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Status of War Artifacts-weapons...Part 1


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#1 Panzerknacker

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Posted 03 January 2003 - 05:58 AM

Were returning servicemen allowed to bring home war booty without limitations with regards to weaponry, especially German firearms, pistols etc???
Or were some items seized???
"GARRY OWEN"-Traditional war-cry of the US 7th Cavalry.
"CURRAHEE"-War-cry of the US 506th PIR.
"Everybody thinks that they are going to get the chance to punch some Nazi in the face at Normandy-and those days are over, they are long gone"-Lt Chris Burnett

#2 Martin Bull

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Posted 03 January 2003 - 06:55 AM

As far as the UK was concerned, the 'souveniring' of 'live' weapons was strictly forbidden.

My uncle recalls being in a barracks in Germany in late '45 just before returning to Britain, and having to strip and bury a Luger following dire threats from higher authority. According to him, lots of men did the same that night with other Lugers, P38s, etc ( wonder if they've ever been dug up ? )

Ian Hogg also jokes in one of his books that a diver should be able to walk from Calais to Dover on a bed of rusting Lugers. Loudspeaker announcements threatening what would occur if illicit weapons were discovered led many returning servicemen to throw their 'souvenirs' overboard in the late '40s.

In the USA I know the situation was very different with many live souvenir weapons being brought, or in the case of one FG42/1 I've read about , actually mailed back home....

[ 03. January 2003, 12:55 AM: Message edited by: Martin Bull ]
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#3 Panzerknacker

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Posted 03 January 2003 - 11:23 AM

The US shows a more lenient approach to souveneiring of ordanance. Officers and enlisted men I know, as you said Martin would mail such items back home.
"GARRY OWEN"-Traditional war-cry of the US 7th Cavalry.
"CURRAHEE"-War-cry of the US 506th PIR.
"Everybody thinks that they are going to get the chance to punch some Nazi in the face at Normandy-and those days are over, they are long gone"-Lt Chris Burnett

#4 Kai-Petri

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Posted 03 January 2003 - 11:27 AM

Thanx Guys,

that was interesting. I wonder if the British soldiers were a little angry as I´d have been, if the US soldiers could send their souvenir guns home like that and I´d have to leave mine in Germany?
Anyway,I wonder if the reason to forbidding the souvenir guns was the gun law in England or somtething else? Was anybody caught trying to bring his souvenir to England and was he condemned?

:confused:
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#5 urqh

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Posted 03 January 2003 - 12:06 PM

Although banned from doing so, many vets seemed to get past the rulings...To judge be the number of ememy ordinace that is handed in to police stations each year, such as grenades and pistols etc...

Off topic of ww2, but on return from Falklands the customs and excise staff had a great time meeting returning servicemen and stripping them of their souvenirs...Many tried but dont think much got through there.

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#6 Doc Raider

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Posted 03 January 2003 - 12:53 PM

I know that US soldiers were allowed to bring enemy firearms home, although I'm not sure what the exact limits were. My grandpa still has the permit paper that says he is permitted to bring back the 1 Samari sword and 1 Japanese pistol he "is carrying". (Both were stolen from his car when he returned, unfortunately). I think troops were officially allowed 1 firearm? I'm sure if they were the officer that censored such mail, or if they had certain connections, they could send home just about anything they wanted to as well.

#7 Martin Bull

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Posted 03 January 2003 - 05:40 PM

As urqh quite rightly says, considerable numbers of ( mainly handguns ) 'slipped through the net', probably wrapped in a sock in the bottom of a kitbag. Many weapons used in celebrated 50s/60s crime cases ( Craig&Bentley, Kray twins, etc ) probably originated as war souvenirs.

Generally, British soldiers accepted the ruling as our gun laws have been historically strict.

Ironically, it would be easier nowadays to keep one's 'souvenir' by having it deactivated ; not really an option in the '40s.
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#8 Sniper

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Posted 04 January 2003 - 09:42 AM

As Martin says, the rules were pretty strict for British troops returning with "souvenir" weapons. It was a chargeable offence.

I remember my father telling me how he had to drop a fully engraved (yes, fully engraved) Walther PPK, over the side of his transport ship on his way back home from Europe after the war.

He'd picked it up in a "swap meet" with some German "civilians" a couple of months after the end of the war. Apparently they were swapping pistols and other bits and pieces for food etc. and since being a German found with a gun would have been a serious no-no, they were quite willing to swap it.

Dad carried it around with him (against RAMC orders) until he was returned to England in '46, and ended up chucking it into the English Channel for fear of being found out and charged. He was (as I'm sure many were) more concerned with getting home and seeing his family than keeping something that might stop him getting home at all.

Dad never knew the origins of the PPK, but he said the engravings were quite something!! How frustrating is that? Any speculations as to who's PPK that might have been??? He said they were stationed in a railway siding near Dortmund.

