July 26th, 2016, 05:20 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Chesterfield, VA
They (US Army) trained with the 03 here but were issued M1917s over there.
My grandpa never talked to me about it. He did tell my dad a few stories.
He told dad he kept his rifle as spotless/clean as possible. He said it nearly "shined" he kept it so clean.
He told dad (one time when he was drinking) that dad and his siblings were "here by luck". He said he'd gotten out of the trenches one day and snuck back into the woods to take a dump. He found a suitable spot, dropped his drawers, leaned back against the tree and did his business. He stood up, pulled his pants up and turned to sneak back to the trench when something smacked into the mud in front of him and threw dirt/mud all over his uniform. He looked down to see a dud mortar round had landed about 3 to 4 feet in front of him.
He told dad that French women were fun.
I have his helmet and one of his medals. His uniform used to be in a trunk in his bedroom but it (the trunk) disappeared many years ago and my parents didn't know which one of the other siblings (or their children) took it, so that piece of history is gone.
When I first starting collecting the old rifles my grandpa was already gone. Dad looked at me one time and asked me how I felt about guns that probably killed people. I replied that I hoped those old guns killing enemy soldiers got the young US servicemen home safely. Dad seemed okay with that idea and never mentioned that again. Years later, he told me he wished his dad could have seen the old 03's, M1917's, etc. that I'd collected.
I have, on more than one occasion, handed an old US rifle to a war veteran and you can see a change come over their face, their eyes, as they take it in hand, open the bolt, look it over and some even throw it to their shoulder and sight in on some imaginary target off in the distance. Then those old memories lose that temporary control they had exerted over the old muscles and joints and the drop the rifle down, look at it once more and hand it back to you. Some are done at that point but some will tell you a story, or two, from their time with similar rifles.
Those are memories you don't forget. That look that comes over them, the change, the stories, you can't forget them.