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Went to the Museum of Appalachia, in Clinton, Tennessee. I wasn't looking for World War One items, but in the Appalachian Hall of fame there, I ran across this:
P1000015 (800x600).jpg P1000013 (600x800).jpg P1000014 (505x640).jpg P1000023 (640x559).jpg

I think I recall reading about this gun when it surfaced in Mass. either here or on the MG forum. Good to see it has landed all right. I will have to go back and try to get some photos without reflections. Mighty historic piece.
 

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This is interesting! Thanks for posting it. Worked with John Rice Irwin 8-10 years ago in locating and procuring a John Gillespie made muzzleloading rifle for the Museum.

Also friends with Andy York, Sgt. York's youngest son and with Cletis York, his nephew. All of us are in our late 70's+ now ;-)! Andy told me some years ago that his Dad kept a diary during his combat times against regulations, and was reprimanded a couple of times by his CO for doing so. (Possible intel value if captured, I guess). Andy has these diaries, and plans to donate them to the Sgt.York School in Jamestown, Tennessee I think, if he hasn't done so already.

The York School in Jamestown also has on display one of two Lugers that Sgt. York brought home from Germany. Sgt. York gave the Luger that he took from the surrendering German officer to a personal friend, an attorney, in Louisville, Kentucky. This Luger has disappeared totally according to what Andy told me 12-15 years ago, and no one has any idea where it is. Sgt. York, according to Andy, always referred to the Lugers as "them ole German JUMP UP pistols" and would mimic the back sliding action when fired with his hand.

Also totally disappeared is Sgt. York's Springfield Rifle that he carried during his combat time in France. The rifle was stowed in the armory aboard the SS Ohian on the return voyage home, but when the ship off-loaded no trace of it could be found. The rifle has never turned up according to what Andy told me.
 

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Too bad. Aside from the loss to History, it might have headed off all the periodic debates over whether York used an '03 Springfield or a Model 1917 rifle. For the record, I go with an '03, despite the fact York's division was officially armed with 1917's. Some men, York included, did have 1903 rifles. (Doesn't prove anything one way or the other as regards York's 82nd Division, but I've got a "yard long" photo of an infantry company from the 84th Division. It was also armed with 1917's, which show up very clearly in the hands of most of the men. Except, every here and there, is somebody with an '03. Shows that it was possible.)

I've got a diary kept during combat by a member of the 27th Division. I knew the man in his later years. Equally against regulations, as far as possible intel value to the enemy, especially since it includes several neatly recorded pages of codes, from when he was sent to a signals course while in France. These pages are carefully headed, "These Pages To Be Destroyed. Not to be Allowed to Fall Into The Hands of The Enemy."
 

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The 03 v 1917 debate will open a Big can of worms, The American Rifleman even got into the fray a year or so ago. One story had York "aquiring an 03" from a Marine unit, I find that funny as most Marines I've known "aquired" things from Army or Navy units........LOL
 

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I live about 15 miles from the Museum of Appalachia and it's been years since I was there. I didn't know the Maxim was there.
 

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According to Andy York this Springfield 03 vs the British 1917 rifle is covered in the diaries, and here is what Andy said and how our discussion came about. This was fairly recent like 4 or 5 years ago:

We were at the annual York Memorial "Over The Log" muzzleloading Rifle Match held each March in Pall Mall, Tennessee (Sgt. York's home, and much of his family is still there). That evening a few of us were sitting around the fire talking about the events of the day when this controversial 03/Eddystone issue came up. Andy said that his Dad had recorded in his diary that his Unit had trained Stateside on the 03, and were issued this piece. When the Unit debarked England for the front in France, the 03's were collected from the Unit and Eddystones were issued as replacement arms to the disgust of the Southern Boys in the Unit. Most of the Unit were firearms inexperienced northerners and included a number of immigrants recently arrived from various places in Europe mostly. However, once the Unit reached the front there were a number of 03's available (from battle casualties I would guess) and members of the Unit were offered whichever of the two pieces they preferred. Andy said his Dad (and some others) chose an 03 because he had trained on it and, very importantly, the notched rear sight and post or blade front sight were virtually the same as the sights on Appalachian Mountain caplock muzzleloaders that Sgt. York was experienced with having grown up on these. So, based on this info I would assume that Sgt. York came by an 03 at the last minute officially via the chain of command and not by horse trading with one of the Navy's Projectiles ;-)!

