Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Say a prayer for the soul of the owner . . .

I was astonished to see a series of photographs of a Colt military-issue 1911 pistol that had been struck by artillery shrapnel during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.  It was picked up on the battlefield after the fighting was over.  Here's just one of the images, to illustrate the scale of the damage.

Looking at how severe those gashes are, the shrapnel was obviously coming in at very high velocity.  The pieces weren't small, either, and judging by the number of scars, there were plenty of them.  In another photograph you can see fragments of the leather holster in which the gun had been carried, lodged in the gashes where the shrapnel drove them.  Judging by the damage, and considering that the person carrying the gun had been just as close to the explosion, I think he would have been most unlikely to survive.  Even if he did, he must have been very seriously wounded.

Go look at the whole series of images, and read the story behind them . . . and, this Christmas, if you're so inclined, say a prayer for the soul of whoever it was that carried that gun in the Ardennes, 71 years ago this month.  May he rest in peace.



Tony Tsquared said...

I have an uncle who was 101st and was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge. Due to my uncle's injury in his leg and hip he could not walk for any distance. By the time he recovered Patton's 3rd Army needed truck drivers. My uncle got reassigned to 3rd Army.

He never talked about WW2 until I got back from Desert Storm and we sat down with a bottle of Scotch and shared war stories. He initially resented Patton for "coming to the rescue" of 101st in Bastone as they were paratroopers and their fighting tactic was to jump in the middle and fight a path out (surround them from the inside). He said he latter came to admire Patton and was more proud of being 3rd Army than 101st Curahee.

My uncle gave me his war trophy PPK in 7.62mm pistol and I have that as one of my centerpieces in my collection. My wife and I have been to Bastone for the reenactment ceremonies that are held every year. The monuments there are very humbling.

raven said...

Very poignant. Thank you.

Fort Casey, on Whidbey IS, Washington state, now a park- built to defend the entrance to Puget Sound, circa the Spanish American war era. The original guns long gone, there were two examples located and installed, to show what the gun emplacements looked like originally.
Any but the most casual visitor will notice the horrific shrapnel "shadow" on the side of one of the gun barrels.
The guns were retrieved from Corregidor.

Gorges Smythe said...

Wow, I've never seen a punctured gun barrel.

astrodominant said...

My wife's grandfather along with 95% of his company died during the Battle of the Bulge. Some guy named Stryker was one of the survivors of their main engagement. We met one of the survivors during the WWII memorial dedication in DC. He was standing next to her grandfather when he fell. We spent an afternoon with him and it was a very emotional thing for him. I think he was very happy that we remember but it was also a release of history to us of what it was like to be there and the survivor guilt. He shared a ton with us that will live with us forever. Hope to hand that down.

Her grandfather is also why she has an M1 carbine and a .45 Colt.

Old NFO said...

Chilling to put it mildly... Thanks for sharing this.