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How my grandfather brought home a M1A1 Thompson


LE LOUP DES MERS
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LE LOUP DES MERS

I wanted to share a story with you guys about how my grandfather brought home a M1A1 Thompson during his service in the Navy. So, when it comes to my family's service in the military it's always been Navy. According to my dad, I had an uncle who served in WW2 on a PT boat. My grandfather was in the Navy during the Korean war. And my dad went to BUDS during the cold war. However, this story will be about my grandfather.

 

When the Korean war started, my grandfather knew at some point he was going to get drafted as a Marine. So he decided to enlist in the Navy instead. Sometime in the 50s (before he got deployed to Korea) he went to Japan (then from there he went to Korea). When he was in Japan he went to one of the islands that Japan occupied during WW2 (can't remember which island it was). On that island he found a dead marine laying on the ground along with M1A1 Thompson laying next to him. He picked the Thompson up and brought it with him. After the Korean war ended my grandfather took his discharge and got out. 

 

Now, you may be asking, your family still got that Thompson? I can't tell you because the ATF might come after me. Ok, all jokes aside sometime during the 60s to 70s my grandfather ended up trading the Thompson for an Indian motorcycle. And we don't have the motorcycle either lol, but later in life my grandfather told my dad he seriously regrets trading the Thompson. I often wonder were that Thompson is now? Either it meant it's death by the ATF, the family still has it, or it's I'm a museum/private collection. I also wonder who the solder was who died carrying it, I guess we'll never know. Hopefully, you guys enjoyed this little story, however I do want to know: anyone else have a similar story? Feel free to share your story of someone in your family bring home a gun from over seas. 

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LE LOUP DES MERS

To mods, I just realized I should have probably posted this in veteran recollections.

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suwanneetrader

Remains on top of the ground 10 - 15 years    ?   I hope it was reported and Marine laid to rest.  Richard

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LE LOUP DES MERS
9 hours ago, suwanneetrader said:

Remains on top of the ground 10 - 15 years    ?   I hope it was reported and Marine laid to rest.  Richard

10 to 15 years? The Korean war started June 27th 1950 for the Americans and my grandfather went to Japan before he went to Korea (he fought in the very beginning of the Korean war). let's just say the marine died sometime between 1944-45 (it would make more sense for it to be around that time anyway) thats only a 5 to 6 year time span for when my grandfather would have found it. By then the body would be a skeleton so there is really no way of knowing who that really was. But, according to my grandpa the things he found around/on the skeleton indicated it was most likely marine. Idk were you got 10 to 15 years (also thanks to mods for moving this to the correct topic).

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Airborne-Hunter

Ask my uncle "which landing did you do in WW2?" And He always responds "all of them. And they were all really busy for the first hour or two and then the bazaar opened up."

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LE LOUP DES MERS

Not gotta lie, I'm kinda confused on what you mean by that. You'll have to explain to me in greater detail. 

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BEAT_NAVY

Think he means that the landing zone was hot for a while but then eventually everything started moving and being unloaded, hence the bazaar reference. Hope this helps!

1 minute ago, LE LOUP DES MERS said:

Not gotta lie, I'm kinda confused on what you mean by that. You'll have to explain to me in greater detail. 

 

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LE LOUP DES MERS

Yeah, that makes more sense now, thanks. 

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suwanneetrader

QUOTE:  "one of the islands that Japan occupied during WW2 (can't remember which island it was). On that island he found a dead marine"

Above is why I thought you were saying this Marine KIA on Japanese held island in WWII.  So approx. 1944 until approx 1953  so my quick math was off and I'm not making a judgement but even 7 or 8 years is long for an unburied body with a gun beside it to go undetected.  But I apologize as one should be very careful commenting on a story when someone's ancestor is involved.  Again sorry.  Richard

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LE LOUP DES MERS

O, it's no big deal, I get what your saying. 

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LE LOUP DES MERS

But I'm not completely sure of how he found the body/gun as he did not really go into the details when he told the story to my dad when he was a kid. The only thing he told my dad was he found a body and a gun. So I wonder if he went for a hike and found the body that way. He died when I was like 5 years old so I sadly never really got to here the stories personally from him. All the stories of him come from my dad. But it does make sense if he was hiking though. Because there are plenty of stories you can read of hikers find human remains just sitting there perfectly intact after 70+ years.

