WW2 Bringbacks in New England

C. Stockwell

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Ian at Forgotten Weapons mentioned how US troops from different parts of the country would bring back different types of guns while serving as occupation troops in Germany. We don't have any WW2 bringbacks in my family as my great-grandfather was in the Pacific as an anti-aircraft naval gunner. At least as far as I know.

So, anyone have an idea about what commonly came home to New England after WW2? Ian's comments start @ 13:00.

Walther KKW: Competition Shooting in Nazi Germany
 

C. Stockwell

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Obviously not German, but I have an Arisaka my grandfather brought back - mum intact.
Yeah I was going to say, I would imagine there's more Japanese bringbacks in New England because of the higher rates of USN service here.
 

PappyM3

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Yeah I was going to say, I would imagine there's more Japanese bringbacks in New England because of the higher rates of USN service here.
But Navy personnel have less opportunity to grab something to bring back. Though, there is a disproportionately high number of Marines in New England(Mass at least).

That said, I think there are bringbacks of all types around, even in New England. Arisakas, Nambus, swords, Mauser K98s, vz.24s, Luger P08s, Walter P38s, FN High Powers. I think his mention of .22s being more common bring backs in the Midwest is more unique than most regions. Perhaps some regions favor pistols more than others, but in general I think you’ll see a lot of overlap.
 

Len-2A Training

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My late Father served in Europe during WWII and told me that he boarded the boat back to the US with 5 handguns that were captured. He lost 4 of them gambling on the boat trip across the pond. So I have one that he was able to keep. It was common in WWII.
 

Picton

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But Navy personnel have less opportunity to grab something to bring back. Though, there is a disproportionately high number of Marines in New England(Mass at least).
Sailors didn't grab things off the battlefield, no. But there were pallets of surrendered weapons on the docks of the Pacific just after the war, and sailors just had to choose one and file the paperwork. Frankly, I'd imagine the VAST majority of Army bringbacks happened the same way. If you're patrolling the Hurtgen Forest in the winter of '45 and take a k98 off a dead German, you're not hauling that Mauser around with you through the snow. A pistol, maybe, but not a rifle. You had enough to carry already. Besides, why bother? There were always more dead Germans; you could pick one up later, but you still weren't hauling it around. There were never enough vehicles, and there were more important things to move.

Knowing how the Infantry operated back then, I've always been skeptical of a lot of the "received wisdom" passed down thirdhand through a lot of families about "dad's actual Mauser from the Bulge."

Plus, read Len's post. Who do you think probably fleeced his father out of four of his five pistols on the ship? Sailors got plenty.
 

gerrycaruso

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When I was a kid, a WWII vet who lived a couple of miles away had a Thompson, a 1911 and a hand grenade in a wooden box in his basement. I don't know what became of them. My father in law gave me a few handguns and shotguns he brought back from Germany.
 

Dennis in MA

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I’ve got a few mags of ammo my grandfather brought back from the South Pacific theater. 45 and M1Carbeeeen.
 

daekken

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My grandfather had a bring back from the Pacific theater (he was in anti-aircraft), but unfortunately passed away young and left my mother as an orphan. Sadly, no idea what happened to it. My uncle sold his father's medals, to add insult to injury. I do have his US Army uniform, however.
 

one-eyed Jack

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Some years ago a young friend of the family came to me with a nice MP 40 bring back and a mag loaded with 1938 ammo. He wanted to know what it was worth. I told him $100,000 and ten years and get it the hell out of the house. Never knew what happened to it. Probably in an attic somewhere. Jack.
 

SFC13557

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Co-worker served in the Army in South Pacific. He told me he shipped back Jap swords, pistols,etc. and when he received his stuff back in the States all the good stuff was gone. Sailors looted everything.
 

Shark_Cage

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My late Uncle brought back an arisaka but it rusted out over the decades (in the attic) and is gone. In the 80’s we had a neighbor who had a Japanese Officers Sword on his wall. His Dad brought it back, I remember it was quite nice (this was long before the samurai sword fad).
Finally there was a guy who crated up several jeeps in WW2 (dismantled and stored in grease) and shipped them home to an Island in ME. They were untouched when I heard about it in 83. The person who told me lived on the Island and saw them first hand in the guy’s barn.
 
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My grandad, who was a full colonel in the engineers, brought back a whermact officers sword, a p08 and an artillery luger, as well as a couple crates full of other cool battlefield finds such as a stalhelm and a giant swastika flag such as would have been flown outside of some German HQ building. I have the sword but everything else is likely ruined and sitting in the attic of a condemned and falling down garage behind my uncle's house. The lugers were given away decades to a man whos now long dead, so who knows where the hell they are... Profound disrespect for historical artifacts based on disagreement with the regime under which they were produced.
 

