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WWI Marine Weapons Questions

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My Great Uncle joined the Marines in April of 1917, and saw action in France. I recently got copies of his Service Record from NARA, and I have a couple of questions about the weapon(s) he was issued, and qualified on.

 

First, in his 4-516 Service Book, there's a stamp that says: "NUMBER OF RIFLE" with 110016 written by hand. Then, on one of the pages from a form 4-1323, there's a stamp that says: "MQO 56 Series 1917". Can I safely assume that the number is the serial number, and is it for a Springfield 1903, or an Enfield 1917?

 

Just what does all of this actually mean? If I were to guess, I'd say he was issued an Enfield 1917, serial # 110016, that he used to qualify as a marksman. Am I anywhere close?

 

However, in an email to me, a person from the Marine Corps History Division stated that "we consulted the National Museum of the Marine Corps ordnance curator. Marines in WWI were provided with the Springfield rifles only; by the end of War the Army was utilizing the Enfields, but the Marines were not.".

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My Great Uncle joined the Marines in April of 1917, and saw action in France. I recently got copies of his Service Record from NARA, and I have a couple of questions about the weapon(s) he was issued, and qualified on.

 

First, in his 4-516 Service Book, there's a stamp that says: "NUMBER OF RIFLE" with 110016 written by hand. Then, on one of the pages from a form 4-1323, there's a stamp that says: "MQO 56 Series 1917". Can I safely assume that the number is the serial number, and is it for a Springfield 1903, or an Enfield 1917?

 

Just what does all of this actually mean? If I were to guess, I'd say he was issued an Enfield 1917, serial # 110016, that he used to qualify as a marksman. Am I anywhere close?

 

However, in an email to me, a person from the Marine Corps History Division stated that "we consulted the National Museum of the Marine Corps ordnance curator. Marines in WWI were provided with the Springfield rifles only; by the end of War the Army was utilizing the Enfields, but the Marines were not.".

 

The museum is absolutely correctthe ONLY standard service rifle use by Marines in France was the M1903 Springfield rifle. Most used were also equipped with straight bolt, high humped guard. This is what every photo I've examined with particular attention paid to rifle detail has revealed but as we all can claim just when we think we've nailed down definatives about such minute details something contradicts our previous understanding but until it does I'm sure they had the early unmodified '03's, but100% without a doubt they carried '03's and were never issued the M1917 eddystones.


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Always looking for quality WWI and WWII USMC items. Particularly 4th Marine Brigade related items, medals, uniforms helmets ephemera, Also WWII USMC items including uniforms, medals, etc. to combat veterans especially Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima. Let me know what you have. Semper Fi


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Tbruno

 

I ‘think’ that "MQO 56 Series 1917” refers to a course of fire, not to a weapon.

 

Most likely your great uncle carried an M1903 in France,, although he may have trained and qualified with the M1917 while in the US before going to France

 

According to Crossman and Canfield a M1903 receiver with a serial number of 110016 was made in 1919.

 

C.F. Ferris in his book “United States Rifle Model of 1917” states that the marines were issued M1917 Rifles.

 

As one of his sources he uses “History of Rifle, Revolvers, and Pistols” by Miriam McConaughty, A U.S. Gov publication, printed in 1920. On pg 18, this publication states that 61,000 M1917s were delivered to the marines and 604 to the navy.

 

Ferris goes on to state that, “Lt.Col. William Harlee published in 1919 “the U.S. Marine Corps Score Book and Rifleman Instructor” This was for use with both the Models 1903 and 1917 rifles, and contained very detailed information on the’17.

 

If I read Ferris correctly, he is saying is that Harlee gave detailed information on the M1917 because the marines were using the M1917 at that time.

 

According to C.F. Ferris, Winchester last serial number on 21 Dec 17 was 109570 and on 22 Dec 17 was 110515.

 

Remington and Eddystone numbers are not so exact, Ferris gives observed original M1917s barrel dates. Barrels dates are when the barrel was made and the barrel was usually assembled to the receiver ‘ROUGHLY’ one to two months after the barrel was dated.

 

A Rem. M1917 with a ser# of 91779 has a barrel with a date of 1-18 and the next Rem.M1917 with a ser# of 114108 has a barrel with a date of 2-18.

 

A Eddystone M1917 with a ser# of 101140 has a barrel with a date of 10-17 and the next Eddystone M1917 with a ser#114174 has a barrel date of 11-17.

 

I would GUESS that IF that qualification course was fired before going to France, your great uncle qualified with a M1917 Rifle probably of Winchester manufacture or maybe Eddystone.

 

What was the date of that qualification?? It may have been after he returned from France and he was using a M1903.

