View Full Version : USMC pacific WWII Keep their combat arms?

December 4, 2012, 04:45 PM
In the past, I have heard people say things like " my dad brought such and such home and it was his rifle, carbine, pistol, while in combat in the pacific". That being said, My pop was a supply officer in the USMC during the war, and prior to his passing in 1993, he assured me that under no circumstances were any marines allowed to keep their combat arms, and that those who had carbines, Garands, 03's , and 1911's, after the war purchased them on the civillian market post war. Does anybody have knowledge to the contrary?

December 4, 2012, 06:42 PM
They were not allowed to keep their assigned combat weapon. But, for example, we sent 70,000 Marines into Iwo Jima, and 25,000 of those were either wounded or died by the end of the campaign. That's a lot of "unaccounted" for service weapons for bringing an extra one home.
One vet told me that they had big warnings and announcements on every troop ship home that every duffel bag would be searched for contraband. And you could get a lot of nice stuff on the ships for a pack of cigarettes from people who believed that they really tried to search 5000 duffel backs (the story accompanying a near pristine Navy issued 1911 he was selling, picked up on the way back from Okinawa).

December 4, 2012, 07:06 PM
those who had carbines, Garands, 03's , and 1911's, after the war purchased them on the civillian market post war. Does anybody have knowledge to the contrary?

Actually, many were stolen as well. Many may have been battle field pickups, etc. My knowledge of the history coincides with your grandfathers, aside from where some of those guys got some of those guns.

December 4, 2012, 07:09 PM
The story of Marine's being allowed to keep their firearms is based on fact.
In the old days before WWII, a retiring Marine was allowed to BUY his rifle.

A lot of GI issue guns were stolen and brought home by GI's.
Most of these were pistols, which were easier to hide in duffel bags.

How much risk there was depended on the commanders of the unit, and the officer in command of a returning troop ship.
Many officers looked the other way, but very few would tolerate stealing rifles or automatic weapons.

In some cases officers just didn't care about pistols being taken by troops, others were dead serious against it as what it was...stealing Government property.
I read several accounts of GI's being told that a troop ship was going to be searched and anyone caught with a GI issue firearm would be in BIG trouble and wouldn't be mustered out.
Many of them threw guns overboard, only to never have any search done.
Other troop ships were searched.
The majority of stolen firearms were pistols, with much less stealing of rifles, carbines, or especially automatic weapons.

When people think a weapon was brought home by a vet, it's often a mistake in terminology.
An old vet says "That's the weapon I carried in the war".
What he actually means is "That's the SAME TYPE of weapon I carried in the war".
I once sat at a big gun show and watched as a man almost started a fist fight over an M1 carbine.
He wasn't trying to sell it, he just wanted to be told more about it. It was the carbine his father had carried ashore at D-Day.

He showed it to a carbine seller and was given an opinion.
He got very angry and was told to take it several tables over where a nationally known carbine expert was set up.
The genuine expert gave his opinion and the man almost got violent, accusing the people at the show of trying to steal his prized carbine.
This in spite of the fact he wasn't trying to sell it and no one even offered to buy it.
Security had to escort him out, loudly accusing the show of being thieves.

The D-Day carbine his father carried..... a 1960's Universal.

December 4, 2012, 07:43 PM
they were not allowed to take them home however that does not mean that they didn't some of those GIs were crafty and found ever imaginative ways to take their guns home. many US arms were sold as surplus following WWII however that does not mean that all of them were obtained legally.

be that as it may, all WWII era firearms are now legal no matter they were obtained as the statute of limitations has run out so nobody can be prosecuted for owning, selling or purchasing us government property that was stolen 70 years ago.

December 4, 2012, 07:59 PM
Battlefield captured enemy weapons were shrugged off, but few grunts actually had the time or inclination to loot dead enemy soldiers. US Government or Allied weapons were required to be turned in if recovered on the battefield. Did some folks steal theirs? Sure. But troops were required to stand inspection (it's called a "junk on the bunk", and there would have been few places to stash contraband since footlockers were inspected as well). Many found that when they returned stateside, they could buy those weapons just a few years later for a fraction of what they cost during the war.

I was told by my dad (who served in the Pacific in ww2) that people would pull up alongside the ships in boats and sell any kind of weapon you wanted (swords, rifles, pistols, helmets, etc) for a few packs of smokes or chocolate bars. That way you could show the folks back home what a hero you were. And of course, there was a huge milsurp market in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

James K
December 4, 2012, 09:00 PM
Some people rob banks, but that doesn't mean robbing banks is legal. And some vets brought back U.S. weapons, but that doesn't mean it was legal to do so. It was theft of government property, period. Keeping allied weapons was also illegal, but not many Americans acquired those since U.S. contact with allied forces was minimal.

