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Old June 11, 2019, 08:15 AM   #1
DMK
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WWII .38 Revolvers how did they reload them?

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, I'm planning a range session using guns of D-Day. I have a Garand, M1 Carbine, 1911A1, No4 Enfield, Kar98 and a S&W British Service Revolver chambered in 38/200 (38 S&W). I'm planning to use them authentically, loading the rifles from clips, shooting rifles from field positions, shooting handguns one handed, etc. (All this said just for context.)

I know that the 45ACP guns used half moon clips, but how did WWII soldiers reload their 38 caliber revolvers? How did they carry extra ammo?

I'm assuming ammo was reloaded singly and carried loose in pockets or pouches. Does anybody have any knowledge on this subject?
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Old June 11, 2019, 09:06 AM   #2
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Looks like training manual reprints are available on the MkIV, maybe there is something
in it that says how to reload it. https://www.cornellpubs.com/old-guns...p?item_id=1018

Quick search found one pic of a high belt holster/ammo pouch setup, and quite a few
pics of this low holster with ammo loops.

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Old June 11, 2019, 10:43 AM   #3
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Thanks Bill! That is a cool holster. I need to find one of those.
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Old June 11, 2019, 11:54 AM   #4
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I dont know how "correct" this is, but this web cartridge slider by Pacific Canvas and Leather, is supposed to be a copy of US kit for pilots during WWII. They sell them with their Victory holsters. I like and have a number of the sliders.

While I have a couple of their flap type belt holsters I do like, Im not real hot on Tanker type holsters they have for the Victory. Seems to be of a lesser quality.

This is one of thier sliders on my El Paso Saddlery "Tanker" for my S&W Victory. The nice part about them is, you dont have the verdigris issue you get from the leather loops.

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Old June 11, 2019, 12:48 PM   #5
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Can't speak to what was carried in WWll, but here's how I carried a Model 15 S&W 49 years ago while serving as a Forward Air Controller in Vietnam. That's my bird in the backround, and those are 2.75" Willie Pete rockets I'm loading. HTH's Rod

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Old June 11, 2019, 12:54 PM   #6
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How much training did pistol shooters get ? Charlie Askins wrote that for 5 weeks or so before D-Day he conducted a very hurried course for the M1911A1, he said most of the officers who went though it had NEVER fired it before.
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Old June 11, 2019, 01:04 PM   #7
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Can't speak to what was carried in WWll, but here's how I carried a Model 15 S&W 49 years ago while serving as a Forward Air Controller in Vietnam. That's my bird in the backround, and those are 2.75" Willie Pete rockets I'm loading. HTH's Rod
Cool Birddog RodFAC! I rode a lot in Cessna Skyhawks when I was in CAP as a kid (I went on every flight I could get myself into). I love those light aircraft.

Did you carry any reloads for your S&W? If so how did you carry spare ammo?
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Old June 11, 2019, 01:12 PM   #8
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How much training did pistol shooters get ? Charlie Askins wrote that for 5 weeks or so before D-Day he conducted a very hurried course for the M1911A1, he said most of the officers who went though it had NEVER fired it before.
From what I've beeen reading, it depended on the time frame and unit. Some guys who went in early in the war got hooked up with local units (some National Guard, some regular Army) who did their own training. Some guys never even did boot camp, the local unit just trained them as they saw fit. Some of the units were doing maneuvers down south in LA and TN as well.These guys got a lot more range time.

Later in the war it was more organized and they formed new units as guys came in from the draft. This training was more organized but also expedited.

Most of the guys I've read about had basic hands on familiarization and firing of most of the small arms and then qualified with whatever weapon they were issued. Mortar guys might qual with an M1 carbine for example and then go off for the mortar training, same for radio guys, etc.

There was one guy who wrote about the weather being so stormy in training that they couldn't even see the targets at the range. Nobody in the company qualified, but they just shipped them to England anyway because there was a war on and they couldn't hold things up. They finally did qualify in England.

Last edited by DMK; June 11, 2019 at 01:19 PM.
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Old June 11, 2019, 01:24 PM   #9
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I dont know how "correct" this is, but this web cartridge slider by Pacific Canvas and Leather, is supposed to be a copy of US kit for pilots during WWII.
Been searching around some more since I posted. I saw some period pictures of WWII USN pilots carrying ammo like that. The Navy apparently also had a belt pouch that folds up and contains just 6 rounds in loops.

That's a nice rig. I've got a repro M7 for my 1911A1.
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Old June 11, 2019, 01:27 PM   #10
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other than US GI .45ACP revolvers using half moon clips, generally revolvers (all sides) were loaded and reloaded with loose rounds.

