Why the P-47 Thunderbolt, a World War II Beast of the Airways, Ruled the Skies

H/T Smithsonian Magazine.

The P-47 Thunderbolt was the A-10 Warthog of World War II.

Remarkably tough, the versatile fighter delivered far more punishment than it took.

In the skies high above Germany on November 26, 1943, Major Gabby Gabreski was pushing his Republic P-47 Thunderbolt hard. The 56th Fighter Group of the U.S. Army Air Forces had been ordered to cover the withdrawal of Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses after bombing the industrial city of Bremen.

 

Gabreski, leading the 61st Fighter Squadron, was flying fast to rescue the American bombers, which were being swarmed by Nazi fighter planes. As they arrived on the scene, the commander ordered his pilots into the fray.

Gabreski could see targets everywhere. He gunned the turbocharged engine in his powerful plane and went on the attack. Gabreski spotted a Messerschmitt Bf 110 and drew a bead. At 700 yards, he let go with a burst from his eight .50-caliber machineguns, causing the twin-engine plane to burst into flames. He had to dive to avoid colliding with the disintegrating aircraft.

Minutes later, Gabreski spotted another Bf 110. He throttled up his massive 2,000-horsepower engine and zoomed in on the unsuspecting fighter. Gabreski fired and hit the plane at the wing root. It spiraled to the ground in a massive fireball.

 

Gabby Gabreski
On November 26, 1943, Major Gabby Gabreski, flying his P-47 Thunderbolt, downed two German Me-110s to become a World War II flying ace. (Wikimedia Commons)

Those two kills nearly 80 years ago this month were his fourth and fifth of World War II. Gabreski was now an ace. He would go on to shoot down 28 enemy aircraft to become America’s top ace in Europe. All of the kills would come at the controls of the P-47, one of the most rugged fighter planes of the war.

Weighing 10,000 pounds empty, the Thunderbolt was the largest single-engine fighter built by any country during World War II. Fully loaded with pilot, fuel and armaments, it topped out at more than 17,500 pounds—yet was exceptionally fast as a fighter-bomber, achieving a top speed of 426 miles per hour. It was arguably the best ground-attack aircraft America had at that time.

“The P-47 was one of the most versatile aircraft we had in World War II,” says Jeremy Kinney, curator and chair of the aeronautics department at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, which houses a P-47 in its collections—on view at the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. “It was not as famous as the P-51 Mustang, but it ranks as one of the best for that era. The Thunderbolt was the hammer: big and strong, it could take a lot of punishment and still deliver a lethal blow. It was unparalleled as a ground-support aircraft and it was also a great dogfighter.”

 

In the European Theater, P-47 pilots were responsible for destroying more than 7,000 enemy aircraft—more than half in air-to-air combat. Though at least twice as heavy as the Supermarine Spitfire, the Thunderbolt was surprisingly agile and fast. It was well-regarded for its exceptional diving ability—considered crucial by ace pilots—and how it transformed that energy into climbing power to get back into the fight.

“As an escort plane for bombers, it more than held its own against the best the Luftwaffe had despite its range limitations,” Kinney says. “With eight .50-caliber machineguns and the capability of carrying rockets and bombs, the P-47 was a formidable aircraft against ground targets.”

And rugged too. Not long after Gabreski became an ace, his engine shut down at high altitude when his turbocharger was hit by a 20 mm cannon shell from a Messerschmitt Bf 109. He was able to outmaneuver the enemy aircraft and restart the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine at a lower elevation.

“The Thunderbolt could take a lot of damage,” Kinney says. “It was designed to be rugged and became a preeminent fighter of World War II, flying in all major theaters and developing this mythic quality because of its durability.”

 

P-47D-30-RA
The Smithsonian’s P-47D-30-RA was delivered to Godman Field, Kentucky, in 1944, where it served as an aerial gunnery trainer before being transferred to the U.S. Air Force Museum and then to the National Air and Space Museum. It is now on view at the museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. (NASM)

The aircraft was the brainchild of Alexander Kartveli, lead designer for Seversky Aircraft Corp., predecessor of Republic Aviation. In the 1930s, he created the Seversky P-35 for the U.S. Army Air Corps, which served as the model for the P-47. The new fighter made its first flight on May 6, 1941.

“Kartveli, a Russian immigrant, was one of America’s great aviation designers,” Kinney says. “He revolutionized fighter aircraft with the semi-elliptical wing and more powerful engines equipped with turbosuperchargers.”

During World War II, the Thunderbolt flew more than half a million missions and dropped 132,000 pounds of bombs. It had an exceptionally low rate of loss—.07 per mission—while Thunderbolt pilots racked up an impressive 4.6-to-1 aerial kill ratio. Of the 15,683 P-47s built between 1941 and 1945, only 3,499 were lost in combat.

 

A19960589000cp02.jpg
A poster from the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum depicts a striking visual of the P-47’s reputation for rugged reliability. (NASM)

The Thunderbolt on display at the Hazy Center is one of only a few dozen that survived the conflict and the march of time. Built in 1944, this P-47D-30-RA was used primarily as an aerial gunnery trainer in the United States. After the war, it became part of the U.S. Army Air Forces Museum, now the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, before being transferred to the Smithsonian. It was restored by Republic Aviation for the 20th anniversary of the fighter’s first flight in 1941.

Looking at the shiny aluminum fuselage of the P-47, it’s easy to see why World War II pilots relied so much on this aircraft. Large and lasting, she was the beast of the airways and could deliver far more punishment than she took.

In fact, that reputation for durability became the inspiration for another remarkable aircraft: the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II. Known affectionately as the “Warthog” for its unusual aesthetics, it followed in the footsteps of its namesake to become one of the most reliable and rugged close-air-support aircraft in the U.S. Air Force.

“The A-10 pays homage to the P-47 as a ground-attack aircraft,” Kinney says. “Both are durable and amazing machines that were and are crucial to our country’s defense.”

P-47 Thunderbolt
“The P-47 was designed to be rugged and became a preeminent fighter of World War II, flying in all major theaters and developing this mythic quality because of its durability,” says Kinney. (Eric Long, NASM)

Gabreski may have been just as tough as both aircraft. He flew a total of 266 combat missions and survived both a crash landing and internment in a German POW camp. In addition to his 28 kills in World War II, Gabreski shot down six aircraft in Korea, becoming one of only seven American pilots to be an ace in two wars.