Later that evening I made the comment that I bet Sgt. York regretted not having his "disappeared" 03 to shoot in rifle matches held there on his farm about every Saturday in the year! Andy laughed and said his Dad probably would not have used it because he had been presented by Winchester Arms with an original 1873 Winchester lever action rifle and dearly loved the piece and was pretty darn good with it!
 

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Hello Gents,

Great thread! Thank you for posting the info on the MG08 tplan! That's one hell of a find considering the known provenance of the weapon relative to the most famous Doughboy of WWI!!! While not quite on par with the finding of Gavril Princep's Browning, it still is an amazing piece of History!

Wonderful stories Woodsrunner. Thank you for your personal input. If you are still in direct touch with Mr. York's surviving relatives, it would be of great interest to confirm beyond question that then Corporal York was carrying an 03 on that historic day. I write for GUNS Magazine and a photocopy from Sgt. York's personal diary would most certainly put the debate to rest once and for all.

It would be an honor to write the true story and would be more than happy to send the draft to the Family for approval prior to publication.

Warmest regards,

John
 

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I do hope that you get the diary copies. It would be good so see something definitive written, based on primary source evidence.

Interesting how the '03 vs. 1917 debate has swung back and forth over the years. Time was, particularly before as much was known about how the AEF was equipped, conventional wisdom was that York had used an '03. As more became known about how 1917 rifles predominated in the AEF, I began to hold to him having used one of those. Partly, l'll admit, by way of defying the conventional wisdom.
Over time, with awareness of how the 82nd Division was armed, conventional wisdom shifted to York actually having used a 1917 rifle. For a while I thought so too, but have come around to his having used an '03. Partly due to word about the diary entries, which have come up before, and partly due to photographs such as I mentioned above, showing '03 rifles in formations officially (and primarily) armed with 1917's. I'm not sure, however, that this is widely accepted as of yet. A lot of people are still firmly convinced that he did use a 1917 rifle.

As a more subjective comment, owning and firing both types, I'm not at all sure he could have pulled it off with a 1917. The '03 is so much smoother and faster, and easier handling, that I personally think it far more likely to have been the rifle actually employed by York.

Of course, I wasn't there that day, so the most I can say is that I think it "probable" that he used an '03. At least until the diary entries are made public. ;)
 

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With the 100th Anniversary of the Great War right around the corner, there is little doubt that this subject will come up again and again until such time as irrefutable evidence of this sort surfaces. Until then........

Always a pleasure Gents!

Warmest regards,

JPS
 

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If that is a true transcript of York's diary, then it looks like it is not definitive, as he states "In this battle I was using a rifle and a .45 Colt automatic pistol." And "I was still sharpshooting with that-there old army rifle. "
"LeHavre, France: So we got to France at Le Havre. There we turned in our guns and got British guns. " This quote would lead one to believe that he did have a M1917, I can not see anything in the transcript of his diary where he tells of trading it for an American Army rifle, but I read it quickly.
Best
Gus
 

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JPS,

A "Heads-Up"....

You have a private message sent by me several minutes ago. Hopefully it will come through as it should, but it seems that I have about a 50/50 success ratio sending private messages. Please let me know if you don't receive it. You're dealing with an electronically challenged Georgia Mountain Country Boy here, so be patient!
 

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"LeHavre, France: So we got to France at Le Havre. There we turned in our guns and got British guns. " This quote would lead one to believe that he did have a M1917, I can not see anything in the transcript of his diary where he tells of trading it for an American Army rifle, but I read it quickly.
Best
Gus
Gus,

That quote does not mean an M1917. It actually confirms supply of an SMLE.

The 82nd was part of the 10 Division scheme coordinated between the US and Great Britain and the 82nd was trained by the British 66th Division in the St Valery area. While part of the training they received British weapons and then turned them back-in and received US weapons again.

What did the 82nd receive back again M1917 or 03's. I don't think anyone has answered that question.

Below is more info on the entire scheme with verbatim info pulled from the US Official records:


The equipping of US divisions by the British Army was a serious matter. It initially came into play with what would be called the 6 Division plan, later 10 Divisions actually fell under it. The agreement basically stated that Britain would supply enough shipping for 6 (later 10) complete US divisions if these served on the British front. Eventually the 77th, 82d, 35th, 28th, 4th, 30th, 27th, 33d, 78th, and 80th US Divisions all were part of this scheme and received SMLE’s at one point or another. The US 37th, 91st and 92 Division was not part of this plan but served in the British sector for a time.

