Okay, I recall seeing this on some tv history show I cannot recall, but poking around in Wikipedia has not uncovered anything.
What I heard was that when America entered WWII, they deployed soldiers with less efficient guns that were prone to jamming in the field, but had a stockpile of better weapons they kept in reserve. They did not want the better guns used because they were worried about a German invasion of the continental US, or something.
Anyway, I’m looking for information with regards to this rumor. Anyone know what this was about?
As WWII began, the M-1 Garand was still not general issue to all services. It had not completely replaced the 1903 Springfield in the Army and the USMC still used the Springfield as standard issue. They issued what they had, I’ve never heard this idea of them holding back before.
In the First World War:
The initial batch of Browning Automatic Rifles (BAR/M-1918) were rushed into production and did not conform to specifications. Some parts were not interchangeable between weapons, which could be a bit of a problem in the field. So production had to be halted until the manufacturing errors were sorted out.
Never heard anything of the sort, from any source. Jamming wouldn’t have been a problem for the '03, since it was bolt action.
The US was never worried about a German invasion.
I’ve heard the story described in the OP, but in reference to WWI and not WWII. The story was that the U.S. had the new BAR, but that the government didn’t want to deploy it. I’ve heard two reasons for this: A) They didn’t want the technology to fall into the hands of the Germans; or B) It was a political decision to appease the French, who were supplying the Americans with their Chauchat machine gun. But it appears that lack of production capacity due to Colt making the Vickers machine gun for the British, and the initial quality control problems were actually to blame for it not reaching the front lines until a couple of months before the end of the war.
The Chauchat had a terrible reputation. It jammed readily, probably because of the cheap manufacturing shortcuts needed to make it available in numbers, and due to the open magazine design that collected mud and dirt. The .30-06 version of the Chauchat performed even worse. (The ‘successful’ design was 8mm Lebel.)
It’s possible the OP is conflating the story of the Chauchaut vs. the BAR with the later war.
maybe the op was thinking of the British expeditionary force in france?
not that I know of them reserving guns, but they did plan against a German Invasion
Unless they are talking about the M1941 Johnson rifle (not LMG,) I can’t say I have heard this particular bit of mythology before. Sounds like the Hysteria Channel screwed up another story.
Indeed. The Germans never had an entirely credible plan to invade the UK, let alone the US.
Thank you, Johnny L.A, that does sound more like I remember. In particular, the use of the inferior French weapons prone to jamming, especially from mud and dirt. And the idea of reserving the superior weapons so they did not fall into German hands. Perhaps the notion of WWI spreading from Europe was more reasonable/plausible or at least less easily dismissed. I mean, there was no precedent for the level of WWI, so in theory, it could have spread to the US, right?
So conflating WWI with WWII seems most likely. Hey, what’s a memory for if not misfiling things for later recall?
The story I’ve heard (and I’ve heard it from professional historians) is that the United States deliberately chose a bolt action rifle in the World War I era because they felt that a semi-automatic rifle (which was available) would cause soldiers to waste ammunition.
What semi-automatic rifle was available to the US in the WW1 era?
What semi-automatic rifles did they even have the option to adopt? I can think of only a couple, the Mexican Mondragon and the French Fusil Automatique Modele 1917, that were produced in any numbers at the time. Neither was any great shakes with respect to ergonomics, reliability or durability.
For WW1, there was the Pederson Device which some say never saw action because there was a fear Germans would capture them and duplicate them.
That was the official line of not only the USMC but the British Army throughout WW2. The Marines changed their minds when they got a good look at what the Garand was capable of. The Brits never did.
it didnt see action because it wasnt produced in time. your own link says that
The 1903 Springfield had a 5 round magazine. It also had a magazine cutoff. In theory, soldiers were supposed to fill the magazine with 5 rounds, then flip the magazine cutoff to the off position. To save ammo and encourage aimed shooting, soldiers were to fire a single shot and reload by hand another round after each shot. The 5 round magazine was a reserve in case the enemy charged your trench and you needed to increase your rate of fire. In practice, I believe soldiers left the cutoff “on” most of the time and reloaded 5 rounds at once with a stripper clip.
In WWII, I believe the U.S. made a definite decision to only use some newfangled anti-aircraft shells (with radar-triggered proximity fuses) in places (such as on ships) where spent shells couldn’t be recovered by the enemy and reverse-engineered.
I heard that same story, but about the US Civil War: that the Union War Department refused to buy Gatling guns for the troops, because they would waste too much ammunition.
That was only true for part of the war. Proximity fuses for artillery shells finally reached the US Army in Europe in late 1944 (in time for the Battle of the Bulge) and were available for use in the Pacific by ground forces as well.
Much of that delay was caused by the secrecy, mind you.