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Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention

Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention

In reading some of the past articles concerning Marines making various modifications to equipment to suit their needs, I recalled a couple of small things my Dad told me when I was a teen-ager. Dad was a Pfc. with the 3rd Special Weapons Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division.

Growing up in Wyoming, big game hunting was an accepted way of life, especially in small towns. My first deer-hunting rifle was an old military surplus M1903 Springfield still packed in cosmoline. I think I paid a whopping $20 for it back in 1958. Dad and I sat outside his shop next to the house with a cleaning kit, rags, brushes and a large pan of gasoline (anyone who has ever gotten a rifle packed in cosmoline knows that gasoline is about the only sure way of getting all that heavy grease out). He showed me how to strip the '03 all the way down and thoroughly clean each part. This chore must have triggered some memories for as we were sitting there cleaning, he began reminiscing.

He said that on Guadalcanal in 1943, several of the Marines had removed the Springfield's floor plate and spot-soldered a BAR magazine where the floor plate was, giving them 25 rounds instead of the usual five-round clips.

On Guam in 1944, he said, many of the Japanese were drunk during their banzai attacks as the Japanese military had a vast store of liquor on Guam. With the lethal combination of extreme Japanese fanaticism as well as a belly full of liquor, they were harder to stop during an attack even after being hit. Many of the Marines took wire cutters and clipped the tips off the full metal jacket cartridges making them into "dum-dum" rounds. He said that beyond a hundred yards or so they weren't very accurate but God help anything within that range. Modifying rifle cartridges into dum-dum rounds was forbidden by the Rules of the Geneva Convention. However, the Marines agreed that none of the officials in the Geneva Convention were on Guam facing banzai attacks of screaming hordes of drunken Japanese soldiers.

Today's Marines probably wouldn't be all that interested in what our fellow Marines did 70 years ago, but it's a small part of our heritage.

Jack Wise

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