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    Advisory Panel Jim Tarleton's Avatar
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    WWII Pacific USMC Snipers

    I found this in an article I recently read. The use of dogs was sheer genius.

    *********************************

    "Me. All the rest are deados!"

    67th Company, 5th Marines 1st Sgt. Daniel "Pop" Hunter's response to 1st Lt. Jonas Platt's query "Who is your Commander"?, Torcy side of Hill 142, Belleau Wood, 8:00 am, 6 Jun 1918.

    Semper Fidelis!

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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 cplstevennorton's Avatar
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    It is interesting to me that I have said the exact same points as stated in the article above, but was told how wrong I was....

    I keep on saying that the emphasis of training of a WWII Marine Sniper was on scouting and patrolling, and not that much on actually shooting. Usually school trained snipers were top shooters before they ever entered sniper school, so that was not the emphasis on training. I also keep on saying that many school trained snipers never saw a sniper rifle in the field.

    The author above has for sure done some research, I can tell. But I do think he has some area's of opportunity to expand upon. I would add I've never seen an instance where a scout sniper was the actual dog handler himself. But I've seen where the Sniper was attached to a dog handler for patrol. Since usually both the Sniper and Dog Handler's were part of Headquarters, they worked along side each other a lot. As I keep on saying over and over, the WWII Marine Snipers were used for their patrolling, scouting, and intelligence gathering capabilities more than they ever were used for traditional role we think of a Sniper today.

    Dog Handlers were most often armed with a M12 or 1897 Trench Gun.

    I would also add I think the author make it appear they were used as Dog Handlers often, but I haven't found that to be correct. Okinawa seems to be the place I see it mentioned the most. But you usually see Snipers attached to Machine Gun or Mortar teams much more than Dog Handlers.

    The real major correction I see is the author's mention of the Lyman A5 scope. This is a clerical error. Almost all knowledge that is public, other than the info Tim, Andrew, or I put out, is based on about a hundred pages that Frank Mallory released back in the day. In those docs, there are mentions that the Marines used the Lyman 5A sight. Which from those docs I could see how someone could make that error as it was a very limited snap shot.

    But when you get into the Depot files, which aren't published, you find the actual counts of all the scopes they had. They only had a handful of lyman 5A they bought in 1940 for the Sniper trials. I have the Lyman purchase orders and also verified it from the Lyman side as well. But the Marines never used or adopted the Lyman 5A in WWII. Every count makes it very clear the Marines only had the Winchester A5 scopes they acquired in WWI, and they also acquired some used ones off the Army in between the wars.

    Since the lyman 5a and WRA A5 were nearly identical in appearance, someone at some point confused the scopes during the war and whoever was typing up reports at headquarters incorrectly identified the scope. It's just when you research more in the Archives you realize this was a mistake.

    I would also not agree entirely that the Unertl scope was deemed not effective in combat. There was a lot of confusion between the WRA A5 and the Unertl Scope in the Pacific, but that is a topic for another day.

    But the author above did a decent job and I commend him. I can tell he has done research and did a much better job than most of the people who claim to have knowledge on the subject.
    Last edited by cplstevennorton; 10-29-2022 at 08:37 AM.

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    Advisory Panel Jim Tarleton's Avatar
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    You used the personal pronoun "I" 20-times in a single post. Absolutely amazing.

    The excerpt posted previously, along with the one below from the same source, appear to be the opposite of what you have been saying. Perhaps you are confused?

    *********************************

    "Me. All the rest are deados!"

    67th Company, 5th Marines 1st Sgt. Daniel "Pop" Hunter's response to 1st Lt. Jonas Platt's query "Who is your Commander"?, Torcy side of Hill 142, Belleau Wood, 8:00 am, 6 Jun 1918.

    Semper Fidelis!

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    Legacy Member cplstevennorton's Avatar
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    It's still interesting to me as again this is more info that I have stated that I was told I was wrong about.

    I had stated WWII Marine Snipers were assigned by the Marine Corps to become snipers, they did not choose to become snipers. All Jobs in the Marine Corps during WWII were assigned by the needs of the Marine Corps. You could put down a wish list of a few jobs, but the Marines chose your job for you. I was told I was wrong about that....

    But for those reading this. This is the info from the Marine Corps Docs and not a google search.

