Browning Automatic Rifle

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Browning Automatic Rifle

Clive Bassett
Unless I have missed it I do not believe that mention has yet been made of the issue, also training at Coleshill, of the Browning Automatic Rifle, late 1940. This is an interesting American manufactured weapon, though of limited use due weight and the fairly low magazine capacity. I am not sure if the pattern issued to the Auxiliary Units came with the bipod, or without. I will attach an extract of an original document that mentions the BAR. The BAR was available prior to the Thompson Sub-Machine Gun. Regards, Clive.
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Clive Bassett
The pattern of BAR used by the Auxiliary Units was the M1918 or the M1918A1. Both these versions had selective fire, semi-automatic and full automatic. The subsiquent pattern, M1918A2, first issued in 1940, could only fire full automatic. Just realsied this when reading the extract below. Regards, Clive.
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Clive Bassett
A typical early Wartime handbook for the BAR and an inert .30-06 Cartridge. Regards, Clive.
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Clive Bassett
Illustration of the M1918 BAR from the booklet above. Regards, Clive.
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Richard Ashley
   Folks,
     Reference to the Browning Automatic Rifle. As per the Rifle P17, of course, both arms took the '30-06 round, bigger and more powerful than our 303". The M1918 BAR was a splendid rifle as was to be expected from any arm designed by John Moses Browning. At 15.5 pounds empty, it was a heavy bit of kit. Issued to the Aux-Units early on, it was generally replaced by the Thompson, itself no lightweight. I think when we talk of firearms, we need to bear in mind the role of an Aux-Unit patrol. Once a 6 man team had left their O.B., in blackout, most likely without ambient light from moon or stars, they could well be operating alone untill they re-grouped later back at their O.B. I don't know how many reading this have ever fired a pistol or revolver, let alone a full bore firearm and without ear defenders (pardon ?) In the still of night, firing anything using ammunition can be most alarming and ear damagingly loud ! You would be quite sure they had heard that in Berlin if you fired it in England ! Add to that muzzle flash, the sheet of flame from the gap between cylinder and barrel on a revolver or the firework display both from muzzle and ejection port of a machine carbine let alone the bang,crack as bullets broke the speed of sound, everyone must have heard that. And, those are just pistol calibre arms ! However, to be daft enough to fire a full bore rifle or the B.A.R., in the midst of an invading German army who have just rolled their way through Europe unopposed, your life could be measured in seconds no doubt after pulling the trigger.
   This was why Major N.V. Oxenden said that anything other than the Welrod (firearms wise) should not be taken on patrol or operations was, talking very wisely although by the time the superb Welrod became available, it would have arrived too late for most Aux-Units. Carrying of any arms on patrol would have been an absolute last ditch him or me situation, far better perhaps leaving such arms back in the O.B. where they could have been used when all else had failed.
   In reality, Welrod aside, it was perhaps down to the lowly .22" moderated rifle to be carried operationally, difficult to trace direction from which a thud came from therefore giving the firer the slim chance of getting away to face another day.
               I do hope this generates further replies.
                                     Regards,
                                             Richard Ashley.
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

CART Web Monitor
Administrator
Everything you said makes sense Richard.

Just because things may have been issued it did not mean that the men wanted to use them !!

