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Springfield 03 Rifle

Discussion in 'Allied Light Weapons' started by Jim, Jun 19, 2008.

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  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    This rifle was the standard issue to all Marines from the early days of the 20th century into the first year of World War II. As a result of intensive marksman - ship training, an inseparable bond formed between the individual Marine and this rifle which paid dividends on the target range and, later, in combat.
    The Model 1903 “Springfield” rifle traces its development from the experiences of the U.S. Army in combat against the Spanish Army during the Spanish-American War. The clip-fed Spanish 7mm Mauser rifle, Model 1893, had a flatter trajectory and a higher sustained rate of fire than the .30-.40 calibre Krag-Jorgensen rifles used by the U .S. Army. Beginning in 1900, the U.S. Armoury in Springfield, Massachusetts, started work on a new service rifle to replace the Krag.
    The new rifle, officially adopted on 19 June 1903, was based on the M1898 German Mauser and originally had a ramrod bayonet. The rifle was redesigned to accept a knife-type bayonet in 1905. This change was at least partially due to the concern of President Theodore Roosevelt who commented to the Secretary of War that: “1 must say that I think the ramrod bayonet is about as poor an invention as I ever saw.”
    The Model 1903 “Springfield” rifle was first issued to Marines in 1908 and saw its first combat during the Nicaraguan Campaign of 1912. The obsolescent Krags were almost entirely supplanted by the new ‘03 Springfield’s before the Vera Cruz campaign of 1914. After service in Mexico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, the ‘03 Springfield was exclusively used by Marines serving in France with the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. Following the war, an improved version was used by Marines in China and in the jungles of the Caribbean Islands and Central America.
    The accuracy of the ‘03 Springfield was without peer, and the Marine Corps based its developing marksmanship program on this rifle. The Marine Corps designed an improved set of front and rear sights and soon led the other services in prowess with the rifle. Indeed, by the outbreak of World War II, the Marine Corps had formed a cult around the rifle.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Andy235

    Andy235 Member

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    This was still the main combat rifle for USMC forces on Guadalcanal, was it not?
     
  3. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    The 1903/1903A3 were the standard USMC rifles on Guadalcanal. IIRC no M1 Garands where formally issued to USMC units on Guadalcanal. Apparently a number were "bartered" from Army units.
     
  4. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    The reason they deployed to Guadalcanal with the '03 Springfields was that there were insufficient M1 Garands in the Marine Corps inventory (remember the US Army was in the process of a massive expansion and many of its units were transitioning to the new rifle as well), and insufficient stocks of replacement parts and ammo stocks (.30-06 packaged in enbloc clips) made it logistically impractical to equip the 1st Marine Division with the rifle prior to its employment at Guadalcanal. Hell they didn't even get to deploy with all their subordinate regiments, they had to make the landings using the 2d Marines from the 2d Marine Division because their own 7th Marines were stuck guarding British Samoa. Many of the Divisions component parts had been rushed overseas in April to forestall further Japanese advances. Re-equipping a divsion forward deployed at the end of a long supply line added additional difficulties. After Guadalcanal the 2d Marine Division returned to New Zealand to rest and refit. Because they were on the far end of a long supply line the 2d marine Division didn't receive the new 2.36" rocket launcher before Tarawa, but the 27th ID working up in Hawaii for the assault on the relatively lightly held Makin Island did.
     
  5. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    The infantry regiments of the division didn't, as I explained in the above post. However, some of their attached units did such as one of the Defense battalions.

     
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  6. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    I've read that US troops in France in WW1 became so adapt with the Springfield that they were able to manipulate the bolt with their thumb, then pull the trigger with their pinky finger for a more rapid rate of fire.
     
  7. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Actually, there was one infantry regiment in Normandy that used the Springfield. This was due to the regimental commader's insistence because of his fondness for the rifle.
     
  8. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Interesting, never heard of such before. I knew that a lot of 03s were used as sniper rifles, but a whole regiment equipped with 03s is news to me. Any idea which one?
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
  9. harolds

    harolds Member

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    As a matter of fact, I believe I read it on this forum several years ago. Let me see if I can dig it up. There was also a picture of them coming ashore and they were clearly carrying Springfields.
     