 

 

 

On other boards I have seen photos presented by others that appeared to represent marines with M1917s during the WWI time period.

 

My understanding is that the Marine Corp used the M1917 only at stateside training facilities, however I could be wrong and marines used the M1917 in France, I will let others argue that one out.

 

45B20

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Tbruno

 

I ‘think’ that "MQO 56 Series 1917” refers to a course of fire, not to a weapon.

 

Most likely your great uncle carried an M1903 in France,, although he may have trained and qualified with the M1917 while in the US before going to France

 

According to Crossman and Canfield a M1903 receiver with a serial number of 110016 was made in 1919.

 

C.F. Ferris in his book “United States Rifle Model of 1917” states that the marines were issued M1917 Rifles.

 

As one of his sources he uses “History of Rifle, Revolvers, and Pistols” by Miriam McConaughty, A U.S. Gov publication, printed in 1920. On pg 18, this publication states that 61,000 M1917s were delivered to the marines and 604 to the navy.

 

Ferris goes on to state that, “Lt.Col. William Harlee published in 1919 “the U.S. Marine Corps Score Book and Rifleman Instructor” This was for use with both the Models 1903 and 1917 rifles, and contained very detailed information on the’17.

 

If I read Ferris correctly, he is saying is that Harlee gave detailed information on the M1917 because the marines were using the M1917 at that time.

 

According to C.F. Ferris, Winchester last serial number on 21 Dec 17 was 109570 and on 22 Dec 17 was 110515.

 

Remington and Eddystone numbers are not so exact, Ferris gives observed original M1917s barrel dates. Barrels dates are when the barrel was made and the barrel was usually assembled to the receiver ‘ROUGHLY’ one to two months after the barrel was dated.

 

A Rem. M1917 with a ser# of 91779 has a barrel with a date of 1-18 and the next Rem.M1917 with a ser# of 114108 has a barrel with a date of 2-18.

 

A Eddystone M1917 with a ser# of 101140 has a barrel with a date of 10-17 and the next Eddystone M1917 with a ser#114174 has a barrel date of 11-17.

 

I would GUESS that IF that qualification course was fired before going to France, your great uncle qualified with a M1917 Rifle probably of Winchester manufacture or maybe Eddystone.

 

What was the date of that qualification?? It may have been after he returned from France and he was using a M1903.

On other boards I have seen photos presented by others that appeared to represent marines with M1917s during the WWI time period.

 

My understanding is that the Marine Corp used the M1917 only at stateside training facilities, however I could be wrong and marines used the M1917 in France, I will let others argue that one out.

 

45B20

 

TBruno,

 

I think 45B20 has developed a very good summary/explanation in his post above. Looks like an M1917 Rifle. I'd like to see the copy of the document that has the MQO stamp on it, if you are willing to post it. It might provide more context to the meaning. Right now, I'm leaning toward "MQO" standing for "Marine Qualification Order," but that is just a guess, and I can't find a reference to such an acronym.

 

I also looked through the following handbooks in my collection, and could not find any clues to the "MQO" reference:

 

Target Range Pocket Book for use with the U.S. Magazine Rifle, Model of 1903, Cal. .30, April 28, 1908

Description and Rules for the Management of the U.S. Magaine Rifle, Model of 1903, Caliber .30, April 2, 1909

Soldier's Handbook of the Rifle and Score Book for Special Course C Arranged for The United States Rifle Model of 1917, November 13, 1917

Description and Rules for the Management of the United States Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1917, October 8, 1917

 

The above manuals were published for the Army, and I've never seen specific manuals for the M1917 or M1903 for WWI Marines.

 

Thanks!

 

David Albert

dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


NRA Life Member
Past President, The American Thompson Association
American Society of Arms Collectors
Ohio Gun Collectors Association
Carbine Club
Garand Collectors Association

International Ammunition Association
Contributing Writer, Small Arms Review Magazine
Co-Author, "Thompson Manuals, Catalogs, & Other Paper Items" Collector Guide
One of the "Other Authors" of "The Ultimate Thompson Book," by Tracie L. Hill
Eagle Scout, and Member of NESA

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TBruno,

 

I think 45B20 has developed a very good summary/explanation in his post above. Looks like an M1917 Rifle. I'd like to see the copy of the document that has the MQO stamp on it, if you are willing to post it. It might provide more context to the meaning. Right now, I'm leaning toward "MQO" standing for "Marine Qualification Order," but that is just a guess, and I can't find a reference to such an acronym.

 

I also looked through the following handbooks in my collection, and could not find any clues to the "MQO" reference:...

