“Jungle Marines,” a 15~ minute Crown Film Unit production, “Shows the dangers faced by long-range Royal Marines patrols in the jungles of the Far East.”
It portrays an 8-man RM patrol, all good chums, roaming around what looks like Burma during the latter part of WWII. Armed with No. 4 Lee Enfields, an M1928 Tommy gun, a BREN gun, and machetes, they poke around in good fashion in the green hell and across rice paddies, burning off leeches with cigarettes and winning hearts and minds with the locals while trying to keep one step ahead of the Japanese and jungle rot.
Of particular interest is how light they pack, using just a small musette bag for what seems to be a week-long patrol.
At the 7:40 mark, they make a great little raft out of groundsheets and bamboo to help them cross a river.
Then comes a night ambush.
With this month being the 70th anniversary of the rush by the Free World to help keep the fledgling Republic of Korea from forced incorporation by its Communist neighbor to the North, it should be pointed out that the UN forces that mustered to liberate Seoul and keep it so carried an interesting array of arms. Gathered ultimately from 21 countries you had a lot of WWII-era repeats such as No. 3 and No. 4 Enfields carried by Commonwealth troops as well as M1 Garands/Carbines toted by American and a host of Uncle Sam-supplied countries.
But there were most assuredly some oddball infantry weapons that were used as well.
One historical curiosity was the initial contingent supplied by the Royal Thai Army, who left for Korea in October 1950 wearing French Adrian-style “sun” helmets and armed with 8x52mm Type 66 Siamese Mausers that were actually versions of the bolt-action Japanese Type 38 Arisaka built before WWII at Japan’s Koishikawa arsenal.
Note their French-style helmets, U.S.-marked M36 packs, and Japanese Showa-period rifles. Ultimately, more than 10,000 Thai troops would serve in the Korean War alongside U.S. forces, fighting notably at the Battle of Pork Chop Hill. (Photo: UN News Archives)
More in my column at Guns.com.
After World War One the country of Czechoslovakia emerged from the ashes of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. The new nation had to build everything up from scratch. Her army, made up of men who had fought for the Russians, Austrians, and French, had an amalgam of arms and munitions that was as varied as the colors of the rainbow. The first thing the new country did was seek its own armament.
In 1926 this led to a new light machine gun known in Czechoslovakia as the Zb.v 26. With its plans escaping from the country after it was taken over by Hitler in 1938, the gun went into production in Britain as the BREN gun. The name Bren was derived from Brno, Moravia, the Czechoslovak city where the Zb vz. 26 was originally designed (in the Zbrojovka Brno Factory), and Enfield, site of the British Royal Small Arms Factory.
(The WWII Bren gun was about as old-school sexy as you could get)
This gun went on to be possibly one of the best light machine guns in history, seeing service around the world as late as the 1982 Falklands War and the 1991 Gulf War.
Still following along?
Well fast forward to the 1950s. The Soviets had come in after 1945 and ran Hitler out but decided to stick around for the next four decades, placing the country on the front lines of the Cold War. Not wanting to arm their forces with the AK-47, the Czechs designed the Vz.58 rifle, considered by many to be the best 7.62x39mm assault rifle ever made, and issued it for generations.
When the Soviets moved to the 5.45x45mm caliber in the late 1970s, the CZ factory started a redesign of the Vz.58 to accept this new caliber. This led to the LADA project in 1986. By the 1990s the Soviets themselves had left and the now Czech Republic was looking to join NATO.
Which in a round about way led to this bad boy:
And no, its not airsoft…
Read the rest in my column at CZTalk.com