American Rifleman - August 2017 - 54
GUNS OF THE DEVIL DOGS
"Teufelhunden" by Col. Waterhouse shows Cpl. John H. Pruitt
during the action at Blanc Mont Ridge in October 1918, for
which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. The May 2017 issue
of Leatherneck features an article about other works of art in
Waterhouse's "Medal of Honor" series. Pruitt's Medals of Honor are
in the collection of the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
grenades. Originally designed for the 8x50 mm R Model
1886 Lebel rifle, but later adapted to U.S. Springfields and
M1917 Enfields, the cup-shaped attachment at the muzzle
of the rifle was used to launch cylindrical grenades, with
the bullet of a service round going through a small hole in
the grenade and igniting the fuse.
While some later '03s can be attributed to the Marine
Corps by certain characteristics, such as "Hatcher holes,"
electro-engraved numbers and barrel markings, the
Springfield rifles that were issued to Marines during World
War I do not bear any identifying markings, as such. Aside
from research conducted and published by the late Franklin
B. Mallory many years ago, there has not been a serious
attempt to analyze official USMC Quartermaster records of
the period, and to then compile a listing of known serial
numbers. There is no correlation between known serial
numbers and dates of issue-for example, Louis Cukela was
issued Springfield M1903 rifles with serial numbers 576507
and 215359 in prior enlistments, before being issued rifle
number 381782, at least a year before he shipped off for
France. It is known that the Marine Corps received pistols
that are identified by serial number blocks in the pre-World
War I period, but, again, more research needs to be done,
in order to identify all of the World War I-era M1911 pistols
that may have actual Marine Corps provenance.
While enlisted Marines serving as infantry and as supporting troops carried Springfield rifles, Marine officers,
senior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and gunners of
crew-served weapons carried the venerable M1911 Colt
semi-automatic pistol-a firearm that hardly needs any
introduction here. Again, many U.S. Army officers and
men carried yet another stopgap firearm-the Colt or
Smith & Wesson M1917 revolver, also in .45 ACP-but,
with the exception of a military police company in Paris,
Marines were issued the semi-automatic pistols exclusively.
Abandoning their .45 Colt M1909 Colt revolvers in 1912,
the Corps eagerly adopted one of John M. Browning's most
enduring designs-and soon put it to good use. By the
time of World War I, many Marines were carrying their
pistols in M1916 leather holsters, although some pre-war
officers still retained their M1912 mounted holsters (with
some embossed with "USMC" on the flap), while some
other senior NCOs wore M1912 dismounted holsters.
As early as 1915, Marines were using M1911 Colt pistols
in actions that resulted in awards of the Medal of Honor
("Guns of the Banana Wars, Part Two," February 2013,
p. 42), and numerous Marines were cited for gallantry
in actions that involved Colt pistols during World War I.
Perhaps the most famous Marine of World War I, then
1st/Sgt. Dan Daly, used his pistol (serial number 151589)
in the action for which he was awarded both a Navy Cross
and an Army Distinguished Service Cross near Belleau
Wood. After his Springfield rifle (serial number 223688)
was blown from his hands near Belleau Wood (and for
which he grudgingly had to repay the government!), Pvt.
John J. Kelly was issued a pistol to replace it, since after
recuperating from his wounds Kelly was now assigned as
a company runner. Private Kelly used this pistol at Blanc
Mont to kill a German machine gunner and capture the gun
and its crew-a feat for which he was awarded the Medal
of Honor. During an earlier fight at Saint-Mihiel, Kelly also
manned Chauchat automatic rifles on at least two occasions, when their gunners were killed or wounded.
Automatic arms proved to be an interesting story in the
Marine Corps. In the pre-war period, Marines had manned
M1909 Benét-Mercié light "Machine Rifles" and M1895 ColtBrowning heavy "Potato Digger" machine guns ("Guns of the
Banana Wars, Part One," December 2012, p. 54.) However,
both of these machine guns left much to be desired. The
U.S. Army opted to replace its fragile and unreliable BenétMercié machine rifles-and its obsolete M1904 Colt-Maxim
heavy machine guns-with the British-designed Vickers
machine gun (actually, an improved Maxim design) in
1915. However, the Vickers was a heavy, tripod-mounted
and water-cooled gun.
In 1916, (at the urging of Edward B. Cole, the "father"
of Marine Corps machine guns) the U.S. Navy decided to
adopt the Lewis light machine gun, which was then being
manufactured for the British by the Savage Arms Co. in
Utica, N.Y. An American invention, but produced and
used overseas because of a long-standing feud between its
Waterhouse paintings, courtesy of the
National Museum of the Marine Corps