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"Garand in British service" Topic

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Sgt Troy Inactive Member23 Jan 2013 12:21 p.m. PST

I seem to remember seeing a photograph of a British (or possibly Canadian ) soldier in a foxhole with a Garand to hand, I have the impression it was in Northern Europe during the Winter of 1944/45. Am I imagining the thing or was the Garand used by some British or Canadian units?

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member23 Jan 2013 12:30 p.m. PST

There was another thread on this here within the last year or so, so you might want to have a search. No.1 Army Commando certainly used them in the Med and in Burma – at least one other unit of 3 Commando Brigade also got their hands on some in Burma.

However, while it's possible that individuals got their hands on them (M1 Carbines were certainly popular among British tank crew and Airborne troops) I've not seen any evidence for units using them on a significant scale, like 3 Commando Brigade.

Norman D Landings Inactive Member23 Jan 2013 12:52 p.m. PST

Is it possible the photo was taken during the Korean War?

Someone – I think it was Herkybird – was telling me that Royal Marine units under US command were issued with M1's.

Personal logo Jeff Ewing Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2013 12:53 p.m. PST

Bayonet Strength notes: "The British No.6 Commando was issued Garands during Operation Torch. Following its conclusion, they declined to return them in favour of their Lee Enfields."

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member23 Jan 2013 12:56 p.m. PST

How about in the Pacific? Australian on Buna. Robert


shaun from s and s models Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2013 1:39 p.m. PST

british comando units had then in nwe

Deadone Inactive Member23 Jan 2013 1:47 p.m. PST

Why did they prefer Lee Enfields to Garands?

John D Salt Inactive Member23 Jan 2013 2:03 p.m. PST

Umm, they didn't.

All the best,


hurrahbro23 Jan 2013 2:15 p.m. PST

4 other theories backed by nothing but a little idle speculation.

1) Could it be one of the Devils Brigade?

A joint Canadian/U.S. unit though it seems that in active service, US uniforms were worn. It could however be a photo taken during training?

2) For a period of Time during and just after the German Offensive of the winter of 1944 (Battle of the Bulge) I understand that some US units came under British command and supply on the northern flank of the bulge (there was a bit of a tiff between Monty and Ike over this), and it is possible some British/Canadian units were on the southern flank and given US weapons to ease supply problems there. It was a temporary situation well and truly over by the end of January 1945 and i've seen no official record of such (but can't discount it).

My other 2 are that this could not be a British/Canadian, but a Frenchman.

3) There were many German held towns in France that were under siege by Canadian troops during late 44. A good example is this little collection of actions:


but I have not heard of them receiving US weapons and they were well within the reach of British supply channels. But there were French and Belgium units operating along side them, also French units on their own (with some US assistance) were besieging German towns in the south and interior of France. These were mostly former Free French Interior/former resistance unit that was absorbed into the Free French army. The U.S. had promised to equip 12 divisions, but US Divisions were larger than the French ones, so the French were able to equip 15 of them (and kept them in the front line, not the interior). The rest made do with French uniforms from 1940 and the Vichy era, and somehow, some even received British/Canadian battledress uniforms and helmets (possibly from a large contract of American made 'Liberty' battledress that was in the wrong green for British issue).

I've seen some photos that claim to be of Free French forces besieging Royan. In addition of the Classic 1940/Vichy era uniforms, some have British battledress, a mix of classic Tommy helmets, Adrians and French M35 Char helmets, British, French or German webbing (sometimes parts of all 3)carrying a Labels, Mas 36 or German 98k rifle. No American Kit in those photos though. It is a possibility, but I think unlikely. It did snow in that area that year.

4) I have not heard of such a mix/match of British and US kit until French colonial operations after the war where uniforms, webbing and equipment seems to be a mix and match of US, British, Former German along side pre war and newer French kit, a situation that lasted for rear area troops well into the French Indo-China war. Could it be a post war picture?

Sergeant Ewart23 Jan 2013 2:51 p.m. PST

shaun from s and s models
Do you have any references or links?

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member23 Jan 2013 3:08 p.m. PST


Firepower was the simple reason. Lt Col Kenneth R S Trevor, who commanded No.1 Commando in Burma, wrote "One of the advantages 1 Commando had over the other units was that we had brought from North Africa when we were with the Americans, Garand self-loading rifles with a bore of .3" with which they were armed. These rifles give a very high rate of fire, we also had the normal British .303 LMG's, 3" mortars and American Thompson Sub-machine guns. "

As mentioned earlier, one of the other Commandos in 3 Commando Brigade also received some Garands, but not enough to furnish the whole unit. I think this was 42 RM Cdo.

