a friend has been finding 1942 dated .50 spent brass (SL and LC) on a beach in bridgehampton ny, at the site of an offshore sand dredging operation, the dredge is supposedly a mile offshore and pumps sand to the beach. any idea as to origins? test firing by grumman or republic aircraft? a long shot!
I remember news reports a couple of years back about ammo coming onto New Jersey beaches, the news said that a long time ago US Army dumped excess ammo into the ocean and now it was coming back. Maybe that is an origin?
Possibly fired cases ejected from aircraft during tests, or training. Or, possibly from training by Navy or Coast Guard surface vessels.
WW2 era ammo was still in use during the 1980s, so although made during WW2, actual date of firing may have been a lot later than that.
My big brother was a supply sergeant during WW II. After the war he was involved in the disposal of equipment and ammunition. He told me about barges loaded with everything imaginable, bombs to bicycles, that were towed out to sea and dumped. The contracts called for deep water disposal but the companies paying for the fuel to run the tugs plus wages for the workers, would wait until dark, tow the barge out a short distance, and dump it. The east coast cities are famous for this stuff now showing up on their beaches.
The military was still doing similar things well into the 1950s. I was stationed in San Diego at the Mothball Fleet and, as a Gunners Mate, had the job of taking small arms off the ships, cutting them in half with a torch, and selling the scrap to junk yards. Those pieces would come back to life in the 1960s and 1970s as welded pistols, rifles, and MGs. The ammunition was barged off-shore and dumped.
In the '60s and '70s, I had the opportunity to walk miles of shell roads in the Louisiana swamps. The roads were built to facilitate drilling operations, by dredging shell from offshore and putting it down for the oilfield equipment. I often found .50 brass and projectiles, all spent, that resulted from training over the Gulf during WWII.
I can confirm seeing Cal.50 Ball issued in the '80s at Ft Bragg for training that had dates of manufacture in the WWII time frame.
navigation charts of the Gulf area south of Panama City, FL and east of there and south of Cape San Blas show numerous munitions disposal areas. Not all that far off shore. Drag net fisherman are always picking of ‘stuff’.
Operation Drumbeat was in I942 at the height of the Atlantic convoys, many of which started from NY.
So although not an official battle zone the sea off Long Island would have had a lot activity and patrols, the convoys would probably have formed up off Long Island (I guess) before heading out. One of the sailors on one of the escorts, a Royal Navy Destroyer was my father who went in and out of NY several times.
There were as result U boats lurking right off the coast so there would have been planes up looking for them. Something like twenty five U Boats were sunk off the Eastern Seaboard.
I don’t know about US aircraft procedures but test the guns as soon as you get over the water sounds reasonable to me. Just a theory.
I live 3/4 of a mile from The Great South Bay on Long Island, NY. During WWII, the military used to have target practice over this bay. The local clammers are always dredging up .50 BMG & .30-06 cases. This is very common in this area. M. Rea