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Battles For Alcatraz: USMC, TSMG, GSD


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#1 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 12:50 PM

Alcatraz Warden Johnston telegram pleading for help.Attached File  006.JPG   43.78K   69 downloads

 

"Major histories of the Corps, written by its most loyal proponents, do not mention the battle. The name Alcatraz is not engraved on the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, and no battle streamer for the action is affixed to the Battle Color of the Marine Corps. Although small by any standard, the Battle of Alcatraz may have been one of the most important fights ever engaged in by Marines. It occurred at a time when the very existence of the Corps was on the line.."

 

"The warden did not want to use the heavy weapons the Marines had brought inside the prison, so Buckner devised a plan to get at the convicts from above. Buckner, a seasoned veteran, knew explosives. Climbing to the cell house roof, he drilled holes in the roof along the track of the crawl space corridor. Most of this area consisted of ventilation shafts that ran over the crawl space. Using two strings (one to pull the firing pin), he systematically lowered fragmentation and concussion grenades into the tight area. Varying the height and position of the explosions, he cleared the expanse along the cell block, blasting every portion of the enclosure. The three convicts were in untenable positions as they moved to avoid the explosions. Trying to hide behind the plumbing, they were, nonetheless, slowly riddled by shrapnel. Buckner estimated he had dropped 500 grenades, and after several hours informed the warden that he believed no one could have lived through the bombardment."

from Lieutenant Colonel George S. Converse, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired) article in : Attached File  Naval History Magazine December, 2015.jpg   33.29K   59 downloads


Marine Warrant Officer Charles Buckner in photo

Attached File  011.JPG   47.15K   50 downloads

 

 

Attached File  007.JPG   59.77K   54 downloads Attached File  010.JPG   42.79K   52 downloads Attached File  009.JPG   46.24K   69 downloads

 

Alcatraz Guard Tower TSMG kit:

"A gun tower guard is equipped with a rifle, a .45 automatic, a machine gun and gas
grenades. Each tower is covered by at least one other gun tower. Guards passing from the
armory, where they get their weapons, to the towers to change watches, are in sight of a
guard post constantly. So are the guards who leave the towers when their watches end and
return to the armory to surrender their weapons."

Attached File  Alcatraz Colt TSMG.jpg   45.22K   74 downloads

 

German Shepherds replace TSMG's to restore order on Alcatraz  after expulsion of Native Americans.

Guard John Geagan and Whiskey July, 1971

Attached File  native-americans-1971-san-francisco-usa-shutterstock-editorial-6603788a.jpg   201.48K   71 downloadsAttached File  012.JPG   79.09K   42 downloads


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#2 Broadarrowmaint

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 01:17 PM

Very interesting! Its also quite interesting when my wife and I started dating, she mentioned her mothers maiden name was Cretzer, and interestingly enough I had always read about the Battle of Alcatraz having grown up in San Francisco and reading about the 6 inmates who started the riot, Bernard Coy, Joseph Cretzer, Marvin Hubbard, Clarence Carnes, Sam Shockley, and Miran Thompson. And I of course asked if she was related to Joseph Paul Cretzer and sure enough she is. Pretty crazy that Cretzer died 2 days after that telegram...
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#3 TSMGguy

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Posted 09 July 2019 - 09:09 AM

Great post, thanks!

 

The rifle in the seventh pic in the rack with the TSMG looks like it might be a Remington 720. Only about 2,500 of these were made in 1941-42, before Remington switched entirely to war production. The 720's action is very fast, cocking on the closing stroke in the manner of the M1917 Enfield pattern rifles produced by Remington during WWI. The one pictured seems to have an added rear aperture sight, with the original rear sight leaf removed. 


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#4 TD.

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 09:41 AM

Arthur,

Great research! Thank you for sharing. 

 

I found the Thompson gun in the Alcatraz storage container very interesting. Note the unusual cover over the front sight. 

 

Attached File  Alcatraz Colt TSMG with arrow.jpg   71.42K   39 downloads

 

The front sight cover looks identical to the cover found on NO 2450, owned by Board member Nick Tillota and featured in previous threads. 

 

Attached File  951204-1a.JPG   39.32K   37 downloads  Attached File  NO 2450.JPG   203.09K   19 downloads

 

Also note how NO 2450, above left, is equipped with a shot magazine.

 

It would be interesting to know the type of fore grip and sling swivels on the Alcatraz Thompson guns. Based on Gordon's research, it appears the first NAVY's were purchased in 1935. I wonder if the horizontal fore grips and sling swivels like found on the Swedish Colt's (identical or near identical to the WWII parts) were being used at this time?

 

All good stuff!!!

