American Rifleman - August 2017 - 53
Just prior to his retirement in 1991, Col.
Charles Waterhouse, USMCR, painted at least
two "Medal of Honor" scenes for the former
Marine Corps History and Museums Division.
After retiring, and at the urging of others, he
re-energized this series, and produced numerous paintings, like this one of Sgt. Matej
Kocak at Soissons, leading French Senegalese
troops with his rifle (M1903 Springfield,
serial number 576472.).
Waterhouse painting, Courtesy of the National Museum of the Marine Corps
mention of them in any known memoirs, correspondence
or accounts leads one to believe that any issue of Enfields
in France was very limited, and most probably only on an
emergency replacement basis. Some may have been brought
over by the last group of replacements to arrive in France.
As such, an Enfield in the 4th Marine Brigade would have
been somewhat of a rarity.
Corporal John H. Pruitt is among the many Marines
who received decorations for valor while using his M1903
Springfield rifle (serial number 171397). Pruitt's citation
for the Medal of Honor reads: "For extraordinary gallantry
and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while
serving with the 78th Company, 6th Regiment, 2d Division,
in action with the enemy at Blanc Mont Ridge, France,
October 3, 1918. Cpl. Pruitt single-handed attacked 2
machine guns, capturing them and killing 2 of the enemy.
He then captured 40 prisoners in a dugout nearby. This gallant soldier was killed soon afterward by shellfire while he
was sniping at the enemy."
Slovakian-born Sgt. Matej Kocak, another Marine who
was awarded the Medal of Honor, rushed a German machine
gun nest with his rifle (serial number 576472) and fixed
bayonet during the July 1918 Battle of Soissons, drove off
the crew and then led a group of French colonial Senegalese
troops in a successful attack on another machine gun nest.
At the same battle, Sgt. Louis Cukela, another recent
immigrant-this one from Croatia-also used a Springfield
rifle (serial number 381782), with its M1905 bayonet
attached, to capture several German machine gun nests. In
addition to the M1905 bayonet, with its 16" blade, Marines
also used the French Viviens-Bessière (or "VB") rifle
Marines made good use of the rifle grenades that
they were trained to use, while in the "Defensive
Sector" during the Spring of 1918. This French
Tromblon grenade launcher (r.) was recovered in
recent years from a battlefield near Verdun, and it
shows the effects of battle damage, as well as age.
While accompanying Brig. Gen. Smedley D. Butler on a post-Armistice tour of the
USMC battlefields in France, legendary "Ironman" William A. Lee, picked up this
M1903 Springfield rifle (above), and then had it refurbished by the ordnance depot
at Camp Pontanezan, in Brest, France, since it had lain exposed to the elements for
months. The Avis Company of West Haven, Conn., provided replacement barrels (r.)
to ordnance shops at Brest, France, where Lee had his rifle refurbished. Lee, then a
sergeant in the 5th Marine Brigade, went on to a distinguished career in the Marine
Corps (see "Guns of the Banana Wars, Part Two" February 2013, p. 42).