I'd forgotten about No.6 Commando yes they, along with No.1 Commando (with whom they were brigaded at the time) received Garands in the Med. However, I've no idea if they still had them in NW Europe. Perhaps it's No.6 Cdo that Shaun is referring to?

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member23 Jan 2013 3:24 p.m. PST

I did find this with reference to No.6 Cdo in North Africa:

"We were supposed to be American troops but they were actually British Commandos that landed first. But because of the political side of it America had been pumping food into there being a neutral country and the British were in the French bad books because we had been sinking their Navy because we didn't want it to fall into German hands. And there had been a lot of bad feeling over that so we were disguised as Americans. We wore American helmets, we carried American Garand B4 rifles, automatic rifles and they wanted us to put the stars and stripes up but the boys said no. We'll have the helmets, we like them better than ours, we'll have your rifles they are definitely better than ours, but we are not going to have the stars and stripes."

Here's that earlier thread, complete with photos of Commandos in the Far East (just after VJ-Day) with Garands – with SMLE sword bayonets attached!

TMP link

troopwo Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2013 4:27 p.m. PST

A number of early production Garands were given to the UK as both before and during lend lease, particularly the early '41 period. Surprisingly most went to warehouse if not obscure Home Guard units. These are very valued collectors pieces today and must not be confused with the large number of M1 rifles cycled postwar through many UK firearms dealers that have the British Nitro-proofmarks.

Mind in '40-'41 the UK also received hundreds of thousands of Ross, P14 and P17s too.

As far as to units using them, that is pretty select and obscure. The only guarantee would have been the First Special Service Force in Italy and France. They definitely used them after getting rid of the Johnson rifles.

Come the Korean War, everyone and their brother had to dabble with them and try them out. I know of a few Canadian vets who liked it, thought it a touch heavy but all were unanimous in not wanting it for any fighting in winter in Korea. One summed it up like this.

"It froze up too easy and was to difficult to open back up. If I was afraid of my rifle freezing up, with my Number 4, all I had to do put the bolt in my parka pocket, put it back in under a second and go on."

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member23 Jan 2013 10:59 p.m. PST

I wonder where the Australian picked his up? Robert

shaun from s and s models Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2013 4:04 a.m. PST

sorry sgt, can't seem to find the books.
i have seen 1 picture in one book and a comment in another.
i would not bet my lfe on it though

Sgt Troy Inactive Member24 Jan 2013 8:20 a.m. PST

Thanks to everyone for your replies……Norman D, I don't think it was Korea, I think the Commandos wore American uniforms, apart from berets and boots. The helmet had netting and he wore a leather jerkin (I think)there was snow on the ground. Troopwo, I could have seen one of the rifles you mention but I don't think so, I seem to remember Garand clips lying around the edge of the "scape".
I must say at my age it's quite possible I'm completely wrong about any or all of the details!

number4 Inactive Member24 Jan 2013 10:37 p.m. PST

Years ago I worked alongside two men who had been in the Royal Marines during WWII. Both had served in the D-Day invasion and later in Holland; they said they had been issued American Garand rifles for the attack on Walcheren. Sorry, I don't remember what unit they were in, even if I asked at the time.

Michael Dorosh Inactive Member25 Jan 2013 7:28 a.m. PST

Barter for American weapons was always popular. One of the COs of The Royal Canadian Regiment in Italy, for example, apparently carried an M1 carbine (if I am remembering Farley Mowat correctly). Where he got ammunition for it, I'm not sure, but Canadian officers got a whiskey ration and American officers didn't, so I think everyone here can do the math. Then again, how often he would have needed to fire the thing is probably academic as well.

The photo I suspect is in question shows Corporal E. Roberts of the Welsh Guards, at Hassum, near Goch, February 1945. Very clearly carrying an M-1 Garand. p. 212 of BRITISH ARMY UNIFORMS AND INSIGNIA OF WORLD WAR TWO by Brian L. Davis.

Usual caveats apply; no idea if the photo is a joke or not or what the actual circumstances are. He is wearing the formation patch of GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION on his batledress and an unofficial jerkin of animal skin. Altogether an unusual photo.

