US WWII Ammunition Plant Reloading .30 M2 Ball


#1

Hello Folks,

I am new to this forum and this is my first post.

I am attempting to research some information on US WWII ammunition production.

My father who is a USMC 4th Division veteran of the Pacific Theater mentioned something that I find interesting and would like to find out if he is correct.

He states that during the 4th’s first invasion at Roi-Namur, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands they had .30 caliber ball ammo in M1 clips for which the crates were marked something like “Reloaded - Not For Combat Use”. He even states that they avoided this ammo due to reports of occasional case head separations which could be catastrophic in combat situations. I have heard him mention this several times. One of his duties as a member of a Pioneer Batalion was offloading ammo from LCVPs after securing the beach head. In this role he saw a lot of ammo crates.

Do any members have any information concerning any US ammo plants reloading .30 caliber ball ammo for, which I would assume, training purposes? If so, please respond with reference links or publications.

Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide. This has now become an issue for me as someone is now calling my 86 YO veteran father a liar.

sigman2


#2

sigman

I can’t answer your question, but others may have something to offer.

I will say that anyone who calls a WW II Veteran a liar, is a scoundrel. For me, thank your dad for his service and may he have many more birthdays. :>)

Ray


#3

History Of Modern U.S. MilitarySmall Arms Ammunition, Vol II, page 66, does say that many Cal .30 steel cases were earmarked for use in dummy and blank rounds and for ball lots designated for training in the United States. It’s not unreasonable to assume that some of these cartridges could also have been shipped overseas.

Ray


#4

Just a thought: The ammunition crates may also have been marked as being “repackaged” (ie: battlefield pickups from earlier invasions). My uncle was a BAR man with the USMC 2nd Div. on Iwo then got rolled into the 4th Div. with your father. No disrespect here.

                                        Carey

#5

Tell your father “Semper Fi” for me. It is always an honor to be in the company of a WWII Marine. With the combined US ammunition manufacturers at full capacity, we made billions and billions of rounds of .30-06. In fact, by 1943-1944, several plants were put on standby status as inventories were so high. I can see no reason why any .30-06 would need to be reloaded, much less shipped all the way into the combat theater half a world away. I’ve also never seen any reference to this either. Most likely the crates were marked “repacked” instead of “reloaded”. Mixed lots and unknown lots with unknown storage history would not be desireable for combat issue, but OK for training. Why this ammunition got to shore is a good question…

No disrespect to your father, but our older veteran’s memories are not a sharp as they used to be. I have experienced this first hand with some of my older Marine buddies who are WWII and Korean War vets. Some of the details of their “sea stories” just don’t jive with history, or even the last time they told the story… I’m also in the process of researching the 1945 crash of a seaplane that my great uncle was a crewman on. He was killed in the crash, but I was able to locate a member of the squardon who remembers the crash. He was most helpful wth my research, even providing a unit diary and a personal account of the squadron’s operations. Unfortunately, his recollections do not exactly jive with the official records and reports I have in some important details.

On a similar note, almost all of the .50 BMG ammuntion I fired during my six years in the Marines (1987-1993) was WWII dated. I heard it claimed that this ammunition was “reloaded”. Most likely, what the person saw was “repacked” on the ammo cans. Much of this ammunition was re-linked for the M-85 machinegun and repacked…

AKMS


#6

Sigman 2,

I also have had experience with WWII vets and others of advanced age not having perfect memories, and have seen boxes marked “Repacked-For CONUS Training Use Only” as this often occurred when lot number integrity was lost. The ammo was repacked but restricted because without the lot number, it could not be reliably recalled, surveilled, etc. for future problems.

However, after WWII and I’m guessing before, there were cartons of cartridges that still contained instructions for recovering the brass and immediately washing in hot soapy water to prevent damage from corrosive salts. I don’t think these reloading programs were very successful (as opposed to general range cleanup and recycling which were very successful!) but that doesn’t mean your Dad wasn’t on the receiving end of this effort overseas.

We should try harder to capture the thoughts, memories, etc. of our WWII heroes, as they are rapidly disappearing, and our country has not had that maturing experience since!