 

David Albert

dalbert@sturmgewehr.com

 

 

Thanks for all of the replies. According to the website WWI.com, "Only the first United States infantry and Marine units (mainly the First and Second Divisions) arriving in France were equipped with the Model 1903 Springfield rifle. Almost all the rest, the vast majority, carried the Model 1917 American Enfield."

 

According to Wikipedia, "The new rifle was used alongside the M1903 Springfield rifle and quickly surpassed the Springfield design in numbers produced and units issued. By November 11, 1918 about 75% of the AEF in France were armed with M1917s."

 

As requested, I'm posting the pertinent documents for reference:

 

post-36290-1307309982.jpg

 

As you'll see, he qualified at Port royal on June 14, 1917, before he went to France. In fact, I believe it was a requirement to have at least a marksman qualification prior to being sent overseas.

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Here's his qualifications page:

 

post-36290-1307310474.jpg

 

Sorry, it was horizontal in the original picture, tell me how to fix it, and I will...

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TBruno,

 

Thanks for posting the documents. Based on the second document, we know that the "O" in "MQO" stands for "Order." I'm thinking now that "MQO" stands for "Marksmanship Qualification Order." Originally, I thought the "M" might stand for "Marine," but the second document also indicates it is an Army Qualification Course, so I don't think the "M" stands for "Marine," based on that document. I have a feeling that the "MQO 56 Series 1917" has to do with some kind of specific marksmanship qualification regimen. Anyway, those are my thoughts...anyone else have a different opinion?

 

It may not be a well known fact, but most U.S. soldiers who fought in WWI were armed with Model of 1917 Rifles, not M1903's.

 

David Albert

dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


NRA Life Member
Past President, The American Thompson Association
American Society of Arms Collectors
Ohio Gun Collectors Association
Carbine Club
Garand Collectors Association

International Ammunition Association
Contributing Writer, Small Arms Review Magazine
Co-Author, "Thompson Manuals, Catalogs, & Other Paper Items" Collector Guide
One of the "Other Authors" of "The Ultimate Thompson Book," by Tracie L. Hill
Eagle Scout, and Member of NESA

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Thank you for posting those records.

 

However I do not see that ser# 110016, is it on something you have not posted?? Or am I missing something ???

 

45B20

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TBruno - Since your Great Uncle qualified in June of 1917, he without a doubt used a M1903 rifle.

 

M1917's did not start rolling off the line until August, I believe.

 

Wonder if it was a SA or RIA '03?

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Thank you for posting those records.

 

However I do not see that ser# 110016, is it on something you have not posted?? Or am I missing something ???

 

45B20

 

 

Oh yeah, that...

 

post-36290-1307324953.jpg

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I see nothing on those records that indicates what ser# he qualified with. Most likely that 17 June 1917 qualification was fired with a M1903 of unknown make or ser#.

 

That ser# of 110016 is most likely the rifle he was issued at some later date. I would guess his last one before he got out .

 

If it was his last rifle most likely it was a M1903, but no one can say for sure it was not a M1917.

 

If your grate uncle was discharged before 01 Jan 1919 that serial number has to belong to a M1917.

 

I think that note of service with the Army is an interesting one. Do you know any think about that???

 

 

45B20

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I see nothing on those records that indicates what ser# he qualified with. Most likely that 17 June 1917 qualification was fired with a M1903 of unknown make or ser#.

 

That ser# of 110016 is most likely the rifle he was issued at some later date. I would guess his last one before he got out .

 

If it was his last rifle most likely it was a M1903, but no one can say for sure it was not a M1917.

 

If your grate uncle was discharged before 01 Jan 1919 that serial number has to belong to a M1917.

 

I think that note of service with the Army is an interesting one. Do you know any think about that???

45B20

 

As far as what I understand, rifles were scarce, so what they were issued at boot camp, was what they qualified on, and it stayed with them unless it had to be replaced. I firmly believe that this page from his "Service-Record Book" was from Port Royal.

 

Although his unit, the 4th Brigade of Marines, became part of the Regular Army 1st, and later, 2nd Division, the Army reference on that form is to the "Army Small Arms Firing Manual". There is also three other references to the Navy on that form...

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I understand the custom of the rifle staying with the individual thru out his service career.

 

The problem IS,,,,with that is that ser# of 110016, the EARLIEST it could have been in use was Jan of 1918 on a M1917 of Winchester make,,, if that serial number belonged to a M1903 it was not manufactured until after Jan of 1919.

 

So you great uncle COULD NOT HAVE BEEN ISSUED A M1903 OR M1917 RIFLE WITH THAT SER.# IN 1917.. it did not exist.

 

Do you understand the problem of that ser# and that 1917 date now???????