An interesting discussion this.
Kind Regards,

CART Team
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Clive Bassett
Some good points and observations Richard, however those that wrote the instructions for the Auxiliary Units at the time of inception in 1940 did not have the same opinions. The possible use of the BAR was an option and at the time a carefully considered part of the initial training programme. I am sure that as progress was made, and with the involvement of Major N.V.Oxenden, the "rules of engagement" (or non-engagement more likely) were changed and adapted. The extract of equipment is interesting, how about the use of a Knobkerrie and a Dirk! A time before the introduction of the FS Knife and other weapons. Regards, Clive.
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Richard Ashley
  Quite right Clive, thanks for your reply. As to knobkerries and dirks, they would have been fine additions on a patrol especially given that in 1940, the Great War was only 22 years before with all that honed to perfection trench raiding. As to the BAR being used to "cover a withdrawl", that would have made perfect sense in 1940. We are looking at this with the wonder of hindsight which is fortunate but wrong if we are critical for the wrong reasons of decisions made at the time. As for Major Oxenden's comments, these were made much later and were very valid but unatainable given that the Welrod was not made in sufficient numbers to blanket equip the Aux-Units. Certainly a .30-06 bullet from the BAR would seriously spoil your day, however, in the midst of the German invasion force, the chances of a Long Service medal would have been slim !
                              Richard.
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Matt Gibbs
Regarding the early days equipment for such as 12th Observation Corps I imagine a degree of ingenuity from the older hands who'd been in WW1 would have been used in creating such familiar items as the home made trench raiding clubs etc. I'm sure one of you will know what kind of knives were available on the market at the time for the shooting and fishing enthusiasts, plus gamekeepers [and poachers!] etc, which could be bought openly on the market by civilians and then adapted.
There wasn't [I believe] a small arms training pamphlet on the BAR but there was a small booklet entitled Instructional Notes which covered it. I suppose this would have sufficed to train the Aux Units, it was certainly on issue to the Home Guard. Plus the Gale and Polden and other quasi-official booklets. [Nice one Clive. I have that orange one also].
Its certain that weapons such as the light machine gun and even Sten don't appear to be favoured in Auxilier veterans accounts as weapons of choice.
I love that typewritten item you've posted Clive, what is the source, if I may ask. Paperwork collecting is one of my main interests.
Regards
Matt
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Clive Bassett
There is an official British 1940 Manual for the BAR and will post an image of it later in the week. The extracts of the typewritten notes I have used in my posting are all, as far as I can recall, from the National Archives at Kew. I am not really sure what is available there on the Aux Units, however I suspect it will not be too much, also heavily vetted and "weeded out" over the years. My occasional visits there have been SOE and Jedburgh related, fairly rewarding but takes a time to work out where the information is, and in which files it can be located. Hopefully the visit on the 20th February will be informative and some interesting information will be found. Regards, Clive.
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Matt Gibbs
Thanks for the info Clive. There are a few PRO file search results for paperwork files with "correspondance" in them, but no further details, so who knows what gems might be found.
Saturday at the PRO will be a busy day for whomever is going. I hope at least 1 person is already registered with a readers ticket before hand so files can be pre-requested, and save quite a bit of time.
Sadly I've not got a reader ticket. I'm hoping I can get time to come along though. Just finding out what else is going on!
Regards
Matt
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Clive Bassett
The time it takes to obtain a readers ticket Matt varies depending on the volume of folk visiting, by and large should not be too lengthy a process. Best to go as early as you can though. The ticket is valid for at least two years, reminds me, need to check when mine expires. Also ask the staff there for any files that may contain Aux Unit information, your trail has been walked before. Usually there is about a 20 minute wait for files that you request, from memory three can be ordered at one time. The more who attend the better the opportunity to examine a larger quantity of files. If you have not visited before then you are certainly in for a treat! As a side-track, one of my favorite films is "Now it can be told", originally "School for danger". For me the best film made, at the time, of SOE Agents and a recreation-composite of their missions. The main characters are Felix and Cat, played by Harry Ree and Jacqueline Nearne. I ordered thier personnel files when I last visited and to be able to read them was truly amazing and a great privilege. Anyway, good hunting! Regards, Clive.
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

CART Web Monitor
Administrator
Both Paula and I will have readers tickets before we go.

We need to compile a list of all relevant documents so we can pre order them and also a list of other members who wish to attend.

Ideas anyone?
Kind Regards,

CART Team
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Clive Bassett
This is the small bookelet I was thinking of Matt. An official War Office publication dated 28th August 1940. Distribution ; Per Browning Automatic Rifle... One Copy. Almost certainly this booklet would have been seen and used by the early members of the Auxiliary Units.

Good to hear that you will have your Readers tickets prior to your visit to the Archives Tom, certainly will save some time. I am not at all sure where the Aux material will be, the computer search facility will be the way to go, also asking the staff there for any leads or clues. It may also need a bit of lateral thinking, some information can be found where least expected. Apart from Auxiliary Units, looking into files for GHQ Home Guard may have some information. I do suspect that anything really "unusual" would have been long ago removed, if it existed in the first place. Have you contacted the Museum at Parham, I guess some of thier members will have been there? I am sure you will have fun and will find something though.

Regards, Clive.
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Peter D Antill
In reply to this post by Clive Bassett
Hi all

below is a picture I took at the Infantry Weapons Collection at the Infantry Training School, Warminster showing two BARs. Most of the cartridges of that time were full-power rifle rounds, the British .303 (7.7 x 56mm rimmed), German 7.92 x 57mm, American .30-06 (.30 calibre, introduced in 1906, hence 30-06, or for the more metrically minded - 7.62x63mm), Russian 7.62x54mm rimmed, Japanese 7.7x58mm and French 7.5x54mm, so unless the rifle was of a 'decent' weight which absorbs the recoil energy, the recoil was always going to be substantial. Owning a British .303 No. 1 Mk. III SMLE, a 7.62x54R Russian Mosin-Nagant M1891/30, a German 7.92x57mm Mauser Kar98k and an Argentine 7.65x53mm Mauser, the Kar98k is always the one that seems to have the most recoil as it seems to be the lightest out of the four.




