1 September 1943: The Tommy gun-toting “Devil’s Own” a group of salty Australians of 2/5th Infantry Bn (6 Australian Division), who helped drive the Japanese from Mount Tambu, clearing the way for the advance on Salamaua, Papua New Guinea.
Left to Right (Back) Corporal Don Mather of South Yarra, Vic, Pte. Frank Mcgreevy of Redbank, Qld, Pte Frank Townsend, of Box Hill, Vic, Pte Eddie Watkins of Grafton, NSW, Pte Jim Mcgovern of Richmond, SA, Front Pte Ron Miller of Merino. Victoria, Pte. Walter Dudley, of Woy Woy, NSW and, Pte. Arthur Wallin of Seymour, Victoria. (AWM Photo 015639)
Formed in Melbourne on 18 October 1939, the Diggers of 2/5th Battalion left for the Middle East early the next year– arriving in time to fight at Bardia and Tobruk before a “vacation” in Greece and fighting the Vichy French in Syria. Shipped back home to defend Australia after the Japanese entered the war, they landed at Milne Bay, in Papua, in early October 1942 and remained engaged against the Empire until VJ Day, most of it in the triple canopied mountains along the Torricelli and Prince Alexander ranges.
Disbanded at Puckapunyal in early February 1946, 2/5 had fought the French, Germans, Italians, and Japanese– across three continents– during the course of its short existence.
While you may know of today’s standard U.S. Army infantry rifles, and those of the 20th Century, how about those present at Lexington and Concord or the line of Springfield muskets from 1795 through 1865? What came after?
For all this and more, check out the easy 2,000-word primer I did for this last weekend at Guns.com.
The 75th Anniversary of D-Day is under a month away. Here we see a beautiful Kodachrome original color image depicting posed North European Invasion Rehearsals sometime either in late 1943, or early 1944:
Here a Beachmaster uses an SCR-536 handie-talkie/walkie-talkie to maintain contact with other sections of his battalion during exercises on the English Coast. Other communications men, in the background, stand ready to use the signal lamp and semaphore flags.
Note man digging foxhole as another stands by with an M1 Thompson Submachine Gun.
Complete with the super-detailed cutaways, this 1942 U.S. Army training film covers the non-Blish lock operation of the M1928A1 and M1/M1A1 made by Savage Arms and Auto-Ordnance after April 1942.
The most common Tommy guns of all time, these were made in quantity (562,511 M1928A1s and a million “United States Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M1” and M1A1), though they were all replaced by the cheaper M3 Grease Gun soon after the war.
Private Bruce Rutherford and doggoes cleaning his “Chicago Typewriter”
From the 1920s through the 1960s, many civilian police forces, such as these cops in Tacoma, Wash, had a few Tommy guns on the racks “just in case” phasing them out after Vietnam with 1033 Program M16A1s
The St. Louis Metro Police Department is parting with most of its huge and historic Thompson submachine gun collection in a move to get a good deal on new duty guns.
Twenty-seven of the city’s 30 Tommy guns will be sold to Midwest Distributors for $22,000 apiece. All told, the Kentucky-based firm will pay $618,500 for the transferrable .45 ACP s sub guns and some other surplus weapons. This is on top of $597,000 paid by Minneapolis-based Bill Hicks & Co. for 1,748 used Beretta handguns currently carried by the department.
The money will go to offset the cost of new Berettas at $450 a pop to equip every officer with as well as a quantity of AR-15s to be used as patrol rifles.
More in my column at Guns.com.