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WWII Grenadier Accessories?


unterhund
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Hello friends--in my research on World War Two, I've wondered what gear the squad grenadier carried in the U.S. Army? It seems that before the grendade launcher for the M1 rifle was perfected, each squad in a rifle platoon would have one grenadier, usually the asst. squad leader, who was armed with a M1903 rifle. This rifle was fitted with a M1 grenade launcher.

 

What I need to know is, was the grenade launcher carried in a unique pouch, or just put in a pocket when not attached to the "Springfield?" And were the rifle grenades carried in a special bag?

 

Interestingly, I have a copy of General Krueger's general orders to the 7th Division prior to the Kiska invasion. The pamphlet was part of the trove of mementoes that I discovered in my late father's belongings. In these orders, General Krueger states that each platoon's sniper, armed with a M1903A4 rifle, would also be issued a grenade launcher. Did the launcher affect accuracy? Or was it not attached unless or until the need for a rifle grenade arose?

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. Did the launcher affect accuracy? Or was it not attached unless or until the need for a rifle grenade arose?

 

naw, it was that they did not have a launcher for the M2 yet, so they had to rely on anyone with the '03 for a while. Once the M7 came out, (approved feb 1943). Theoretically, if you were trying to do a very very long range shot with the launcher attached, it would cause some deflection in the round, but then you just would take it off first.

 

There was no "squad grenadier as such. The M7 was allocated three per squad- one for the Assistant squad leader, and two more for what ever riflemen ended up with them. The only "different" item of equipment they might carry was one of the GP ammo bags to carry the rounds in. The M7 was just carried where ever (even a pocket) and they seem to have been lost all the time as there was a constant demand for them, and they turn up as relics in Europe fairly often. IN fact so many were lost that in Normandy all non-front line units had to turn theirs in so enough were available for the rifle companies

 

The M8 launcher for the carbine was even more limited issue. In the standard Rifle company only one was authorized, for the company bugler! Now this makes more sesne that you may realize. The bugler started out as a ways of communication- blowing signals. And although that was not done ont he battlefield, a number of communications related thgins remained with the position. And the M8 was perfect for firing the pyrotechic devices used for signalling.

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Corpl. Cleaver
In these orders, General Krueger states that each platoon's sniper, armed with a M1903A4 rifle, would also be issued a grenade launcher.

 

That makes no sence, there were no front sights on 1903a4's. Without the sight you can't attatch the launcher, it fits on over the barrel and around the front sight. No sight, no launcher.

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That makes no sence, there were no front sights on 1903a4's. Without the sight you can't attatch the launcher, it fits on over the barrel and around the front sight. No sight, no launcher.

 

Hey Corpl. Cleaver...first, I must apologize. The general issuing the orders was Major General Charles H. Corlett. I dug out the pamphlet and found the order I described above. It reads, in part, "The sniper in each Infantry squad will carry a grenade-projector adapter M-1, together with the grenade launcher M-1, recoil pad and special blank cartridges to permit firing of the MKII fragmentation grenade with the sniper's rifle M1903A4. He will carry eight fragmentation grenades MKII. The maximum range, using the fragmentation as a rifle grenade, is 200 yards. Instructions in the use of this adapter will be given at Adak."

 

(Adak was the Aleutian island used as a training/staging area prior to the invasion of Kiska.)

 

Perhaps General Corlett was unaware of the situation Corpl. Cleaver describes. Maybe they found out on Adak that the lack of iron sights on the M1903A4 was a problem.

 

As to the point that jgawne made, that "there was no 'squad grenadier' as such," the T/O-E I have seen from 1942-1943 indicates that each rifle squad's asst. squad leader would be armed with the M1903 rifle, and he would serve as the squad's grenadier. Another soldier would be his back-up. Perhaps when the M7 launcher was introduced for the M1 rifle, more soldiers could utilize the rifle grenades, and the idea of an individual "squad grenadier" went away. And as we all know, the reality of battle often defies the T/O-E.