Oh, to have a time machine.
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#9 Panzerknacker

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Posted 06 January 2003 - 08:12 AM

See, that I would hate. You all know I love the American Army in WW2, but for the British who staved off a German offensive on their homeland for an entire year BY THEMSELVES and were not permitted to bring back memoirs of the hard fought victory over the mightiest military force the world had ever seen, yet the Americans get to bring back WHATEVER they wanted!!!
"GARRY OWEN"-Traditional war-cry of the US 7th Cavalry.
"CURRAHEE"-War-cry of the US 506th PIR.
"Everybody thinks that they are going to get the chance to punch some Nazi in the face at Normandy-and those days are over, they are long gone"-Lt Chris Burnett

#10 Erich

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Posted 06 January 2003 - 04:10 PM

Restrictions for US personell were quite lax. A good friend from a US recon unit picked up several nice items, captured and from a dump; also he was involved with picking up hunting weapons from German civilians at war's end, two beautiful engraved Schützen rifles and a drilling besides a P-38, several bayonets and field gear.

Sadly he sold the three rifles for a hefty price, and has since passed away....

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#11 Stevin

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Posted 06 January 2003 - 08:52 PM

Mark Bando describes a story in BREAKOUT AT NORMANDY. About the 2nd US Armored Div against Das Reich...(isn't that something: 2nd US Armored against 2nd SS DR....)

An important part of the book is about Lt. John Cleveland, who together with some of his comrades killed Christian Tychsen in an ambush and took several items from his body which he took to the states with him. Among the items, Tychsen's 6.35 mm Mauser. Cleveland was apparantly known to be 'into memorabilia'...

Very interesting book. Writes also about Carentan!!! ;)
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#12 Panzerknacker

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Posted 06 January 2003 - 10:01 PM

You learn something new everyday, I assumed Tsychen was an Ost Front man myself, and thought he was killed by the Ruskis... :confused:
"GARRY OWEN"-Traditional war-cry of the US 7th Cavalry.
"CURRAHEE"-War-cry of the US 506th PIR.
"Everybody thinks that they are going to get the chance to punch some Nazi in the face at Normandy-and those days are over, they are long gone"-Lt Chris Burnett

#13 Panzerknacker

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Posted 06 January 2003 - 10:02 PM

Nice story though Stevin-it's always good to hear short personal accounts-especially ones of a "forgotten" nature.
"GARRY OWEN"-Traditional war-cry of the US 7th Cavalry.
"CURRAHEE"-War-cry of the US 506th PIR.
"Everybody thinks that they are going to get the chance to punch some Nazi in the face at Normandy-and those days are over, they are long gone"-Lt Chris Burnett

#14 Stefan

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Posted 06 January 2003 - 11:38 PM

My grandfather served as an officer in Italy, Austria and Germany (ending as a company commander). When he came back he and his men were informed that they would face a heafty prison sentence if they were found to have any weapons on their person other than those they were issued. My grandfather threw over the side a P38, Luger, Baretta pistol, German bayonet, Italian bayonet (one of the spike ones he used as a poker) and only managed to bring back a small luftwaffe paper knife in the same shape as the dress dagger. Great shame.
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#15 Erich

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 12:44 AM

Tyschen was killed in an ambush in Normandy.....

Stefan, your Opa served in the Luftwaffe.....Fallshirmjäger possibly or Luftfelddivison ?

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#16 Sniper

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 06:10 AM

I have also heard that very strict rules were applied to Australian soldiers who brought back weapons as souvenirs. The majority of people who I've spoken to over the years say guns were a definite no-no. Bayonets and the like, sometimes got through without any problems but there was always one officer or military cop who stuck to the rules. Usually someone who hadn't been OS or in action.

Seems the majority of weapon souvenirs that made it home were brought back by transport or supply troops who could always find a place to stash their souvenirs amongst allthe official gear they had to bring back with them.

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#17 Stevin

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 06:21 AM

Originally posted by Panzerknacker:
You learn something new everyday, I assumed Tsychen was an Ost Front man myself, and thought he was killed by the Ruskis... :confused:

Mark Bando's book fascinated me. He went to great lengths to try and find out what exactly happened to Tychsen, but could never be sure as all participants of the ambush are either dead or couldn't be found. The most important figure, Lt. Cleveland, commited suicide some time after the war. Secondary evidence (how do you call that officially?) points in the direction of Cleveland and his men ambushing Tychsen. Cleveland had several items in his possession that belonged to "a German Colonel", in roughly the area where Tychsen was KIA.

I recommend this book to everybody. Panzer, you might find it interesting to read about the 2nd US Armored part in the battle for Carentan.
"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!" - Homer Simpson
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