In the latter conflict, he flew jets and certainly came to appreciate their speed and nimbleness. However, the turbocharged supremacy of the P-47 Thunderbolt in World War II left a lasting impression with Gabreski, who died in 2002.

“That added power meant so much,” he said in an interview later in life. “It meant that I could do combat with the enemy over his territory at all altitudes and I could break off at will. I had more power than he had and I could corkscrew, go up to altitude and he couldn’t follow me.”

“He was a giver,” – Missouri native excelled at West Point, wounded while leading troops in WWII

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Elliott Woodrow Amick,you were a true leader.

Barely 30 years of age, Missouri native Elliott Woodrow Amick had already endured a lifetime of harrowing experiences and amassed an impressive list of accomplishments from his service in the U.S. Army. Despite his youth, he attained the impressive rank of lieutenant colonel, earned a Silver Star medal for valor in WWII and endured disabling combat injuries that soon resulted in his discharge from the service and the search for another career.

Born in the Howard County community of Franklin, Missouri, on March 8, 1913, Amick’s father moved the family to Roseville, California, approximately ten years later. A decorated Eagle Scout, the young man graduated with high marks from Roseville Union High School in 1931 and continued his education by earning a two-year degree at Sacramento Junior College.

The Press-Tribune (Roseville, California) reported on June 21, 1933 that Amick “will leave the first of the week to begin a four-year military training course at West Point. His appointment came through Congressman Englebright early this spring.”

While at the academy, he excelled in both academics and sports. In January 1934, the local newspaper of his hometown boasted that he had been selected for the basketball team at West Point. He later received promotion to cadet corporal and became “responsible for the discipline, neatness of appearance and command of his squad at all formations including drill and parade,” reported the Press-Tribune on July 5, 1935.

A native of Franklin, Missouri, Elliott Amick graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1938. During World War II, while serving as an infantry commander, he was twice wounded and earned a Silver Star for valor. Courtesy of Suzanne Byerly
A native of Franklin, Missouri, Elliott Amick graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1938. During World War II, while serving as an infantry commander, he was twice wounded and earned a Silver Star for valor. Courtesy of Suzanne Byerly

Cadet Amick was appointed to the rank of lieutenant at West Point in the summer of 1937 and graduated the following year as a member of the “Class of ’38.” Returning home for the summer, he embarked upon his active-duty military career as an infantry officer when reporting to his first duty assignment at Ft. Benning, Georgia, in September 1938.

In the spring of 1939, he wedded the former Muriel Orr, whom he met while attending the academy. “From 1941 onward, he was caught up in the vortex of mobilization, force expansion and war on a global scale,” noted in the April 1989 issue of “Assembly,” the former alumni magazine for graduates of West Point.

He and his wife became parents to a daughter in the summer of 1941, but the young officer was soon on his way to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, where he graduated at the top of his class while attending the General Staff College. He soon demonstrated his mettle in combat by taking part in the initial landings in North Africa while assigned to General Patton’s headquarters in early 1943.

Shortly thereafter, he was given command of 1st Battalion of the 142nd Infantry. During the invasion of Italy, he proved himself “a magnificent combat leader: outwardly fearless, decisive, adept at outwitting the opposing commander and constantly attentive to the welfare of officers and men under his command,” noted the aforementioned issue of “Assembly” magazine.

Major Amick received his first combat wound in February 1944, when struck in the right shoulder by shrapnel while commanding his battalion. His gallantry during the Italian Campaign earned him a Silver Star medal for “leading his men over extremely mountainous terrain … during an advance toward heavily defended enemy positions under intense enemy fire,” and all while wounded, reported the Sacramento Bee on June 6, 1944.

Amick was discharged for medical disabilities in 1947 after achieving the rank of colonel. He went on to complete a career at the United States Military Academy. Courtesy of Suzanne Byerly
Amick was discharged for medical disabilities in 1947 after achieving the rank of colonel. He went on to complete a career at the United States Military Academy. Courtesy of Suzanne Byerly

Recovering from his wound, he continued his rapid ascension through the officer ranks, receiving a promotion to lieutenant colonel. In July 1944, while serving in France with the 36th Division, he was appointed as commander for another battalion whose previous battalion commander was killed in action.

In September 1944, he received severe wounds that resulted in his second Purple Heart. Evacuated from the front lines, Lt. Col. Amick remained in the hospital for several weeks while doctors struggled, unsuccessfully, to fully repair the injuries he sustained.

Because of his wounds, reported the Press-Tribune on April 25, 1945, Lt. Col. Amick was assigned to West Point to serve as an instructor in the tactical department of the academy. In addition to his two Purple Hearts and Silver Star, he was awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to his Bronze Medal (denoting his second award of the medal) for “heroic or meritorious achievement.”

After achieving the rank of colonel, Amick received a medical discharge from the U.S. Army on June 30, 1947. He and his wife raised three children while remaining in New York. The combat veteran spent nearly the next three decades employed by the United States Military Academy in capacities to include Deputy Director of Athletics and Director of Housing until his retirement in 1975.

The 70-year-old World War II commander passed away on November 1 1983, and found his final rest site near the institution he had dedicated a significant part of his adult life—the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery in West Point, New York.

Receiving the nickname of “Mick” while attending the academy, the young officer was compassionately remembered by his friends, family, cadets and soldiers as “always quick to lend a helping hand; and radiated the sincerity and genuineness that are the glue of friendships.”

In the “Assembly” magazine, a tribute to the memory of the departed officer provided glowing comments remarking on the characteristics that had drawn soldiers to him as both an individual and leader.

“His warm and winning smile never faded. His concept of service—to professional colleague, personal friend, individual with problem, community-at-large—never flagged. To the end of Mick’s course on earth, he was a giver.”

The Air Force Hero Who Spared His Enemy’s Life

H/T War History OnLine.

Knowing how the Japanese pilots would machine gun Allied pilots like Brigadier General William D. Dunham it was the hand of God on his shoulder that kept him from shooting the Japanese pilot.

