by AKahl » 29 Aug 2019 19:17
I can’t find any reference to the quote in Hogg’s book; there’s a bibliography but no clues as to where the quote comes from. There are no footnotes, unfortunately.
I found another example of successful handgun usage in WWII, which is in a number of books, regarding a USMC Master Gunnery Sergeant named Sheffield Banta on Guadalcanal, in the battle of Edson’s Ridge. He is alternately called Shepard Banta in Vandergrift and Asprey’s book Once a Marine and, by reference, in Richard Frank’s book Guadalcanal . The earlier accounts, presumably from General Vandegrift, who was present, have Banta upbraiding a subordinate when three Japanese soldiers, including an officer wielding a sword, broke into the area of the Divisional headquarters, when Banta cooly shoots one of them with a 1911A1 .45, then goes back to what he was doing. Another account, which by now has his correct name, states that Banta had been typing, and that he had responded with his sidearm and shot the Japanese officer.
“There was a moment of heart-stopping drama at the divisions CP (command post) when a sword-wielding Japanese officer stepped into the open with two riflemen and headed directly for Archer Vandergrift, who was in the open, alone and unarmed. MG Sheffield Banta, an utterly unflappable old salt, stopped typing a report long enough to unholster his .45 caliber automatic pistol and plug the officer dead in his tracks.”
–Bruce N. Canfield, U.S .Infantry Weapons of World War II
I don’t own a copy of Vandegrift’s book, but here is the quote from Frank’s Guadalcanal :
“Stock taking was in progress at the division command post when a Japanese officer and two soldiers burst from the jungle with Banzais that sounded to Tregaskis like “a loud blubbering turkey gobbler’s cry.” The officer’s sword spitted one marine, but the officer and one of his companions were shot dead. This incident occasioned the only grim humor of the battle. When the Japanese sprang from the vegetation, Marine Gunner Shepard Banta was vigorously berating a young marine for some transgression, Banta paused to shoot one of the Japanese with his pistol, and then returned to his lecture, scarcely missing a breath.”
-Richard B. Frank, Guadalcanal – The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle
Frank’s footnotes also reference Tregaskis’ Guadalcanal Diary , but that may only reference the sound made by the 3 Japanese soldiers. I don’t have that book either, and don’t know whether it mentions Banta.
In any case, I know you asked for primary sources, but they must be out there. I’m guessing that it came from General Archer Vandegrift, who was present, and was in command of the Marine invasion force. I suppose there may also be a citation out there, which mentions Banta’s actions. Someone smarter than me can find the primary sources.
In any case, I think this debate has become more about standard of proof, at this point, as a number of other instances have also been posted here. It’s a fair observation that it would be hard to “convict” someone at trial, using human testimony, of having legitimately, lawfully and effectively used a handgun in WWII, since the war ended 74 years ago. I’m sure it would have been possible to better document hundreds if not thousands of instances, if this debate was occurring in say, October of 1945.
Sadly, it’s worth mentioning that handguns surely figured in perhaps hundreds of thousands of unlawful killings and executions in WWII, out of some 55 million estimated deaths. Some of these were also battlefield atrocities, such as the Baugnez Crossroads massacre, where a large number of U.S. soldiers were murdered with pistol shots, mostly to the head. And as previously mentioned, that incident is largely believed to have been initiated when two Waffen SS soldiers opened fire with pistols (Private Georg Fleps being the one best documented and he was in fact convicted), one at either side of the assembled U.S. prisoners.
I agree with your point that handguns are rarely used, and are a poor substitute for most longarms. I just think there are documented cases of their use in WWII. Even the unidentified British General quoted by Hogg admits to one case out of thirty being a legitimate act of war.
Remain yourself, in spite of all the mighty do.