 

I appreciate the responses. The M1 grenade launcher is rare; but is there anyone out there who might verify Corpl. Cleaver's idea that the lack of a front sight would preclude the use of the launcher?

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Ah, you mean the "squad sniper" This is almost cetainly a reference to "the guy in the squad that carries the 03A3 springfield. Which is normally the ASL, but in practice could be switched off if the ASL wanted to trade and use an M1. He's right about the 1903A4 not working with it, which my brain momentarily glitched on. No one really ever refers to a squad sniper and I misread it as platoon sniper (which was an 03A4). I suspect the good General had probably put out some kind of divisional order befporehand defining the squad sniper, as it is not a traditonal Army term, and my guess is that he wanted the best shot to have the 03. That would be an interesting thing to find. It would make sense to rearrange the 03, but I suspect the ASL was given it as he was the best chance of being a guy with slightly more trianing, and probably not going to toss away the ammo bag when it got heavy.

 

But "Squad Grenadier" implies that's all the guy does. Like saying who is the "bazookaman." The Assistant Squad leader functions as one but the ASLeader part is his official duty which trumps the grenade stuff in terms of any titles. So its a matter of semantics depending upon if you mean an actual title, or a function. WW2 was very different from say, Nam where you had a guy specifically assigned an M-79 who could only be a grenadier as that's all his weapon would do, or WW1 where you had some guys specifically trained and assigned to fire VBs

 

In theory everyone and anyone in a rifle squad could fire a rifle grenade, but there was no ONE SPECIFIC MAN WHOSE PRIMARY JOB was to do so. The use of the Springfield as a grenade firing platform was a stop gap measure and lasted only until they could develop the M-7, and then it went away and you had three guys with M7's in the squad.

 

Which really are not at all rare, they just seemed to have dried up in the last few years. I've probably had about 50 pass through my hands while collecting the various makers.

 

But no, there was nothing at all special for the 03 launcher. The weapon was supposed to get the rubber boot, but this seems ot have flalen out of practice pretty fast and is rarely seen in use. No special bags, pouches, sights, etc. except for something to carry the grenades, range clips and blanks in.

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Thanks, jgawne, for the input. I never felt that the assistant squad leader's duties were strictly that of grenadier. Your description of the informality of these specific duty assignments jives with what I had in mind.

 

As for the rarity...the M1 grenade launcher for the M1903 rifle--not the M7 launcher for the M1 rifle--seems to me, at least, to be quite elusive. Canfield says as much in his books, and I have searched both gun shows and the internet for years looking for one.

 

If a member has one--the launcher for the M1903 rifle--I would love to hear about any experience with it.

 

Thanks again to all.

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I had one years ago when I was in school, but to my continuing disappointment in myself, I sold it along with my '03 and other stuff to pay for school and bills.

 

That said, it doesn't need a front sight to attach to a weapon. It simply has a swinging arm that clamps on to the barrel with a wing nut, the front sight doesn't hold it on, it's just that there's not enough barrel in front of the sight on a standard '03 to clamp to. So attaching an M1 grenade lancher to an '03A4 would work just fine, though having uneven pressure on the barrel right behind the muzzle, and a chunk of steel hanging off the end would have a negative effect on accuracy.

 

I was never able to find M3 grenade launching rounds while I had this launcher, so unfortunately I don't have a range report. I was able to find some a few years ago, and tried out my M7 with dummy pineapples and adapters, and after 4 or 5, I was able to hit 4'X4' plywood targets at 150yds with the grenade launcher sight installed. I only ruined 2 and lost 1 of the adapters doing this ;)

 

BTW, direct fire is pretty thumpy, and I did much better holding the weapon on the ground in a knealing position using the bubble and Kentucky windage, and Mrs. Hotlead spotting.

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The M-8 launcher for the carbine was not made in great numbers because it had a problem --even a single grenade launch could shatter the stock. Somewhere I read that it was forbidden to try to launch fragmentation grenades from the carbine, for this reason. The recoil with signal flares and smokes appears to have been less, so they were OK.

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