R.I.P.Brigadier General William D. Dunham.

Brigadier General William D. Dunham was a highly decorated US Air Force hero. His achievements during World War II and beyond are well-documented. However his most notable act arguably concerns an act of kindness rather than aggression.

 

Back when he was a Major in 1944, “Dinghy” Dunham – approaching his mid-twenties – was at the controls of a Republic P-47D. Flying over the Philippine Sea, he had a clear shot at a Japanese parachutist making a descent.

The pilot was a sitting, or rather falling, duck. Dunham put him in that position in the first place, having shot down his Nakajima Ki-43. Now all he needed to do was deliver the killer blow. Fresh in his mind was the brutality of the Imperial Japanese Forces. They’d been known to attack pilots dangling from their parachutes. Dunham may well have felt anger growing inside him, seeing a natural opportunity to take revenge on his ruthless opposition. An eye for an eye.

P-51D Mustangs and Republic P-47D Thunderbolts fighters undergo maintenance at Lingayen airfield in the Philippines in April 1945. The air force hero flew the P-47D Thunderbolt.
P-51D Mustangs and Republic P-47D Thunderbolts fighters undergo maintenance at Lingayen airfield in the Philippines in April 1945. The air force hero flew the P-47D Thunderbolt.

Then something remarkable happened. Historynet (revisiting a 2008 Aviation History article) describes how Dunham’s hand was stayed before it could pull on the trigger mechanism. Not only did the Major choose not to shoot, he even chucked a lifejacket at his foe.

What lay behind the decision to spare his enemy’s life? He later referred to it as divine intervention, “as if the Lord put his hand on my shoulder”. Yet there seemed to be more going on than a possible message from the Almighty.

Earlier that year, Dunham lost his friend Col Neel Kearby. Together with Captain Sam Blair, they patrolled the North Coast of New Guinea from the air. The team engaged with 3 Kawasaki Ki.48s, but Kearby wound up in trouble. He took out his target and circled back, unknowingly putting himself in the crosshairs of a Ki.43. The enemy was dealt with, however Kearby disappeared after being fired on.

Dunham never forgot his fallen comrade. The Historynet post indicates this was a key reason behind his treatment of the Japanese pilot all those months later. Artist David Hammond paid tribute to the dramatic episode with painting ‘Uncommon Chivalry’. Hammond became aware of Dunham’s act in 2005. The finished work was unveiled in front of widow Bonnie. “Dinghy” himself passed away in 1990 aged 70.

Along the way, Hammond found out what happened to Col Kearby. Parallels existed between him and the Japanese pilot Dunham wound up saving. Like the latter, Kearby bailed out, though sadly appeared to have died from his wounds before touching the ground. As the article notes, the Colonel lost his life “because a flier fired on a downed enemy—as Dunham later refused to do.”

A Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa. Image by Goshimini CC BY-SA 4.0.
A Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa. Image by Goshimini CC BY-SA 4.0.

This chapter of the future Brigadier General’s life certainly stands out. Yet it’s only one part of a long military career. Dunham signed up with the US Army Air Corps in 1941. He was an ace not just once but 3 times, with 16 “aerial victories” under his belt. (Source: Find A Grave.com) 1966 saw him working as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations for the Seventh Air Force in Vietnam.

His service lasted until 1970. The air force hero was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. In the citation for that honor, the site writes “Major Dunham’s unquestionable valor in aerial combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service”. Also bestowed on him were the Legion of Merit, the Air Force Commendation medal, plus others.

With Veterans Day fresh in people’s minds this month, it’s worth remembering that many soldiers act with compassion as well as violence.

Brigadier General Dunham’s motivations that day in the Philippine Sea aren’t clear. But one thing is – he witnessed a stricken man and opted to reach out rather than cut him down. He supplied his enemy with a life jacket he himself might have relied on. Proof if any were needed that true heroes make their names in different ways…

Spy gadgets made for WW2 secret agents up for auction, – and they display British ingenuity

H/T War History OnLine.

Some amazing pieces of spy history up for auction.

Spy gadgets disguised as everyday items aren’t just a work of fiction for 007 in James Bond films, they exist for real and come into their own in wartime, writes Charles Hanson.

 

In recent weeks, Hansons’ militaria expert Adrian Stevenson has been cataloguing a host of gadgets designed for use by special agents during the Second World War. And though the objects have been around for 80 years or so they are still perfectly functional.

The large private collection of WW2 spy gadgets, gathered by a private collector over 40 years, is set to go under the hammer in Hansons’ Militaria Auction on November 20 – and they’re fascinating. The ingenuity of the British can’t be faulted when it comes to thwarting the enemy.

The items include an incendiary device disguised as a matchbox (below), hidden compasses galore, a camera in a ‘matchbox’ and a multi-purpose knife containing razor-sharp cutting blades. The utility knife is equipped with three small hacksaw blades, a tyre slasher blade and a wire cutter tool.

Photo: hansonslive.co.uk.
Photo: hansonslive.co.uk.

Compasses were essential tools to direct agents parachuted into enemy territory during conflict. Consequently, hidden compasses are found in all manner of everyday items in the collection. They are tucked away in pencils and hidden in collar studs and buttons.

In fact, we have a full set of battledress compass buttons in their original stores box (below). Escape compasses could become part of a serviceman’s uniform. Compasses were even hidden in pipes, as another example in the collection demonstrates.

Items like this were produced by MI9, a department of the war office between 1939 and 1945, and were given to Special Operations Executive agents. The SOE was a British organisation set up to carry out espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe against the Axis powers – Germany, Italy and Japan.

Photo: hansonslive.co.uk.
Photo: hansonslive.co.uk.

During the Second World War, M19 was tasked with supporting European Resistance networks and making use of them to assist Allied airmen shot down over Europe in returning to Britain. MI9 agents were parachuted into occupied Europe.

These would link up with a Resistance cell and organise escape-and-evasion efforts, usually after being notified by the Resistance of the presence of downed airmen. The agents brought false papers, money and maps to assist trapped service personnel.

