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Did the U.S. Army take Away Lewis Guns from the Marines?

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  • Did the U.S. Army take Away Lewis Guns from the Marines?

    I think I read somewhere that the U.S. Army took away Lewis Guns from the Marines arriving in Europe in WW 1.

    I am aware of the idiotic treatment by U.S. Army of the Lewis gun in the weapons procurement process. I find it to be a great tribute to the Marines that they would man up and adopt the weapon in spite of the Army's strong opposition to the weapon and its designer.

    But has anybody else heard or read that the Army actually took them away from the Marines? Any details? Such as how the Army knew about them and whether they were merely taken from crates or forced out of the Marine's hands?

    Apologies for starting a new thread about this, but I searched and couldnt find anything.
    O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy. And the Lord did grin. And the people did feast upon the lambs, sloths, carp, anchovies, orangutans, breakfast cereals, fruit bats

  • #2
    Originally posted by Blair Maynard View Post
    I think I read somewhere that the U.S. Army took away Lewis Guns from the Marines arriving in Europe in WW 1.

    I am aware of the idiotic treatment by U.S. Army of the Lewis gun in the weapons procurement process. I find it to be a great tribute to the Marines that they would man up and adopt the weapon in spite of the Army's strong opposition to the weapon and its designer.

    But has anybody else heard or read that the Army actually took them away from the Marines? Any details? Such as how the Army knew about them and whether they were merely taken from crates or forced out of the Marine's hands?

    Apologies for starting a new thread about this, but I searched and couldnt find anything.
    I do not know much about your thread Blair but it must have been a fairly good gun to be still in use through the 2nd WW.The armament on the landing craft that I was on was 2 Lewis guns. lcm1
    'By Horse by Tram'.


    I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
    " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Blair Maynard View Post
      I think I read somewhere that the U.S. Army took away Lewis Guns from the Marines arriving in Europe in WW 1.

      I am aware of the idiotic treatment by U.S. Army of the Lewis gun in the weapons procurement process. I find it to be a great tribute to the Marines that they would man up and adopt the weapon in spite of the Army's strong opposition to the weapon and its designer.

      But has anybody else heard or read that the Army actually took them away from the Marines? Any details? Such as how the Army knew about them and whether they were merely taken from crates or forced out of the Marine's hands?

      Apologies for starting a new thread about this, but I searched and couldnt find anything.
      Never heard the story but...think logistics. The USMC fielded a realitivly small force and had to depend on the Army supply chain, which used French MG's and artillery.




      http://weaponsofthemilitary.com/mach...ns-in-the-ww1/

      The US Army never officially adopted the weapon for infantry use[13] and even went so far as to take Lewis Guns away from US Marines arriving in France and replacing them with the cheap, shoddy, and extremely unsatisfactory Chauchat LMG[20]—a practice believed to be related to General Crozier's dislike of Lewis and his gun

      wiki
      Last edited by Half Pint John; 15 Sep 12, 06:21.
      "Ask not what your country can do for you"

      Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

      you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
        Never heard the story but...think logistics. The USMC fielded a realitivly small force and had to depend on the Army supply chain, which used French MG's and artillery.
        Don't think they liked the Chauchat very much though.
        You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace, after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

        -- Ataturk

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Crackshot View Post
          Don't think they liked the Chauchat very much though.
          From the fighting man's perspective there wasn't anything to like. From the pov of generals and politicians having to worry about "the siews of war" over the fate of the undividual soldier, the "Chauchat" was cheap, easy to produce quickly, using semi-skilled labour, and thus quickly available in large numbers.

          The figure I have seen the UK and US together produced 50 000+ Lewis guns in WWI, large proportion of which apparently were slated for arming aircraft, so not as infantry support weapons. The French produced 250 000+ Chauchats otoh.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
            Never heard the story but...think logistics. The USMC fielded a realitivly small force and had to depend on the Army supply chain, which used French MG's and artillery.
            I think it goes without saying that the Lewis gun was a very successful design. Maybe it suffers from a historical perspective because of the proximity of another firearm designer -- Mr. Maxim.

            But I understand that besides nicknaming it the "Belgian Rattlesnake", they were used by the enemy when captured -- possibly the greatest compliment given to a weapon.

            No doubt, logistics would be the excuse to take the weapon away. But it was in widespread use by Britain and whatever was left of the Belgian army, so parts were not unavailable. I guess the caliber problem may have been the final nail in its coffin. The confiscated weapons were presumably 30-06, probably the only caliber of rifle ammo available in US units, and the Brits used .303 Lewis guns. So it wasnt like the Marines could replace the confiscated weapons with ones acquired locally unless ammunition was acquired too.

            I didnt realize the US Marines were such a small part of the force. In that case, this is probably a relatively unimportant issue.
            O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy. And the Lord did grin. And the people did feast upon the lambs, sloths, carp, anchovies, orangutans, breakfast cereals, fruit bats

            Comment


            • #7
              Persing didn't want the Marines in France to begin with. One brigade was assigned to the 2d Infantry Division and the Marines more than proved their combat capability through the US participatioin in the war.

              For some of its combat life, the Marine Brigade was commanded by an army brigadier general, James Harbord. Marine General Lejuene, who was later commandant, commanded the 2d Infantry Division for part of the time in France.

              A second Marine brigade was also sent to France, but was not allowed into combat.

              Sincerely,
              M
              We are not now that strength which in old days
              Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
              Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
              To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Blair Maynard View Post
                I think it goes without saying that the Lewis gun was a very successful design. Maybe it suffers from a historical perspective because of the proximity of another firearm designer -- Mr. Maxim.

