Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Were regular soldiers issued M1 carbines?

Discussion in 'Small Arms and Edged Weapons' started by BCap, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. BCap

    BCap Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2010
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    4
    I was watching The Pacific, and I noticed that a lot of the Marines were carrying M1 carbines instead of Garands. I thought that the Garand was issued more frequently than the carbine, with the latter only being given to officers, senior NCOs, rear-area guys, airborne, and special duty guys. What's the deal here, Hollywood history or reality?

    Also, M1911A1s were given to all officers and NCOs, correct? But did they ever issue them to regular enlisted men armed with M1 Garands or B.A.R.s? My grandfather said he was never issued a pistol (he used a P38 he took as a trophy), but a History Channel documentary (WWII in Color) seems to indicate otherwise (and itself is contradicted by Band of Brothers, which states that enlisted men had to get their own).
     
    Slipdigit likes this.
  2. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    9,709
    Likes Received:
    1,494
    Even in the documentaries which were shot at the time by the US military shows a great number of carbines being used in the PTO. They were light, and most combat was done at closer quarters than in the ETO. Jungle fighting just is, by nature less "long distance" shooting, and a fast firing easy to "whip around" carbine is a good weapon.

    They remained so popular in "jungle fighting" that post war the French requested them as the weapon of choice while they were fighting the Viet Mihn. Nice little jungle weapons. And BTW, the little .30 Carbine was the most numerous produced "long gun" of WW2. In the three years between 1942 and 1945 over six million were produced.

    Enlisted men, as well as officers could carry personal weapons in the side-arm area. They could be issued a pistol in some instances, but as a general rule it wasn't policy as far as I know.
     
  3. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru Patron  

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2000
    Messages:
    5,555
    Likes Received:
    491
    Location:
    Festung Colorado
    I imagine the light weight and shortness of the weapon also helped - lugging around a Garand would be much heavier and more likely to get snagged on vines etc. I know carrying a short-barreled gun is much easier to 'rise up and acquire target' then with a longer barreled gun - even out here in the swamps of Orlando, my M4 Stubby is much easier to maneuver then my G3 - which constantly snags on things.
     
  4. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Messages:
    5,945
    Likes Received:
    755
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona
    Even in standard TO&E's many "regular" soldiers were issued carbines. Typically these were men in sections that had heavy machineguns, mortars, or other support weapons where their personal firearm was more for defense than regular combat use. The carbine being lighter than an M1 rifle was also issued to them due to their often increased pack load of ammunition or portions of the weapon they served.
     
  5. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    9,709
    Likes Received:
    1,494
    Even if you call up an image of the first flag raising on Iwo Jima's Surabachi, you will find a Marine kneeling "on guard" with a little .30 Carbine. Not the famous Iwo shot, which was the second flag, but the first one. I forget that Marine's name (the one with the Carbine), Williams?
     
  6. BCap

    BCap Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2010
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    4
    What I mean is, a regular rifleman in a regular unit (not like a weapons unit or anything), did he have a choice between rifle or carbine, or what? And for enlisted men, what instances would they get a pistol (i.e. would riflemen in the ETO or PTO get a .45 through official channels)? Thank you anyways though, this has been helpful so far.

    My grandfather claims he ditched his rifle during the Battle of the Bulge so as to take a carbine, since he had come down with some bad frostbite (which incidentally saved his life).
     
  7. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Messages:
    5,945
    Likes Received:
    755
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona
    No. In infantry squads each man was issued an M1 rifle, M1903 Springfield, or BAR. Pistols were not issued to basic infantry. The typical issue is one BAR, 1 or 2 Springfields (either for grenade launching or sniping depending on the TO & E) and 9 to 11 M1 rifles (11 if no Springfields are present).
    In such units carbines were not generally prefered due to their different ammunition requirement. The other possible switch is that the squad leader draws a M1 Thompson from the company HQ general stock (each company had 14 to issue as needed).
    So, if an infantryman had a carbine he would have to 'aquire' it unofficially. Likewise, pistols. For the most part an infantryman has near zero need for a pistol unless he just likes hauling a few more pounds of stuff he will rarely, if ever, use around with him.
     
  8. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    5,543
    Likes Received:
    953
    The other thing that is overlooked with "The Pacific" is that they were not Riflemen, they were mortarmen and machinegunners.
     
  9. BCap

    BCap Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2010
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    4
    The program I had seen on History Channel did say that enlisted men were eventually authorized a pistol. Also, didn't BAR ammo belts include stuff for a pistol? If so, then weren't pistols given to all non-riflemen? And officers and NCOs did get pistols, right?
     
  10. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Messages:
    5,945
    Likes Received:
    755
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona
    No. The standard US infantry squad had men assigned as follows:

    Squad leader (sgt) M1 rifle
    Asst. Sqd leader (corporal) M1 rifle
    2 scouts M1 rifles
    6 riflemen M1 rifles + 1 or 2 grenade launcher attachments
    1 BAR man
    1 Asst BAR man M1 rifle

    The BAR man and his assistant both have special ammunition pouches to hold BAR clips.