The usual routes of escape were either south to Switzerland or to southern France and then over the Pyrenees to Spain and Portugal. The group also facilitated the escapes of British prisoners of war and smuggled supplies into their camps.

Many escape or spy gadgets were based on the ideas of Christopher Hutton (1893–1965), a Birmingham-born soldier, airman, journalist and inventor. Hutton proved so popular he built himself a secret underground bunker in the middle of a field so he could work in peace.

Hutton made compasses that were hidden inside pens or tunic buttons. He used left-hand threads so that, if the Germans discovered them and the searcher tried to screw them open, they would just tighten. He printed maps on silk, so they would not rustle, and disguised them as handkerchiefs, hiding them inside canned goods.

For aircrew he designed special boots with detachable leggings that could quickly be converted to look like civilian shoes, and hollow heels that contained packets of dried food. Then there was the magnetised razor blade which would indicate north if placed on water.

Photo: hansonslive.co.uk.
Photo: hansonslive.co.uk.

Hutton also designed an escaper’s knife – a strong blade, a screwdriver, three saws, a lockpick, a forcing tool and a wire cutter.

MI9 even used the services of former magician Jasper Maskelyne to design hiding places for escape aids including tools hidden in cricket bats and baseball bats, maps concealed in playing cards and actual money in board games. Forged German identity cards, ration coupons and travel warrants were also smuggled into POW camps by MI9.

Finds like this display the ingenuity of the British but there are many more fascinating lots in our militaria sale. Foe example we are selling two First World War British Royal Naval Air Service Pilot’s Flying Log books which belonged to Sub Lt, later Wing Commander, Harry Laurence Nunn, DFC, DSC. His notes inside reveal that he downed German U Boats.

Photo: hansonslive.co.uk.
Photo: hansonslive.co.uk.

To browse the militaria lots and all of our latest auction catalogues, please visit our online bidding platform www.hansonslive.co.uk.

Though we are in lockdown, you can still arrange free remote valuations, free home visits and collections of consignments by emailing service@hansonsauctioneers.co.uk.

The first log book, dated May 1916 to November 1,1918, states that on February 8, 1918 he was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for sinking a U Boat. An entry for July 26, 1918 stated that another U Boat had been sunk by his aircraft.

 

 

‘Dorset’s Schindler’ Mr Chadwick Rescued 669 Children from Czechoslovakia

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P.Trevor Chadwick.

Meet a British war hero who rescued hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazis. The Trevor Chadwick Memorial Trust is crowdfunding a bronze statue of its namesake.

 

Also known as the “Purfleet Schindler”, Chadwick rescued hundreds of young souls during Hitler’s takeover of Czechoslovakia. The Trust need tens of thousands of pounds before the end result can go up in 2022.

Chadwick isn’t a household name but he’s certainly known about in Swanage, the Dorset coastal town where he grew up. Working with a team, he arranged escape routes via the famous “Kindertransport” network in 1939, at great personal danger to himself.

Artist Moira Purver is responsible for the statue. So far she’s made an 18 inch clay model and completed other preliminary work. A recent update on the Trust’s Facebook page shows wax casts of Chadwick carrying a young child, plus another young person who will be positioned by the hero’s side.

 

The stunning maquette by Moira Purver, the preliminary model before being sculpted in full scale. Image from Moira Purver Sculpture.
The stunning maquette by Moira Purver, the preliminary model before being sculpted in full scale. Image from Moira Purver Sculpture.

Quoted by the BBC, Purver says she wants to capture Chadwick’s “personality and charisma”. At the time of writing nearly £366 has been pledged toward a goal of £1,000. 80 times that amount is required before the concept can become a reality.

 

You can donate here –

The Trevor Chadwick Memorial Trust

Chadwick was a teacher of Latin who traveled to Prague in 1938. The Forres school where he worked sent him to bring back a couple of refugee boys.

The Munich Agreement, signed the same year by British PM Neville Chamberlain amongst others, handed Hitler Czechoslovakia in a bid to avert war. Its citizens faced the spectre of fascism, with little ones being forced into camps. Various organizations attempted to evacuate potential victims before it was too late.

Nicholas Winton. Image by Li-sung CC BY-SA 3.0
Nicholas Winton. Image by Li-sung CC BY-SA 3.0

Banker Nicholas Winton (later Sir) and Doreen Warriner of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia (BCRC) were working to keep children out of harm’s way. Chadwick agreed to join them, becoming a lynchpin once Winton had to return home. He took on the trickiest of tasks by negotiating exit passes with the Gestapo.

As relayed by History Extra, Chadwick said: “I remember putting on the screaming table-thumping acts – always reliable with these louts – and demanding an interview with the Kriminalrat.” The Kriminalrat – a name English speakers might find apt – translates as “detective Nazi”, or in this case section chief.

Chadwick also forged documents. Another surprisingly tough job involved dealing with UK Home Office bureaucracy. Chadwick would obtain a medical certificate, plus a guarantee of £50 per head – over £3,000 in today’s money according to History Extra – before each child could cross.

Overall, 669 children made it to England through Chadwick and co’s efforts. They traveled on 8 trains. He then fled the scene himself, when the enemy grew suspicious. The Nazis claimed Czechoslovakian territory within weeks.

The Trust’s crowdfunding page writes, “had he been caught, he would have been arrested and possibly sent to a detention camp.”

For decades the activities of Nicholas Winton and his group went unrecognized by the general public. Then Winton was surprised on national TV as part of the ‘That’s Life’ programme in the Seventies. A knighthood came in 2003. Statues of the high profile figure have since been erected in Maidenhead, and of course Prague.

A statue of Nicholas Winton at Prague main railway station. Luděk Kovář CC BY-SA 3.0
A statue of Nicholas Winton at Prague main railway station. Luděk Kovář CC BY-SA 3.0

The Trevor Chadwick Memorial Trust are now hoping a similar tribute can be paid in Swanage. For years after the ‘That’s Life’ broadcast his name was under the radar. Not that Winton didn’t mention it. As the BBC writes, he “insisted Mr Chadwick, who stayed in Prague to organise the evacuations, had been the real hero.”

Chadwick passed away in 1979. The Daily Mail reports the teacher turned savior was “known for his friendly and personable manner that helped put children at ease at the most terrifying time of their lives.”

