How were soldiers assigned their small arms in WW2?
In Band of Brothers some characters had m1 carbines, M1 garands, and the Thompson. There didn't seem to be any apparent distinctions- a radio man, a sergeant and a lieutenant had the SMGs, for example. How did the army decide who was assigned what?
- NaughtumsLv 77 years agoFavorite Answer
Then as today, according to the Tables of Organization and Equipment. It isn't random and nobody gets to chose whatever they think is cool.
In December 1944 a Rifle Squad in a Parachute Infantry Platoon consisted of 12 men. 8 of them were armed with the M1 Rifle. Two were armed with the M1 Rifle with grenade launching attachment (one was the assistant squad leader). Two were the machine gunner and his assistant who each carried the M1A1 Carbine as a personal weapon and between them were responsible for a M1919A6 "light" machine gun and a M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle. Before December of 44' there were 2 M1919A6 LMG's and no BAR, the BAR not having existed in the airborne units before then (this part the show got right). A Rifle Platoon consisted of 3 of these Rifle Squads plus a Mortar Squad of two 60mm tubes, the 7 crew all armed with the M1A1 Carbine.
TV always makes it seem like SMG's were more common than they were because hey, they look badass. As a point of fact there were officially only 18 M1 Thompson or M3 "Grease Gun" SMG's in a Parachute Infantry Battalion compared to 148 M1A1 Carbines and 556 M1 Rifles. BOB gets this just as wrong as all the others although to be fair there were cases of men drawing weapons not specifically authorized in the tables - but that is the exception, not the rule.
The Carbine was the standard weapon of men whose job was not primarily to be a trigger-puller; mortar crews, radio operators, cooks, truck drivers, clerks, etc, etc, etc... The Carbine was a self-defense weapon, more effective and easier to shoot than a pistol but lighter and handier than a rifle.
- Mark FLv 77 years ago
Weapons were assigned according to job (not rank) as described by the badger above.