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View Full Version : M1 Garand mismatched parts


Stryker
01-03-2005, 01:29 PM
Ever wondered why their are so many FrankenGarands out there? I found this article written by Ernie Pyle, that I think pretty well explains it.

"Every infantry or armored division has an ordnance company with it all the time. This company does quick repair jobs. What it hasn't time or facilities for doing, it hands back to the next echelon in the rear. Daily to the small-arms section of the company there came trucks with the picked-up, rusting rifles of men killed or wounded, and rifles broken in ordinary service. The outfit turned back around a hundred rifles a day to its division, all shiny and oiled and ready to shoot again. They operated on the simple salvage system of taking good parts off one gun and placing them on another. To do this they worked like a small assembly plant. The first few hours of the morning were devoted to taking broken rifles apart. They didn't try to keep the parts of each gun together. All parts were standard and transferable, hence they threw each type into a big steel pan full of similar parts. At the end of the job they had a dozen or so pans, each filled with the same kind of part. Then the whole gang shifted over and scrubbed the parts. They scrubbed in gasoline, using sandpaper for guns in bad condition after lying out in the rain and mud. When everything was clean, they took the good parts and started putting them together and making guns out of them again. After all the pans were empty, they had a stack of rifle - good rifles, ready to be taken to the front. Of the parts left over, some were thrown away, quite beyond repair. But others were repairable and went into the section's shop truck for working on with lathes and welding torches. Thus the division got a hundred reclaimed rifles a day, in addition to the brand- new ones issued to it.

And, believe me, during the first few days of our invasion men at the front needed those rifles desperately. Repairmen told me how our paratroopers and infantrymen would straggle back, dirty and hazy-eyed with fatigue, and plead like children for a new rifle immediately so they could get back to the front. One paratrooper brought in a German horse he had captured and offered to trade it for a new rifle, he needed it so badly. During those days the men in our little repair shop worked all hours trying to fill the need.

I sat around on the grass and chatted with the rifle repairmen most of one forenoon. They weren't working so frenziedly then, for the urgency was not so dire, but kept steadily at it as we talked. The head of the section was Sergeant Edward Welch of Watts, Oklahoma. He used to work in the oil fields. Shortly after the invasion, he had invented a gadget that cleaned rust out of a rifle barrel in a few seconds whereas it used to take a man about twenty minutes. Sergeant Welch did it merely by rigging up a swivel shaft on the end of an electric drill and attaching a cylindrical wire brush to the end. He just stuck the brush into the gun barrel and pressed the button on the drill; away she would whirl and in a few seconds all the rust was ground out. The idea was turned over to other ordnance companies.

A stack of muddy, rusted rifles is a touching sight. As gun after gun came off the stack, I looked to see what was the matter with it - rifle butt split by fragments; barrel dented by bullet; trigger knocked off; whole barrel splattered with shrapnel marks; guns gray from the slime of weeks in swamp mud; faint dark splotches of blood still showing. I wondered what had become of each owner. I pretty well knew.

Infantrymen, like soldiers everywhere, like to put names on their equipment. Just as a truck driver paints a name on his truck, so does a doughboy carve his name or initials in his rifle butt. I saw crude whittlings of initials in the hard walnut stocks and unbelievably craftsman like carvings of soldier's names, and many and many names of girls. The boys said the most heartbreaking rifle they'd found was one belonging to a soldier who had carved a hole about silver-dollar size and put his wife or girl's picture in it, and sealed it over with a crystal of Plexiglas. They didn't know who he was or what had happened to him. They only knew the rifle was repaired and somebody else was carrying it, picture and all."

Ernie Pyle

Jay Edward (deceased)
01-04-2005, 10:34 AM
Thanks Stryker...I've always enjoyed Pyle. Seems to me I have a coupld of books by him in my war collection. Robert Leckie is another good read for those who want a real insight into WW II.

The picture that Ernie 'paints' is poignant but it a real testimonial to the Garand. I have very much enjoyed owning one.

LLANOJOHN
01-04-2005, 12:10 PM
Stryker,

Thanks for the Ernie Pyle piece on the Garand. He was quite a fellow and highly thought of by the soldiers that he wrote about. There are 2 items along this line that I would like to add that might be of interest to our fellow readers.

1ST......the movie " G I Joe "....it starred Robert Mitchum in one of his best roles. The combat takes place during the Italian campaign primarily during the siege of Monte Casino. Primarily based on the stories that Ernie Pyle sent back from the front. A little too much Hollywood "ho-ha" but definitely a worthwhile film to watch.

2ND...."Ordinance Went Up Front...written by Roy Dunlap the gunsmith...Roy Dunlap is most well known in the gunsmithing circles for the definitive book "Gunsmithing" which was the primary text-book when I attended Trinidad State Jr. College School of Gunsmithing. "Ordinance Went Up Front" is a detailed informative text and story of Mr Dunlaps WW II experiences as an ordinance man in the Africa campaign and the Pacific theatre from the Philipines to Japan. This is an excellent book for reference and a good read as well!

Ol' John

Stryker
01-04-2005, 01:39 PM
Stryker,

Thanks for the Ernie Pyle piece on the Garand. He was quite a fellow and highly thought of by the soldiers that he wrote about. There are 2 items along this line that I would like to add that might be of interest to our fellow readers.

1ST......the movie " G I Joe "....it starred Robert Mitchum in one of his best roles. The combat takes place during the Italian campaign primarily during the siege of Monte Casino. Primarily based on the stories that Ernie Pyle sent back from the front. A little too much Hollywood "ho-ha" but definitely a worthwhile film to watch.


Ol' John
I agree. A great flick. Not to confuse anyone though, Mitchum played Capt. Walker. Burgess Meredith played Ernie Pyle.

Another good movie with Mitchum is Gung Ho. The story of the Makin Island raid by Marine of the 2nd Raider Battalion in 1942. Defineately a one-sided view of the war, but then again it was made in 1943. Mitchum is excellent as "Piggy". Randolph Scott plays Col. Thornwald, a character loosely based on Col. Evans Calson, the actual leader of the raid.

The raid itself was actually put together to test Raider Tactics. It was hoped, as a secondary objective, that the Raid would divert Japanese attention from Guadalcanal.