The biggest part of his legacy lies in those who survived the Nazis because of him and other brave fighters. Movie director Karel Reisz (1926 – 2002) and politician Lord Alf Dubs owe everything to the Kindertransport. Noted poet Gerda Mayer wrote of Chadwick in an excerpt highlighted by the Trust, “He certainly was a superman.”

Dangerous Drops and Secret Radars: The Story of Operation Biting

H/T War History OnLine.

A piece of World War II history that is not taught in school.

Parachutes and radar are long-established elements of war. But they both came into their own with Operation Biting. This British raid from the skies took place on the 27th February 1942.

 

Brave men landed in the northern French commune of Bruneval with the aim of stealing Nazi radar components. They faced incredible odds but came out the other side in triumph.

The Germans had set up a radar installation called “Wurzburg”, which Churchill’s experts wanted to get their hands on. At the time an invisible conflict was going on; “The Battle of the Beams”.

As described on the Combined Operations website, the game was to jam your enemy’s kit so they didn’t see you coming. Radar expert Dr Reginald Victor Jones was in charge at the British end.

Lord Mountbatten set the plan for Operation Biting in motion. The lead up to the mission had been perilous in itself. Resistance operatives risked their lives gathering intelligence on Bruneval’s beachside location. Photographs of the target were taken from a Spitfire. This was way before the days of cameraphones, so the pilot really needed to master the art!

Low level oblique of the “Würzburg” radar near Bruneval, France, taken by Sqn Ldr A.E. Hill on 5 December 1941. Photos like this enabled a raiding force to locate, and make off with, the radar’s vital components in February 1942 for analysis in Britain
Low level oblique of the “Würzburg” radar near Bruneval, France, taken by Sqn Ldr A.E. Hill on 5 December 1941. Photos like this enabled a raiding force to locate, and make off with, the radar’s vital components in February 1942 for analysis in Britain

The recently-formed 1st Parachute Brigade, 2nd Battalion C Company were assigned to the momentous task. They’d been in existence only a matter of weeks. And reaction to their involvement wasn’t exactly positive. As Bruce Crompton explains on his ‘Amazing War Stories’ podcast, “Many in the corridors of power thought the Parachute Forces were a folly, a drain on vital war resources. However Churchill was determined…”

Commanded by Major John Frost, the team were assembled and trained rigorously in (typically co-operative!) British weather. High levels of secrecy were maintained.

The men had to fly at night. Yet they remained in the dark over what exactly they were doing. Combined Operations writes, “The parachute unit, for example, believed the War Cabinet wanted them to demonstrate techniques and capabilities for raiding a headquarters building behind enemy lines.”

The Brigade, comprised of 120 men, were traveling by Whitley bomber. They would be dropped 600 ft. The drop was straight through the floor, with a risk they’d receive bumps and bruises before they even left the plane! The men were expected to display ABI, or “Airborne Initiative”, meaning no matter how bad thing got, they did their duty.

Once on the ground they operated in 3 sections. One to take the beach, another to serve as rearguard and reserve. Flight Sgt Charles Cox was part of the third group, who were responsible for raiding the Wurzburg. Offshore was Don Preist of the TRE (Telecommunications Research Establishment), studying Nazi transmissions and collecting data in case Operation Biting didn’t come off.

An early snag was well and truly hit when the beach unit, commanded by Lt Euen Charteris, found themselves 2.5 km out from their destination! More details are featured on the Amazing War Stories Facebook page.

Click on the image below to listen to the amazing podcast that accompanies this article.

They faced the prospect of running toward Bruneval. The route took them through a village brimming with Germans. Thankfully the night gave them the cover they needed, though one enemy soldier was despatched after joining them in a jog… the unfortunate soul figured they were Nazis.

Meanwhile, Cox and company were at the radar disc. Hitler’s forces were prepared for the parachutists’ arrival and hot metal flew everywhere. It also became clear the kit couldn’t be prised away with tools. Brute strength was used to dismantle the parts. These were then put on trolleys, with accounts of the loot being ridden down slopes to the escape route.

The Würzburg mobile radar at the Imperial War Museum, London. Image by Ekem CC BY-SA 3.0
The Würzburg mobile radar at the Imperial War Museum, London. Image by Ekem CC BY-SA 3.0

Lt Charteris reached the coast and the mainly Scottish team engaged with the enemy in a fight to the finish. Boats were supposed to be waiting for them but these had been forced to hold off while German vessels prowled the waters. Eventually help arrived, and the Brigade were sped away to Portsmouth.

Sadly while casualties were low, 2 men died. One of those was Lt Charteris. The Germans lost 5 men. 6 of the group became prisoners of the Nazis. The Brits captured soldiers of their own and brought them back to extract further information.

The men of C Company on their arrival on Portsmouth, the morning after the raid.
The men of C Company on their arrival on Portsmouth, the morning after the raid.

The Parachute Regiment’s ParaData website calls Operation Biting “a small but exciting taste of success at a time when the war was going badly.” It was a victory for Churchill in the media and in the national consciousness. The deadly radar-grabbing mission put Paras on the map and ushered in a new age of technological warfare.

To learn more about Operation Biting, check out Bruce Crompton’s ‘Amazing War Stories’ podcast. The action is vividly brought to life through sound effects and ex-Para Crompton’s enthusiastic narration, keeping this dramatic chapter of wartime history very much alive…

New Documentary Reveals Story of Last German Soldiers to Surrender

H/T War History OnLine.

A fact we were never taught in school.

Deep inside the Arctic circle, some six-hundred miles North of the Norwegian coast, lies the Svalbard archipelago, including the islands Spitzbergen and Nordaustlandet (North East Land).

 

In the September of 1944 eleven German soldiers were sent to Nordaustlandet in order to send weather reports back to the mainland.

A new documentary has been produced that tells the story of the eleven men and why it took so long for the Swashbuckler squad to be able to surrender. In short, the reason was simply that there was no one they were able to surrender to.

For an entire year the team had been dutifully compiling and broadcasting weather reports, communicating daily with the German military and had heard immediately when Germany surrendered to the Allies on May 8th, 1945. They continued reporting the weather, uncoded following the cessation of hostilities, but failed to hear anything by return.