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  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I think Rich has addressed this here somewhere.
     
  11. harolds

    harolds Member

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    I think I found it. It's a pix of U.S. soldiers marching up a bluff above the water. It's been reproduced so that the quality has suffered but it looks like they're carrying Springfields. On their left shoulder is a triangular shield patch with a large white star on it.
     
  12. harolds

    harolds Member

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    I also found a pix of a dead U.S soldier on a beach with a Springfield next to him.
     
  13. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    For years I've heard the "Regiment armed with 1903s" "fact" circulated around. I cannot vouch for its authenticity, but from what I can tell this is a reference to Colonel Hurley Fuller's 23rd Infantry Regiment. Apparently he managed to have it equipped with 1903s due to personal preference. The 23rd landed shortly after D-Day (June 8 IIRC), Fuller was relieved of command on about a week later and subsequently the regiment was re-equipped with M1 Garands.
     
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  14. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Apparently, you have vouched for its authenticity, At least that what it looks like.
     
  15. Owen

    Owen O

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    It's mentioned here but doesn't say exactly when & it doesn't have anymore info.
    Troy H. Middleton


    hurley.JPG
     
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  16. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    I am summarizing what I've heard over the years. I cannot speak authoritatively on the subject. I did look into this a few years ago and - despite the number of times it has been referenced anecdotally (usually to illustrate that the Colonel was a rather colourful character) - could not find any primary source documentation affirming that the regiment was in fact equipped with 1903s in early June 1944.

    On the more broad topic of 1903 use in the ETO: the first rifle grenade launcher (M7) for the M1 Garand was not adopted until mid 1943. Prior to this 1903s with grenade launchers (M1) were used for this purpose. I do not know the exact timelines, but it can be reasonably assumed that these did not reach units in noteworthy quantities until at least late 1943. Due to the length of time it would have required to re-equip and re-train the rifle grenadiers, 1903s were retained for this purpose and would have continued to be used in-quantity until at least end of 1944; with the M1 launcher itself not being declared obsolete until late 1945. This would likely explain the photos of single men carrying a 1903 while those around him have Garands.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
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  17. zeppelin5000

    zeppelin5000 Member

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    Springfield had to pay royalties to Mauser for using that style of bolt action. That was of course before the US went to war with Germany ;-)
     
  18. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Mauser also received royalties for the stripper clip, at a rate of 50 cents per 1000 clips produced. Payments to Mauser totaled $200k USD (the maximum permitted by the Treasury Department), occurring in installments between 1905 and 1910. That would be about $5M today. Heck of a deal, if you ask me.....
     
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  19. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    The 23rd Infantry you say? My old regiment. Never knew that about them. Lean something new around here every day!
     
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  20. firstf1abn

    firstf1abn New Member

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    On the question of how widely used the '03 was in the ETO, anecdotes cannot produce a useful answer. And a consolidated list with unit by unit weapons stats is unlikely to exist. So, I propose to take reported losses as a rough gauge of the proportions of the various small arms in use. Materiel losses can occur from a variety of causes, of course, but if anyone disagrees with the assumption that combat accounts for the vast majority of total losses in a combat theater, please explain.

    The First U.S Army's official history (published c. 1945) reports the following losses between 6 June and 1 August 1944 (when that army was the only game in town - meaning, on the continent):

    Carbine - 3800
    SMG - 1689
    Garand - 6575
    '03 - 299

    That seems to present a rather underwhelming case for much more than incidental use of the '03 in combat in Normandy. If you disagree, make your case.

    On the Hurley Fuller claim, why hasn't someone who believes the story taken 5 minutes to request the 23rd Infantry's June '44 S-4 report from NARA? With an email submission form, it doesn't even cost a stamp like in the olden days. There are a couple of other possibilities of where ordnance losses could appear in unit records, but it says a lot that apparently nobody has made this obvious first stop.
     

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