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Thompson Sub Machine guns

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by DavidW, Oct 10, 2014.

  1. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Were "Tommy" guns ever issued as part of the Weapons Establishment of Field Companies/Squadrons or Field Park Companies/Squadrons in 1942?
     
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  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    When I was first called up in October 1942 I was delighted to see my first Tommy Gun but can't remember getting a chance to fire one.

    In March 1945 I was equally delighted to see it was part of my Honey tank's weaponry and I mentioned it here:

    http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/22670-booty-looting-etc/

    Ron
     
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  3. No.4CommandoBairn

    No.4CommandoBairn Well-Known Member

    Dad, slap-bang in the front - middle, with his. '41, probably up at Achnacarry. Photo courtesy of the CVF.
     

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  4. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Hmm, a good question.

    In 1940, the Thompson was only just beginning to appear in British service when the German offensive hit the BEF; some members of 50th Division got instruction on them, but I have not read any accounts of their use in action in the '40 campaign. A year later, they were pretty scarce in the Western Desert; the 9th Australian Div treated them as special weapons and issued them only on an 'as needed' basis. That is for the frontline infantry, never mind sappers. By '42, though, you have Spike Milligan getting one in 56th Heavy Regiment, while still based in the UK. I would imagine that sappers in the WD could get their hands on them by then as well, though I have no idea what the scale of issue might have been.
     
  5. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    1.5 million manufactured during ww2.

    First photo seen of British troops with the Thompson was November 1940.
     
  6. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    A rarity among Canadian infantry. Cost to manufacture was $25.00 versus the very unreliable Sten gun at $3.00.
     
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  7. No.4CommandoBairn

    No.4CommandoBairn Well-Known Member

    I've always pictured dad with his machine gun (and his FS) although they were trained to use various types of weapons.

    I presume he'd have used a rifle in '40 when he went, with No10 Independent Company, to Africa for Operation Menace?
     
  8. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    Thompsons were still being used by the RAN in the 1960's
     

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  9. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    A posed photo as there is no Magazine inserted :D

    Regards
    Tom
     
  10. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  11. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    To answer your question: no. Tommy guns weren't listed in the War Establishments. What was listed were the number of machine carbines, PIATS, pistols etc.
     
  12. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that JohnS.

    I wonder how it might be possible to find out how many "Tommy" guns were issued to various types of Companies, not just engineers.
     
  13. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    David:

    I don't know about other arms, but for the infantry allotment of submachine guns during WWII I would suggest this site:
    http://www.bayonetstrength.150m.com/

    By 1944 one man in each rifle section had an SMG, and infantry platoon leaders carried one as well. The site above will give some detailed breakdowns.

    In the British Army SMGs were also widely issued to dispatch riders and vehicle crews, presumably because they were lighter and took up less space than rifles. The WWII description was "submachine carbine." Tables of organization and equipment (TOEs) do not always specify the indivdual type (Thompson or Sten). The Sten was the preferred and most common type from 1943 until the end of the war, but some units held on to their Thompsons because they preferred them to the Sten. Issue of the Sten was not as widespread in the Mediterranean as in 21 Army Group, so the Thompson remained more common in Italy and the Middle East. Some infantry units in Italy were also issued with the American M3 SMG (the "Grease Gun.")
     
  14. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    A friend of mine showed me a picture of himself holding a Thompson sitting in his hooch in Vietnam in the mid sixtiers. He was in the US Army. Come to think of it a co-worker told me they had some Thomspons on his US Navy ship in Vietnam as well.

    The black and white snapshot was labeled, "Me with Chopper" :)
     
  15. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    R63871 Ordinary Seaman George A Lester, steel helmeted and armed with a Thompson sub-machine gun, on alert as an upper deck sentry onboard the Daring class destroyer HMAS Duchess. He is on alert against enemy underwater sappers or other attacks. As a safety precaution, the magazine has been removed from the weapon, and will only be fitted in the event of a confirmed threat. His ship is escorting the troop transport HMAS Sydney carrying soldiers and cargo to Vietnam. This is a side trip for HMAS Duchess during its deployment to the Indonesian Confrontation.
     
  16. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    In the SWPA some sections in the Australian infantry had one or two rifles (EY included for grenade dischargers) the rest armed with SMG's and Brens. The doctorine was that on ambush maximum firepower was used in the assault/contact drill. The 2/1 Batt arranged an exchange of 43 rifles for Thomspson SMG with the 2/1 Fld Reg which nearly doubled their companys fire power on the Kokoda Track (normal early on was one or possibly two per section)
    Photo shows a section of the 2/5 Battalion 17Bde 6th Division AIF. known as the The "Devils Own" outfit, who are using 4 Thompsons in the section
     

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  17. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    R63871 Ordinary Seaman George A Lester, steel helmeted and armed with a Thompson sub-machine gun, on alert as an upper deck sentry onboard the Daring class destroyer HMAS Duchess. He is on alert against enemy underwater sappers or other attacks. As a safety precaution, the magazine has been removed from the weapon, and will only be fitted in the event of a confirmed threat. His ship is escorting the troop transport HMAS Sydney carrying soldiers and cargo to Vietnam. This is a side trip for HMAS Duchess during its deployment to the Indonesian Confrontation.

    ;)
    Wasn't there a safety catch fitted on the Thompson?

    Regards
    Tom
     
  18. No.4CommandoBairn

    No.4CommandoBairn Well-Known Member

    I seem to recall dad saying ... or mam telling me ...that he'd go swaggering up and down Hazlerigg's main street with his tommy-gun til the powers that be thought it best not to have such things too readily at hand. Guns etc would also be kept in civvy billets ... FS knives, however, had to be handed in - or should have been. One of the few times dad paid heed - or mebbies it's cos his lot were watched while doing so that I don't have his personal one. Drat. ;)
     
  19. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Depends on Division. Some commanders did not approve of such gangster guns and would have them shunted off to Field Regiments or support services enmass just to be somewhat rid of them.

    Can't have troops putting too much led down range. Its silly. Is the sort of attitude by a particular type of Div Commanders in Home Forces... so more digging needed methinks.
     
  20. gpo son

    gpo son Senior Member

    If I may add/correct. The Canadian army was supplied with Thompson Machine guns right up until early Spring '44 when they were swopped out to match the British Army WE (the much maligned) 9mm Sten gun, which made supply logistics easier in the Normandy Campaign (NWE). however the 1st CID and the 5th CAD in Italy kept their Thompsons; again, because the 8th army was suppiled with them. However on the transfer to NWE in Febuary/March 45 the 1st CID and 5th CAD; too, relinquished their much loved Thompson for the Sten of the NWE.
    On the rest of the topic units were provided weapons based on what the war establishment required regrdless of the units role. All soldiers had weapons and were trained their use again regardless of their trade.

    PS
    WE was indeed a very murkie subject as scroonging was ever present and as in the LAD, the gun smiths secretly horded written off arms and rebuilt as many as possible to the benefit of augmenting the WE.

    Happy New Year
    Matt
     
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