The British took control of the country and interned 375,000 German troops, leaving the Nazi communications monitored by one man, Rolf Wieck. Despite reminders to the British commanders that a unit remained in the Svalbard Archipelago, no one was prepared to take responsibility for picking the squad up.

Svalbard is incredibly remote, with only 3,000 people living there in 2020.
Svalbard is incredibly remote, with only 3,000 people living there in 2020.

The Swashbucklers were led by polar expert and geographer Wilhelm Dege and had expertise in Winter and mountain combat and training in cooking, baking, dentistry and emergency amputation. They built a weather station and had a years’ worth of provisions and a good supply of weapons.

The squad buckled down for a long hard winter in a part of the world where the sun would remain below the horizon for weeks and the air temperature would drop below -50C. They saw no military action but shared the island with walrus colonies, polar bears and other arctic wildlife.

The following Spring, insulated from the chaos of the battle for Europe and the cataclysmic razing of many German cities, the team heard the news that Hitler had committed suicide. Heinz Schneider was the bases’ 21-year-old radio operator at the time. He remembered that they broke out the schnapps on that fateful May 1st and raised their glasses to the new era that was to come.

Their optimism was to be short-lived however as their expectation of relief faded as the months dragged on. Through the Summer months of June and July, while Europe basked in the heady rush of liberation, the polar weather crew watched as their provisions gradually depleted.

When there was still no sign of a rescue in August the men began to prepare for the Winter that was to come. Eventually, at the end of the month on the 25th, August 1945, a message came in from the mainland detailing that a Norwegian fishing vessel would be dispatched to pick them up.

The Blaasel, captained by an old colleague of Dege’s, Captain Albertsen, arrived off the coast of Nordaustlandet on September 3rd. Both Dege and Albertsen had worked together on polar expeditions in the 1930’s, and the men greeted each other with a hug when they met that day.

Members of the German weather station Edelweiss II taken prisoner by US Army soldiers, 4 October 1944
Members of the German weather station Edelweiss II taken prisoner by US Army soldiers, 4 October 1944

That night the sailors were treated to a meal at the weather station, followed by stories and reminiscences and drinking of schnapps. In the small hours of the 4th September Captain Albertsen remarked that it was all very well but that Lieutenant Dege had yet to formally surrender.

In reply, Wilhelm Dege unholstered his pistol and laid in on the table between the two men saying, ‘I hereby capitulate!’ making his squad of German soldiers the last to surrender in World War Two.

Dege returned to his scientific career following the war, he lectured at a university and wrote a memoir of his experiences on the Svalbard Archipelago called War North of 80. He died in 1979.

‘Tanker Garands’: The Real Story

H/T American Rifleman.org.

“In my opinion, the M1 rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised.”

General George S.Patton Jr.

For several decades prior to the adoption of the Model 1903 Springfield rifle, the U.S. Army issued its U.S. Cavalry a carbine version of the standard U.S. Infantry rifle. The last official U.S. military carbine based on the standard infantry rifle was the Model 1899 .30-40 Krag, which had a 22″ barrel as compared to the Model 1898 Krag rifle’s 30″ barrel.

When the Model 1903 Springfield was in development, it was decided to equip the new rifle with a 24″ barrel that was intended to be a compromise between the shorter cavalry carbine and the longer infantry rifle. Both the infantry and cavalry were generally pleased with the new rifle, and the concept of separate arms for the two branches of the Army was over. 

Nonetheless, there was still a fondness for the carbine in the minds of some of the former cavalrymen, who appreciated its light weight and handiness. There were two prototype carbine versions of the Model 1903 Springfield rifle fabricated in 1921 by Springfield Armory for testing and evaluation, but the concept never went beyond the prototype stage. 

“Tanker” Garands Ad

“Tanker” Garands had nothing to do with tanks, and the vast majority were fabricated as commercial guns by companies such as Golden State Arms. NRA Archives

When the M1 Garand rifle was adopted in 1936, it had approximately the same overall length as the M1903, which made it suitable for issue to both infantry and cavalry units. Such was the case until America’s entry into World War II, when the concept of a shorter M1 rifle was considered.

Although the .30-cal. M1 carbine had been adopted in 1941, it was an entirely different category of arm, and it was not designed, nor intended, to fulfill the same role as the M1 rifle. The light and compact semi-automatic M1 carbine lacked range, accuracy and “stopping power” compared to the M1 Garand. As World War II progressed, it was envisioned that a shorter version of the M1 rifle would combine the Garand’s power and accuracy with the compactness of the M1 carbine.

The Jan. 20, 1944, Springfield Armory “Monthly Report of Progress on R&D Projects” stated that a modified short-barrel Garand rifle, weighing about 1 lb., 3 ozs., less than a standard M1, was fabricated by the 93rd Infantry Division and tested by the Infantry Board.

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. 

“Tanker” Garands

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. 

M1E5 rifle without a pistol grip

This Springfield Armory archival photo depicts an M1E5 rifle without a pistol grip below a standard M1 rifle.

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. 

T26 prototype rifle

Shown above is a T26 prototype rifle manufactured in Springfield Armory’s Model Shop in early 1945 above an M1 rifle modified under the auspices of the Pacific Warfare Board in the Philippines during late 1944 and sent to the Ordnance Department for evaluation and testing. Note the near-pristine condition of the former compared to the well-used condition of the latter.

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.

“Conclusions:

“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.

It should be noted that 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.”

 

As stated in the above documentation, the new rifles requested were to be designated “T26,” which would indicate that they were to be made to the same specifications as the T26 previously fabricated at Springfield Armory. As events transpired, however, the end of the war resulted in the cancellation of this order, and the concept of a “Garand Carbine” was dropped.

Since none of the 15,000 rifles was manufactured, there was only one T26 ever made. The M1 rifles shortened by the ordnance unit of the 6th Army in the Philippines apparently never had an officially assigned nomenclature. For lack of the better term, “Pacific Warfare Board Rifle” is undoubtedly the most appropriate designation for these rifles, albeit an unofficial one.

