Tag Archives: pocket pistol

Sun’s out, guns out

Resistance fighters with the French Forces of the Interior armbands meet up with curious recently arrived American troops on the beach in the Saint Tropez area during Operation Dragoon landings along the French Riviera, 15 August 1944. The irregulars of the FFI numbered an estimated 400,000 by this stage of the war and were no longer underground.

Signal Corps Photo 111-SC-212383 via NARA

The Resistance members all seem to have pistols stuck in their waist-band, channeling Dan Tanna long before the 1970s.

Inset of 111-SC-212383

The fella to the left has a Colt M1908 Hammerless stuck in his belt while his buddy with the short (German surplus?) wool jacket has what appears to be an Astra 400 grip just showing. The stabby guy with the bandana has what looks like a 6.35mm pocket pistol such as a Browning Baby or Colt Vest model in addition to his steel-handled sheath knife.

As for the GIs, the older Soldier on the right has the distinctive seahorse patch of the 36th Engineer Regiment.

The 36th Engineers were everywhere in the ETO, earning campaign streamers for Algeria-French Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Anzio, and Rome-Arno in the 22 months prior to the Dragoon landings. They would go on to prove essential in the push through Northwest Europe through Alsace and the Rhineland. An active-duty unit, after WWII they went on to serve in Korea, where they remained for 20 years. Reformed as the 36th Engineer Group in 1973 and as the 36th Engineer Group in 2006, they have continued to deploy downrange across the sandbox extensively over the past three decades.

The Tiger’s Everyday Carry Pocket Gun

Here we see a .32 ACP Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless self-loading pistol carried by General (later Field Marshal) Sir Gerald Templer, KG, GCB, CB, GCMG, KBE, DSO. The S/N (377681) dates to 1921 production.

UK National Army Museum NAM. 1998-01-118-2

Dubbed  “The Smiling Tiger,” Sir Gerald commanded infantry and armored divisions, as well as the German Directorate of the Special Operations Executive, during the WWII and later went on to lead British forces during the Malayan Emergency, one of the few successful counter-insurgency operations undertaken by the Western powers during the Cold War.

He was also something of a gun buff.

General Sir Gerald Templer (left) testing a .45 inch De Lisle bolt action silenced carbine during a visit to 1st Battalion The Gordon Highlanders, Perak, 1952. He may very well have a Colt in his pocket. 

The signed 1954 card in the pistol’s case reads:

“The .32 Colt revolver and ammunition, in this case, was one of about 20 purchased by me when I was GSO I (1(b)) at GHQ, BEF. It was necessary for some of my officers to/ have a small automatic in their pockets on a good many occasions. I carried this one throughout the War, and when I was High Commissioner and Director of Operations in Malaya it never left my side. It was under my pillow every night whilst I was in country, ready and cocked.”

Sir Gerald died in 1979, aged 81.