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Old 05-14-2021, 02:52 PM
DukeIronHand DukeIronHand is offline
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 68
Default Actual 1903 combat use in WW2?

Seems like Iíve seen it hinted about extensively, seen them in pics, but have never seen the hard numbers. I know early war the Ď03 was dominant especially for the USMC.
Just forming a general impression from reading:
Was the (not exclusive) use 1903 in combat infantry units pretty typical (or maybe not unusual) up until mid-1944 when Garand numbers finally became dominant and/or exclusive for the ground-pounders? With units until that time operating a mixed bag of rifle types? Is mid-44 even a good cut-off?
And would this be the 1903 and not the 1903A3? Or did some A3ís make the trip?
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Old 05-14-2021, 03:29 PM
ZvenoMan ZvenoMan is offline
Join Date: May 2011
Location: BHM AL
Posts: 4,636

It's tough to put generalizations on that.
Units will always try to standardize for all the obvious reasons, so having a mix of primary service rifles is not optimum. But as one was replacing the other, that was not always possible.
Infantry (Army or Marne) being a top-down organizational structure will vary form one nit to another based on the desire for standardization and the actual supply situation.
The 1903A3 followed the 1903 in production, so it's use should be obvious. A3s most certainly were in common use.
Some units were Garand only in 1942, others not until 43 or maybe 44. And being a war with a million variables and some resistance to the newfangled I'm sure some got hold of Garands well before their unit did, as well as kept their 1903s long after they were gone.
In the Army alone there were 68 Infantry Divisions......


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Old 05-14-2021, 04:14 PM
Roadkingtrax Roadkingtrax is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Arizona
Posts: 8,620

Brazil used them in Italy. (sorry for image size)

1903a3's as well.

Last edited by Roadkingtrax; 05-14-2021 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 05-14-2021, 05:09 PM
2761377 2761377 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: the V ring
Posts: 391

you would be very hard pressed to find evidence of 1903/a3 use by Army Infantry units after the fall of the Philippines.

National Guard infantry units had Garands on Guadalcanal as early as October, 1942. clearly, the War Department prioritized getting M1's to infantry headed to combat. Engineers, signals and the like not so much.
ID is not my rifle's s/n
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Old 05-14-2021, 05:41 PM
RHScott RHScott is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: NC
Posts: 363

36th Div Italy 1943. Most in the pix are 1903 rifles with a few M1s shown. Up front is a 1903A4

You don't need to be perfect, just better than your competition.

Last edited by RHScott; 05-14-2021 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 05-14-2021, 07:15 PM
Firstflabn Firstflabn is offline
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: FL
Posts: 816

Same old question, same old answers. The reason you "have never seen the hard numbers" is because no one has engaged in the research to produce it. A pic here, an anecdote there answers a different question than the broad one you asked.

Many many hours in the archives would be required to begin to produce the numbers you are talking about, so it's not a surprise no one has undertaken the task.

If you wanted to look at loss reports as an imperfect proxy for usage, then consider this:

In the first 8 weeks of the ground campaign in France, First US Army (the only game in town during that period) reported the loss of Garands to '03s (excluding the 03a4) as 22:1; carbines to '03s about 13:1.

Draw whatever inference you wish from that.
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Old 05-14-2021, 07:31 PM
Tommiep54 Tommiep54 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Sylvania, Ohio
Posts: 472

I wonder what happened to the Brazillian 03a3's etc. Anyone know?

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Old 05-14-2021, 08:54 PM
Rick the Librarian Rick the Librarian is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: NW Washington State
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I can only speak for the Pacific, for that I know something about. Most of the infantry outfits, like in Hawaii and the Philippines had been equipped with M1s by the outbreak of war. M1903s were still available in some quantity for artillery units, engineers, coast artillery, etc. Also, quantities were used as grenade launching platformed.

Most Marine "infantry" were equipped with M1903s through the end of 1942. Some specialized units like the Raiders had M1s.
"We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst."
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Old 05-14-2021, 09:00 PM
Milwroad Milwroad is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 224

Only the 2nd Raiders had M1s. 1st Raiders had 03s until late 1942/early 43
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Old 05-14-2021, 10:15 PM
gnoahhh gnoahhh is offline
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Annapolis, MD
Posts: 26

I had an uncle who as an infantry scout in the 1st Infantry Div kept his '03 in hand throughout the war. He was a 1940 draftee due to go home at Christmas '41...

He claimed that his MO was one of the few that were allowed to choose their weapon of choice rather than issued something and told to use it. Truth? I don't know but he claimed to have carried a Springfield through N.Africa, Sicily, Normandy, and beyond. (Made some sort of Sgt. rank, and wounded three times. POW for 10 days after Kasserine Pass, and escaped back to American lines. One of three guys left standing out of original company that shipped out in '42, until he caught his ticket home in the Huertgen Forest. - The main reason I've had a lifelong affinity for the '03.)
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