Peter
Peter D Antill (Researcher, Centre for Defence Acquisition, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom) "We seek a free flow of information... we are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people." JFK, 21 Nov 1963
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Scallywag Steve
As Richard states the effects of automatic or single fire esecially at night are no more than disorientating and a give away, having fired live at night you have to pretty unlucky to be hit.
I remember speaking to Bob (Millard) (bet he doesn't remember speaking to me as much) at Parham some years back and he told us their aim would be to go to targets with a sten and 60 rounds (2 mags.) if you couldn't fight your way out with that you shouldn't be there in the first place, Sounds like the best guidance you can have.
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Peter D Antill
In reply to this post by Richard Ashley
Hi all

just to emphasie what Richard said, the P17, BAR and Garand all used the .30-06 cartridge. Stepping back slightly, the P14 started life as the P13, an experimental rifle firing the .276 / 7mm cartridge, a round developed due to the experience we had in the Boer War where the British Infantry armed with Lee Metfords were outranged / outshot by the Boers armed with 7x57mm M1895 Mauser rifles (I hope to get a 7mm Mauder at some point). However, problems with the cartridge had not been resolved by the time the First World War erupted (including excessive recoil and substantial flash) and so these rifles were rechambered for the good old .303, becoming the P14. With demand far outstripping supply, the two US firms, Remington and Winchester, were both contracted to make the P14 from 1915 onwards. They were found to be less reliable in trench conditions that the No. 1 Mk III SMLE (mud clogged up the bolt action easier than the SMLE) and so were gradually phased out as greater numbers of SMLEs became available. Some were retained as sniper rifles due to their excellent accuracy.

The P17 was in fact a variant of the P14, but in .30-06 calibre. When the USA entered the First World War, it needed a weapon to supplement the M1903 Springfield and so manufactured large numbers of P17s. After the war all these weapons were put into storage on both sides of the Atlantic but with the outbreak of the Second World War and the Blitzkrieg in the West leading to the evacuation from Dunkirk, the P14s were re-issued to the Home Guard. The P17s, which were obtained as part of the Lend-Lease arrangement between the UK and USA, were also issued from 1941 onwards. To distinguish the two, I understand that they were identified by either a small brass circle stock plate with regimental numbers (the P-14) or by a red stripe painted on either the stock or foregrip (the P-17 - which incidentally also lacked the brass plate).

A P-14:



A P-17:



A comparison of .303 and 30-06 cartridge cases:



all the best

Peter
Peter D Antill (Researcher, Centre for Defence Acquisition, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom) "We seek a free flow of information... we are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people." JFK, 21 Nov 1963
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Auxilier
In reply to this post by Scallywag Steve
Hi Steve,

Were you a member of the reinactment group I recall talking to?

Given the BAR at 18ibs, the Thompsin at 11lbs and the Sten at 6.5lbs and their comparative bulj tje Sten is an obviois choice.

The Bath Admiralty patrols had a BAR. We hadd a Thom[son with a 50 round drum and five 20 round stick mags. We did not like the 50 drum as ir was heavy and rattlede. By taping two stick nags end to end you had a more convenient 4o round capacity.                              

Cheers,

Bob


 


Kind Regards

Bob Millard
Email:bob@millardr.freeserve.co.uk
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Scallywag Steve
Bob
Hello i'm honoured you remember us, yes we talked for a while at Parham with the late [shocked] Geoff Bradford, always good to talk to the men that did this job and get the official snippets of information, that line i quoted i used in my talk about A.U.
Steve Ponte. H.G. and Brockadale A.U. patrol reenactors




________________________________
From: Auxilier [via Coleshill House - Auxiliary Unit Forum] <ml-node+444478-1353016396-153398@n3.nabble.com>
To: Scallywag Steve <smandab@btinternet.com>
Sent: Friday, 12 March, 2010 18:16:47
Subject: Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Hi Steve,

Were you a member of the reinactment group I recall talking to?

Given the BAR at 18ibs, the Thompsin at 11lbs and the Sten at 6.5lbs and their comparative bulj tje Sten is an obviois choice.

The Bath Admiralty patrols had a BAR. We hadd a Thom[son with a 50 round drum and five 20 round stick mags. We did not like the 50 drum as ir was heavy and rattlede. By taping two stick nags end to end you had a more convenient 4o round capacity.                              

Cheers,

Bob


 



Kind Regards

Bob Millard
Email:bob@millardr.freeserve.co.uk

________________________________

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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

CART Web Monitor
Administrator
Peter Antill has now added a page all about the Browning to our site.

It can be seen here 
Kind Regards,

CART Team
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Re: Browning Automatic Rifle

Robert Walsh
In reply to this post by Clive Bassett
Despite its length, weight, bright muzzle flash and the sheer noise when fired (especially on fully automatic) the BAR did have its adherents. If I remember rightly, no less a crook than the infamous Clyde Barrow was a confirmed devotee of the BAR for its sheer firepower.