 

45B20

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I see "I917", not "1917"


David Turman

Semper Fi !

"Not as Lean, not as Mean, but still a Marine!"

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I understand the custom of the rifle staying with the individual thru out his service career.

 

The problem IS,,,,with that is that ser# of 110016, the EARLIEST it could have been in use was Jan of 1918 on a M1917 of Winchester make,,, if that serial number belonged to a M1903 it was not manufactured until after Jan of 1919.

 

So you great uncle COULD NOT HAVE BEEN ISSUED A M1903 OR M1917 RIFLE WITH THAT SER.# IN 1917.. it did not exist.

 

Do you understand the problem of that ser# and that 1917 date now???????

 

45B20

 

I'm certainly in no position to offer any argument on this subject at all. The information I have provided is all there is in Arthur's Service Record, there is no further reference to anything else related to weapons or weapons qualifications.

 

I've posted this here to get the opinions of people who are far more expert than I am, and I am grateful for, and respect those opinions.

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I understand the custom of the rifle staying with the individual thru out his service career.

 

The problem IS,,,,with that is that ser# of 110016, the EARLIEST it could have been in use was Jan of 1918 on a M1917 of Winchester make,,, if that serial number belonged to a M1903 it was not manufactured until after Jan of 1919.

 

So you great uncle COULD NOT HAVE BEEN ISSUED A M1903 OR M1917 RIFLE WITH THAT SER.# IN 1917.. it did not exist.

 

Do you understand the problem of that ser# and that 1917 date now???????

 

45B20

 

I see "I917", not "1917"

 

This is becoming a more and more interesting thread. Yes, the serial number presents a problem, when matched against known production dates. However, my experience has been that "known" production dates are sometimes wrong. I'm not emphatically saying that is the case here, but I think we should consider the possibility, and examine the sources of information to determine whether a potential data issue exists.

 

I also see turmanator's point, although I think it's supposed to be "1917." The "MQO 56 Series 1917" looks like a rubber stamp impression. There are at least 3 different "1" symbols represented on that form, and the stamp may have been made using a typewriter font. In most cases with a typewriter, the small case letter "l" was used to represent the number "1," but the capital "I" was also sometimes used in the same manner. Some typewriters also had an official "1" character. So, maybe the stamp was fashioned in the same manner...it was probably made using letter blocks, and the capital "I" may have been what was available and used. Or, it could be "I917," as turmanator suggests.

 

Does anyone have a copy of the "Small Arms Firing Manual?" I have seen them available, but have never acquired one. It might lend some clues as to the designations for courses of fire, etc.

 

Thanks!

 

David Albert

dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


NRA Life Member
Past President, The American Thompson Association
American Society of Arms Collectors
Ohio Gun Collectors Association
Carbine Club
Garand Collectors Association

International Ammunition Association
Contributing Writer, Small Arms Review Magazine
Co-Author, "Thompson Manuals, Catalogs, & Other Paper Items" Collector Guide
One of the "Other Authors" of "The Ultimate Thompson Book," by Tracie L. Hill
Eagle Scout, and Member of NESA

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It was an M1903 he qualified with in the YEAR 1917. The debate should be whether or not is was a Springfield or RIA manufacture. Serial numbered M1903 close in range have been found with USMC provenance. Marine Corps Order No. 20 in 1918 ( dated April 19, 1918) was the defining moment when M1917s were quickly moved into MC and Navy ranges for qualification.

 

The MQO 56 Series 1917 means it was an official order in the 1917 Fiscal Year which is July 1, 1916 to June 30, 1917. Not sure if this image comes through clear enough because I had to photo the page at work.

post-7194-1307401932.jpg


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A1C Matthew Seidler, Delta Company, 466th EOD killed in action. 05 Jan 12 at 1600L while conducting mounted route clearance patrols in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He turned 24 two days before his death. Cousin, Soldier, Hero.

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... if that serial number belonged to a M1903 it was not manufactured until after Jan of 1919.

 

So you great uncle COULD NOT HAVE BEEN ISSUED A M1903 OR M1917 RIFLE WITH THAT SER.# IN 1917.. it did not exist.

 

Do you understand the problem of that ser# and that 1917 date now???????

 

45B20

 

 

45B20 - The serial # he is referring to is "110016". The rifle could have been SA or RIA. You must be reading wrong.

 

 

The way I see things, maybe it's just me, he was issued Rifle, Serial Number 110016, upon entry. Two months later he qualified with "some rifle". Either way, it was an '03, that is clear. What is the problem?

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45B20 - The serial # he is referring to is "110016". The rifle could have been SA or RIA. You must be reading wrong.