I can tell you from personal experience that while those vets of WWII were heros and "the greatest generation" a lot of them were also the greatest liars. I wish I had a dollar for every vet I knew who got a pistol from a captured German Field Marshal, or who took a sword from a dead Japanese general. (The Axis powers lost because they had all generals and field marshals, no privates!)

I learned to "read a chest" at an early age; it helped when a "Marksman" badge (the lowest rating) was being passed off as a Distinguished Service Cross. Soldiers who never left the states claimed to be combat veterans; one told me he had captured Hitler but the SOB got away!

And of course families helped perpetuate stories about weapons, as Dfariswheel says. One officer's widow showed me the carbine her late husband "carried on D-Day." It was a Model 1873 carbine.


December 4, 2012, 11:06 PM
I never questioned my dads authority on the subject, he was not the type to parse words, and he was quite clear regarding the official policy being that all combat arms were returned post engagement, and that even the "lost in battle" arms had to be officially de-listed and accounted for as lost up to and including interviewing any wounded regarding circumstances and conditions under which those arms which were assigned to them, were lost, damaged, or destroyed. Every single one had to be accounted for. From the earliest days I can remember going to gun shows though, I have heard these stories. You can guess what my dad had to say about them. Now days, it's always this was my dad, grand dad, uncle etc. rifle, and he carried it yada, yada, yada.

December 5, 2012, 07:47 AM
In the past, I have heard people say things like " my dad brought such and such home and it was his rifle, carbine, pistol, while in combat in the pacific". That being said, My pop was a supply officer in the USMC during the war, and prior to his passing in 1993, he assured me that under no circumstances were any marines allowed to keep their combat arms, and that those who had carbines, Garands, 03's , and 1911's, after the war purchased them on the civillian market post war. Does anybody have knowledge to the contrary?

Your dad was correct. The military has a very good inventory control system for fire arms. A few returning GI's may have stolen a rifle, but a rifle is very hard to hide. Pistols were the common item.

GI's could legally bring back captured enemy weapons. All that was needed was local unit paper work, like this.

The "bring back " stories are used to get higher prices and 99.9% are lies IMHO. If the gun in question has paper work then it's a "bring back" anything else is a story, or stolen fire arm.

War2 vets may have bought a carbine, Garand, 1903 post war and claimed it was "just like" the one he was issued. These statements grew into "was" the one issued instead of "just like".

I see a lot of guys claim it's a bring back because of no import marking. Anything imported before 1968 was not marked.

December 5, 2012, 08:10 AM
Here we go with the stories, but . . . ;-)

I had a family friend who was an 1st Lt. (Army) who served int he Pacific. He had his 1911A1 that he carried. When I asked him how he was able to keep it, he sorta smiled and told me that when their ship docked, he put on an MP armband and walked off with it hanging on his pistol belt. With the MP band, no one questioned him.

His father was in Supply Sgt. in Battery E, 328th F.A. in WW I. He also was able to hang on to his 1911 when he came home. He and his brother owned a hardware store in St. Johns, MI. He told me the story many times of how after the Armistice was signed, he went out and picked up 10 German Mausers. Somehow, he crated them up and shipped them back to his brother who received the crate and put it in the back room of the store. Several years after returning, he decided it was time to open it up and get them out. He always laughed when he told of his surprise as he opened the crate and when he looked in, it was full of rocks and no Mausers. Somewhere on the way home someone else had helped themselves.

My uncle was a ship's doctor in the navy on a tanker in the Pacific near the end of the war and then went to Japan. I was always amazed at the stuff he brought back - Japanese helmets, Arisaka Rifles (at least 3), a nom'com samurai sword, etc. I remember he told me he traded a tube of toothpaste to a Marine for the sword. I would imagine that being a ship's doctor as well as his rank had a little to do with getting more than one Arisaka back home.

Several years ago, I sold a Colt 1911A1 with pistol belt, holster, magazine pouch and three magazines that had been brought back by a Navy pilot after WWII. I never asked him how he got it home but for many years, I was afraid to register it (I live in MI) for fear it would show up on a stolen government property list of some sort. When I decided to sell it, I had to register it and there was no problem. The lady at the Sheriffs Dept. just smiled and said that over the years she had registered a lot of handguns marked "U.S. Property". O course it was stolen by the pilot - but hey, that's human nature I guess.

Just think of all of the millions of dollars worth of government property that was dumped into the sea after the war because it was no longer needed. What a waste!

