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Carbines Are Handy

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    Posted: Jul 31 2022 at 10:05am

Carbines Are Handy


     From a 1944 Signal Corps newsletter, an unnamed battalion wire chief describes in his own words an engagement with the Germans where his section was called upon for the first time to use weapons they had been carrying for months.

"Normally, Battalion wire section personnel are not called upon to fight because we usually just had the job of laying wire to the companies and to the division and we let the rifle companies do all the fighting.  We were supposed to carry M1’s but they were too heavy and cumbersome, so we all managed to get carbines.  Once we really had to fight to protect ourselves and that was the only time, I fired a weapon all the while I was in Europe.

     Early this year, the 4th Division had taken the German town of Branscheid and elements of the 90th went in a night to relieve the 4th so they could move on up.  There were a helluva lot of pill boxes all around the town and the men from the 90th started to occupy them.  I was ordered to take 11 men and go into town to find a good spot to set up our battalion CP and start laying wire.

     We got in there about 0530 when it was still dark and decided to wait in our jeep until it got light.  While we sat there in the street, I heard a lot of rumpus and jabbering down the street and after listening for a while I decided they were Jerries.  We ducked into a small stone house that had a good view of the street and waited.  The jabbering continued and then it got light enough to see.  It sure was a funny sight.  There was about a company of Jerries with a captain in the lead walking in a column of threes, just like on a parade ground, coming up the street.  I guess they didn’t know we had taken the town.

     The men in the pill boxes couldn’t shoot because the ports all faced toward the outside of town so we were the only ones that could fire on them.  I told my wire men to open fire with their carbines.  We picked off several of them before they could take cover.  They started sneaking up on us and a few got way up to the door of the house before we knocked them off.  The Jerry captain began hollering in English, Come out with your hands over your head. 

     I told him to go to hell and we kept on potting at them.  We must have got about 20 and then 2 tank destroyers came down the street spraying with their .50’s.  That was all they could take and the captain came out with his hand over his head, followed by the rest of the company.  The captain told me half of his company were casualties and it was useless to go on.  I guess there were about 60 of them who surrendered to the 11 of us and they sure looked mad when they saw how few we were.  They were good-looking Jerries, too none of these Russian or Czech forced fighters.  Anyhow, after that we never did complain because the Old Man made us carry carbines." 

Unrelated from the above story, but from the same newsletter.

Signal Corps in the Pacific

"The wire teams consisted of four men, two of whom acted as guards while the other two laid wire. The guards were supplied with carbines or tommy guns while the linemen carried pistols because they interfered less with their movements."

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