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    Really Senior Member Scott Gahimer's Avatar
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    OSS Colt M1903 pistol with interesting provenance

    1944 Colt M1903 560049

    Original and unaltered. Colt Model 1903 No. 560049 shipped Aug. 11, 1944 to the O.S.S. and later purchased in Nanking, China by Major Ralph L. Powell, USMC, serial number O-1555267, after WWII ended. Dr. John Brunner, author and former O.S.S. operative, informed me the purchase receipt resembles the one he received in China about the same time. The shoulder holster is unmarked and typical to what was carried at that time.






    The DWM Germanicon ammo is identical (same lot number) to that issued to Dr. Brunner in China in 1945. Dr. Brunner told me the O.S.S. was cut off behind Japaneseicon lines and forced to find ammunition on the Chinese market.



    Finally, after several years, online research resulted in some findings for the identity of Major Ralph L. Powell. I found where a Dr. Ralph L. Powell testified before Congress in 1966 regarding China. In the congressional records, I found Powell's testimony and his biography. Dr. Powell served in the United Statesicon Marine Corps 1941-1948. He was an expert with the Chinese language and served as Senior Reporting Officer, Office of the Naval Attache, China in 1946-1947. He was retired for wounds in 1948 and authored multiple books over the next several years, all dealing with China and their military development and power.

    Here is a link to the information online, with Dr. Powell's testimony: http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/virtualar...tem=2184814013 When you arrive at the site, just click on the first PDF file shown. Then, scroll down and read through page 7 to see the information on Dr. Powell. There are several other listings for him online regarding the various books and articles he authored. Here is the biography for Dr. Powell that is shown on that site.

    This biography shows he served in China 1946-47.

    Further online research led me to a Foreign Service list of those serving, by country, for the U.S. Dept. of State in the year 1947. Listed as serving in China as Assistant Naval Attache (assigned 5 March 1946) and Assistant Naval Attache for Air is Major Ralph L. Powell.


    This finding verifies Dr. Powell held the rank Major in the Marine Corps while serving in China 1946-47. I seriously doubt there was another Major Ralph L. Powell serving in China at the same time who might have purchased this pistol.

    I've owned the pistol for several years. I lettered it and corresponded with Dr. Brunner in 2006. I had assumed, until recently, that Major Powell was assigned to the OSS. It's nice to finally know who he was.
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