December 5, 2012, 09:51 AM
Nice Post madcrate... Souveniers are a whole other story, and of course we all know lots of those came back.

B. Lahey
December 5, 2012, 10:38 AM
My grandfather kept the 1911 he carried as a USMC fighter pilot in the Pacific, and the man was about as straight-laced as they come. If it had been forbidden, I have some doubt he would have taken it home with him. He did retire a full colonel, however, so maybe it was different for officers.

December 5, 2012, 03:09 PM
I can't speak for the Marines . My father was Army Engineers and he bought a Garand and a Carbine on Okinwa. He had some friends at the house and mentioned he had bought them. One friend commented "yea , you probably stole them". Highly insulted my Dad went upstairs in his desk and promptly returned with a title 10 reciept for a Garand and a carbine. I remember the M1 was $97 and change.

December 5, 2012, 03:50 PM
My uncle was given an Arisaka by his friends father. The story was the friends dad was a pilot. After the war, some of the captured arms were shipped to England to be melted down for scrap. The pilot stole a trunk of weapons. My uncle said he went to his friends house and the dad showed him a crate filled with WW11 weapons. Arisakas, MP40's, machine guns, you name it. It sounds believable, so i buy it.

James K
December 5, 2012, 04:06 PM
Sorry, but I don't think anyone bought rifles and carbines during combat operations on Okinawa or anywhere else. In the post war period, after surplus guns became available to arms dealers, they did show up in post/base exchanges and military personnel bought them there. And military personnel who were NRA members could buy guns through the DCM just like any other NRA member, as military personnel can buy from the CMP today. But that is not the same as simply tucking your issue weapon in your bag and bringing it home. That was and is illegal.

And I did hear about one officer who "sold" rifles, carbines, pistols and SMGs to his men. He simply claimed the guns a lost, and pocketed the money. He may still be in Leavenworth for all I know.

December 5, 2012, 06:17 PM
Most bringbacks were brought back by rear echelon types, front line types who were wounded or injured usually found everything of theirs disappeared, plenty of cases of duffle bags and footlockers that just vanished, many other front line types found the only thing you owned was what you carried, things mailed back to the States often didn't arrive. I have read accounts of troops who were shaken down onboard troopships, again, so much depend on individual officers.

James K
December 5, 2012, 08:09 PM
I have posted this before, but the silliest story I ever heard was told me by a vet's son. The vet claimed that his Japanese Type 99 rifle was captured in hand to hand combat with a Japanese general. His son, who was fairly knowledgeable and not on good terms with the old man, asked how the crest got ground off.

The vet told his son that Harry Truman personally kept track of every war souvenir and after he (the vet) got back home, Truman sent the FBI to seize the rifle; when they returned it, the crest had been ground off.

Golly, and Truman had time to be president too!


1 old 0311-1
December 5, 2012, 08:58 PM
Captured weapons were OK BUT not "PROPERTY OF U.S. GOVERNMENT." On the hospital ship they took our weapons when we went into surgery and just threw them into a VERY big, closet size, chest. When you got off the ship you picked up some 782 gear and a weapon, and made it back to your unit.

December 5, 2012, 09:20 PM
I went to a HS with a guy who ended up a supply clerk in the Army. Once we were out for a drink and he told me who could get me any piece of Army equipment I wanted for pennies on the dollar. This wasn't WWII, it was at a bar though, so the lying might have been as epic as claimed above.

I read a report about the amount of material lost in transit by the military. Not WWII but about 2004. It was astounding.

There have been many claims of people mailing things home. I am sure there was some sort of civilian mail service between Vietnam and the US and/or Europe in WWII. At that point no one would have interdicted a firearm in the mail except to steal it.

I have heard soldiers could buy surplus weapons at the end of WWII for almost nothing. I am not sure if that is true. If it is true, an astoundingly high number chose not to, even considering they were likely quite tired of the company.

December 5, 2012, 10:55 PM
My Dad brought home a Jap rifle after the war, every one on his carrier got one, there was a mountain of rifles on the docks at Tsingtao. On ship coming home, Jap pistols and swords were used as wagers in card games. The US pistols that were circulating around under the radar were kept hidden away and traded between folks, but no overt stuff. The Marines on board had a good business going in their extra gear, pistols and knives. He said everyone just walked off the ship with what they had, no security at all. Lots of shells from the AA guns on the ship walked off, too, guess they were good souvenirs.

