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Each member of the three-man BAR teams of World War I played a specific role and carried a specific ammunition belt. The gunner, of course, carried the BAR, which was often referred to in this period as the Browning Machine Rifle (BMR). The first assistant gunner served as the loader while the second assistant gunner carried extra ammunition. The gunner’s belt held a metal cup for seating the BAR’s butt when fired from the hip. It also held two pouches for his .45 cal. automatic pistol magazines and four pouches for holding two BAR magazines each. The first assistant gunner (central figure) wore a belt that featured two pouches for .45cal automatic pistol magazines and five BAR magazine pouches. The second assistant gunner (right-hand figure) wore a belt that held four pouches – two on each side – for M1903 Springfield rifle clips plus four BAR magazine pouches. The second assistant carried a M1903 Springfield while the first assistant carried a M1911 pistol, although photographs from the era indicate that the first assistant sometimes also wielded an infantry rifle. The BAR was frequently used in conjunction with other weapons such as hand grenades or rifles. By the summer of 1918 American troops were frequently issued American fragmentation hand grenades or “poor man’s artillery.” American troops were previously issued French hand grenades, which held a pin covered with a metal cap and sealing wax. Pressure on the pin would ignite the fuse, which detonated the weapon in about five seconds. The American grenade featured a cotter pin fixed with a pull ring, and a spring-loaded safety lever. The American grenade proved much safer than the hazardous French variety. Even with the cotter pin removed it couldn’t ignite until the user released the safety lever. For special combat missions some troops stuffed their pockets with grenades while others were issued grenade sacks like the ones seen here, carried by the first and second assistant gunners.

Johnny Shumate



Each member of the three-man BAR teams of World War I played a specific role and carried a specific ammunition belt. The gunner, of course, carried the BAR, which was often referred to in this period as the Browning Machine Rifle (BMR). The first assistant gunner served as the loader while the second assistant gunner carried extra ammunition. The gunner’s belt held a metal cup for seating the BAR’s butt when fired from the hip. It also held two pouches for his .45 cal. automatic pistol magazines and four pouches for holding two BAR magazines each. The first assistant gunner (central figure) wore a belt that featured two pouches for .45cal automatic pistol magazines and five BAR magazine pouches. The second assistant gunner (right-hand figure) wore a belt that held four pouches – two on each side – for M1903 Springfield rifle clips plus four BAR magazine pouches. The second assistant carried a M1903 Springfield while the first assistant carried a M1911 pistol, although photographs from the era indicate that the first assistant sometimes also wielded an infantry rifle. The BAR was frequently used in conjunction with other weapons such as hand grenades or rifles. By the summer of 1918 American troops were frequently issued American fragmentation hand grenades or “poor man’s artillery.” American troops were previously issued French hand grenades, which held a pin covered with a metal cap and sealing wax. Pressure on the pin would ignite the fuse, which detonated the weapon in about five seconds. The American grenade featured a cotter pin fixed with a pull ring, and a spring-loaded safety lever. The American grenade proved much safer than the hazardous French variety. Even with the cotter pin removed it couldn’t ignite until the user released the safety lever. For special combat missions some troops stuffed their pockets with grenades while others were issued grenade sacks like the ones seen here, carried by the first and second assistant gunners.

Johnny Shumate


   
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