 

 


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#5 gijive

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 09:47 AM

TD,

 

I tried enlarging the picture of the Thompson with the horizontal grip to get a better look, but it is not high enough resolution to zoom in the sling swivels.  Based on what I can see, I do not believe the horizontal grip is the earlier version with the rounder front end and the larger finger groove.  I believe you may be on to something with the later type horizontal grips and Springfield type sling swivels like the Swedish guns.


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#6 rpbcps

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 12:19 AM

Very interesting post and photos.

 

Is it known how the convict obtained the 'machine gun' mentioned in the Western Union telegram?


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#7 deerslayer

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 07:50 AM

Since we are in the alkatraz Thomson subject. The FBI recently sent me a Thompson from Alkatraz to fix up a bit. It was a mess. Grossly welded area on the plugged barrel etc... Nobody knew the history.. It was just in a drawer in pieces. I fixed it up and sent it back last week.. So it should be in display soon.

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#8 rpbcps

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 09:55 AM

Since we are in the alkatraz Thomson subject. The FBI recently sent me a Thompson from Alkatraz to fix up a bit. It was a mess. Grossly welded area on the plugged barrel etc... Nobody knew the history.. It was just in a drawer in pieces. I fixed it up and sent it back last week.. So it should be in display soon.

 

Dan,

A late production US1928A1, smooth barrel and 'L' sight, is that 'AO' or 'Savage' manufacture out of curiosity?

 

Stay safe

 

Richard


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#9 deerslayer

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 11:55 AM

It's a Savage receiver.
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#10 deerslayer

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 11:55 AM

I was provided with most of the parts.. It's a parts mutt...
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#11 giantpanda4

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 08:47 AM

This what they had on display in 2015:

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#12 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 12:07 PM

Very interesting post and photos.

 

Is it known how the convict obtained the 'machine gun' mentioned in the Western Union telegram?

 

Good catch!  This claim that the convicts had access to any TSMGs is interesting in that it is mentioned in the warden's telegram at the outset of the prison riot, and when the rioters were subdued.  An Alcatraz guard who found the corpse of Bernard Coy, a Kentucky bank robber and ringleader of the rebellion, in a utility corridor claimed he was still clutching a "machine gun."   Yet  the official accounts of  the Battle of Alcatraz make no mention of any TSMG.

 

"All they had at any time was a rifle with 50 rounds and a pistol with 21 rounds. They threw down gas masks and billies from the gun gallery but they didn't have any more guns."

  

"At 9:45, officers went crawling into the dark over the pits (the floor of the corridor is simply cross beams, four feet apart with a 30-inch drop between beams. The corridor is about two and a half feet wide). "At about that time," said Johnston, "we pulled out Coy. He was like this (Johnston put his hands up as though holding a rifle.) The rifle was beside him and rigor mortis had set in."

 

Morris O'Hearn,  custodial officer at Alcatraz,  explains how there were no TSMGs for the convicts to have access to inside the building they never manages to break-out of.

 

"To get at a gun guard, the convicts would have had to shove a table used by the floor guards as a desk over to the wall, climb up on it, take the man in the gallery by surprise somehow, slug him and then grab his weapons. O'Hearn failed to see how this would have been done before floor guards or the second gun guard could have acted. But even granting that both gallery guards were overcome and stripped of their weapons, he pointed out that they would have given the convicts only two rifles and two pistols, with a total of 80 shots. To lay hands on additional weapons, O'Hearn went on, it would have been absolutely necessary for the convicts to get out of the building and all reports say they never broke free of the place. He explained: There would be two sources for more guns, the gun towers spotted at strategic locations over the island and the prison armory, which is located to the right of the main entrance to the cell building, and outside of it. There is no way to reach either a gun tower or the armory from inside the structure."

 

Perhaps to get U.S. Army Generals Joe Stilwell and General Frank Merrill to send the two platoons of U.S. Marines,  Warden Johnston figured he needed to give the impression the inmates had more firepower than they did.

Carl Sifaki in his book The Encyclopedia of American Prisons, claims Stillwell and Merrill  "led the Marines"  on Alcatraz, but there are no photos of them being on The Rock during the battle.


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#13 rpbcps

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 01:17 PM

This what they had on display in 2015:

and that is a post 1942 TSMG butt stock, looking at the reinforcing cross-bolt in it?

 

Stay safe

Richard


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#14 rpbcps

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 01:20 PM

Very interesting post and photos.

 

Is it known how the convict obtained the 'machine gun' mentioned in the Western Union telegram?

 

Good catch!  This claim that the convicts had access to any TSMGs is interesting in that it is mentioned in the warden's telegram at the outset of the prison riot, and when the rioters were subdued.  An Alcatraz guard who found the corpse of Bernard Coy, a Kentucky bank robber and ringleader of the rebellion, in a utility corridor claimed he was still clutching a "machine gun."   Yet  the official accounts of  the Battle of Alcatraz make no mention of any TSMG.