It was basically a disaster from the beginning and caused much bad feelings amongst the AEF towards the British. Prior to the agreement Britain declared no shipping would be available. However, shipping might be found for individual battalions that could be incorporated into British Divisions. Pershing soundly rejected this proposal. When Britain put forth the counter proposal that she could supply enough shipping for 6 Divisions, if they served on the British front, Pershing is noted as sarcastically remarking about the miraculous appearance of what had been non-existent shipping. Not a good way to start a working relationship.

Eventually several modified agreements were reached that stated that the training of six, later 10, American divisions with the British will be carried out in three periods:
Period A Preliminary training out of the line.
Period B Attachment to British troops in the line.
Period C Advanced training by regiments in a back area.
After Period C has been completed regiments should be ready to go into the line and
take over a sector as part of British division who will withdraw a brigade to make room
for them.

This effort did not work. As most of the US Divisions were withdrawn from the British sector long before the training was completed due to various reasons e.g, real world contingencies, US complaints the British troops assigned to train in phase A (B1 Divisions) were sub standard and battle fatigued, and the use of US troops with out US permission (Hamel incident etc.)

Below are extracts from the UNITED STATES ARMYIN THE WORLD WAR, 1917-1919
Training and Use of American Units With the British and French
Volume 3.

Note that the following are actually British Army Documents and not American.


FROM: Lt. Col. George S. Simonds, General Staff 1 March 1918
TO: Chief of Staff, A. E. F.
1. As a result of the preliminary conferences and those, which have been held since my arrival, the following points have been agreed upon with regard to the supply and equipment of the six divisions to be brought to the British front:
(a) American troops will arrive with equipment C except transportation, machine guns, automatic rifles, Stokes mortars, and 37-mm. guns.
(b) The British will furnish for the duration of the period on this front, transportation both motor and animal, including rolling kitchens and the necessary carts of various types: Vickers and Lewis guns in place of our machine guns and automatic rifles: and 3” Stokes mortars.
(c) Our Ordnance Department will obtain from the French the 37-mm. guns with the necessary ammunition and appurtenances.
(d) The British C-in-C has approved the proposition of turning over to us permanently all animal transportation and has requested from the British War Office authority to do so, this question remains unsettled until reply is received. Motor transportation cannot be turned over permanently.
(e) The British rifle and ammunition will be used. American rifles and ammunition brought over will be stored at suitable places, presumably in the training areas. They cannot furnish pistols.
(f) Ammunition supply, except pistol and 37-mm.. will be handled by the British as for their own troops.
(g) Bombs, grenades, rockets, and flares: same as (f).
(h) The British will provide all subsistence and replacements of clothing. The rum ration will be omitted.
(i) The British will furnish the necessary mounts and mounted equipment.
(k) It is understood that the artillery, including the ammunition tram and trench mortar battery, will be first sent to the American front and for the present no arrangements are being made for them here. With regard to the small arms ammunition supply, which is normally handled by our divisional ammunition tram, the British trains will take that over during the stay of our infantry here, or until our artillery is brought to this front.

----------------------------------------------------------
No. 52-A
0. BJ2196
[Extract]
The prospective arrival of additional American divisions will necessitate a recasting of the arrangements now in vogue for training these divisions.
At present the following cadre divisions are employed with American divisions as under:
16th Division with the American 4th Division in the Samer area
30th Division with the American 35th Division in the Eu and Gamaches area
34th Division with the American 28th Division in the Lumbres area
39th Division with the American 77th Division in the Recques area
66th Division with the American 82d Division in the St-Valery area
Arrangements will now have to be made to provide a supervising establishment and a training staff for the American 27th, 30th, 33d, 78th and 80th Divisions. Under the new scheme for the formation of Anglo-American divisions which is now being considered, it is proposed that 2 British brigade staffs and 8 battalion training staffs should proceed with the American divisions to the southern training areas. In order to provide a supervising establishment and battalion training staffs for the additional American divisions without forming new staffs, it is proposed to utilize the spare brigade staffs and battalion training staffs of the divisions already detailed with American formations, supplemented by battalion training staffs from B1 Divisions, and to move these brigade staffs and battalion training staffs into the new areas to which American divisions will be directed on arrival. This will involve the following arrangements being made:
One brigade staff and 4 battalion training staffs of the 39th Division to the Eperlecques area to train the American 30th Division.
One brigade staff and 4 battalion training staffs of the 34th Division to an area west of the Lumbres to train the American 78th Division.
One brigade staff and 4 battalion training staffs of the 66th Division to the Rue area to train the American 27th Division.
One brigade staff and 4 battalion training staffs of the 30th Division to Hallencourt area to train the American 33d Division,
One brigade staff and 4 battalion training staffs of the 16th Division to an area to be selected later to train the American 80th Division. This will involve the transfer of 2 battalion training staffs to each of the 30th and 66th Divisions, and 5 battalion training staffs to each of the 16th and 34th Divisions
from the 39th Division (1). 40th Division (6) and 59th Division (7).
Each of the above brigade staffs will be affiliated to their respective divisions and will be assisted insofar as is necessary by the divisional staffs of those divisions.* * *

