American Rifleman - July 2019 - 53

JOHNSON
of 1941 Johnson Light Machine Guns and 565 Model 55
Reising submachine guns. Although the Marines had not
yet decided on the procurement of any Johnson rifles,
Melvin Johnson "unofficially donated" 23 Model of 1941
rifles to the unit. Johnson later stated that the rifles were
provided on "... more or less lend-lease which developed
into a gift." Marine paratrooper Capt. (later Lt. Col.) Harry
Torgerson stated that these rifles were used by "select
scout-snipers" during the Guadalcanal campaign.
While the handful of Johnson rifles obviously wasn't
a huge part of the Marines' armament, the gun acquitted itself very well in the limited combat role it played
during the campaign. One of the more notable achievements was related in a Dec. 1, 1942, Look magazine article
that detailed the exploits of Platoon Sgt. Harry M. Tully
of the 1st Parachute Battalion, who was awarded a Silver
Star when he used his Johnson rifle to kill 42 Japanese on
Gavutu at ranges up to 800 yds.
In October 1942, the Marine Corps 2nd Parachute
Battalion requested Johnson rifles. Since all of the available
Johnson rifles were the property of the Dutch government,
it was necessary to obtain its permission for procurement. It
is not known why the 2nd Parachute Battalion and not the
1st Parachute Battalion (which had previously received the
23 rifles from Melvin Johnson) requested the Johnson rifles.
In any event, the request was approved, and on Oct. 7, 1942,
650 Model of 1941 Johnson rifles were shipped to the Marine
Corps Quartermaster at the Fleet Marine Force in San Diego,
Calif. It is interesting to note that none of the rifles were
inspected by the Marines prior to shipment.
After being withdrawn from Guadalcanal, the 2nd
Parachute Battalion was posted to Titahi Bay, New Zealand,
for refitting and additional training. Presumably, this was
when the unit received the Johnson rifles that had been
shipped in October 1942.
Not wanting to be left off the Johnson rifle bandwagon,
the 3rd Parachute Battalion also wanted the same number
of rifles that had been sent to the 2nd Parachute Battalion.
However, this request was denied primarily due to the NPC's
refusal to release any more of the Johnson rifles because of

concerns about the safety of the guns based on the failure
of many guns to pass NPC inspection procedures.
On April 1, 1943, the 1st Parachute Regiment was formed
from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Parachute Battalions as part of
the First Marine Amphibious Corps. Although the Marine
paratroopers were never deployed in combat via parachute,
they did make at least one training jump in the Pacific with
their Johnson rifles. The Marine paratroopers saw extensive
combat action in the Solomon Islands campaign, including Guadalcanal, Vella La Vella and Bougainville, and were
employed in much the same manner as the Marine Raiders.
The Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) for
the 1st Parachute Regiment listed an authorized allowance
of 242 Model of 1941 Johnson rifles. These rifles were all
from the lot of 650 previously shipped to the 2nd Parachute
Battalion. The remaining 408 Johnson rifles (650-242) were
presumably never issued. The 1st Parachute Regiment was
the only U.S. military unit to have Johnson rifles officially
issued and reflected in its unit TO&E. It is often claimed
that the Johnson rifles were also used by U.S. Marine Raider
units, but that is not correct. Of course, there could have
been isolated instances when a Johnson rifle was taken
from a wounded or killed Marine paratrooper by a Marine in
another (non-airborne) unit, but there was no official issuance to any unit other than the 1st Parachute Regiment.
The 1st Parachute Regiment Johnson rifles saw their
most extensive use during the brutal and difficult
Bougainville campaign. After the hard-fought Choiseul
operation on Bougainville, Lt. Col. Victor Krulak authored
a report to the commandant of the Marine Corps regarding
the arms used by his Marine paratroopers during the battle.

At least one other Johnson invention went to war. The Johnson Auto-Carbine (above),
employing features of both the rifle and light machine gun, was taken to Bougainville
by Marine Harry Torgerson. For more go to americanrifleman.org/autocarbine.
AMERICANRIFLEMAN.ORG

JULY 2019

53


https://www.americanrifleman.org/autocarbine http://www.AMERICANRIFLEMAN.ORG

American Rifleman - July 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - July 2019

Contents
American Rifleman - July 2019 - Cover1
American Rifleman - July 2019 - Cover2
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 1
American Rifleman - July 2019 - Contents
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 3
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 4
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 5
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 6
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 7
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 8
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 9
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 10
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 11
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 12
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 13
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 14
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 15
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 16
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 17
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 18
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 19
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 20
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 21
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 22
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 23
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 24
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 25
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 26
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 27
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 28
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 29
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 30
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 31
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 32
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 33
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 34
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 35
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 36
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 37
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 38
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 39
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 40
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 41
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 42
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 43
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 44
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 45
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 46
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 47
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 48
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 49
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 50
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 51
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 52
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 53
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 54
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 55
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 56
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 57
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 58
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 59
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 60
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 61
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 62
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 63
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 64
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 65
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 66
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 67
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American Rifleman - July 2019 - 69
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 70
American Rifleman - July 2019 - 71
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American Rifleman - July 2019 - 73
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American Rifleman - July 2019 - 88
American Rifleman - July 2019 - Cover3
American Rifleman - July 2019 - Cover4
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