PappyM3

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Sailors didn't grab things off the battlefield, no. But there were pallets of surrendered weapons on the docks of the Pacific just after the war, and sailors just had to choose one and file the paperwork. Frankly, I'd imagine the VAST majority of Army bringbacks happened the same way. If you're patrolling the Hurtgen Forest in the winter of '45 and take a k98 off a dead German, you're not hauling that Mauser around with you through the snow. A pistol, maybe, but not a rifle. You had enough to carry already. Besides, why bother? There were always more dead Germans; you could pick one up later, but you still weren't hauling it around. There were never enough vehicles, and there were more important things to move.

Knowing how the Infantry operated back then, I've always been skeptical of a lot of the "received wisdom" passed down thirdhand through a lot of families about "dad's actual Mauser from the Bulge.”
Yes, soldiers aren’t going to be carrying around a rifle while on the front lines. However, I imagine it wasn’t hard to grab one before heading back for refit and mail it home. But yes, your scenario makes sense for a lot of bring backs.

My grandfather was an Infantryman in the Ardennes and pushed up through Belgium to cross the Rhine. He brought back a vz24, Luger, and Highpower. He passed before I was old enough to hear any stories directly from him and I have no idea how he obtained the bring-backs. But he also brought back a German uniform and helmet. Did they have uniforms in piles in the rear too?
 

Picton

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Yes, soldiers aren’t going to be carrying around a rifle while on the front lines. However, I imagine it wasn’t hard to grab one before heading back for refit and mail it home. But yes, your scenario makes sense for a lot of bring backs.

My grandfather was an Infantryman in the Ardennes and pushed up through Belgium to cross the Rhine. He brought back a vz24, Luger, and Highpower. He passed before I was old enough to hear any stories directly from him and I have no idea how he obtained the bring-backs. But he also brought back a German uniform and helmet. Did they have uniforms in piles in the rear too?
Very likely.

Everything was surrendered. Everything. Including warehouses full of uniforms. Supply depots. Factories.

Everything was available for a couple packs of cigarettes. And our GIs were sitting around bored waiting for a ship.
 

SFC13557

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Very likely.

Everything was surrendered. Everything. Including warehouses full of uniforms. Supply depots. Factories.

Everything was available for a couple packs of cigarettes. And our GIs were sitting around bored waiting for a ship.
*****
The REMF'S has access to all the good stuff because as someone said a Grunt didn't want to carry anything more than he needed.
 
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When I was in my C&R collecting hey-day I would regularly find local people who had "uncle Harry's" WWII rifle in the closet. In one case I got a call from a family who wanted to have a rifle removed from the house. I looked it over briefly assuming that it was a "typical" K98 bringback but didn't pay much attention to it. I showed them what some of the suppliers were offering for clean models and offered to pay them that much.....came to a couple of hundred bucks. I didn't collect bolt-action rifles so this went into the closet and I didn't look at it again for a couple of months.

I was at the computer one night and there was a discussion about an early K98 that amazed me because the values they were talking about were well over 4 digits. I went to the closet and retrieved the one I had purchased and slowly came to the realization that it was really something special. The story behind it was that it was a D-Day +2 vet pick up/bring back but those stories have no proof. Think, too, that the +2 would have been difficult for the vet to drag with him as he moved inland but I wasn't going to argue. However, as I examined it, I came to the realization that it was, in fact, an absolutely unmolested K98, absolutely all original, matching, with all the correct markings (1937 S243) example.
closeup top receiver.jpg rifle on brown carpet.jpg

Well, now. That was a horse of a different color. What it also sported, however, was something called a "duffle cut". Uncle Harry, in order to fit into his pack, had to trim the stock to fit after removing the action. However, it was placed under the big ring on the forearm of the stock. When repaired, it would be hidden from view. Believe it or not, that didn't affect the value as much as I thought it would. I put it up for discussion on the K98 forum and was contacted by a couple of serious collectors. One of them made me an offer and away it went. I've since replaced it with an old beater just to have something to burn up my stash of 8mm. I've run across other nice vet bring-backs but this one was the best by far. In a sea of K98s our there, this one was hidden in plain sight!
 

Picton

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Yeah, the provenance is always the difficult bit. Unless Uncle Harry’s still around, and even then, people lie. We don’t like to admit it, but even the Greatest Generation was capable of shading the truth or just staying mum and letting people make their own conclusions. So, we buy the gun and not the story.

I was able to talk to my wife’s grandpa before he passed. He had a satchel of Nazi stuff under his stairs, small things like banners, armbands, an SS dagger and pouches, and his six sons had all decided he’d taken all that stuff off a dead officer. That was their conclusion, their assumption. He just never talked about any of that, for all the same reasons vets don’t talk to civilians.