May [22], 1918.
C. G. S..
Chief, General Staff.
 

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Judging from the documentation attached to the gun, it has no Sgt. York provenance. A guy from New England brought it home out of a pile of guns. I remember when the story about this gun came out, that it was found in an attic and so on, but I am not seeing how it became connected to York. It just looks like a representative piece that is on display in the museum, that may have seen action in a theater he fought in. Am I missing something?
 

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JPS,

A "Heads-Up"....

You have a private message sent by me several minutes ago. Hopefully it will come through as it should, but it seems that I have about a 50/50 success ratio sending private messages. Please let me know if you don't receive it. You're dealing with an electronically challenged Georgia Mountain Country Boy here, so be patient!

Hello woodsrunner,

Yes, thank you! I have received your PM and have already responded. Hopefully something will come of this, but either way your contributions to this thread have been both excellent and informative.

If the Family is so certain that then Coporal York carried an 03, I would have to assume that they have documentation supporting this. I've read the online copy of the excerpts from York's diary before. The question is, was this written later as suggested by some folks in this thread and is it the entire Diary, or just a selection of entries? It mentions the purchase of a small French bound book in which he recorded events while in France. If the website is not complete, then the possibility exists that somewhere in else in the Diary there is mention of the specific rifle he was issued before his first posting in the front line trenches.

When you consider his marksmanship skills, I have a very hard time believing that he did not make note of the specific rifle that he was issued and eventually carried into combat? Based on woodsrunner's feedback from the Family who appear to be certain that he carried an 03 in battle, they must have something to substantiate this belief.

We'll see what happens?

Great info as always Joe! Remarkable!

Great thread Gents, one and all.

Warmest regards,

John
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Judging from the documentation attached to the gun, it has no Sgt. York provenance. A guy from New England brought it home out of a pile of guns. I remember when the story about this gun came out, that it was found in an attic and so on, but I am not seeing how it became connected to York. It just looks like a representative piece that is on display in the museum, that may have seen action in a theater he fought in. Am I missing something?
At the time it was displayed in Mass. (1919 Armistice Day Parade) it was listed in the papers as being one of the guns York captured. Presumably there must be sone documentation from the person who sent it back to the States saying this was so. There was a thread either when it first surfaced in '02 or when they were searching for a way to keep it from being destroyed in '07 that discussed it in more detail. I believe the provenance is pretty well established.
 

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At the time it was displayed in Mass. (1919 Armistice Day Parade) it was listed in the papers as being one of the guns York captured. Presumably there must be sone documentation from the person who sent it back to the States saying this was so.
Apparently, at one time, captured German MGs were wandering all around this country.
The story attached to this one MG 08/15 may have just been a white lie tying it to the most famous American soldier of WWI that, with the passage of time, got some legs.

I assisted with a "clean out" of our local library in a building that had once been the local widow and orphans home. In the basement I recovered a great stockpile of old photos and plates of our town. One photo was of the old firehouse. Along the parapets there were five MG 08s mounted.

As you can imagine, that photo lit a fire under my curiosity.

Asking around, I found out that they had been mounted up there after the war and left there for -as best anyone can recall- until around WWII.

Now, I'm sure they suffered some corrosion over the course of 20 years and might have been inoperable or otherwise incomplete, but they are now long gone and no one knew where they went. I wish I'd found an MG 08 in that basement instead of just a photo.
 

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I've seen a similar photo. A fire department here in KY had two MG08s and two 08/15s on its roof. As I understand it, the govt literally gave away maxims after the. They are probably one of the more common unregistered guns out there, given this fact. They were dewatted by breaking off a feed lever or throwing out the lock, hence the rarity of these parts today.
 
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