December 5, 2012, 11:05 PM
My Grandad was stationed in Italy after WWII, no rifles or pistols, just brought home Grandma. :)

December 6, 2012, 08:25 AM
You may recall the story Skeeter Skelton told about when he was going overseas as a Marine just after the war, I think it was. Being the sort of fellow he was, he felt the need to take personal weapons with him, two revolvers. Someone found out and he had to sell them. I don't recall who he had to sell them to that was allowed to buy them, though.

Sometimes units that are in one place for a long time somehow manage to accumulate a lot of junk, most of it literally junk but some of it good stuff. Lots of spare parts and accessories. The unit I was with was relocating to the states after being in the same location (under different names, beginning as the 11th Airborne Division) for something like 20 years. That sounds like a eternity when you're only 20 years old yourself. Anyway, the commanders realized that some units might possibly have some extra, surplus and mostly unauthorized stuff that no longer had to be accounted for but which they nevertheless didn't want dumped somewhere. They established a literal dumping location under the biggest tent they had for units to drop off anything they weren't supposed to have (and didn't want to keep). There weren't any complete weapons (and I looked carefully!) but there were machine gun barrels, mortar barrels (60mm) and all sorts of electronic equipment. That was only 44 years ago but frankly that's all I remember about it.

The same thing still happens, no doubt, and happened when my son's unit did the same thing. There were also lots of little unit museums here and there that really didn't fare too well with major relocations. Most of that was stuff like drums and flags and whatnot but in some cases, units had obsolete vehicles from fifty years ago that was still kept in running condition. My son reported that a couple of half-tracks were still around, ready to go. Don't know what happened to them.

The paperwork for a firearm to be brought back as a war souvenir was a little more elaborate than the one illustrated here already. Unfortuantely, by the time I got overseas, everything had already been brought back. My father spent the last year of his time overseas as a POW, so his chances of bringing home something useful were low but at least he got home.

Here's a tidbit about some postwar oddities. Some German vehicles used during the war continued in productioin after the war but they weren't fighting vehicles. And some German army decorations and awards were only manufactured and awarded (with allied permission) after the war, too, though only in very small numbers and the actual awards were of relatively poor quality.

December 6, 2012, 08:50 AM
My Grandad was stationed in Italy after WWII, no rifles or pistols, just brought home Grandma.

Now that"s a BRING BACK!

December 6, 2012, 04:53 PM
The Navy pushed aircraft over the side of aircraft carriers, so they could use the space for more important stuff, after the war. I suppose the aircraft were "accounted for", unlike the pistol in a duffel bag?
I have a 1842 Springfield musket, which belonged to someone on my mom's side of the family. Her great-grandfather was a Civil War vet, so it was probably his, right? Now that my mom has passed, there's nobody to question that it was the very musket carried at Vicksburg by "Great Grampa" so-and-so. I still tell the story that way, but my daughters may, in twenty years, remember only the part about a Civil War vet and his musket.

December 6, 2012, 05:32 PM
You'd be amazed at what disappears legally or illegally.My grandpa brought back his 1917 Colt from France, and gave it to my Great grand pa,who then carried it as a deputy/prohibition agent/and bootlegger during the 20's-30's.A uncle brought back his m1 carbine from Korea,photos of him shooting it on the farm in 53 attests to this.I was offered a accurized 1911,built from parts for the pistol teams,for $75,you pick the serial number you wanted.

Where there's a will there's a way.

44 AMP
December 6, 2012, 09:53 PM
At least some returning vets were allowed to purchase their sidearms, and rifles, if they so desired. And some of those "purchases" never involved Uncle Sam actually getting any money!

Lots of them were just "kept", others were "bought" from the supply sgts (who often pocketed the money and just combat lossed the guns) and some were actually bought and paid for, with all the proper paperwork.

Over the years I have met vets who retained their service arms in each of these ways, so I do know it happened.

December 7, 2012, 11:02 AM
My understanding from the talk was that there was no security in most places so you could take most of anything you wanted. And that the government was not much interested in accounting for, and storing, and inventorying tons and tons of equipment that was no longer needed for anything, would soon be obsolete, and maybe still didn't work good.
I know even long after the war of purchasing things left over for $1. They just wanted to get rid of it.
The one written account, and published that I know of is Andy Rooney, in his book, about his WWII experience. He took his jeep with him. No one said anything, or cared, as they did not want to inventory, account for, ship back, etc a jeep that they could not then sell. Other than for $6. It wasn't worth it to the government.

44 AMP
December 8, 2012, 02:20 PM
The father of one of my friends, was a radio station operator, and upon his return to the states for discharge at San Francisco, he had a carbine and a .45. They asked him to pay for the carbine (which he was issued, per his rating) but not for the .45 (which had been given to him at his duty station). So he did, both.