 

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bigschuss
On 4/2/2022 at 4:46 AM, LE LOUP DES MERS said:

 Because there are plenty of stories you can read of hikers find human remains just sitting there perfectly intact after 70+ years.

 

 

???  Where are there plenty of stories about hikers finding bodies sitting there "perfectly intact" after 70 years?  Maybe on top of Everest.  Otherwise, I think this is a bit fanciful.

No disrespect to your gramp, but to accept this story as is, at face value, requires a fair amount of suspension of disbelief.  Memories fade over time.  Stories get embellished.  For example...the famous story of WWII GI's snapping the M1 Garand clip with their fingers and throwing it on the ground to make the "ping" sound to trick Germans into thinking they were empty...pure fantasy.   My own grandfather brought back a 1911A1 from the CBI theater.  I heard him tell the story of how he brought it back at least a dozen times throughout the 80 and 90's when I was a kid.  When he finally gave it to me a few years before he died he changed the story.  Told a completely different story that nobody in my family had ever heard before.  For my own satisfaction, I had to have my gram ask him when they were alone which was the actual story.  She confirmed it was the original story.   I can only speculate, but I think he changed it to protect me when he gave it to me, as he brought it home under ill-gotten and nefarious means.  

 

Could your gramp have ended up on an Island in the Pacific hiking around for pleasure?  I have no idea.  I find that hard to believe.  But who knows.  Times were different back then.  Somehow he found a body 7 years later that graves registration missed?  Again, hard to believe, but sure IF he was there I suppose a body could have been washed out of the black sand over the years.  Can't imagine it was anything more than bones.  So...IF he was there and DID INDEED find a body with a Thompson, I question how he was allowed to then bring it back on the ship and keep it throughout his tour as an enlisted man.  That seems hard to believe.  But again...times were different and who knows.  I have learned that sometimes the unbelievable actually does happen under the exact right circumstances....and a little luck. 

 

Your gramp sounds like a great man...a 2 war vet.  Like my gramp's story, do you have any family members that can help you fill in the pieces?   

 

 

 

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I worked with a WWII vet back in the 80's that brought home a Thompson and an MP40.  Lots of weapons like that were smuggled home.  And lots were thrown over the sides of ships when word that a surprise inspection was coming got passed around.  Nobody wanted to get caught with something that might delay their discharge!

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The family members of one of the veterans I wrote about in my first book mentioned that the veteran (a Navy officer) brought back a "fully automatic grease gun" from WW2. They didn't elaborate on it or offer to show me...so I can't verify if they still had it or what the current status was. I would have LOVED to have seen it...but I wasn't going to push something like that (and it might have been long gone anyway). 

 

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LE LOUP DES MERS
10 hours ago, bigschuss said:

 

???  Where are there plenty of stories about hikers finding bodies sitting there "perfectly intact" after 70 years?  Maybe on top of Everest.  Otherwise, I think this is a bit fanciful.

No disrespect to your gramp, but to accept this story as is, at face value, requires a fair amount of suspension of disbelief.  Memories fade over time.  Stories get embellished.  For example...the famous story of WWII GI's snapping the M1 Garand clip with their fingers and throwing it on the ground to make the "ping" sound to trick Germans into thinking they were empty...pure fantasy.   My own grandfather brought back a 1911A1 from the CBI theater.  I heard him tell the story of how he brought it back at least a dozen times throughout the 80 and 90's when I was a kid.  When he finally gave it to me a few years before he died he changed the story.  Told a completely different story that nobody in my family had ever heard before.  For my own satisfaction, I had to have my gram ask him when they were alone which was the actual story.  She confirmed it was the original story.   I can only speculate, but I think he changed it to protect me when he gave it to me, as he brought it home under ill-gotten and nefarious means.  

 

Could your gramp have ended up on an Island in the Pacific hiking around for pleasure?  I have no idea.  I find that hard to believe.  But who knows.  Times were different back then.  Somehow he found a body 7 years later that graves registration missed?  Again, hard to believe, but sure IF he was there I suppose a body could have been washed out of the black sand over the years.  Can't imagine it was anything more than bones.  So...IF he was there and DID INDEED find a body with a Thompson, I question how he was allowed to then bring it back on the ship and keep it throughout his tour as an enlisted man.  That seems hard to believe.  But again...times were different and who knows.  I have learned that sometimes the unbelievable actually does happen under the exact right circumstances....and a little luck. 