    Sniper school was 36 days long. It was from 0600 and went till 2030 every night. Almost all time was spent in a classroom format. They did not fire a 30 CAL M1903 Springfield until Training Day 21. They actually only fired the .30 CAL M1903's a total of SIX times in those 35 days. Which they only fired a total of 250 rounds out of the 30CAL M1903's for the whole school.

    Before that they were limited to the M2's/1922's with iron and telescopic sights. On Day 31 they actually shot their longest distance with 20 rounds out of the 1903's out to 1000 yards on the C course. For the six times they shot the .30 CAL M1903's in sniper school they shot different style targets at 200, 300, 500, & 600 yards. On day 35 their last class was on boobytraps and they spent the rest of the day cleaning all the weapons and equipment for the next class. On day 36 they were secured and released.

    The Majority of their time were on classes. Which included patrolling, camouflage, intelligence gathering, map reading, arm signals, and aerial photo reading.

    The Marines did not have the weaver scope. They bought a few 330's and 440's to trial with the Lyman 5's for the 1940 trials. But the 1903's in the two official Snipers courses had the 5X Winchester A5's.

    Unfortunately memories fade. I can barely remember details of my training 20 years ago in the Marines. I can't imagine trying to remember something 50 or more years later. I would have to research the Marine too, as I've seen quite a few state they were snipers and they did not attend a formal school. There were some unofficial makeshift courses I've seen described in the docs. Some NCO's who were snipers early in the war threw together unoffiical classes but that training was never sanctioned and regulated.

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    Legacy Member champ0608's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Tarletonicon View Post

    The excerpt posted previously, along with the one below from the same source, appear to be the opposite of what you have been saying. Perhaps you are confused?

    Attachment 128677
    For what it's worth, this second excerpt is an interview with a soldier, not a Marine (99th Division, Camp Maxey, Weaver scope, etc) and has nothing to do with Marine snipers, or the Pacific.

    That said, the 99th Division did utilize snipers (at least on a documented basis) to a higher degree than many other Divisions in the ETO.
    Last edited by champ0608; 10-29-2022 at 05:09 PM.

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    Legacy Member cplstevennorton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by champ0608 View Post
    For what it's worth, this second excerpt is an interview with a soldier, not a Marine (99th Division, Camp Maxey, Weaver scope, etc) and has nothing to do with Marine snipers, or the Pacific.

    That said, the 99th Division did utilize snipers (at least on a documented basis) to a higher degree than many other Divisions in the ETO.
    Nice catch Jamie! I didn't even see the Camp Maxey until now. Yeah that was Army, not the Marines. I guess I didn't think anyone would seriously post an Army Sniper's statement as evidence that I'm wrong about Marine Snipers. But I'm honestly not surprised. The first thing I do before I take anyone's statement into my research, is research the individual.

    But back to the WWII Marine Snipers. In the official Marine Sniper School, the Marines only shot the 30 CAL M1903's six times in the 35 training days, for a total of 250 rounds. This is from the official school syllabus that was wrote out by Walter Walsh who was the father of the WWII Marine Sniper program.
    Last edited by cplstevennorton; 10-29-2022 at 05:49 PM.

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    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cplstevennorton View Post
    I would also not agree entirely that the Unertl scope was deemed not effective in combat.
    "Effective" I think covers many different things. The unertl was obviously an effective scope from a shooters perspective. Heck, I've used several, original and repro, and they are very effective. That said, there are reports of interior fogging in the tropical climate being the issue, as well as the fragility of the setup during "normal" use. The latter alone would be enough for someone at the time to say "not effective in combat".

    Keep the original documents coming. Can we not though descend into the chaos of "I said you said I'm right you're wrong..." attacks again? I would really like to see this topic continued without getting closed by the moderators yet again.

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    Advisory Panel Jim Tarleton's Avatar
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    Every WWII Marine division had a Recon Company (408 Marines), in latter days battalion, separate from the Scout-Snipers attached to Headquarters Company. There was also an aerial reconnaissance group that essentially flew non-stop aerial reconnaissance. There was never any need to use Scout-Snipers primarily for reconnaissance, and such action would not benefit anyone. Their primary role was to eliminate the enemy, and recon was secondary. In Vietnam, we had Force Recon and Scout-Snipers. Recon did the reconnaissance, preferably without firing a shot, and the Scout-Snipers took people out. Someone is confusing the two entities.

    Having never seen the WWII sniper school curriculum, but having seen both the WWI sniper school curriculum and the Vietnam sniper school curriculum, what was described as the WWII Marine sniper school curriculum bears no resemblance to either and sounds bogus.

