictory image. Patton’s great oratory skill is seen as integral to his ability to inspire troops under his command. Patton’s impact on armored warfare and leadership were substantial, with the U.S. Army adopting many of Patton’s aggressive strategies for its training programs following his death. Many military officers claim inspiration from his legacy, and the first American tank designed after the war became the M46 Patton.

To this day, General Patton is considered one of the most successful field commanders in U.S history. He is a uniquely American phenomenon, a man who fulfilled his destiny during World War II. Please don’t miss this unparalleled opportunity to honor General Patton and all of the brave Americans who fought with courage and duty to defend their country and ensure freedom around the world.

The right side of the pistol features an image of General Patton holding binoculars with a tank in the distance behind him against a spectacularly detailed background. NORTH AFRICA is scrolled near the bottom. To the right of that is scrolled proudly GEN. GEORGE S. PATTON, JR. over the wheels of a tank. To the right of that is General Patton pointing a swagger stick in the distance. To the right of the center banner—WORLD WAR II 75th ANNIVERSARY— is an image of General Patton and an Sherman M4 tank in the streets of a just-liberated Sicilian town, with a U.S. flag to greet men of the Army infantry and armored unit. One of Patton’s famous quotes,
“LEAD ME, FOLLOW ME, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY” is prominently displayed in the artwork. Patton’s initials, GSP, along with four stars to signify his General rank, are also displayed on both sides of the slide near the hammer.

The left side of the pistol features Patton at the Battle of the Bulge with soldiers and a Sherman M4 tank in the snow. BATTLE OF THE BULGE is scrolled underneath. To the right side of the center banner— WORLD WAR II 75th ANNIVERSARY— is Patton in a B-3 Bomber jacket and his name, GEN. GEORGE S. PATTON JR. Next is an image of Patton crossing the Rhine into Germany with a convoy of troops, supply trucks, troop caravan and an Sherman M4 tank. To the far left is scrolled, WARS MAY BE FOUGHT WITH WEAPONS, BUT THEY ARE WON WITH MEN, another of Patton’s many famous quotes. The thumb safety, hammer, grip safety, slide stop, barrel bushing, grip screws and magazine release are also polished and decorated in elegant 24-karat gold. Both sides of the slide are outlined in the tracks of a Sherman M4 tank, also in 24-karat gold, against the all-over highly polished stainless steel pistol.

Optional Display Case

An optional, luxuriously lined, custom-built wooden display case with locking glass lid is
available for purchase to protect your Tribute.

General George S. Patton, Jr. and PATTON® under license by CMG Worldwide, Inc.

Shipping Procedures

Since the “General George S. Patton, Jr. WWII 75th Anniversary Tribute Pistol” is a working Colt® .45 pistol, we will arrange delivery through a licensed firearms dealer of your choice. (Not available in California, Maryland or Massachusetts)


I wish to reserve the “General George S. Patton, Jr. WWII 75th Anniversary Tribute Pistol”, a working Colt .45 pistol, at the current issue price of $2,195.* Each Tribute is numbered within the edition limit of 500, and is accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity. Thirty-day return privilege.

Please charge my credit card a deposit of $195 per pistol. I will pay the balance at the rate of $100 per month, with no interest or carrying charge.

* All orders are subject to acceptance and credit verification prior to shipment. Sales tax is required in certain states and will be added. Shipping and handling will be added to each order. Virginia residents please add sales tax.

Patton's sidearm

Post by Christian W. » 06 Jan 2005, 10:39

Did Patton use revolver as sidearm? Right now Im looking at a picture where he clearly has some sort of revolver in his holster. ( He is looking trough binoculars in this picture. Next to him is unknown ( to me.. ) American officer. )

I might be wrong, but it looks like Colt Single Action Army.

Patton's Sidearm

Post by Alter Mann » 06 Jan 2005, 22:53

You are right. I have never seen a picture of Patton wearing anything other than a Colt SAA. I can't remember whether the grips were pearl or ivory. He could use them, too. He killed one of Pancho Villa's lieutenants in a cantina with one while on campaign against Villa.

Kind of interesting because he was the only American ever awarded the title 'Master of the Sword' by the French military academy at Saumur, and was also the designer of the last saber issued to US cavalry troops.

Post by Christian W. » 06 Jan 2005, 23:29

Post by knieptang » 06 Jan 2005, 23:32

I wonder, if these 45s are the real Colts of Patton.

