Here we see an image, taken 8 February 1945 in the woods near Echternach, Luxembourg, showing very muddy Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 417th Regiment, 75th Infantry Division (“Bulge Busters”), cleaning their M1 Garands and M1918A2 BAR “before moving up to the line.”
L to R: Pvt. Dom Bocci: 379 Boyleston St., Newton Centre, Mass.; Pvt. Russell J. Sacriol, (?) 151 Canterbury St., Worcester, Mass.; Pvt. John Ducharme, Glover Road, Millbury, Mass. Signal Corps image 111-SC-364288 via the LOC
The shot reminds me greatly of a Willie & Joe cartoon from the redoubtable Bill Mauldin, an artist who cut his teeth as a teenager in the 45th Infantry Division in 1940 and knew a thing or three about what he drew.
I recently had the chance to tour U.S. Army’s Museum Support Center at Anniston Army Depot, the keepers of the flame for military history in the country.
The 15,200-acre installation in North Alabama was established in World War II and overhauls both small arms and vehicles for the Army. A longstanding tenant on the sprawling base, based out of Building 201, is the Museum Support Center, operated by the Center of Military History. The CMH maintains an immense collection of 650,000 historic items across 228 sites including 57 large museums that are a part of the Army Museum Enterprise. Items not yet on display, waiting for a public home, or are excess to current museum needs are stored in the “Army’s attic” in Anniston.
In secured storage at the MSC are 13,000 live weapons of all sorts, ranging from 13th Century Ottoman gear to guns captured recently in Afghanistan…and they were gracious enough to roll out the red carpet for me:
More in my column at Guns.com
Today every squad of soldiers or marines has at least one fully automatic man-portable light machine gun issued to it. In 1918, this concept was foreign and a firearm that could fill this newly arrived at need was non-existent. Not to worry though, that most genius of American firearms engineers John Moses Browning, had something up his sleeve. The Army called it the M1918, but the troops just called it the BAR.
Read the rest in my column at GUNS.com