There were no speedloaders, speed strips, or even dump pouches. Sometimes there were cartridge loops on a belt or holster flap (have seen Japanese made holsters with cartridge loops, but like the guns they were made for, were personal items, not general issue).
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Old June 11, 2019, 01:32 PM   #11
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"...need to find one of those..." Look for a Webley or Enfield revolver "tanker' holster. The Commonwealth had all kinds of holsters for those revolvers.
"...WWII soldiers reload their 38 caliber revolvers..." Only officers and armoured types were issued hand guns. Ammo was carried loose in a pouch. Search Pattern 37 web gear.
The non-armoured types one looks like this.
https://www.ima-usa.com/collections/...enuine-ww2-raf
Desantis sells an American M3 holster repro too. $99.99.
Sarco lists a decent M3 repro at $35.
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Old June 11, 2019, 02:29 PM   #12
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Thanks for the link!
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Old June 11, 2019, 08:41 PM   #13
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Try here...

https://www.worldwarsupply.com/cart/...h=84_87&page=2

https://www.ima-usa.com/collections/u-s-holsters
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Old June 11, 2019, 09:47 PM   #14
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DMK, I carried another six rounds in the loops on my belt...a leather one purchased in Bien Hoa. The issue web belt was useless in an aircraft. We also had a number of .38 caliber flares for signaling buried in the survival vest worn on every flight. In reality, the sidearm was a distant thought while flying...I was more interested in putting the bird down in a clearing without getting wound up in the wreckage, then getting the CAR and my ammo slings out. The issue long gun was a CAR 15, and for that I had two full bandoleers. One with some tracer mixed in and the other straight ball ammo.

In the camp, I carried the CAR everywhere I went, but had the revolver with me as well...til I got hold of my predecessor's Hi Power. It was a Special Forces "B" camp and was roughly 100 m on a side, diamond shaped with well constructed bunkers and fighting positions.

Rod
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Old June 12, 2019, 06:47 AM   #15
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Thanks for the info RodFAC. Were any of those weapons officially issued or were they scrounged?

In threads like this someone always points out that weapon X wasn't part of the TOE, but all the stories I've read and heard indicate that servicemen scrounged up some interesting things.
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Old June 12, 2019, 05:40 PM   #16
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Can't speak to what was carried in WWll, but here's how I carried a Model 15 S&W 49 years ago while serving as a Forward Air Controller in Vietnam. That's my bird in the backround, and those are 2.75" Willie Pete rockets I'm loading. HTH's Rod
I like to build and fly RC model airplanes and the Cessna L-19 Bird Dog is a plane I would love to model. The largest Cessna ever built with Tandom seating. All others were side by side. In one of the Backwoodsman magazine articles it was Red Mieneke (I think) who stated he carried a model 15 in Nam and other guys were always trying to trade him their 45 autos for it. He wouldn't trade.
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Old June 13, 2019, 07:44 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by rodfac View Post
Can't speak to what was carried in WWll, but here's how I carried a Model 15 S&W 49 years ago while serving as a Forward Air Controller in Vietnam. That's my bird in the backround, and those are 2.75" Willie Pete rockets I'm loading. HTH's Rod

THANKS for your service...I know USAF is BIG and it has been almost 50 years but know a guy named Bob Gaskin? One of my students when I was in the USAF F4 RTU(1987-1980), when I was on exchange duty..He also was a O-1 FAC in VietNam..early 70s..
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Old June 13, 2019, 09:52 AM   #18
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DMK, the CAR 15 was an issue item for all FAC's in-country. Don't know what the Ravens carried in Laos. The S&W M15 was also an issue item along with the web belt and some sort of black holster. Most of us had a custom holster and belt made by the parachute shop or downtown in Bien Hoa. I don't recall any "dump box" of the police type being issued...but it's been close to 50 years now and bits and pieces of my memory are slipping away.

Odd weapons were common where I was stationed as the Special Forces could and did appropriate any type they felt useful to their mission. I saw 57mm recoiless rifles, Swedish "K"s, Russian sniper rifles, AK's and SKS's by the dozen, and no one thought anything of it. I was careful, for the most part, whenever I had to fly down to the squadron headquarters at Bien Hoa to have only my issue gear on. The REMF's that infested the base would call you on uniform violations at the drop of a hat.

The Hi-Power I had was not issued; my predecessor brought it along with him when he reported in-country. Getting weapons in wasn't a problem, getting them out could be a very big hassle...Article 15 at the least and maybe a court marshal offense. The jerks that rummaged through our return to CONUS "hold" baggage would steal or report most anything they found.