There was more than a little variation on the practice, especially depending on who was on duty, and the time of day. Clearance personel at 2am, trying to process a shipload of troops tend to cut a few corners to get finished so they can all get some sleep.:D

December 8, 2012, 02:37 PM
Gee, we've gone from weapons to jeeps.

I think the top response here is from old0311-1.

And, if jeeps, why not b-29's and P-51's? Gotta love this stuff.

December 9, 2012, 07:53 AM
My grandfather, USMC, kept his 1911 after leaving the Pacific. He simply told me that he was able to bring it home with him. He never did talk much at all about WW2 and I wish he had but can understand why he wouldn't.

December 9, 2012, 09:12 AM
Had an opportunity to speak with another old grunt at the range yesterday. He assured me that upon return to the states, they were stripped of all US weaponry, and had to have all souveniers OK'd and signed over, as the photos erlier in this thread attest to. Also noted that upon release from the service they had to sign paperwork in which the Marine had to describe his physical condition, etc. Said if a man refused to sign, they would be held at base until they did, and that most guys just wanted to be on their way. I have also heard this from those who served in the army, that to get the ruptured duck, they had to indemnify the government from any future claims by signing paperwork establishing their physical and mental well being. Interesting.
Also interesting to note that all the "stories" of men keeping arms they had in combat appear to be largely just that, stories, and that the most likely true source for those arms was post war civilian purchase, in spite of what "Grandpa" said.

December 9, 2012, 10:15 AM
The fact is, weapons were brought home, in both approved ways and un approved.
My father was a WWII vet of Europe.
He told me that an uncle brought home an M1 Thompson SMG...the uncle served on a navy ocean going tug which pulled landing craft off invasion beaches. My uncle was in the beach party under fire, and armed only with a 1911. He picked up the Thompson, and kept it for the rest of the war. When my uncles ship docked in San Diego, he walked off with his sea bag and the Thompson over his shoulder, and nobody stopped him.
According to my dad, they fired it one time at an Ohio farm in the late 1940's. My dad said it scared great grandfather so much, that the old man took the gun and buried it somewhere. They are all dead now, and no doubt, that Thompson is a pile of rust.
My father was a weapons expert in his Cav unit. He had a collection of German automatic weapons on his armored car...MG42, MG34, and others. He used them to familiarize other units in the German weapons. He had arranged to have them dewated in France to bring home, when he got dysentery and went in the hospital. When he got out, his unit had shipped out for the Pacific, and all his stuff was gone. As an aside, the atom bombing in Japan meant that his unit beat him home...their ship just changed course mid trip.
My father brought home two pistols from his service, both properly papered. I have one, and my brother has the other, and we both have the paperwork.
Mine is my most reassured possession...it is sad that future generations won't get to have such heirlooms of the service of their relatives.

December 9, 2012, 10:20 AM
One thing can certainly be said about "bring back" discussions.

The first liar doesn't stand a chance!

December 9, 2012, 11:01 AM
It's not hard to see why the M1 rifle was still being manufactured in the 1950s.

December 9, 2012, 08:04 PM
It's not hard to see why the M1 rifle was still being manufactured in the 1950s.

To give them to the Greeks to stop the Red Hoarde?

December 9, 2012, 08:40 PM
" Gee, we've gone from weapons to jeeps.

I think the top response here is from old0311-1.

And, if jeeps, why not b-29's and P-51's? Gotta love this stuff."

You don't have to go far from here to see still the old graveyards of surplus aircraft from the military.
After WWII they had hundreds of them, which were dumped out in the desert and sat there for many years rotting and rusting. You usually could buy one for $1. You had to move it, store it, repair it, etc., and there are still many of them in operation today where exactly that was done.
They did the same with ships.
In San Francisco Bay there is a back bay called Suisun Bay (Susan Bay) where there are still dozens or more old ships, sitting, rusting.
They revived one from WWII to use as a museum (the vets did, not the govt) and it was here in San Pedro for many years. I don't know where it went to now. A supply ship. Lane Victory.
Here is a link.

December 11, 2012, 10:11 AM
Not just planes and ships. During the war the government built brand spanking new factories and after the war sold them for pennies on the dollar and in some cases gave them away.

The movie Tucker gives an example of that. Which is why it rings a little hollow when people say America should have had a Marshall Plan of it's own. We had the most modern industrial system in the history of the world, all paid for by Uncle Sam.

By the way Israel armed itself to a great extent by buying "scrap" metal. Tons of surplus armaments were sold as scrap. The toaster you bought in 1948 could have been a bazooka in 47.