Taber


#7

Am not sure that the insturctions for recovery and inhibiting of corrosion on brass was aimed at reloading it, but perhaps more at salvage. Badly corroded brass cases, expecially in small caliber ammunition, would probably not have been worth the costs to clean it at that stage, for salvage. I don’t know, off hand, of ANY military reloading of small arms ammunition in the United States during WWII. The amounts produced by American industry of new ammunition, even Grade A (Aircraft grade) were awesome. I am not sure they cared to waste man-hour and production machinery assets on reloading, when they were able to shut down a facility like Evansville Chrysler late in 1944, with the war expected to last perhaps as late as 1947, because they had produced so much ammunition in their calibers that it was not projected that any more would be needed.

If anyone has any confirmed knowledge of ANY American reloading activity relating to WWII (I am not talking about experiments, civilian reloading, or perhaps match ctg. reloading, but rather serial production for combat or even combat training), please post it, along with the source for the information, here. Thank you.

John Moss


#8

Dear JM,
There is some physical evidence that at some time (probably in the 1960s) WW II Ball Ammo was “dismantled” and the cases used to make M1909 Wadded Blanks.

When we were involved in both “The Thin Red Line” and “The Great Raid” (1996,2002-3) we used ( and I recovered) several 100,000s of rounds of Lake City( package) Lots of the 1960s, comprising Cases with headstamps which went back to FA NM 39 and 36 cases, as well as nearly all the WW II headstamps. This Blank (M1909) ammo came out of Jordanian Army Stores (US Mil.Aid, 1960s) in the early 1990s. (the same blanks were also used in “Saving Private Ryan”—we got them from the same British Milsurp supplier.
The cases look as if they were either Once-fired Ball cases, or reject or left over cases ( looking at the primer cup crimping, new crimping, absence of crimp, etc, either common to ball cases, or completely different ( “re-crimped”?).

I would surmise that some “Reloading” did occur during WW II, but ONLY for M1909 Blanks…as you said, they had enough production of Ball to obviate any “salvage or refilling” of cases to make more Ball ammo, even for “training” use.

Any “Training use only” ammo was most probably ammo which for what-ever reason, no longer passed inspection for Combat use, either by the Rule of Fives, or by actual function Testing by an Ordnance Corps “ATO” (Ammo Technical officer" ( British term, but concept is world wide.) and was downgraded to prevent it reaching the Front.

Also, “Repacked” was a common marking on ammo crates, as Millions of Rounds were repacked into New cartons for a variety of reasons ( Ammo inspection, Damage to outer packaging, and a host of other reasons…I have seen Cartridge Packets with “Repack” stamps on them on all US Calibres…such as KingsMill .30 carbine, .45 ACP (Evansville) and a host of .30/06 headstamps.

Regards,
DocAV
AV Ballistics.


#9

It is possible that blanks were made by reloading fired cases, although I have not heard of that before. It is absolutely true that they were made from rejected cases, and possibly cases left over from runs of other types (of course, the components never come out the same in number due to rejects of bullets, primers, cases, etc) so that almost any headstamp can be found on .30 blanks. I have openede boxes of blanks and found all to have the same heZAstamp, and then I have also opened them and found twenty different headstamps in a box.

John Moss


#10

Some info:

Blank, Cal. .30, M1909 - “Second-grade cases may be used in the assembly of blank ammunition.” (Catalog of Standard Ordnance Items, 1944)

“In the manufacture of these blank cartridges, cases are used which have been fired, or which have slight defects, rendering them unsuitable for use in ball cartridges.” (Description and Rules for the Management of the U. S. Magazine Rifle Model 1903, Caliber .30)


#11

Good information. What is the date on the “Rules of Management for the Springfield Model 1903.”??? We have been speaking in context of WWII, so if this is from the era of WWI or before, it may not apply. However, it is still really good information - just the kind of thing I was asking for. Thanks “BerdanIII.” I have dozens of U.S. Military Manuals, but never think to look in any of them for ammo information unless the entire manual relates to the subject. Stupid of me.

John Moss


#12

I wish I could ad to this thread, but I can not. Only that your Dad is a major hero and admired in a big way. Definitely the greatest generation. Anyhow, super interesting and am always amazed by the knowledge of you guys.