I bought a Luger from one of our Berets found in a cashe during the Cambodian incursion that had German, Russian, N. Korean & N. Vietnamese markings on the small crate it was stored in. That gun, with that provenance, would have paid for one of my son's college education. I played around with it during my last month, about October of '70, but didn't want to risk trying to smuggle it back in my hold baggage. I left it & the Hi Power behind. The squadron's theft and pillage crew that inspected our go-home baggage relieved me of boots, cammies, a survival knife, and a cpl other items...never seen again.

USNret, Gaskin rings a faint bell...can't say where from but maybe over towards Tay Ninh with the Vietnamese Airborne Division...they all wore dark red berets...and thx too for your service...the only Navy I worked with while there was gun fire off one of the battleships...New Jersey or North Carolina...I was 25 k's in from the coast, down in the delta and needed some help blowing up bunkers....the DASC controller said he could get me gun fire but was coy about what kind. I pushed saying that it was a deep bunker complex and he said that they could penetrate anything...the first round of seven was within 75 meters of the complex and collapsed the entire place. I had a list of places needed to be blown up and got 6 more rounds before they called it a day...big stuff...2000 lb. shells as I recall, and I could distinctly hear it pass while holding just off the gun line through the open cockpit windows.

Ratshooter, I had a Model 15 as well, didn't like the puny grips on it so kept it in my bunker while there. I had an Army .45 1911A1 for quite awhile as well as that 9mm Hi-Power previously mentioned. I carried both of the latter in a tanker Army issue type of holster. The Birddog was fun to fly, cruised at 100 kts, carried 8 rockets and had hard shackle points for flares outboard. These latter, were used only once while I was there as night time flying without any sort of cockpit instrumentation was strictly an emergency operation. The flare shackles, however, were very useful for dropping things like ammo, med supplies, LRP's meals and, my personal favorite, cases of beer. I'd climb to 5-6000 feet, to cool it off and then drop it to our patrols in a stand of tall bamboo...some broke, but those guys worshiped the ground I walked on on those days...LOL.

Hope this helps on weapons...and sorry for the diversion back to 1970 and some long lost friends.

Best Regards, Rod24...my old call sign.
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Old June 13, 2019, 10:54 AM   #19
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Double post...deleted.
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Old June 13, 2019, 02:20 PM   #20
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Rodfac

"sorry for the diversion back to 1970 and some long lost friends"

First thank you for your service. Second, no apology necessary. I'd listen to those stories anytime.

I was too young for Vietnam (born 1960) but was old enough to remember many things that I'm still trying to understand. I am always afraid to ask when I have the opportunity. But I'm afraid we will lose those stories to time.
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Old June 13, 2019, 07:33 PM   #21
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Kind words, guys, Thank you. Rod
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Old June 13, 2019, 08:49 PM   #22
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rodfac

I tip my hat to you and lift a glass for your service. It took serious brass to fly in an O-1 Birddog in a time and place where Thuds were getting smoked like clockwork. Your bretheren and you went into harms way and by the grace of God some of you came home to an ungrateful people.

I offer a prayer to those who were not as lucky; and they were many.
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Old June 14, 2019, 08:21 AM   #23
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Thanks RodFAC. I agree with everything the other guys said.

Thanks for the stories and thank you for your service.
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Old June 15, 2019, 07:20 AM   #24
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It looks like there was a web gear pouch with ammo loops for carrying extra .38 Special rounds.

http://www.harryviezensfineguns.com/...ed-pistol-rig/

I believe that is the M-6 pouch, and may have been specific to the Navy.

I'm not having much luck finding anything similar that was Army gear.

I'm getting the impression from some things I'm reading, though, is that those who had revolvers that weren't quite officially issued (Band of Brothers scene where the one paratrooper opens a package from home and finds a .38 S&W sent to him by the town) they would keep their ammo where ever they found room.
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Old June 17, 2019, 12:06 PM   #25
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That's a nice link Mike.

I think you are right about the "Victory" and M&P revolvers being mostly Navy and Marine. I have seen references to some Marine NCOs and officers getting to choose between revolver or 1911, but I'm sure that was the very rare case where everything just lined up right with cool supply administration and available old stock.

I suppose it was possible some army guys could have had access to 1917s in the same way, especially in the Pacific where they didn't get the latest and best all the time. Though, I've never heard of any US army combat infantry mentioning getting revolvers through official channels either come to think of it.

Regarding pilots, I've read about Navy and Marine aircrew in the Pacific being issued revolvers and fairly ineffective flare rounds to shoot though them to assist in rescue. I've never noticed any USAAC crew wearing revolvers though.
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