The way I see things, maybe it's just me, he was issued Rifle, Serial Number 110016, upon entry. Two months later he qualified with "some rifle". Either way, it was an '03, that is clear. What is the problem?

 

 

If an SA about 1906 I think and an RIA about 1910? Don't remember the exact years but very close, definately not 1919.

 

Now if the number had been "1,110,016" then it would be post WWI SA.


"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*

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I see "I917", not "1917"

 

Wow! You need to change your user name to "Hawkeye". Very well spotted... :bravo:

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It was an M1903 he qualified with in the YEAR 1917. The debate should be whether or not is was a Springfield or RIA manufacture. Serial numbered M1903 close in range have been found with USMC provenance. Marine Corps Order No. 20 in 1918 ( dated April 19, 1918) was the defining moment when M1917s were quickly moved into MC and Navy ranges for qualification.

 

The MQO 56 Series 1917 means it was an official order in the 1917 Fiscal Year which is July 1, 1916 to June 30, 1917. Not sure if this image comes through clear enough because I had to photo the page at work.

 

The only problem with this is as it relates to Arthur is that he had left for France on 31 July, 1917, and arrived on 22 August, 1917.

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45B20 - The serial # he is referring to is "110016". The rifle could have been SA or RIA. You must be reading wrong.

The way I see things, maybe it's just me, he was issued Rifle, Serial Number 110016, upon entry. Two months later he qualified with "some rifle". Either way, it was an '03, that is clear. What is the problem?

 

TBruno,

 

I should have verified the serial number information that was posted here before accepting it at face value...Now that I have looked it up, I see that #110116 was clearly an M1903 available at the time of the qualification by your Great Uncle.

 

David Albert

dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


NRA Life Member
Past President, The American Thompson Association
American Society of Arms Collectors
Ohio Gun Collectors Association
Carbine Club
Garand Collectors Association

International Ammunition Association
Contributing Writer, Small Arms Review Magazine
Co-Author, "Thompson Manuals, Catalogs, & Other Paper Items" Collector Guide
One of the "Other Authors" of "The Ultimate Thompson Book," by Tracie L. Hill
Eagle Scout, and Member of NESA

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TBruno,

 

I should have verified the serial number information that was posted here before accepting it at face value...Now that I have looked it up, I see that #110116 was clearly an M1903 available at the time of the qualification by your Great Uncle.

 

David Albert

dalbert@sturmgewehr.com

 

Ah Ha! But it's #110016, not #110116. Does that make a difference? Otherwise, we have established that he was issued, qualified on, and was sent overseas with a Springfield M1906 as far as we can tell?

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Ah Ha! But it's #110016, not #110116. Does that make a difference? Otherwise, we have established that he was issued, qualified on, and was sent overseas with a Springfield M1906 as far as we can tell?

 

See my post on last page, the only difference is that the number is "110,016" and not "1,110,016". "110,016" would have been made well before WWI by either RIA or SA, "1,110,016" is the only way the number would be appropriate for a 1919 (post WWI) rifle.


"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*

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Thanks to all of you for researching this question and contributing your input. I had emailed The National Museum of The marine Corps with these questions, but I figured on them taking four to six weeks to respond, so that's why I posted this here in the first place.

 

From an email I received earlier today, here's what the official word is from the Curator of Ordnance, National Museum of the Marine Corps, Quantico, Virginia:

 

"I reviewed the documents and based on my research can provide the following:

 

NUMBER OF RIFLE 110016

 

I am confident that this is the serial number for a Model 1903 Springfield. It is consistent with the serial number range for that time-frame. Additionally, we have a couple of 1903's with a 110 prefix within the collection.

 

Under Small Arms Record, the MM within the Final Qualifications block stands for Marksman.

 

Under his Prior Service record entries, MQO. 56 Series 1917 translates to Marine Qualification Order Number 56, Series 1917. The Marine Corps issued orders by number and series. Series meant year.

 

Another example, Marine Corps Order Number 20, Series 1918 was the order authorizing them to purchase the Model 1917 rifle. The order stated that the Model 1917 was to be issued to all permanent Stateside units, with the Model 1903 rifle going to Recruit Depots and all Marines heading overseas (Europe). It was formally issued on April 19, 1918. Because your Great-Uncle's service pre-dates this order, I am confident that rifle number 110016 was in fact a Model 1903. It is clear that he was already in Europe when the order was issued.

 

We trust that the foregoing has been responsive to your inquiry. If we can be of further assistance in this or other matters, please feel free to contact us.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Alfred Houde

Curator of Ordnance

National Museum of the Marine Corps

Quantico, Virginia 22134

 

Now we know for sure...

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