View Full Version : WW-II history question - "Belt, pistol, M-36"

October 22, 2001, 07:46 AM
Hi all,

A friend's mother was an Army nurse in the ETO during WW-II, she heard many, as is said, 'shots fired in anger'. She passed away a few years back and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery - I've visited the columbarium where her remains are interred. (I have visited Arlington many times but it is somehow different when you visit a grave there where somebody you knew is buried.)

My friend thinks that his mother was issued a pistol during the war - I've been told that doctors and nurses could carry a sidearm for 'defensive purposes only'.

The following is a quote from mail he sent me:


I'm going through paperwork today and found my
mother's orders. On 18-SEP-44, in preparation
for shipping out to Europe, she was issued

"Belt, pistol, M-36"

This must be the item I was thinking of. There
isn't any explicit evidence of her actually
getting a sidearm. However, I'm reasonably
certain that she said she had one during the
Bulge when they were worried the Germans might


So, could any of the historians who read this forum help us out? Is the M-36 the standard pistol belt and does anybody know if medical people in the ETO were actually issued sidearms?

Thanks in advance for any information you all might be able to share.


Harley Nolden
October 22, 2001, 09:09 AM
During WWII most all active duty personnel were issued a web belt, not sure of the model nomenclature, to sucure additional equipment if needed. ie: canteen, 1st aid packet, holsters or compass, but is sounds to me that this is what the issuing order was for. Many medical and armored crewmen were issued side arms and M1 carbines.

Side arms were generally the 1911 Colt SA pistol, however, some medical and aricraft crewman were issued revolvers. I would speculate that if she was issued a side arm, it would have been a "snubby" .38 cal.


October 22, 2001, 10:28 AM
I have known two Army nurses that had carried sidearms. One was a 1911 and the other was a S&W M&P 4". Both were knockouts.


James K
October 22, 2001, 03:21 PM
Some of those army nurses were indeed knockouts. Or do you mean the guns?

Medical personnel could carry defensive weapons, for their personal protection and protection of their patients. It is my understanding of the rules that the service pistol was not considered a defensive weapon. Many medical personnel carried the Colt .32 or .380 auto. I don't know about .38 Special, but as a civilian round, it might have been also considered as defensive.

Harley is correct. The rifleman armed with an M1 (or M1903/1917) was issued a cartridge belt with pockets for clips. The BAR man and assistant had BAR belts. Everyone else was issued a pistol belt, which held not only a holster (if a pistol was issued) but also field dressing, canteen, compass, combat knife, and magazine pouch for the pistol or carbine. Non-combatants, like medics or correspondents would not carry a weapon; the issue of arms to medics was at field hospitals and the like.

Note that at that time, correspondents actually reported from the front, not from a rear-area bar, and they actually kept military secrets secret, rather than trying to sneak information of help to the enemy past the censors.


October 23, 2001, 09:22 AM
In regards to the paperwork you found, the usage you repeat makes me think that she was issued a BELT for a pistol, not a pistol. Everything else in the military had an "M" number, so why not an M-36 belt?

October 24, 2001, 06:50 AM
Thanks, everybody, for the information.