    The second excerpt in the original post was from the experience of Thor Ronningen, of the 99th Infantry Division, from the same book.
    Last edited by Jim Tarleton; 01-16-2023 at 09:11 AM.
    *********************************

    "Me. All the rest are deados!"

    67th Company, 5th Marines 1st Sgt. Daniel "Pop" Hunter's response to 1st Lt. Jonas Platt's query "Who is your Commander"?, Torcy side of Hill 142, Belleau Wood, 8:00 am, 6 Jun 1918.

    Semper Fidelis!

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    Legacy Member cplstevennorton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Tarletonicon View Post
    Every WWII Marine division had a Recon Company (408 Marines), in latter days battalion, separate from the Scout-Snipers attached to Headquarters Company. There was also an aerial reconnaissance group that essentially flew non-stop aerial reconnaissance. There was never any need to use Scout-Snipers for reconnaissance, and such action would not benefit anyone. In Vietnam, we had Force Recon and Scout-Snipers. Recon did the reconnaissance, preferably without firing a shot, and the Scout-Snipers took people out. Someone is confusing the two entities.
    Almost everything Jim just stated above is factually not correct. He's confusing different era's of Marine history and lumping them all together. Which almost none of it is correct for WWII.

    Again for the tenth time I've said this and I've been told I am wrong. This is straight from Marine docs for 1943. Jim just said the Marines didn't use Scout Snipers for Reconnaissance. This Marine Document from the Archives, spells out clearly they did.

    The Marines relied heavily on their scouting, patrolling, reconnaissance, and intelligence gathering. The Scout Snipers being able to take an accurate shot, was just another skill, but shooting was not their focus.

    So when I said above that the Scout Snipers spent a good portion of their time in Sniper School learning about patrolling, camouflage, intelligence gathering, map reading, arm signals, and aerial photograph reading. You see why in the statement's below.


    Last edited by cplstevennorton; 10-30-2022 at 01:10 AM.

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    Legacy Member cplstevennorton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssgross View Post
    "Effective" I think covers many different things. The unertl was obviously an effective scope from a shooters perspective. Heck, I've used several, original and repro, and they are very effective. That said, there are reports of interior fogging in the tropical climate being the issue, as well as the fragility of the setup during "normal" use. The latter alone would be enough for someone at the time to say "not effective in combat".
    See this is the issue with all this. I think there is a lot of internet lore on Marine Snipers. For instance on your comment that the Unertl Scopes fogged up. I have heard this stated a lot. But when I get into the actual Marine Corps Docs, I cannot find one mention where they said that was a problem. Now I can find mentions that the WRA A5 scope had a terrible time with fogging up, but I cannot find anything on that for the Unertl.

    I think there has been a lot of info just repeated over the years, and no one really fact checked to see if it was accurate. I mean it does sound logical and maybe there are Marines who used the scope and said that. But in the official Marine Docs from WWII, Korea, or Vietnam, I just don't see that mentioned. But I think it's like in this post where Jim said the WWII Marine Snipers weren't used in Reconnaissance. If you didn't know any better, you would read that and repeat it to others. So that story would be out there getting spread, but it's not in anyway factual. I think a lot of the reputation on these rifles, is because of situations such as this where something is said and it's not based on any real research.

    There was also a lot of confusion between the different Marine Sniper rifle platforms in WWII. The Marines had 3 different Sniper rifles in the Pacific. The Winchester A5 snipers, the Unertl Snipers, and the 03A4 snipers. All three of the files were just called "1903 Sniper." They were all lumped into one term, and they didn't distinguish between them in the field reports. So from what I see in the docs, I think the Majority of the negative press on the Unertl in WWII, was actually the WRA A5's. It's just everyone called all three rifles the "1903 Sniper." For some reason Headquarters Marine Corps just assumed anytime they saw "1903 Sniper" that it was the Unertl only. The Marines themselves even admitted this in 1945. They stated that the earlier negative reports that cancelled the Unertl contract, were most likely on the A5 scope and not the Unertl.

    In the documents for WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, when the Unertl scope was identified by name, it was highly praised. Really the only thing negative I see mentioned is the field of view. Since it was made as a target scope, the field of view at a 100 yards was like 11'. So it did not have a big field of view. Which made it hard to scan for targets as you got tunnel vision. But that really the main negative thing I see stated on the scope.
    Last edited by cplstevennorton; 10-30-2022 at 01:17 AM.

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