J


#13

[quote=“JohnMoss”]Am not sure that the insturctions for recovery and inhibiting of corrosion on brass was aimed at reloading it, but perhaps more at salvage. Badly corroded brass cases, expecially in small caliber ammunition, would probably not have been worth the costs to clean it at that stage, for salvage. I don’t know, off hand, of ANY military reloading of small arms ammunition in the United States during WWII. The amounts produced by American industry of new ammunition, even Grade A (Aircraft grade) were awesome. I am not sure they cared to waste man-hour and production machinery assets on reloading, when they were able to shut down a facility like Evansville Chrysler late in 1944, with the war expected to last perhaps as late as 1947, because they had produced so much ammunition in their calibers that it was not projected that any more would be needed.

If anyone has any confirmed knowledge of ANY American reloading activity relating to WWII (I am not talking about experiments, civilian reloading, or perhaps match ctg. reloading, but rather serial production for combat or even combat training), please post it, along with the source for the information, here. Thank you.

John Moss[/quote]

John,

My dad has told the same exact stories since I was old enough to listen and that’s been 50 years now. His details haven’t changed a bit so I don’t think he’s getting confused due to age.

The following may be of interest to you and other forum members.

Whenever I discuss a subject I can usually back it up with some sort of reference.

I did a little research and came up with this.

It seems that FA did reload .30 Ball before the war for training purposes.

It is not unlikely that this ammo was repacked on M1 clips and ended up in combat. Don’t forget, the USMC got the leftovers, especially early in the war.

The following is my reply to the other CMP forum poster.

I contact the military liaison at Lake City Ammo Plant and was given a name at the D.O.D. to contact. I have not contacted that person yet as I feel the following answers my question. Hopefully, this will prove “What never happened”.

Unless you have documentation to prove otherwise… end of story.

On May 12th I contacted Chris Punnet via e-mail. Mr Punnet is the author of .30/06.

The following is extracted from An Introduction to Collecting .30/06 from the the International Ammunition Association website cartridgecollectors.org/. This should show his credentials.

An Introduction to Collecting .30-06
by Chris Punnett
(Author of .30-06. A hard-bound 384-page volume covering the development and production of the .30-06 in 48 countries from its inception to the early 1990s
Copies available from booksellers, or from the author cpunnett@sympatico.ca.)

Mr Punnet has over 30 years experience in researching the .30/06 cartridge. He could not answer my questions. However, he did contact someone who could.

The following is his final reply to my question:

Richard,

Just got a response from the guy who was the Commanding Officer at Frankford Arsenal and then Lake City Ordnance Plant. “FA” in his email means Frankford Arsenal (in case you didn’t know)…

Chris: … --First, FA did from time to time through the 1920’s-1930’s reload .30 ball ammunition and also loaded lots with “second class” components–these being restricted to “Training Use Only” when the war started I would not be surprised that the depots were further instructed to mark the outer container with “Not For Combat Use”. I am surprised that these rounds were loaded in 8-round clips for the M1 Rifle since most it not all of these lots were loaded into 5-round clips or 20-round cartons. I do not know of any of the WW II Ordnance Plants reloading .30 cartridges, but they certainly produced lots that failed acceptance and were later re-classified “For Training Use Only”.

Please pardon a war story–but in 1951 I was in Korea–MG Plt, Co. M, 3rd Bn, 9th Inf, 2nd Inf Div and we were frequently supplied with .30 ammunition from operation “Roll-Up” (salvaged from WW II Pacific Depots) that was marked “Not For Combat Use” and never thought one thing or another about using it.

I would say that the old Marine recalled what he saw correctly and that during the early years of the war this ammunition was simply pressed into service and ended up in combat, despite the restrictions marked on the outer containers.

Hope this helps.

ChrisP.


NRA Endowment Member
Garand Collectors Association
The Carbine Club

In honor of my father, Howard C. Ricks. Corporal, Co. E, 2nd Battalion, 20th Marine Engineers, 4th Marine Division. Later renamed Co. B, 4th Pioneer Battalion after Marianna Operation. Service dates February 1943 to October 31, 1945, Combat action: Roi-Namur, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima. In search of his rifle SA 893999.
i140.photobucket.com/albums/r…ks/Maui44a.jpg


#14

Thanks to all the forum members who tried to assist me in this matter.

I also want to thank everyone for their kind words about my father. I’m damned proud of him!