One of the PWB rifles, Serial No. 2291873, currently resides in the Springfield Armory Museum. The other PWB rifle, which was tested at Aberdeen in July 1945, Serial No. 2437139, has been in the West Point Museum (Catalog No. 19657) since it was transferred there by the Ordnance Dept. shortly after World War II.

According to West Point Museum officials, the only modification to the rifle since its testing by Ordnance was the substitution of the later T105E1 rear sight assembly in place of the original “locking bar” rear sight. The PWB rifle in the Springfield Armory collection appears to remain in its original configuration. It is interesting to note that at least one Springfield Armory archival photo (1964 vintage) exists that erroneously identifies the PWB Rifle in the museum’s collection as a “T26.”

There are still a number of unanswered questions regarding these rifles beyond the fate of the original T26. For example, it has not been confirmed beyond the shadow of a doubt how many of the rifles were actually fabricated in the Philippines as ordered by the PWB beyond the two known examples. While not stated one way or the other, it may be possible that the PWB waited to get word from Washington whether or not the concept met with Ordnance’s approval before proceeding with modification of the entire batch of 150 rifles.

The above-referenced report of the field testing of the short rifles by the 503rd PIR indicates that at least some additional rifles, beyond the two sent stateside, were produced. In any event, the number of shortened M1 rifles actually made during World War II as directed by the PWB almost certainly would have been no more than 150. The fact that no convincingly documented examples of the PWB-shortened M1 rifles are known to exist (other than the two mentioned above) seems to lend credence to the contention that few were actually fabricated.

It has been postulated, however, that the dearth of existing specimens can be explained because the shortened rifles were destroyed or re-converted to standard M1 rifle configuration after the “Garand Carbine” program was dropped. Unless further documentation is forthcoming, this will probably remain the subject of conjecture and debate. 

“Carbine” designation

Note the “Carbine” designation within the receiver markings on the M1E5.

Some claim to have run across, or own, one of these fascinating arms, but since converting a standard M1 to PWB/T26 configuration is not an overwhelmingly difficult gunsmithing task, and since there is no known roster of PWB rifle serial numbers, confirming the provenance of such a rifle is virtually impossible. There are a number of known fakes around including one with impressive, but totally bogus, “Pacific Warfare Board” markings on the receiver. The odds of one of the PWB rifles surviving and being smuggled home are all but nil.

Nevertheless, hope springs eternal and a number of individuals are certain they have a genuine example. Without some sort of convincing documentation, which almost certainly will not exist because any PWB rifle “on the loose” would be stolen government property, such a claim must be approached with much skepticism. A good rule of thumb to remember is: If it’s not in the Springfield Armory or West Point museums, it’s not a genuine Pacific Warfare Board rifle. 

The shortened M1 rifle was one of those things that looked good in theory but didn’t work out so well in actual practice. With the conclusion of World War II, the U.S. military closed the chapter on the concept of a “Garand Carbine.”

The “Tanker Garand” Emerges

Despite its rejection by the American military, the idea of a Garand rifle shorter than the standard M1 was later resurrected in the civilian sector. The genesis of these rifles began in the early 1960s when some enterprising individuals acquired large quantities of surplus military firearm parts, including a significant number of M1 rifle receivers that had been “demilled” by torch-cutting.

Among the most notable of these was Robert E. Penney, Jr. Penney and his associates began to produce rifles, primarily standard-length M1 Garands, for the civilian market using these surplus parts, including some of the welded and re-machined torch-cut receivers. Examples were made in both .30-’06 Sprg. and .308 Win.

Penney was apparently aware of the World War II-era experimental shortened M1 rifles and decided a rifle in such a configuration would be a good addition to his company’s product line. The imaginative term “Tanker Garand” was coined for these rifles, presumably to give the impression (totally erroneous) they were military arms made for use in tanks. Despite being a fantasy appellation lacking any basis in reality, the name stuck.

Since genuine military M1 rifles were not readily available to civilians during this period, the ersatz Garand rifles, including the novel “Tankers,” sold relatively well. When the supply of the surplus components began to be depleted, Penney was faced with the prospect of manufacturing new parts. Such items as receivers, bolts and operating rods would have been prohibitively expensive to produce. Faced with this daunting prospect and declining health, Penney stopped manufacturing and sold the company.

Pacific Warfare Board Rifle, Commercial “Tanker Garand” Rifle

While he was one of the pioneers in the field, it should not be inferred that Penney’s firm was the only one to make the so-called Tanker Garands. Several commercial firms, and even some individual gunsmiths, have continued to turn out similar arms to this day, either using existing G.I. M1 receivers, “demilled” receivers welded back together or newly made cast receivers. The workmanship can vary from extremely professional to downright shoddy.

Some people are enamored with the neat-looking little rifles, but this ardor often cools a bit when a few rounds are fired and the muzzle blast and recoil are experienced. Many owners of “Tanker Garands” found out what the Ordnance Dept. and the 503rd PIR test committee discovered in 1944-1945, and decided to become former owners when firing their pet guns proved to be less fun than originally imagined.

Nonetheless, some civilian shooters are not particularly bothered by the increased muzzle blast and recoil, and they continue to enjoy the neat little guns. In any event, these commercially shortened Tanker Garand rifles are not, and never were, military arms but are an interesting part of the fascinating story of the Garand.

While the concept of a “Garand Carbine” never went beyond the testing stage by the American military, it nevertheless illustrates how our armed forces continued to seek ways to improve the arms issued to our fighting men during the greatest conflict known to mankind.

;

Company Imports Trove of M1 Carbines from Ethiopia to Sell in US

H/T War History OnLine.

This will make a lot of collectors happy.

I would love one but they are out of my price range.

 

The M1 Carbine was the most produced infantry weapon manufactured by the United States for World War II. It was developed by Winchester for the troops that needed something more powerful than a pistol but easier to manage than a rifle.

 

It was intended for noncombat and line-of-communications troops. It became popular with officers, non-commissioned officers, and specialists who were already carrying a multitude of gear.

The M1 Carbine spread to tankers, artillery crews and mortar crews. Eventually, an updated version with a folding stock was created for airborne soldiers.

An M1 Carbine.
An M1 Carbine.