Patton's Sidearm

Post by Alter Mann » 06 Jan 2005, 23:48

Post by knieptang » 07 Jan 2005, 01:24

Source: . patton.htm

Source: . SPJTRE.asp

Post by Christian W. » 07 Jan 2005, 04:17

Post by knieptang » 07 Jan 2005, 23:33

Throughout his military career, General Patton had the opportunity to test and use many different handguns. However, one of his favorite sidearm was a .45 caliber Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army Revolver with a 4 3/4" barrel. He acquired the pistol in 1916 while he was serving with General Pershing in the Punitive Expedition seeking to capture Pancho Villa.

This was no ordinary Colt. It was silver plated, extensively engraved by Colt's chief engraver, Cuno Helfricht, and was fitted with ivory grips carved with the intertwined initials "GSP." This pistol today is proudly displayed at the General Patton Museum in Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Shortly after receiving the revolver, George Patton had to rely on the revolver in a shootout with Julio Cárdenas, Pancho Villa's bodyguard, and other followers of Villa. It was May 14, 1916. Lt. George S. Patton was leading a caravan of three automobiles on a journey to purchase food for the troops. When they stopped at a ranch and approached the ranch house, the Americans came under attack. George Patton fired back with his pistol and later recounted the details to his father -- "I fired back five times with my new pistol and one of them ducked back in the house. I found out later that this was Cárdenas and that I had hit both he and his horse."

Post by knieptang » 08 Jan 2005, 05:37

Why Patton Carried Two Guns

We know that George S. Patton, the most pugnacious and perhaps the most famous American general officer who actually took the field in World War II, carried two handguns as his trademark. At first, they were twin Colt Single Action Army .45 revolvers. After he gave one of that brace of sixguns to a Hollywood star he admired and appreciated having the courage to entertain his boys at The Front, he backed up the remaining Peacemaker with a 31/2-inch barreled Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum.

Many thought the pair of ivory-handled revolvers conspicuously strapped to his waist connoted merely showmanship. Certainly, there was some of that. Patton knew the importance of inspiring his troops, and if it took flamboyance to make an inspiring impression then, by all the gods of war, he would be flamboyant.

But, it turns out, there was more than that. Stanley P. Hirshon's biography General Patton, published in 2002 by Harper Collins, contains Patton's explanation to his friend, General Kenyon A. Joyce, of exactly why he carried two handguns instead of just one. It is well known to those who've studied Patton's life that when he was a young man, he was part of General Pershing's "Punitive Expedition" to Mexico hunting Pancho Villa.

On May 14, 1914, Patton came under fire for the first time in his life. He had led a caravan of three automobiles to buy food for the troops when he came upon a band of Villistas. As the latter attempted to flee on horseback, a gunfight took place between the Americans and the Mexicans. Patton was armed with his privately owned Colt SAA .45 revolver, carried in the usual fashion with the hammer down on an empty chamber. In the course of the encounter, he emptied the weapon.

He would later say in a letter to his father, "I fired back five times with my new pistol and one of them ducked back into the house. I found out later that this was Cardenes and that I had hit both he and his horse."

That encounter occurred at approximately 20 yards. Another opponent came much closer on horseback, about 10 paces, and Patton deliberately shot the horse. Animal and rider went down, and when the latter stood back up, a volley from other American soldiers cut him down.

George Patton had drawn his first blood, but in the course of the firefight he had also found out what it was like to be shot at and have nothing to shoot back with. He would later explain to General Joyce why that experience made him a firm believer in carrying a backup handgun.

Writes biographer Hirshon, "Patton related to Joyce that his attachment to two ivory-handled revolvers stemmed from the incident. During the fray, he had had to stop and reload his six-shooter. While he did, three shots just missed his head. Henceforth, in times of danger, he preferred to wear two Colt Frontier-model .45-caliber revolvers. Newspapers often described them as pearl-handled because it sounded more colorful."

We know that when asked about those "pearl handles" on a later occasion, General Patton angrily corrected the reporter who asked the question and sharply explained that they were ivory. "Only a New Orleans pimp," Patton snarled, "would carry a pearl-handled gun."

In his younger days, George Patton had competed in the Pentathlon, which included pistol shooting. He practiced to stay sharp with his handgun skills. Hirshon quotes General Hugh S. Johnson, Patton's tent-mate during the Mexican campaign.

"Georgie' he said, "used to sit in his tent by the hour practicing 'trigger-pull' with either hand on a pistol fitted with a spring and a rod which would dart out at .a swinging pith ball at which he aimed. We used to call Georgie a Sears-Roebuck cowboy, because he wore a pistol cartridge belt low about his hips with two pearl handled forty-five revolvers in holsters, one on each groin -- he never used an automatic pistol."

Watch the video: The Last Days Of Patton In HD 1986