#15

You should be proud of your father. The history of the Marine Corps in the Pacific War was one of extraordinary valor and endurance. Bless him and all the USMC Vets of that terrible campaign.

I know the source for the information that Chris Punnett sent you - he is a friend of mine. I should have asked him originally. However, his comment about the way the reloaded ammunition was packed - in Garand Clips rather than the Springfield clips of the time the ammo was actually being loaded and packed - was noted and that subject puzzles me still. One thing we can all agree on I think is that the ammunition cases in question were marked in some way that indicated they were not intended by regulation or the packing authority for combat use.

Regardless, I hope you did not think I was showning any disrespect to your father. It is astonishing that, with all the trauma these men were going through in the island-hopping battles they were fighting, that any of them could remember their own names after the war. I don’t know where we found men like these. I, for one, do not think that I could have met the trials of endurance and abject horror that these men went through with their courage and will to prevail. I hope that you have told your Dad of your pride in him, and that your pride is shared by all your “Forum Buddies” as well. Bless our combat veterans of all wars!

Also, than you, Sigman2, for you excellent followup to your own question. We all learn from each other, no matter how long we have been studying this subject.

John Moss


#16

John,

I see nothing in your posts that could in any way be taken as disrespectful.

Clarification:
The man that Mr. Punnet contacted did not say that this ammunition was packed in M1 clips. He stated that it was packed on 5 rd. clips or 20 rd. boxes.

I am making the assumption that this ammo could easily have been repacked on M1 clips, intended for training purposes only but made it’s way into combat loading.

In WWII, especially the early stages, The USMC was strapped for equipment and supplies. They only got the leftovers. This may explain why this ammo made it into combat. Or it could have been combat loaded in error.

However, Dad does remember the crates being marked something like “Reloaded - Not For Combat Use”. They encountered a number of case head separations with that ammo which is not a good thing in combat. After word got out they avoided it like the plague. He remembers they didn’t have ruptured case extractors so thay had to dump some sand down the chamber, ram another cartridge in and hope it caught the damaged case to extract it.

Great field expedient!

I hope I have uncoverd some info that will be of interest to the forum members.

Take care.

sigman2


#17

Thanks to all you guys… there was nothing in your posts that even sounded disresptful.

Good shooting, collecting or whatever you enjoy.


#18

Sigman - Thanks for the clarification - I read it wrong. I am not at my best right now for sure!
Thanks also for the additional information. You are right that the Marines did not have equipment priority early one. They started Guadalcanal with 03 Springfields at a time when the Army had almost full issue of the M1 Garand in combat units (rear echelon and other support troops still had Springfields and 1917 Enfields in the Army, though). When the Army reinforced the Marines on Guadalcanal, they had M1s and many Marines "acquired’ them for the remiander of the fighting. Despite Pearl Harbor, by Anglo-American Agreement, Europe was first priority, and the Pacific and CBI campaigns were “sideshows” until the defeat of Germany, when everything then turned to the defeat of Japan.

Interesting thread. I learned a lot I didn’t know. Proves that at even at age 70, with 45 years of studying ammunition, you can learn new things every day. Thanks to all for the added information on this thread.

John Moss


#19

Further to the info that FA did “reload” ball ammo in the 20s etc, it is notable that on pre-1930 packets (20 rounds) there was printed instructions ON THE Cartons, as to the care of Fired cases, to the extent of washing them in Washing soda and warm water, before drying them and packing them up for return to the Ammo depot etc…By WW II, this instruction had been changed to “Fired cases are to be disposed of according to ARs” without any “case preservation” details.

The Washing soda was obviously from removing any corrosive salts which could have oxidised the brass. Washing Soda== Sodium Carbonate; a less damaging substance than “Caustic Soda” ( Caustic Lye), the Washing variety used in laundry operations back when… Plain Lye was “Potash” (Potassium Hydroxide, made by water-leaching Pot-Ash (Wood ash from the fireplace, ) and used to make soap, refine saltpetre (Gunpowder, etc) etc…the beginnings of Industrial Chemistry.

Regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


#20

John Moss:

“Good information. What is the date on the “Rules of Management for the Springfield Model 1903.”???”

It’s the March 3, 1904 edition with revisions to March 20, 1914. It’s downloadable from Google Books.