December 11, 2012, 11:41 PM
One book I read about Korea said the Marines held onto many of their vehicles, amphtracs, etc., even got hold of Army vehicles, repainted them Marine Corps green. When the Korean War started they were much better prepared than the Army. Weapons have always been sensitive items in Uncle Sam's military, I doubt that many were brought back legally. Did Uncle Same EVER allow serving or retiring personnel to purchase their weapons?

James K
December 12, 2012, 01:06 AM
Gee, I didn't know those guys were able to bring home tanks and trucks and cannons and everything. I guess it was pretty free for all back then.* I don't mind that my neighbor brought home his B-29 from WWII, but it's got this big round thing underneath that he keeps fooling with. Should I move? :rolleyes:

*Or a lot of WWII vets told a lot of lies.

December 12, 2012, 01:37 AM
Gee, I didn't know those guys were able to bring home tanks and trucks and cannons and everything. I guess it was pretty free for all back then.* I don't mind that my neighbor brought home his B-29 from WWII, but it's got this big round thing underneath that he keeps fooling with. Should I move?

Well I'm not sure how that WWII vet fit a B-29 in his duffel bag, but nevertheless, I would consider calling the police on him because, eh heh hem, that is probably a bomb Keenan! Hopefully its been deactivated but you never know.

Or a lot of WWII vets told a lot of lies

Well I got a good story for all you skeptics! - my grandfather was issued a Remington Rand 45. One day out near Normandy with his men (he was a staff sergeant) they were attacked by a pair of Me 109s. They ducked for cover, and my grandfather drew his 45. He fired the entire magazine after the plane passed right over them, the plane caught smoke and sputtered, and the pilot bailed. The other plane flew away. The men were able to catch the Nazi pilot that bailed, and it was none other than Gunther Rall. He had his BYF 42 luger on a shoulder holster, which my grandfather confiscated. In case you don't know, Rall was a top German ace with 275 confirmed aerial victories. Today I am fortunate enough to have both guns but I am also cursed because no one seems to believe me.

December 12, 2012, 08:31 AM
Check out Gunther's biography here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%BCnther_Rall

December 12, 2012, 09:12 AM
My dad was in Germany on VE day. They had recently occupied a small German village and had rounded up all civilian weapons. They were prepared to destory them when they got the word that the war had ended. An officer gave them permission to take anything they wanted.

Dad picked out this. A brand new pre war FN produced SXS with hang tags still on it. He built a wooden box and it cost him $1.50 to mail it back home. He could have just as easily have mailed back home a Luger, M-1, 1911 or anything else he could have gotten his hands on. I'm sure many others did.


December 12, 2012, 10:37 AM
...GI's being told that a troop ship was going to be searched and anyone caught with a GI issue firearm would be in BIG trouble and wouldn't be mustered out.
Many of them threw guns overboard, only to never have any search done.
Other troop ships were searched...

The account from a WWII vet I used to listen to is practically identical to that. he said he had traded for a practically new 1911, and had planned to bring it back in his duffel bag, but then he was told that they would be searched when they boarded the troop ship. He got paranoid and ditched the piece a sewer. They were never searched.

Silent Bob
December 12, 2012, 12:53 PM
I once spoke to a Korean War veteran (USMC) who told me he tried to bring back a Chinese burp gun and a M1911 on the troop ship back to the States. They were nearing port when they were told their bags would be checked for contraband, he got nervous, so over the side they went. He added that their bags were not checked after all.

4V50 Gary
December 12, 2012, 10:57 PM
madcratebuilder - what's a Jap. consolation bag? Do they stuff ashes in it or what?

December 14, 2012, 04:31 PM
i know for a fact that GI,s were the worst kind thiefs, a friends dad told the story of breaking down doors and taking away all they could carry,another told of stealing(liberating) a very fine double barrel with two or three barrels,shotgun-shotgun,rifle-rifle, rifle-shotgun. as he had the shotgun-shotgun, i ask what happened to the other barrel,s and he said there is no honor amoung thiefs, some SOB stold them. eastbank.

December 14, 2012, 04:51 PM
You may be shocked to learn that GIs might steal from one another (I think the word was "swipe"). No doubt Marines are above that sort of thing. Still, it's hard on the morale of your little unit, just like someone stealing someone's lunch at work.

December 15, 2012, 03:29 PM
Dad brought home a few from the pacific. His garand (his claim) an ariska (mum intact) and a set of swords taken in battle by him. Korea turned up a carbine. He never revealed how he got them home. All of which came into my possesion after his death. The Swords were not military issue and shortly after he passed, I returned them to the Japanese consulate to be returned to the proper family by custom. Dads rifles are kept in a glass case along with his medals in my gun room. I have no reason to doubt his word.

