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Use of Lewis Guns by Scouts (Read 6339 times)
MB_Vanderboegh
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Use of Lewis Guns by Scouts
Jun 27th, 2007, 6:29pm
 
There is a great photo in Morton of a "motorcycle messenger" taking a nap (although he could just as easily have been a mechanized scout of the 192nd or 194th Tank BNs).  In it he's catching 40 next to his motorcycle with his Garand hanging from his bike's handlebars, his .45 out and ready to go within reach, laying on his holster attached to a M1936 Belt.  His M1917A1 helmet is within inches of his head as is a drum for his Lewis gun.  His head is resting on what appears to be two more Lewis drums and a drum carrier is looped over his front wheel.  Cradled in his arms is a loaded Lewis light machine gun without a barrel jacket or bipod (aircraft type?  I can't tell because you can't see the stock for his forearm, which is resting on it).

I have wondered if this is a staged photo, for it seems to me that you could find softer pillows than a Lewis drum.  But, be that as it may, I was wondering if there were any Scouts left out there who remember these Lewis guns in action?  How did they compare to the 1919A4 or the BAR?
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victor
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Re: Use of Lewis Guns by Scouts
Reply #1 - Jun 28th, 2007, 11:39am
 
Is this the photo you're talking about:

http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/wwii/5-2/5-2_11.htm#p193
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MB_Vanderboegh
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Re: Use of Lewis Guns by Scouts
Reply #2 - Jun 28th, 2007, 3:27pm
 
Yes.  In the copy of it in the Birmingham Public Library (I don't own a copy yet) it is easy to see that the helmet also has at least a half dozen bullet holes in it.  The headband of the helmet has been removed and is laying beside it.

From the Eisenhower Diaries. . .

6 February 1936:  "Authority was finally received from Washington to purchase one hundred thousand Enfield rifles during the current year, with a statement of policy to the effect that in the absense of drastic change in the general situation an additional three hundred thousand could be made available to this government (Philippines) over a period of eight years . . We had hoped to obtain them at a price of about eight pesos laid down in Manila.  Actually they will cost us about eighteen pesos.  Even so, the saving represented is a very considerable one when compared to the price of the Springfield, which is approximately sixty-five pesos each, delivered in manila.  The mechanical difference between the two rifles is far too small to justify any such differences in price. . . "

15 February 1936: "Recently Jimmy and I have been urging upon General MacArthur the advisability of his making an early trip to Washington.  It is becoming more and more evident that there is no basic appreciation in the War Department of the local defense problem, at least as we see it.  The Tydings-McDuffie Act so clearly contemplates the employment of the Philippine Army by the presdient of the United States, in the event of a national emergency, that we believe the American war department could make a definite effort to develop the strength and efficiency of this military adjunct.  For the next ten years complete responsibility for Philippine defense resides in the American government, and since weakness in the local defenses would involve extreme embarrassment in the event of war, it seems to us to be the part of wisdom for the American government to take positive and appropriate action in the matter.  Specifically, we believe that the local reserves of the American army in weapons and ammunition should be substantially increased and the stocks so accumulated should be made available for the training of the Philippine army.  We believe such a policy should apply particularly with respect to those weapons in the possession of the American army that are becoming obsolescent from the viewpoint of the American army.  In this category are such things as Enfield rifles, hand weapons of the revolver type, Lewis machine guns, infantry mortars, and British type 75mm guns.  Jimmy and I believe that if this whole matter were clearly explained to the the American chief of staff (Malin Craig) and secretary of war, very substantial and effective assistance would be forthcoming.  Such assistance would not involve any weakening of the United States defenses at home, would materially strengthen them in this outpost, and would not involve any straining of international relationships. . . All these views have been presented to General MacArthur, but he has stated that he has no intention of going to Washington before the late fall of this year."

One wonders why the Filipino people worship at the feet of MacArthur's statue when he was so plainly ill-suited and ill-disposed to plead their cause and organize their defenses SOME FIVE YEARS BEFORE THE JAPANESE INVASION.   Eisenhower could have (had he not been so ill-treated by Dugout Doug during his tenure on "Mighty Mac's" staff in the Philippines) used his long-time friendship with Bernard Baruch to persuade the Roosevelt Administration to beef up PI defenses long before they would have been tested by invasion.  But Doug did not get along with anybody except the fossilized Republican isolationist Senators and Congressmen, so he had no chits to call in.  Nor, apparently, did he have the motivation to do so.  