 

Your gramp sounds like a great man...a 2 war vet.  Like my gramp's story, do you have any family members that can help you fill in the pieces?   

 

 

 

He really did bring home a M1A1 Thompson that is 100% true. However him finding the body I'm unsure how true that is, like you said stories get twisted, I'll ask my dad to see if he knows if there is possibly a second story floating around. Or Maybe my dad heard it wrong years ago. like I said, I can confirm that he really did bring home a full auto Thompson but I'll ask again if him finding the body is true.

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The Rooster

About 10 years ago? Was a story in the local newspaper about someone remodeling a house and they found a Thompson in the wall.

They turned it into the police.

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My favorite Thompson story involved the young couple that put an ad out for their coming Garage Sale:

 

"Saturday, 9am to 4pm:  Baby clothes, stroller, tools, records, Thompson submachine gun... "

 

About Thursday night the ATF came knocking at the door.  They apologized for being early for the garage sale, but could they please see the Thompson that they had advertised?

 

The couple brought it straight to them.  Reportedly the agent said "Okay, since you advertised this in a public newspaper, we are going to assume you had no idea what you were doing.  If it's alright with you, we are going to take this away, and then we don't have to charge you for unlawful possession.  Would that be okay?"

 

Needless to say, the couple had one less item at their advertised sale, and probably a number of disappointed buyers!

 

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bigschuss
58 minutes ago, LE LOUP DES MERS said:

He really did bring home a M1A1 Thompson that is 100% true. However him finding the body I'm unsure how true that is, like you said stories get twisted, I'll ask my dad to see if he knows if there is possibly a second story floating around. Or Maybe my dad heard it wrong years ago. like I said, I can confirm that he really did bring home a full auto Thompson but I'll ask again if him finding the body is true.

 

You got to wonder where that thing is now!  You also wonder what condition it was in.  Seven years sitting out in the salt air of the Pacific probably did a job on it.  

 

 

 

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LE LOUP DES MERS

My grandfather lived in Redlands California at the time (he lived there until he died in the early 2000) when he brought the Thompson home/later in life traded it for a motorcycle. So, if you read any old or maybe new story involving a full auto Thompson in that area of California. Then that very well could be the Thompson my grandfather once owned. Also, my mistake for not putting this in the op with the story. But I'm unsure if him finding the body is complete fantasy or if it actually happened, I thought I put that explanation in there but didn't. However, as soon as I can confirm with family if a body was found or not then I'll let everyone know. 

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Ryan Reese
1 hour ago, bigschuss said:

 Seven years sitting out in the salt air of the Pacific probably did a job on it.  

 

 

 

Yeah… that’s the very first thing that came to mind when I read the story. Not trying to pile on negative comments at all and I can appreciate him sharing the story. 
 

No matter how I slice it, that gun would be toast. The wood would be rotten off completely after 4+ years and the action would not move at all. I’m certain that the ATF wouldn’t even want to look at it, let alone someone with a motorcycle for sale/trade. 
 

I found a Walther P99 under a tree a while back. It wasn’t even buried in the dirt and they were still new guns at the time. So if the gun was brand new, right after the release date then thrown there, it could only have been there for 2-3 years max. I’m the slide was completely rusted shut and it seemed like the mag was welded in there. I soaked it in WD40, beat on it with a hammer and nothing broke loose. I can’t imagine a rifle being anything but a rusty wall hanger after that much time outside.
 

Sincere respect to all of the grandpas out there through. We all know that we’d like to hear one more story from them. 

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DiGilio

Sounds like the thompson may have had more to do with the Korean war than WW2. The chaos in Korea would have led to a lot of off the books weapons floating around. 

 

For reasons stated previously, a scenario such as this seems much more likely to me. 

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Dirt Detective

Some new wood and a couple weeks soaking in oil. Be good as new.

pile of Thompsons.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...
dmar836

I used to work with a guy who's grandfather brought home a Thompson as well. Filled it with concrete but that wasn't enough. I didn't have the guts to inquire too much more about it as I was afraid I might end up with it!

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