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Thread: Marine scout sniper book "40 Thieves in Saipan"

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    Legacy Member gordong's Avatar
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    Marine scout sniper book "40 Thieves in Saipan"

    Just found a book entitled "40 Thieves in Saipan" about a group of Marine Scout Snipers. It was written by the son of their leader. Looks interesting-- has anyone read it? Here's some photos of the unit with their 03A1 rifles and an individual member. I think he's holding my rifle!
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    Last edited by gordong; 07-06-2022 at 10:38 PM.

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    A Collector's View - The SMLE Short Magazine Lee Enfield 1903-1989. It is 300 8.5x11 inch pages with 1,000+ photo’s, most in color, and each book is serial-numbered.  Covering the SMLE from 1903 to the end of production in India in 1989 it looks at how each model differs and manufacturer differences from a collecting point of view along with the major accessories that could be attached to the rifle. For the record this is not a moneymaker, I hope just to break even, eventually, at $80/book plus shipping.  In the USA shipping is $5.00 for media mail.  I will accept PayPal, Zelle, MO and good old checks (and cash if you want to stop by for a tour!).  CLICK BANNER to send me a PM for International pricing and shipping. Manufacturer of various vintage rifle scopes for the 1903 such as our M73G4 (reproduction of the Weaver 330C) and Malcolm 8X Gen II (Unertl reproduction). Several of our scopes are used in the CMP Vintage Sniper competition on top of 1903 rifles. Brian Dick ... BDL Ltd. - Specializing in British and Commonwealth weapons Chuck in Denver ... Buy-Sell-Trade .. Guns, Cars Motorcycles Your source for the finest in High Power Competition Gear. Here at T-bones Shipwrighting we specialise in vintage service rifle: re-barrelling, bedding, repairs, modifications and accurizing. We also provide importation services for firearms, parts and weapons, for both private or commercial businesses.
     

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    Legacy Member champ0608's Avatar
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    Gregg I pre-ordered my copy when it came out and read it in a day. It's a good book, well worth owning, but focuses very little on any actual "sniping." It won't scratch that itch, but it will introduce you to a lot of characters from one of the very few organized USMC scout sniper platoons of WWII, and for that reason I found the book invaluable.

    It's not a glamorous story. Many of these men meet particularly violent deaths, and the survivors all relate stories of dealing with decades of haunting PTSD. It's an important reminder to those of us who obsess over the minutia and details of these rifles, that real boys carried them in war, and many of them didn't come home.

    I'm sure you've seen this picture from Peter Senich's book. They're both main characters in this book, and I found it refreshing to finally put a name to these two guys (Cpl Don Evans and Sgt Bill Knuppel.) I can't think of a more iconic WWII USMC photo, and they're both heavily featured in this book.



    And I think one of those is my rifle

    Last edited by champ0608; 07-07-2022 at 02:12 AM.

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    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    What a great book! During the lockdowns I started a book review thread somewhere, and this was on it.
    If I'm remembering the book correctly, they used these 1903A1's successfully for a day. When they awoke the next morning to go out for a hunt, the lenses were heavily fogged over inside and they didn't use them anymore.

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    When you read the syllabus of sniper school during WWII, most of the school was on scouting or reconnaissance. Very little was about shooting. The role we think of snipers today is not what they were back during WWII.

    About 3 years ago I talked to a 95 yr old graduate of sniper school in 1944 who served on Iwo Jima as a company runner. He was put in the school not because he volunteered, but because he was the top shooter in his company in boot camp. So they sent him to Scout Sniper School.

    He said he shot very little at the school, and most of was learning to patrol and read maps and all the normal scouting stuff. He said they learned a lot on how to maneuver behind enemy lines.

    ---------- Post added at 11:09 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:03 PM ----------

    almost every island after action report stated the telescopic equipped m1903 was not useful with the terraign and the way the Japaneseicon fought.

    So that is why they really didn't use a lot of sniper rifles in the Pacific and also why the contract to build more rifles was cancelled.

    The only islands where they were used and praised were Saipan and Okinawa. Everywhere else they stated a regular m1 was more effective as a rifle for the school trained sniper.

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    Legacy Member gordong's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses. Sounds like a worthwhile book to read-- I'll have to get a copy.

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    Read it a a while back. The platoon's duty was mostly intelligence gathering. I wonder if the replacements for the next campaign were as intensively trained? There may be a sequel coming out.

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    When Neil and I were helping the author, he told me over the phone he did it specifically for his father. He said he had no idea what his father did until his funeral. So he was doing it for his father and fellow Marines he served with. Very admirable project. Joe is top notch and very nice guy.

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    Here's a review I did on the book on Amazon. I was "underwhelmed" by some of the tall tales.

    An interesting memoir by the son of the commander of the unit. However, I question just how true some of it was. What put it over the edge for me was a brief stop by a few of the men at Pololu on the Big Island, where they claimed the Japaneseicon had been put there to isolate them, that they had secret radios and that the garbage they found was left by Japanese submarines putting in there. That the Hawaiians were secretly rooting for the Japanese had had Japanese flags flying. One too many old "war stories", methinks.
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    Advisory Panel Jim Tarleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cplstevennorton View Post
    I talked to a 95 yr old graduate of sniper school in 1944 who served on Iwo Jima as a company runner
    I think your 95 year old Marine was BS'ing you. Company runners were found to be a lousy way to communicate during WWI, and were replaced with field phones and radios long before WWII and Iwo Jima. Unlike the other services, the Marines combine the scout and sniper duties in a single man, thus the scouting stuff, but every USMC sniper school ,of which I am aware, placed shooting ability above all else. If you were a bad shot, you couldn't even get into a USMC sniper school as far back as WWI. I believe if you check the manpower schedules, the Marines had as many, or more, snipers per unit than WWI or RVN.
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    A Company Runner was extremely common in WWII. If you pull up any Divisional diaries from the Archives, almost all unit diaries list a company runner. Also when you pull the corresponding service book, it also details in their service records that they were a company messenger/runner. When I pulled this School trained Sniper records, he was listed as a Sniper and Company Runner on Iwo. Exactly as he said. He was like most snipers who never saw a scoped M1903 after he left Sniper School. He carried a M1icon.

    As far as Sniper School. When you pull the docs, in WWII they were selected for Sniper school because they were already top shooters. Many early guys were team shooters. Later they started to select top company shooters from boot camp. At this time you did select what you wanted to do in the Marines, they selected it for you. So their thought was the guys going into Sniper School were already top shooters. So the focus on the training was on the scouting side more so than actual trigger time.

    I have the 36 day syllabus that details every day in Sniper School and what they did. When I asked this Marine what his memory was of the school, it was spot on to Walter Walsh's syllabus. They just spent very little time shooting. When they did shoot it was usually 40 to 60rds and they shot other USMC weapons than the telescopic equipped M1903. Such as shotguns or .22 rifles.

    In WWII Sniper School, they actually spent more time on scouting training such as map reading, arm signaling, aerial photograph study, camouflage, gathering intelligence, calling in artillery, patrolling, and reconnaissance.
    Last edited by cplstevennorton; 09-04-2022 at 10:24 PM.

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