Pete's random thoughts

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day 2008

I haven't posted here in a while. Too many distractions, not enough hours in the day. Rick and Bill reminded me to get busy and write. Much to talk about and no idea where to begin. I guess what I should do is just pick up where I left off.

Today is November 11th, Veteran's Day. Where did the summer go? Being too busy to keep up with blogs is a spoiled American problem, not a real one. In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the conflict known as the First World War ended. Those folks knew what real problems were!

Unfortunately, I don't have the time or space here to write a whole lot about it. You are just going to have to visit the library and read up on the particulars. What I will do, however, is show off a few of the WW1 items in our collection. Click on the photo above to see a larger version.

The picture shows some of the WW1 vintage items I was able to round up on short notice. There are more, but they are packed away at the moment.

Starting from the lower left and moving clockwise, we have...

-French Model 1886 Lebel rifle, 8mm. This was the first smokeless powder military rifle. This particular one was modified into a carbine in 1935. Originally it would have been much longer. I found an original sling for it.

-German Model 1888 Mauser rifle, 7.92mm. This rather battered specimen is in sad shape, but I will probably be in worse shape when I am 120 years old.

-US Model 1917 rifle, .30-06. The US entered the war without sufficient arms in store, so to hurry up the process we borrowed this design from the British P14 rifle. The British rifle is basically the same gun, only in .303 caliber. This is the type of rifle Sgt. York used to help capture 100+ Germans while capturing 30+ German machine guns. (google Alvin York)

-US Model 1903 rifle, .30-06. The US also copied the German Mauser design. The 03 Springfield is an accurate shooting rifle that saw use up into the WW2 era. This one has an original 1918 dated leather sling.

-The group photo is of the 16th infantry, taken in Framingham, MA in 1918. This was rescued from the leaky attic of a barn and we'll attempt to clean it up someday.

-The magazine is British from 1917. The cover photo is of a French military cyclist with a carrier pigeon basket on his back. Walkie-talkies were still a few decades off, and homing pigeons were still in common use. More on carrier pigeons in another post.

-The smaller artillery shell is a 37mm. It is dated 1917 and is probably US Navy in origin.

-The larger artillery shell is German, dated 1915. Haven't gotten around to finding out what type of gun it was fired from.

-The camouflage painted helmet is US issue. The liner is missing, but the leather strap remains.

-The small pointy item in front of the doughboy helmet is a caltrop. These were scattered on the ground to wound the feet of infantrymen and horses. Remember that most cargo was still hauled by draft horses! This one came out of a barn in France.

-The helmet at the three o'clock position is French. It is in relic condition. There would have been a metal badge mounted on the front of it. There is a bullet hole in it that entered in the right rear and exited through the left front. Helmets were meant to stop shrapnel and had little effect against a direct hit from a modern high-powered rifle bullet like the Mauser fired.

-The last item shown is the relic remains of a French canteen.

Eventually, we will be cataloging the items in our collection for better display and plan to upload them to the web to share with everyone. Of course, all of this takes time.

In the meantime, I'd like to invite you all to go see our new website for a new organization, Historical Shooting Inc.

Historical Shooting Inc will be holding a trailwalk type shooting competition in January of 2009. It is to commemorate the Battle of the Bulge, and entrants will get to try various original and reproduction weapons that would have been in use at the battle. Check the HSI website for details!

OK, time to go feed the farm animals.

Never forget the sacrifices made by those who went before us, and remember to give a "thank you" to the men and women who are fighting for us today.