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M1 Garand Rifle



garand M1 donated by Bill Blair of Suffolk Virginia

M-1 Garand was donated to the ADBC museum by Bill Blair of Suffolk, Va.  He paid for breakfast for the veterans of Bataan at his restaurant called Bunny's.
More about his story can be read in the Quan, September, 2010.

About the M1 Garand

Like the Springfield, the M1 Garand began its manufacture at the Springfield Armory.  The designer John Cantius Garand worked at the Armory and started developing models starting in 1924. The first Model was the “M1922,” followed by the “M1924.”  He continued redesigning and developed a gas-operated model.  In 1933, the modified rifle became the Semi-Automatic Rifle, Caliber 30, M1.  After tests, more changes were made and the first production model went out in 1937.

The Springfield Armory and the Winchester Repeating Arms Company produced over 4 million rifles from 1937 through 1945, with the Winchester production occurring in the latter part of the war.  There were a number of variations made to the M1.

In a memorandum from the War Plans Division, dated November 3, 1941, the army command in the Philippines reported on hand 6, 536 M1 rifles and it appears as one more shipment made it to the Philippines with a radiogram for the acting ordnance officer of USAFFE, reporting 7, 412 M1s. Just before the American involvement in the war, MacArthur's request for an additional 80,000 M1s to the Philippines was turned down.

The M1 is a gas operated, turn bolt rifle with a rather short receiver, a unique design feature.  The bolt return spring is mounted inside the operating rod under the barrel.  The rifle requires a clip holding cartridges to be inserted and this feature drew criticism.

 A problem with new user of the gun was called “M1 thumb.”  If the shooter did not quickly remove his thumb off the clip he was loading, when the bolt unlocked it could smash his thumb against the front of the ejection port.

 he M1 rifle saw usage in World War II, the Korea War and through the Cold war until it was retired from service in the early 1960s.

 Several references from POWs mention the M-1 Garand

In the book by Damon Gause, “The War Journal of “Rocky” Damon Gause,” refers to a trip to Balanga in early 1942 to blow up an ammunition dump of the Japanese.  The soldiers creep into the town with bottles of gasoline with rags stuffed in their necks as wicks.  They dodge in and out the thatched hits and set the village on fire.  The ammunition begins to explode and the Japanese are trapped in the burning blast.  Gause writes, “After a few staccato bursts it all went up in a tremendous blast, and we leaped up waving our Garand rifles over our heads and cheered.  When the embers cooled a trace of a hut still dotted the village streets and examined the charred bodies of the Japs who had been working in the village.”

Cecil Forinash talks about coming to camp and using the new Garand rifles. "In the fall of 1939 the Sixth Infantry Division was to be established at Camp Jackson, South Carolina.  The Third Infantry Regiment was to be the first unit to arrive at Camp Jackson.  We traveled by troop train to Columbia, South Carolina.  At that time we were wearing winter uniforms when we arrived November 1, 1939.  We were ordered to wear our military winter overcoats when getting off the train.  The weather must have been 90 degrees and it seemed it took forever for us to receive order to take off our overcoats.

As we were the first troops to arrive at Camp Jackson we occupied the only buildings remaining from the World War One training camp.  Ultimately the entire division arrived at Camp Jackson.  The new Garand rifles were issued to the troops shortly after arriving and consequently most of the training consisted of learning about the new rifle and how to strip it and put it back together again and prepare for firing on the range."

Leon Beck who escaped the death march and became a guerilla warfare fighter joining the Huckbalahap Squadron.  The Japanese policy mandated that an escaped man caught with a weapon would be executed.  Because of this, many of the men behind Japanese lines chose not to carry a weapon. Beck differed and chose to take the chance.  In the article “A Fugitive Behind Japanese Lines” from Infantry magazine, the author Gordon Browne, says, “Besides an M-1 Garand rifle, in time he acquired two Astro Patent Spanish mode .38 caliber revolvers, which were similar to the American Colt revolver.  He wore one on each hip, in handmade goatskin holsters.”