December 20, 2012, 08:29 PM
Dad brought home a few from the pacific. His garand (his claim) an ariska (mum intact) and a set of swords taken in battle by him. Korea turned up a carbine. He never revealed how he got them home. All of which came into my possesion after his death. The Swords were not military issue and shortly after he passed, I returned them to the Japanese consulate to be returned to the proper family by custom. Dads rifles are kept in a glass case along with his medals in my gun room. I have no reason to doubt his word.

Hmm, are you sure about the sword claim? Almost all, that being 99.999% of the "Samurai" swords brought back from battle, were production blades made in factories prior to, or during the war, and would not have been signed by the maker. Heirloom quality blades did make their way back to the US in some limited quantities, however those blades were either bartered or forfeited during the postwar occupation of the japanese homeland. This is how they come attached with a family pedigree, as well as the makers mark on the tang of the blade (known as Nakago, in japanese).
Not here to disturb your fathers credibility, but the battle pick up story does not wash. The Garand and carbine story have some issues also, As I have researched this issue deeper, it turns out that the take home your rifle issue has been pretty much put to rest. If he did keep his garand, he would have had to jump some hoops to steal it. nuff said.

December 20, 2012, 08:48 PM
I have no Idea what hoops he had to jump through but he had them. Yes, the blades were signed by maker and confirmed by consulate. They were very happy to get them back. Again, I have no reason to doubt his voracity.

sam colt
December 20, 2012, 09:11 PM
You may have already seen this. In Hartford Conn. during a police gun buy back a woman turned in a rifle that her father had brought back from WW2. It was just sitting in her closet and she wanted to get rid of it. IT was a German Sturmgewehr 44, the original "assault rifle". The two cops running the buy back realized what it was and told her that it was worth $20,000 to $25000, and that it belonged in a museum. They didn't take it from her and told her that they would talk to the ATF for her so she could give it or sell to a museum.:)

James K
December 20, 2012, 09:23 PM
Two cops make their own decision about the legality (and value) of an StG.44 and let the owner keep it?

Perhaps the gun was NFRTR registered and legal in CT. But if not, sorry to say, the cops were guilty of dereliction of duty, big time. Sometimes it goes against the grain, but cops really don't get to decide to ignore a law violation.


December 20, 2012, 09:33 PM
Here is the thing about Garands, and carbines. The Garand, rifle was the standard issue rifle of the US government up until the adoption of the M-14 around 1957. Private ownership of the Garand rifle simply did not exist immediately after the war, and NONE, let me repeat NONE of them were given to a returning soldier, sailor, airman, nor Marine, nor would an average person ever have thought of STEALING a USGI issue weapon as the penalty would have simply been too high. All of the Men I have spoken to on the subject agree that civillian ownership of Garand and Carbine rifles began in the early sixties, after the adoption of the M-14 as the standard battle rifle of the US government. So,for a person to say that they kept their Garand, is simply a non-starter. Nobody kept a rifle they carried in combat, anymore than any Soldier or Marine gets to keep his M-16 today. Arms and relics from the enemy are a whole other matter.

sam colt
December 20, 2012, 09:42 PM
James, yeh I wondered about that myself, but the article didn't go any further. They said they didn't want to take it to the station for fear it would get melted down. They probably called the ATF,turned her in, and she's now in Folsom makin' little rocks outa big ones!:eek:

December 21, 2012, 03:03 PM
Here's a tidbit about some postwar oddities. Some German vehicles used during the war continued in productioin after the war but they weren't fighting vehicles. .

The Ural motorbike is STILL in production, stolen blueprints, heck the first machinery was probably stolen aswell. i tihnk some models still have the brackets for the machine gun, damn fine motorbikes, 1940s BMWs I reckon

December 21, 2012, 04:42 PM
One of our oldest living Gun Club Members is a WWII combat veteran from the Pacific. He was a veteran of Okinawa and Iwo Jima. He was in the occupying force post war Nagasaki and said walking across the ground was like walking on breaking glass.

When he returned to the US in a troop ship, to San Pedro Harbor, all enlisted men were required to open their duffle bags for inspection. Those with Japanese rifles were required to get in a line and have the crest ground off, in America by Americans. He said he was told it was because of an agreement we had with the Japanese Emperor. He said there was a pile of grenades, mortars, and land mines which had been confiscated from returning GI’s! :eek:

He did not bring back any US service arms and I have no doubt those would have been taken from him.