    The only men in an infantry battalion typically officially authorized a pistol officially were machinegun gunners their assistant and officers. Ammunition bearers, senior NCO's (squad leaders are not senior NCOs) and, vehicle crews carried the M1 carbine. Everybody else got an M1 rifle.
     
  11. BCap

    BCap Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2010
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    4
    I had always thought that senior NCOs and officers got a carbine and a pistol. In Band of Brothers, I think it was stated that the NCOs and officers all had pistols, and that enlisted men had to obtain their own. And didn't the sergeant in Saving Private Ryan have a .45 (that he used to threaten the BAR man)?
     
  12. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    5,543
    Likes Received:
    953
    Look pal, movies are movies. If you want to compare Maj. Winters( Band of Brothers) carried a Garand the entire time and was never seen with a .45 even when he was the battalion XO. There was even a private that carried a .45 and a Garand.

    The TO&E (Table of Organization & Equipment) dictated what weapons were the minimum for an infantry platoon. Often due to one reason or another weapons would be aquired or reassigned.

    You are thinking too hard.
     
  13. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Messages:
    5,945
    Likes Received:
    755
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona
    Paratroops are a bit different. They were all issued a .45 because initially they didn't jump with their gun readily accessable. The issue was never recended so virtually any US paratrooper (not glider infantry) would have had a .45 if he wanted one.

    Ranger battalions are even more strange. Due to their nature as special mission troops they had a battalion "stockpile" of all sorts of weapons both officially and unofficially. For example a Ranger battalion has 5 Boys anti-tank rifles officially assigned to it....
     
  14. Old Schoolr

    Old Schoolr Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    12
    My Dad's uncle was in the 45th Infantry Div. He has been gone about 16 years but I do remember him telling me that they went into combat carrying what they were told to carry. He used an M1 Rifle but at one point in time was told to carry a Thompson SMG. No one “wanted” to carry a BAR on a march thru the hills of Italy but whoever was designated the BAR gunner did it. Once they were in combat men did trade or pick up a discarded weapon but this was unofficial.
    A Boy Scout leader & one of my first bosses were both USAAC vets from the Pacific theater. The first was issued an M1 Carbine on New Guinea where he wished to have had the M1 rifle; the Japanese stayed just out of carbine range. The 2nd individual served on Guam. He had been issued a Thompson in the States but it was replaced w/ the M2 version of the carbine before they were sent overseas. He carried the carbine in the jungle but never had to use it. He liked the light weight & the high rate of fire.

    Another uncle served in the US Army in Vietnam. He was issued an M14 rifle but was able to pick up a carbine. He was in a construction unit & preferred the shorter, lighter carbine while working.

    I remember seeing a poster on another forum insisting that the BAR wasn’t used in the ETO. Why? Because he didn’t see any in Band of Brothers. People fall into a trap when they think that because they see something in Band of Brothers or The Pacific (or in a video game) that it is the definitive truth. Band of Brothers is probably one of the most accurate war films made & it is still full of errors & artistic license.
     
  15. Lost Watchdog

    Lost Watchdog Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    9
    As anyone who has been around the military knows - what you are supposed to have and what you actually have can vary greatly. TO&Es are just a guideline. I've also read in a few sources that while the M1 carbine was popular (its a pretty classy looking weapon and not heavy) there was a real issue with stopping power.
     
  16. BCap

    BCap Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2010
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    4
    Were enlisted men even allowed to have sidearms? And, soldiers weren't usually given new weapons in the field, were they?
     
  17. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    9,709
    Likes Received:
    1,494
    Yes, the enlisted men were allowed to have sidearms. Generally speaking they weren't issued one, but they were free to carry them if they found, purchased, or swapped something of their own for them. My now deceased Uncle Bob carried a S&W .38 Special that he had owned before he enlisted, and had sent to him while he was in training for the Combat Engineers.

    As to getting "new" weapons in the field, I think (as others have already mentioned) that this was dependent on various factors and not a hard and fast policy that covered everybody, everywhere.
     
  18. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Messages:
    5,945
    Likes Received:
    755
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona
    Of course he didn't. The BAR was not issued to parachute units in the US Army. They had M1 rifles and M1918A3 or 4 Browning machineguns issued.
     
  19. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    9,709
    Likes Received:
    1,494
    They also carried the special, made for them M1A1 folding stock .30 Carbines in the paratroops. As well as those you listed.
     
  20. BoltActionSupremacy

    BoltActionSupremacy Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2010
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    0
    You can see one in the Market Garden episode in Neunen (dont know how its spelt) when they all bunch around a corner just before they spot the tiger. This person clearly hadn't watched it in enough detail :p
     

Share This Page