                But I understand that besides nicknaming it the "Belgian Rattlesnake", they were used by the enemy when captured -- possibly the greatest compliment given to a weapon.

                No doubt, logistics would be the excuse to take the weapon away. But it was in widespread use by Britain and whatever was left of the Belgian army, so parts were not unavailable. I guess the caliber problem may have been the final nail in its coffin. The confiscated weapons were presumably 30-06, probably the only caliber of rifle ammo available in US units, and the Brits used .303 Lewis guns. So it wasnt like the Marines could replace the confiscated weapons with ones acquired locally unless ammunition was acquired too.

                I didnt realize the US Marines were such a small part of the force. In that case, this is probably a relatively unimportant issue.
                AFAIK the USMC had the 4th BDE iic France attached to an Army Division. This was the major unit.

                From Wiki

                During World War I veteran Marines served a central role in the late American entry into the conflict. Unlike the Army, the Marine Corps had a deep pool of officers and NCOs with battle experience, and experienced a smaller expansion. Here, the Marines fought their famed battle at Belleau Wood, creating the Marines' reputation in modern history. While its previous expeditionary experiences had not earned it much acclaim in the Western world, the Marines' ferocity and toughness in France earned them the respect of the Germans, who rated them of stormtrooper quality[citation needed]. Though Marines and American media reported that Germans had nicknamed them Teufel Hunden as meaning "Devil Dogs", there is no evidence of this in German records (as Teufelshunde would be the proper German phrase), nevertheless, the name stuck.[40] The Corps had entered the war with 511 officers and 13,214 enlisted personnel, and by 11 November 1918 had reached a strength of 2,400 officers and 70,000 men.[41]
                Last edited by Half Pint John; 15 Sep 12, 11:46.
                "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The Marine Brigade in the 2d Infantry Division was not 'attached' to it, but was an integral part of the division. US infantry divisions in War I had two infantry brigades of two regiments each.

                  Sincerely,
                  M
                  Last edited by Massena; 16 Sep 12, 03:55.
                  We are not now that strength which in old days
                  Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                  Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                  To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I read that National Guard units that had Lewis guns managed to keep theirs, probably the ones that fought with the British.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The Lewis gun was used by BEF forces, which includes all the Empire armies and forces. As the US army was more closely integrated with the French army, it would make sense for the US marines, if deployed in a French sector, to surrender their Lewis guns for French kit. If they'd been deployed in a British sector, they would likely have kept it. As HPJ said, logistics. Besides, compared to modern machine guns, they were both rubbish, with the Lewis being slightly less so,

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
                        The Lewis gun was used by BEF forces, which includes all the Empire armies and forces. As the US army was more closely integrated with the French army, it would make sense for the US marines, if deployed in a French sector, to surrender their Lewis guns for French kit. If they'd been deployed in a British sector, they would likely have kept it.
                        Ahh, so then with that logic, the U.S. forces must have also adopted the 8mm Lebel rifle? A good choice especially seeing as that would also allow the adoption of the 8mm Chauchat, which apparently was more reliable than the 30-06 version.
                        O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy. And the Lord did grin. And the people did feast upon the lambs, sloths, carp, anchovies, orangutans, breakfast cereals, fruit bats

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I would think the clincher for adopting the Chauchat was that the French could offer 50 000 of the damn things, i.e. as many pieces of kit as the entire manufacture run of Lewis guns in all armies in WWI.

                          Ideally the AEF would have gone into battley amply supplied with BARs. But it still holds true that a crappy gun available when you need it is still better than a brilliant but unavailable one.

                          Mind, exactly why already issued Lewis guns would be surrendered is mystefying. Practical matters of training and drawing on the French for it? They wouldn't have had much to say about the Lewis gun, and were successfully making the Chauchat do lot of work after all.

                          (And it really is different from the Lebel. One bolt action, and its handling and use, is the same as the next, and their individual side arms was about the only thing the AEF arrived with in France anyway. The French mainly supplied all the other gear + instruction, and frankly at the time the US felt closer to "the other great republic", and held them in higher regard, than the British, who were rivals often as not.)
                          Last edited by Johan Banér; 16 Sep 12, 03:11.

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                          • #14
                            Yes, the BAR was just arriving in small numbers and was being issued as the war ended.

                            Excellent weapon and it proved its worth later.

                            Sincerely,
                            M
                            We are not now that strength which in old days
                            Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                            Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                            To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Johan Banér View Post
                              I would think the clincher for adopting the Chauchat was that the French could offer 50 000 of the damn things, i.e. as many pieces of kit as the entire manufacture run of Lewis guns in all armies in WWI.

                              Ideally the AEF would have gone into battley amply supplied with BARs. But it still holds true that a crappy gun available when you need it is still better than a brilliant but unavailable one.

                              Mind, exactly why already issued Lewis guns would be surrendered is mystefying. Practical matters of training and drawing on the French for it? They wouldn't have had much to say about the Lewis gun, and were successfully making the Chauchat do lot of work after all.

                              (And it really is different from the Lebel. One bolt action, and its handling and use, is the same as the next, and their individual side arms was about the only thing the AEF arrived with in France anyway. The French mainly supplied all the other gear + instruction, and frankly at the time the US felt closer to "the other great republic", and held them in higher regard, than the British, who were rivals often as not.)
                              Now lets be fair about that rivals thing, I don't doubt that it was the same in the first WW as the 2nd WW, a certain amount of Americans were apt to be loudly boastful (sometimes without cause) and bordering at times on the offensive with a few drinks down them,which the average Englishman is apt to get a little irritated over,whether the perpetrator is American or even another countryman but actual rivals, I think not. lcm1
                              'By Horse by Tram'.


                              I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                              " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                              Comment

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