What he eventually got, he got too late, or didn't utilize properly.  At the same time (according to some accounts) that PA soldiers in the south were drilling with broomsticks for lack of arms (and this just before the Japanese attack), there were tens of thousands of Enfields that were sitting on Luzon in armories undistributed.  No wonder Ike quit him in disgust and finagled a stateside deployment.  MacArthur was no detail man (which is why he hired Ike in the first place) and after all the competent detail men like Ike quit him, he was left with lickspittling toadies like Sutherland who were better suited to stroke his monstrous ego.

It would funny had it not had such catastrophic consequences for  the United States, the Philippines and the hundreds of thousands of Japanese victims of both countries.

Sorry, I shall now take a breath and get off the soapbox.  I grew up around Bataan veterans stories (cussing and discussing) of their antipathy to Dugout Doug, and it shows.
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RSlater
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Re: Use of Lewis Guns by Scouts
Reply #3 - Aug 24th, 2007, 7:26pm
 
Note the M1 Garand leaning on his motorcycle.  I've seen this picture before and it was supposedly a member of the 31st Regiment.
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ord510
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Re: Use of Lewis Guns by Scouts
Reply #4 - Aug 24th, 2007, 9:40pm
 
I thought I would add what I have run across on the Enfield rifles.  Gen MacArthur was told it was a good price and I think he counted on using Sugar tax money.  But these rifles started breaking their bullet ectractors when they were fired.  The problem was discovered during the fighting against the Japs.

Evidentally these rifles weren't used in the large numbers it took to discovery the extractor problem until the war started.

Anyone else have views on this.  I have run across it in half a dozen books that I have.  Lot of problems like this were experienced.  When you go from a peace time army to a war time army in 24 hours there are a lot of cracks in the floor for things to fall through.

Tom McGeeney  ord510@cox.net













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Tom
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RSlater
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Re: Use of Lewis Guns by Scouts
Reply #5 - Aug 26th, 2007, 9:28am
 
If you haven't, read Charles Whitman's book, "Bataan: Our Last Ditch".  I remember that  he described cases of Filipino troops have to get a long stick and poke out their fired cases in their M1917s after each shot, due to this part breaking.
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MB_Vanderboegh
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Re: Use of Lewis Guns by Scouts
Reply #6 - Aug 28th, 2007, 8:00pm
 
Tom,

I was told by one Enfield collector that the extractor problem was endemic to the M1917 (having been reported by troops in 1917-1918 ) and by another that the original extractor was fine and that it was a problem generated by poor application of cosmoline when the rifles were put into storage after the end of the Great War.  I don't know who's right or their sources on this but I'm going to try to run it down.

However, given the price differential the Filipinos could not have afforded the M1903 in any case.  One wonders what might have happened if Quezon had attempted to outsource his rifles during the depths of the depression.  He might have gotten a steal on surplus Mausers.  If nothing else he might have moved the US Army off its duff to get serious about arming the P.I. army with American arms.

(Another advantage of the 1903/Mauser system over the M1917 Enfield is that it cocks on opening rather than the Enfield cock-on-closing, making cycling the action much easier for short-of-stature troops.)

What I do know is that the M1917 rifle is far too long for the average Filipino soldier, but a simple modification program could have shortened the stock (and hence  length of pull) and made them not so long and front heavy (say shortening the barrels from 26" to  22".  This could have been easily done using simple tools, both hand and machine, and would have given the Filipino Army a much handier weapon.  The muzzle flash and felt recoil would have been a bit greater, but I'd bet the troops would have favored a shorter version after experience with both moving through the bush.  

Using the rifles for training would have also revealed the problems with the Great War-vintage .30-06 ammo in storage (many misfires later reported).  Oh, the missed opportunities that had such bloody repercussions.

Mike Vanderboegh
GeorgeMason1776@aol.com  

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MB_Vanderboegh
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Re: Use of Lewis Guns by Scouts
Reply #7 - Aug 29th, 2007, 7:18am
 
OK, this is a hoot.  The software that supports this site apparently has an allergy to the four-letter word beginning with c, ending in k with oc in the middle.  This word describes a male chicken as well as the action which prepares a firearm's firing pin for striking the  loaded cartridge.  The fact that this is also a slang term of male anatomy has caused the software to translate the word "c o c k s" into "thingys".
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