So once I came into the picture and he found out I’d been deployed, he was pleased when I took an interest in his old unit scrapbook. He’d landed in Operation Anvil (the southern counterpart to DDay) and slugged his way through to the end of the war as an artillery FO. I politely asked about his satchel of stuff, and he just shrugged and replied he’d gotten all of that while he was guarding Nazis in Nuremburg after the war. “Supply and demand,” he said, offhand. “That stuff was all over the place. Hell, I didn’t even know what most of it was or where it came from.”

His kids hadn’t been interested in his story. So why tell it? And if I hadn’t randomly come along at the end of his life, their assumptions would have become “the story.” I think a lot of that goes on.
 

ProGun

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Not New England (he was from NJ), my wife's grandfather brought a German pistol back from Europe. I didn't even know this until recently, but sadly found out my father-in-law (now deceased) gave it to a police officer friend years ago, presumably for disposal[crying]. No doubt, partly a result of being a non-gun owner in NJ.

Not my photo, but all we have now is this nazi medal and it's case along with a few patches.

 

M60

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When I was a kid, my friend Noah and I, wound up in his cellar one day. While there, I noticed a rifle and linked ammo and ammo cans full of ammo. We opened some of the ammo cans and a couple of them contained WW11 hand grenades and the rifle was a Thompson, complete with the stick mag. I was in awe. Noah told me that his dad brought it all home from the war.
 

LLF

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A friend of mine has a WWII Mauser P08 Luger complete with "bring back" papers -- basically permission from a commanding officer authorizing the firearm to return with the serviceman. I've heard Lugers were the most popular bring-backs. I think the most common bring-backs were P.38s. Other popular pistols seemed to be Walther PPs and PPKs, Sauer 38Hs and Mauser HSCs. I'm guessing that handguns were more popular than rifles and submachine guns as they were more portable.
I have seen complete "rigs" -- firearm, holster, belt, original ammunition, papers on various collector sites.
 

Picton

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A friend of mine has a WWII Mauser P08 Luger complete with "bring back" papers -- basically permission from a commanding officer authorizing the firearm to return with the serviceman. I've heard Lugers were the most popular bring-backs. I think the most common bring-backs were P.38s. Other popular pistols seemed to be Walther PPs and PPKs, Sauer 38Hs and Mauser HSCs. I'm guessing that handguns were more popular than rifles and submachine guns as they were more portable.
I have seen complete "rigs" -- firearm, holster, belt, original ammunition, papers on various collector sites.
Yes, pistols were easier in every way. Rifles usually needed the duffel cut Cabinetman talks about in Post 18. Not only do those cuts not decrease the value, they may even enhance it because they are a VERY good indicator that the rifle was a GI bringback. The papers are even better; I'm sure your friend knows this, but whoever ends up selling his P08 will get a premium because it's papered.

This is still the case, pistols being easier. I may or may not know about several troops who may or may not have smuggled pistols home from a far more recent European deployment. Hypothetically. With mags and holsters, even... maybe. Hypothetically.
 
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I have an Arisaka (with mum) that my father-in-law brought back. He was a Navy medic in some of the nastiest battles in the Pacific Theater . It’s a beater, bent and bruised but very much a family heirloom
 

C. Stockwell

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...This is still the case, pistols being easier. I may or may not know about several troops who may or may not have smuggled pistols home from a far more recent European deployment. Hypothetically. With mags and holsters, even... maybe. Hypothetically.
That's the only way we have Tariq pistols on the market. One of those is high on my must-have, all-time collection pieces when I have money to burn.
 
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My grandfather a duffel bag of stuff from WWII. Uniforms, helmets, medals etc. When my parents got married they inherited it and tossed most of it away. Nobody like the Nazis.
All that survived was a Hitler youth dagger, that my dad still has.

My dad brought back a few bullets, a training manual, rations and some medals from Korea. He also took a cool picture of Marilyn Monroe getting off a plane.
 

Picton

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My grandfather a duffel bag of stuff from WWII. Uniforms, helmets, medals etc. When my parents got married they inherited it and tossed most of it away. Nobody like the Nazis.
All that survived was a Hitler youth dagger, that my dad still has.

My dad brought back a few bullets, a training manual, rations and some medals from Korea. He also took a cool picture of Marilyn Monroe getting off a plane.
Those rations... probably still just as good as they were when they were packaged. :cool:
 

Fixxah

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A classmate showed me all his father's war trophies. Pistols, bayonets, and flags. One was like longer than His hallway and was only unrolled part way. Suppoesedly one of the long banners on some headquarters building. The color was incredible.
 

one-eyed Jack

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Way back when I was young and dumb (dumber than now, if possible), I was offered some guns that two old German friends of the family brought over when they migrated to here between the wars. two K98 Mausers and a Luger. I passed because I wanted more "modern" guns. Who's to know? Jack.
 
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