Delivery of the M1 Carbine began in 1942. Soldiers in the European theater were the first to receive the new weapon. By the end of the war, five million had been produced. They were manufactured so quickly and in such quantities that the government cancelled all contracts by the end of the war and the factories had to lay off the workers.

The haul of rifles in Ethiopia.
The haul of rifles in Ethiopia.

The M1 Carbine remained very popular after the war. It was still used by the US Army in the 1960s during the Vietnam War. Ironically, the Viet Cong had obtained M1 Carbines from some of the countries that the US had sold their surplus, meaning US forces were facing enemies using weapons produced in America.

Into the 1960s, the US government would sometimes release a quantity of stockpiled M1 Carbines for purchase by the American public. After that point, stockpiles would be located around the world and liquidated to the public. But lately, collectors and enthusiasts have had a harder time tracking down an authentic WWII M1 Carbine.

Welgand with two Carbines. Behind him can be seen stacks of more rifles.
Welgand with two Carbines. Behind him can be seen stacks of more rifles.

Now, Royal Tiger Imports has announced that they have located a trove of M1 Carbines in Ethiopia. The M1 Carbine was manufactured by a number of manufacturers during WWII and Royal Tiger has obtained models from every one of them except Irwin-Pederson and Quality Hardware Manufacturing Corp.

The weapons were part of the stockpile the Ethiopian government obtained from various governments around the world.

Royal Tiger was able to purchase a number of these weapons and import them into the US. They are listing the weapons on their web site, https://www.royaltigerimports.com/Default.asp, beginning at $999.99 for a standard model and up to $1,699.99 for and excellent to unused condition model. Some are offered with original magazines, slings, and/or oilers.

Welgand holding a German Mauser.
Welgand holding a German Mauser.

Other rifles include British SMLE Lee-Enfield .303 rifles, pre-WWI rifles from countries like France and Belgium, unmodified German 98Ks, Italian Carcano rifles and even many made in the 1800s.

Most of the rifles are in great shape due to the dry arid climate that lacks the moisture to damage the wooden stocks or metal components. The M1 Carbines in particular are unmodified versions shipped in 1945.

The M1 Carbine fires a .30 caliber M1 Carbine cartridge at 566 m/s and up to 2,000 fps. Originally, they were produced with static sights but later models offered adjustable rear sights.

The barrel is 18 inches long. The overall length of the gun is 35.6 inches. They weigh 5.2 pounds when empty and can carry either 15 or 30 rounds depending on the magazine you use. Length of pull is 13.1 inches. They come with a wooden stock.

There are quite literally hundreds of M1 Carbines here.
There are quite literally hundreds of M1 Carbines here.

Another Article From Us: Alexander’s Final Masterpiece – Savagery on the Hydaspes

Since the M1 Carbine was never intended to replace a full-sized rifle, it works best within 100 yards. Using modern expanding ammunition, it can be used for personal protection or for hunting game up to the size of deer within 100 yards.

 

 

Germany Pledges Over €550 Million to Holocaust Survivors

H/T War History OnLine.

This money is coming almost too late for the Holocaust survivors.

An organization that negotiates for compensation from the German Government has announced that the Government will provide €564 million ($662 million) to aid Holocaust survivors struggling during the Coronavirus pandemic.

 

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) revealed that around 240,000 survivors of the Holocaust, living in Israel, Western Europe, the former Soviet Union, and North America, would receive payments over the coming two years.

The Holocaust occurred over 75 years ago, and all the claimants are now older people. The claimants all suffer medical issues, many of which are caused by the lack of proper nutrition when they were young. In addition to their medical problems, many live independently as their families were destroyed during the purges, and they suffer psychological issues due to the horrendous treatment meted out to them by the Nazis.

CHILDREN RESCUED FROM THE NAZI CAMPS ARRIVING AT THE ATLIT RECEPTION CAMP BY TRAIN.
CHILDREN RESCUED FROM THE NAZI CAMPS ARRIVING AT THE ATLIT RECEPTION CAMP BY TRAIN.

The executive vice president of the Claims Conference, Greg Schneider, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the survivors’ problems during the ongoing pandemic are common across all of them. They have the attitude that they have been through worse, that each of them had been through the Holocaust and had survived. They had lived through having no food, and if they had survived that, they would get through this as well.

However, if you take the time to look under the surface, it is clear that there is still a well of trauma within each of them.

Many survivors exist on or close to the poverty line. The additional costs of protective clothing, masks, and the cost of having groceries delivered has forced many into abject poverty. Many teeter on the brink of deciding what to get each month; rent, food, or medicine.

The new payments are designed for people that are not already receiving pensions from Germany. These are people that fled from the Nazis into Russia and elsewhere to hide during World War II.

Mr. Schneider said that some 50% of Holocaust survivors in the USA reside in Brooklyn in New York. They were very hard hit when the pandemic broke as New York was the epicenter of the outbreak in America, but other countries are now just as badly off, so the calamity rolls from one place to another.

The German Government will make two payments of €1,200 (approximately $1,400) over the coming two years to many of the poorest of the poor survivors still alive today. This is a commitment of €564 million ($662 million) by the German Government.

This is in addition to the $4.3 million in emergency funding that the Claims Conference has already distributed to organizations that care for survivors.

Theresienstadt Concentration Camp Czech Jewish Holocaust Survivor Ela Stein-Weissberger
Theresienstadt Concentration Camp Czech Jewish Holocaust Survivor Ela Stein-Weissberger

In addition to this extraordinary funding, the German Government has agreed to increase funds allocated to survivors’ social welfare services. In the recent annual negotiations, the funds were raised by €30,5 million to a total of €554,5 million for 2021.

The money allocated to social welfare services is used for in-home care for more than 83,000 survivors and assisting a further 70,000 for food, medical care, transport to medical facilities, and other programs to ease social isolation.

Over the years, the Claims Conference’s negotiations have resulted in Germany paying more than $80 billion to Holocaust survivors.

Part of the negotiations includes the Claims Conference working with the German Government to expand the categories of eligible people for compensation. This year, the German Government agreed to include 27 ‘open ghettos’ situated in Romania and Bulgaria. This means that people who lived there during the Holocaust are now eligible to receive compensation.