Michael Dorosh Inactive Member25 Jan 2013 7:32 a.m. PST

Here is the image I think we are talking about:


shaun from s and s models Supporting Member of TMP25 Jan 2013 8:28 a.m. PST

number 4
that would tie up with what i have read about the gb use of the garand in nwe.

Sgt Troy Inactive Member25 Jan 2013 10:04 a.m. PST

Thank-you Michael, that is indeed the picture I have seen, the book in question is in my local library! "The snow on the ground" must be my memory of the jerkin! Can't see any clips either.

Michael Dorosh Inactive Member25 Jan 2013 10:22 a.m. PST

I've never looked all that close at the picture, but now that it is up for discussion, some things stand out. And bear in mind it is always very easy to read far too much into a photo than is really there.

His chinstrap is twisted, suggesting he threw the helmet on just before the photo was snapped. Personally, I hate wearing a helmet with a twisted chin strap. Some fellows could go all day with, I suppose, but it looks like that one is cutting into him a bit. I've worn Mark II helmets for reenactment/living history, and those springloaded chin straps are even worse than current ones provided the straps are properly tensioned to hold your helmet on.

He's not wearing gloves. If it's cold enough to wear a sheepskin, you'd think it would be cold enough to wear gloves.

It may be a trick of the camera, angle, lighting, etc., but that jerkin is amazingly clean for someone living in a mud trench. Maybe he's just arrived in the position. Maybe he just got issued the jerkin. Maybe it's not a jerkin at all and one of his mates said "hey put this on so I can photograph you in it." Who really knows. Would love to get the story behind this. But the clean battle dress and general look of the fellow based on no hard evidence at all makes one wonder if he is actually a frontline rifleman, or someone from the battalion echelon perhaps posing with a souvenir Garand. Or maybe a rifleman just coming back into the line from whatever other duties or place he may have been. No way to know based on a two line photo caption unfortunately.

The lack of rifle clips was mentioned by Sgt Troy. No bandoliers are conspicuous. Grenades were very often used as "props" in photos. The famous image of the Canadian soldier in the Korean War, for example, is a well known example. The photographer admitted that he came along and plopped the No. 36 grenades onto the fellow's belt before taking the picture, for dramatic effect. (Coincidentally, our Canadian below is also armed with a U.S. M1 carbine.)


Anyway, just a bunch of wild supposition on my part. They say a photo is worth a 1000 words; it can also lead to a 1000 questions.

No attempt to denigrate this man's service is intended, just genuine curiosity about the use of the Garand in front line units by British troops.

jdginaz25 Jan 2013 10:24 a.m. PST

@R Mark Davies

I'm curious what make you think they are SMLE bayonets?

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member25 Jan 2013 4:41 p.m. PST

Just an assumption on my part, as they're BFO sword bayonets, considerably longer than the usual US WW2-issue type. I suppose they could be an earlier US type supplied on lend-lease.

Norman D Landings Inactive Member25 Jan 2013 4:44 p.m. PST

Corporal Roberts…

I mean, I know the camera can catch you at an off-moment, but…

That Welshman is so stoned.

Really, look at him. I bet he dug that trench to hide from unicorns.

number4 Inactive Member27 Jan 2013 11:50 p.m. PST

Those bayonets are almost certainly Model 1905 Springfield Armory bayonets that had a 16" blade. Most of these were recalled in late 1942 and cut down to 10". The SMLE bayonet won't fit a Garand.

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member28 Jan 2013 2:50 a.m. PST

Cheers Number4, I had no idea that such a large bayonet was available for the Garand. I'd assumed that they'd dragged some Enfield bayonets out of Stores for the parade and cobbled them together (I once saw someone do exactly that with L1A1 SLR bayonets on Lee-Enfield No.4s…).

Etranger Inactive Member28 Jan 2013 10:03 p.m. PST

I wonder where the Australian picked his up? Robert

Australian troops were inveterate scroungers & there were substantial US forces near to Buna at Gona. I can't pull up the original picture! Is it this one? link

Pyrate Captain22 Jun 2018 5:30 p.m. PST

I love digging up old threads.

I am reading Ian Fleming's Commandos by Nicholas Rankin. He writes from accounts that naval officers with 30 Assault Unit used M-1 Carbines in Northwest Europe in 1944.

Not the Garand, but American weapons.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2018 4:40 a.m. PST

Norwegian resistance fighter Max Manus when training in Scotland hunted deer with a Garand.

Legion 423 Jun 2018 7:15 a.m. PST

IIRC, the Chindits, some may have used the M1 Carbine ?

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