 

>"All they had at any time was a rifle with 50 rounds and a pistol with 21 rounds. They threw down gas masks and billies from the gun gallery but they didn't have any more guns."

  

"At 9:45, officers went crawling into the dark over the pits (the floor of the corridor is simply cross beams, four feet apart with a 30-inch drop between beams. The corridor is about two and a half feet wide). "At about that time," said Johnston, "we pulled out Coy. He was like this (Johnston put his hands up as though holding a rifle.) The rifle was beside him and rigor mortis had set in."

 

Morris O'Hearn,  custodial officer at Alcatraz,  explains how there were no TSMGs for the convicts to have access to inside the building they never manages to break-out of.

 

"To get at a gun guard, the convicts would have had to shove a table used by the floor guards as a desk over to the wall, climb up on it, take the man in the gallery by surprise somehow, slug him and then grab his weapons. O'Hearn failed to see how this would have been done before floor guards or the second gun guard could have acted. But even granting that both gallery guards were overcome and stripped of their weapons, he pointed out that they would have given the convicts only two rifles and two pistols, with a total of 80 shots. To lay hands on additional weapons, O'Hearn went on, it would have been absolutely necessary for the convicts to get out of the building and all reports say they never broke free of the place. He explained: There would be two sources for more guns, the gun towers spotted at strategic locations over the island and the prison armory, which is located to the right of the main entrance to the cell building, and outside of it. There is no way to reach either a gun tower or the armory from inside the structure."

 

Perhaps to get U.S. Army Generals Joe Stilwell and General Frank Merrill to send the two platoons of U.S. Marines,  Warden Johnston figured he needed to give the impression the inmates had more firepower than they did.

Carl Sifaki in his book The Encyclopedia of American Prisons, claims Stillwell and Merrill  "led the Marines"  on Alcatraz, but there are no photos of them being on The Rock during the battle.

 

 

Arthur,

I'd love to find the opportunity to sit down and spend some time with you, and some other members on this board one day, and learn from your knowledge and experience.

 

Stay safe

 

Richard


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#15 giantpanda4

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 06:27 PM

Richard,

Yes - definitely a WWII gun.

"circa 1930s"

I could not get a better pic of the receiver to see if it was a dummy or not.


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#16 Big Al

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 12:33 AM

A front sight cover is also seen on one of the guns in Guadalcanal Diary, most clearly at 1:07:43.

Attached File  Guadalcanal Diary, TSMG Sight Cover.jpg   138.1K   23 downloads

Thankfully, someone uploaded the full movie to Internet Archive. I've been trying to find an image of that gun for years.

 

https://archive.org/...acanalDiaryNtsc


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#17 rpbcps

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 02:16 AM

Big Al,

You must have the eyesight of an eagle to have spotted that, well done!

 

Stay safe

Richard


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#18 gijive

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 09:38 AM

A front sight cover is also seen on one of the guns in Guadalcanal Diary, most clearly at 1:07:43.

attachicon.gif Guadalcanal Diary, TSMG Sight Cover.jpg

Thankfully, someone uploaded the full movie to Internet Archive. I've been trying to find an image of that gun for years.

 

https://archive.org/...acanalDiaryNtsc

Big Al,

 

Thanks for posting that picture, I do remember seeing that before, but haven't seen the movie for awhile.  It is most certainly one of the Stembridge Rental Guns, likely the same one used in the 1967 Roger Corman movie, "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre".

 

See Post # 4 on the following thread:

 

http://www.machinegu...cre#entry206795


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#19 jl7422

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 02:03 PM

On the topic of Alcatraz; can anyone direct me to a source for Alcatraz firearms inventory records prior to the 1948 list found on line? I have a Winchester that might have served there.  


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#20 Big Al

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 07:12 PM

Big Al,

You must have the eyesight of an eagle to have spotted that, well done!

 

Stay safe

Richard

 

Thank you, Richard. My eyesight is pretty shahp, as they say where I come from.

 

A front sight cover is also seen on one of the guns in Guadalcanal Diary, most clearly at 1:07:43.

attachicon.gif Guadalcanal Diary, TSMG Sight Cover.jpg

Thankfully, someone uploaded the full movie to Internet Archive. I've been trying to find an image of that gun for years.

 

https://archive.org/...acanalDiaryNtsc

Big Al,

 

Thanks for posting that picture, I do remember seeing that before, but haven't seen the movie for awhile.  It is most certainly one of the Stembridge Rental Guns, likely the same one used in the 1967 Roger Corman movie, "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre".

 

See Post # 4 on the following thread:

 

http://www.machinegu...cre#entry206795

 

That does indeed appear to be the same gun, gijive.


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