James K
December 24, 2012, 12:48 AM
I have heard that story in several variations and, with due respect to our WWII vets, don't believe it, although by now the vet probably does. It was a way to explain to the family how that rifle captured in hand-to-hand combat with Hirohito got the crest ground off.

Other variants are:

- Japanese troops carried grinding wheels with them and removed the crest before a Banzai charge

- Navy men had grinding wheels ready when the soldiers/marines got back on the ships

- Officers stood on the beaches with files or wheels and removed the crests at the troops left an island

- Harry Truman kept track of every captured Japanese rifle and sent the FBI to seize them and grind off the crest before returning them

- All Japanese rifles were seized and ground in the states when the troops returned (the above version)

- Americans ground the crest because otherwise the Japanese would sue to have their property returned :rolleyes:

I am sure there are some I have not heard or forgot. But the story is simple. The crest (mum) was ground by Japanese at depots in Japan before the rifles were turned over to the occupying forces for souvenirs or for destruction.


December 24, 2012, 09:57 AM
James, how dare you, "Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story".
That about sums it up for most of this stuff.
Back in the 70's, I used to frequent a little store in Santa Monica Ca. called, "Bobs Military Antiques, and war museum", which was filled to the gills with very high end military collectibles. Mostly uniforms, and medals, but also a plethora of arms, and other items. There were rows of mannequins dressed in the full and correct kit for their respective time and place, right down to the smallest detail. This of course was possible because of the huge amount of high quality bringback and souvenier material which came to the US after the war. One of the stores specialties, found behind glass cases in the back of the store in their own section, were the Japanese blades. I watched for years, as small groups of wealthy japanese businessmen would come in to purchase, and re-patriate some of those blades, the rare ones, and they would treat them with religious reverence. I also saw many german vets come in for the various reasons, and was always fascinated to speak with them, and hear about the war from their perspective. I met Medal of Honor winners, (one of whom threw himself on a Japanese grenade and survived) and saw the scars, listened to the stories, and marveled at their exploits.
As young as I was at the time, most of these guys looked pretty old to me, but today I am older than they were in the early seventies. In any case it was all fascinating. One of the things That I learned was that for every man who saw combat, in any theatre, there were a whole bunch on men behind them keeping the ball rolling, that did not, or very little. All luck of the draw.

December 24, 2012, 10:16 AM
I've got an old .303 British from 1942. Didn't get a story with it, but it was made in England and has several ticks etched into the barrel. I'm thinking maybe someone kept a tally or just bumped his gun around. I'll try to post some pictures.

James K
December 24, 2012, 02:10 PM
FWIW, I go back a bit further than Ketland. I was 12 in 1945 when the troops started to come home. Some from the ETO were given 30 days leave before being sent to the Pacific; some of those still in transit or on leave when the war ended were told to just wait for orders, which usually meant discharge papers.

Most of those who had actually seen combat did not talk a lot about it, but even some of them could not help bragging to a young boy. I listened to guys who had captured Hitler (he go away), who had taken a Walther PP or P.38 "offen Goring personal", captured Italy single handed, and so on. Not to take anything away from the real heroes, but the men of the "greatest generation", believe me, were also the greatest liars.

But some would tell it like it was with captured weapons. Pistols were often taken from prisoners captured in real fighting, but long guns were almost always taken from depots and dumps where captured weapons were kept. The GI's who were rotating back and who wanted souvenirs were taken in trucks to a depot or weapons dump and told to pick out a rifle and take it with them. Many rifles were without bolts; the bolts were in another pile.
(The bolts were removed when the prisoners were first captured to that if they tried to escape they couldn't just grab a working rifle.)

In the Pacific, most of the rifle bringbacks came from depots in Japan; the "mums" were ground off by Japanese workers before the rifles were surrendered to the heathen Americans. Not in the states, not on the ships, not by Japanese troops with power grinders, not by Harry Truman. By Japanese, under an agreement to allow that small face-saving measure.

If anyone thinks about it, stories about capturing a half dozen enemy rifles and bringing them back don't make sense. No one who has ever been in the service could believe that an infantryman could carry around not only his own rifle but even one captured piece. And they were NOT allowed to mail guns home; that was prohibited, and the army post office enforced the rules.

As to those rules and laws. The main deterrent to stealing U.S. weapons (and that is what it was, no matter how many fables you hear) was that if caught the smuggler would spend a couple of years in Leavenworth. Those vets wanted OUT! Now! They had no desire to change olive green for the dyed brown of army prisoners. The desire to go home, for all but a few, far outweighed the value of any weapon they might steal.