Tag Archive | M1917 Browning

Combat Gallery Sunday: Inside the dugout edition

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: Inside the dugout

The below, from the LOC, are all sketched by Howard Brodie, who voluntarily left his sweet gig as a sports artist for the San Francisco Chronicle to draw for Yank magazine as an Army combat artist in WWII and got close enough to his subjects (he volunteered as a medic when needed) to receive a bronze star.

Drawing shows two privates, John Minihan of Rockford, Illinois on the right, and Sal de George of Manhattan on the left, kneeling to operate a machine gun from their dugout during the American offensive on Mt. Austen during the World War II Battle of Guadalcanal. Their gun is the iconic M1917 Browning water-cooled sustained-fire GPMG

It is closely related to this one, which was not as fleshed out:

Sketch shows an enlisted man, John H. Minihan of Rockford, Illinois from the side. He kneels as he operates his machine gun from a dugout on the island of Guadalcanal during World War II.

Similarly, this sketch by Brodie is in the same vein, but is inside a fortress made of aluminum rather than jungle earth:

The drawing shows a World War II gunner wearing an oxygen mask as he stands before an open slot in a B-17 airplane firing his machine gun during the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Brodie later went back to war, with his pencils, and covered Korea, French Indochina, and Vietnam.

He died in 2010.

Thank you for your work, sir.

Of watercooled Brownings, obsolete landing guns and horse Marines

Marine Corps Photo #530953 entitled “Ready for Anything–Maneuvers outside of Peking” showing some well-outfitted Devil Dogs clad in overseas winter gear to include fur caps readying a Browning M1917 water-cooled 30.06 machine gun while sheltering in what looks like a tilled field. Although the M1919 air-cooled Browning was around, the sustained fire M1917 was a thing of beauty on the defense.

The picture is comparable to one from RN Marines from about 30 years previous:

“The New Maxim-Gun mounting field Service with the Naval Brigade in South Africa 1900.”

While the USMC photo is undated, it likely comes from the late 1920s-30s, the heydey of the famous “China Marines” which saw the whole of the 4th Marine Regiment stationed in Shanghai from March 1927 onward to augment the Legation Guard Marines from Peking and Tientsin in protecting American citizens and property in the International Settlement during outbreak of violence that came with the Chinese Revolution– and, after 1937, the Japanese invasion of China.

“Technical Sgt-USMC-1938, Mounted, by Maj. J.H. Magruder, USMCR” typical of the kit of the 4th Marines in Northern China at the time of the photo at the top of the post.

Reduced over time to just two (sometimes horse-mounted on Mongolian ponies) battalions, each with only two rifle companies of two platoons each and one machine gun company (but augmented by the only fife band in the Corps), by 1940 the Marines were the only large international force in Shanghai as the French and Brits had withdrawn due to pressing needs elsewhere.

A group of horse Marines gallops in formation in Peking, China. These Marines were members of the American Legation Guard. 1936

Horse Marine, China, circa 1913 USMC photo

One of several Mark VII 3-inch landing guns remaining in the hands of the Marine garrison in Peking in service with the 39th Company, Marine Artillery. Just 51 of these handy 1,700-pound guns were built from a German Ehrhardt design 1909-12 and were used extensively by the Marines in the Banana Wars (although not in France in the Great War). China was the last hurrah of these peculiar 3″/23 caliber field guns– and the Japanese captured six of the example in storage at Cavite in 1942.

The 4th Marines was itself pulled from China less than a month before Pearl Harbor. These hardy regulars were withdrawn to the Philippines aboard the chartered Dollar liners SS President Madison and President Harrison, where they were soon ground down against the Japanese to the point that the remnants burned their colors on Corregidor before the surrender there in 1942.

Of the 204 remaining Legation Marines and their Navy support personnel under Col. William W. Ashurst in China not directly assigned to the 4th, their own planned extraction to the PI was interrupted by Pearl Harbor and, on 8 December 1941, they were captured by overwhelming Japanese forces. The men were interned in a prisoner of war camp in Shanghai under harsh conditions until it was liberated, 19 June 1945.

The Browning M1917 Machine Gun: Browning’s water-cooled heavy

When it comes to defending a fixed position, such as a trench or pillbox, from an advancing horde of enemy foot soldiers, the best solution for the individual soldier is a machine gun. This we’ve known for some time.  The problem with machine guns though, is that they overheat after the first thousand rounds and aren’t much good without a replacement barrel after that. Well, if you’re a Guns.com reader it should come as no surprise that John Moses Browning came up with the ultimate answer to this problem a long time ago, even before his legendary M2 won the hearts and minds of the American people, and it was called the M1917 machine gun.

Read the rest in my column at GUNS.com

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