Sunday, June 06, 2010

The sixth of June, 2010.

It seemed to be a good day to buy a gun from a WWII vet. (The same guy I bought the Dreyse 1907 from at the last show; he kinda remembered me, towards the end.)

It's a Great War-bringback Mauser 1914. It's been re-blued, albeit nicely, and needs a striker (I'm guessing it probably spent time in someone's shadowbox: "It's okay, Edna, I took the firing pin out. The grandkids can touch it.")

I probably could have chipped a couple more bucks off the price for the absent striker but, hey, he's a WWII vet, and as far as I'm concerned, the events of this day sixty-six years ago earn him a couple extra bucks in my book.


Jay G said...

You're a good person, Tamara K.

Mr.Wolf said...

My father was in the Green Howards. (English infantry.) They were given a lecture, 'who wants to join the Parachute Regiment?'
Dad was like one of those little terriers, you know the kind, pocket-sized, but a lot of heart. I think he was five feet eight the tallest day of his life, but he walked like a giant. He volunteered.
'Don't go', said his friends. 'Being a paratrooper is dangerous. Stay here with us.'
He cross-badged to the Para's, had an interesting war, and a fascinating life, dying in 1995.
His friends? Well, the Green Howards hit the beach on June 6th., right in front of a brave and determined Wermacht machine-gun team. Two men from his company made it up the beach. His platoon was wiped out to a man.
He only spoke about it a couple of times that I know of. 'Safety is an illusion,' he said. 'If I'd gone for the safe option, I'd have died in 1944.'

I think you might have liked him.

Best wishes.

Todd said...

A good soul. I wish more people gave more attention to what happened 66 years ago today. Thousands died before they ever made it off the beach, the landing was almost a disaster, objectives that were to be reached on June 6 weren't for weeks to come. But it was the beginning of the end of the European war. Everyone who took part in that day deserves more thanks than a country can give.

Lorimor said...

Amen amen AMEN!!

jimbob86 said...

25 years ago, I awoke in an Army bunk and realized I would be starting Basic training on D-Day.... I figured that whatever happened to me, worse things had happened to better people....

Scott McCray said...

I have one of those - it's a sweet little pistol. It belonged to my Dad - he spent the war Stateside, so I'm not quite sure where he acquired it. He was in San Francisco with his unit ready to ship out for the Pacific Theater when the surrender was signed.
Mine is really past any collector value, as it has a non-matching barrel and has had 1934 style grips put on it. But it was Pop's so I think it's worth keeping.

Those guys and gals truly were the greatest generation.


Ed Foster said...

You got me wallowing in nostalgia again. I went to Wikipedia and looked at my Dad's ship during WWII, U.S.S. Belleau Wood, CVL-24. He was a plank owner on her, as he helped fit her out in Camden N.J.

He was on survivor's leave after going down on the USS Erie, PG50, off Curacao.

He was a crew chief on an SBD, but he'd been an aerial gunnery instructor in the AAF before the war, and usually could wangle back seat when casualties allowed.

He didn't lack for adventure in that war. He would come down with "Tar Fever" (Malaria) for 3 or 4 days every September, and lay on the couch delirious and sweating, and refighting every scary bit of it.

The greatest generation indeed. Formed by the depression, then the war. They did pretty good, didn't they.

Anonymous said...

Bringbacks; little hunks of history, functional or not...more of those "time machines" that you've written so eloquently about before.

I never got over how often one of those old boys would bring in their souveniers or personal treasures to sell because their kids or kids' spouses wouldn't allow a gun in the house. You could see the heartbreak in their eyes as they sold off pieces of themselves that they had probably figured would stay in the family forever.

I promised to find a good home for them, and usually did; that seemed to ease the pain a bit. And like you, Tam, I whoa'ed back on the negotiating pressure in those cases.

I also started, around the mid-90's, to try to get a little background on the memento and the man...and whether we made a deal or not I made a point of shaking the hands that saved the world and thanking them for it.

I'm not in the gun biz anymore so I don't make those deals now, except occasionally when the subject comes up as I'm buying a coin collection or estate jewelry from some of the many oldsters that come in my son's Florida vintage jewelry store.

But I do still shake those hands while I still have the chance, and it really seems to brighten the day of these fellows to also shake the hand and be thanked by my mid-20's son who developed an appreciation for their niche of history when he read and saw the Band of Brothers book and movie, and researched their connection to the North Georgia town near where he lived for several years.

Soon they will all be gone, but what they did and their impact on the world is their living legacy. We can, all of us, only hope to pass from this world with half the quiet pride and humble sense of accomplishment that is testament to the men and women of that era.

Al Terego

Anonymous said...

Thank you Al.

og said...


I have access to an unmolested model, and can provide you with a dimensional drawing of the missing part should you desire, if you don't already have a source.

theirritablearchitect said...

"Bringbacks; little hunks of history, functional or not...more of those "time machines" that you've written so eloquently about before."

Yes, yes, yes.

Did you get the story about how he came to own that Mauser?

Just as important as the rifle.

Did it MY way said...

I have my dad's M-1 Garand. I'll pass it to my son. I know he understands the meaning.

George said...

Every time I read such an account of history, whether it's from you, or Stormbringer, or whomever, I well up. Not just because of the enormous sacrifice, but because the
re-writers of history have made it so today's youth mostly haven't a clue--they don't know Audie Murphy, or Chuck Yeager, but know the last umpteen winners of American Idol!! And they wear Che' t-shirts, proudly! Thanks to you all for doing your part to keep passing real history along.

cma said...

Tam said...

"I haven't checked the usual suspects yet, but I'm hopeful. As many as found their way stateside, it shouldn't be too uncommon, right?"

This is the only one I can find:

Will said...

Tam, off topic, wipe this after reading:
"Iranian Caught Smuggling Arms Over Canadian Border"
Via Rivrdog > Ace of Spades HQ >
"they discovered more than $30,000 worth of high-powered weaponry, including a .50-caliber sniper rifle"

Justthisguy said...

I mind the prissy old guy who used to live next door. He had one more parachute jump than I, but his twelfth and last jump was in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944. He spent the rest of the night running around Normandy with a Thompson shooting people. He mentioned that the Thompson was annoyingly heavy. After the sun came up, he passed by an aid station. He recognized a German he had shot, who was in considerable pain (theoretically the medics treat all, friendly and enemy, without fear or favor, but practically...) and squirted his one and only morphine syrette into him. That was the act of a Christian gentleman.

og said...

BTW What was up with the Indy 1500? When did it become the indy 200? Is it always like this in June, I've never been in summer.

Matt said...

Whenever I read things like this it brings back memories of my Grandfather, Donald E. Bruce. He joined the Navy in 1925 at the age of 15 (used his older brother's birth certificate). He was serving aboard the USS Selfridge and stationed in Pearl Harbor when it was attacked. He never talked about his wartime experiences and the only thing I know for sure was that his best friend was killed at Pearl Harbor. He stayed in the Navy for 30 years and became a deputy sheriff in Virginia until he retired.

I was a kid when the movie Midway came out. Grandfather took my brother and I to see it. He sat in the back by himself watching it and I remember being worried about him. But that's the only time I ever saw him even hint at his feelings about the war except for refusing to buy a Japanese car until his dying day.

Grandfather died in 1995 at the age of 85. I still miss that old man a lot.

Anonymous said...

If he did not remeber you from the last show, Tam, then WWII was a long time ago for him. Did you get the story?

The WWII vets that I know of my father's generation are going away fast...