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Re: M1916

September 17 2015 at 10:47 PM
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Nelson LAWRY  (no login)
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Response to M1916


> Did not know it was used in Singapore, thanks. >

Getting the answer was a bit of a long haul using information from the U.S. National Archives and three books on Australian artillery, two of which addressed the history or equipment of the 4th Anti-Tank Regiment. As you can imagine, despite President Roosevelt’s largesse, there was great opposition on the part of American field artillery officers to the carrying away of what was at least their second-line light field guns. Production of the 105mm howitzer had not kicked into high gear, and the 75mm field gun was still the U.S. Army’s standard piece. And not just those guns already high-speeded or otherwise modernized. Up until 1940, the U.S. still had a lot of horsed cavalry, which of course was accompanied by horse artillery, meaning animal-drawn 75mm guns. If spiriting away these fieldpieces was not bad enough, the substantial depletion of 75mm ammunition was close to treason in their eyes. The reduction in number of such rounds did in fact diminish the live firing possible for practice and training, so the hardship caused the field artillery was hardly imaginary.

One of the problems is the promiscuous latitude in terming 75mm field guns of American origin “French 75s”. Even though the last such gun in service by the U.S. Army did use the M1897A4 barrel, it was no longer a French 75 in the accepted definition. David Horner’s The Gunners: A History of Australian Artillery, 20 years old and the most recent of the three books, while useful in placing U.S. 75mm field guns on Crete, along with captured Italian 75mm guns and 100mm howitzers, is less helpful by identifying these pieces as “American-made French 75s”. As far as I know, no horse-drawn 75mm guns left Britain for areas where they would possibly see action (I’m not writing here about the mule-packed 75mm light howitzer).

You and I agree that a good many Model 1916A1 75mm field guns remained in the Middle East, seeing use by Glubb’s Arab Legion, among other Allied forces. Some, however, did make their way farther east, and at least a handful or two ended up in Singapore and were handed off to the 4th Anti-Tank Regiment, armed with a conglomerate of suitable and perhaps not so suitable AT guns. The most satisfactory of such guns in that terrain were light in weight: the standard 2-pounder—which dealt handily with the Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks on the Muar-Bakri Road—weighed 1800+ pounds, and the Breda M35 47mm gun weighed 600+ pounds (there is a memorable photo of Australian gunners hustling the M35 in Malaya). On the other hand, the M1916A1, a full field gun, weighed a ton and a half on its carriage and was a lot less compact, hardly the ideal AT gun for upcountry Malaya. In Stephen Gower’s 1981 Guns of the Regiment, a 4th Anti-Tank Regt veteran remembers the 75mm pieces as American on split-trail carriages, leading to the conclusion by the author that such carriages were the recently introduced M2A-. There was no way, however, that the U.S. Army was going to part with any of its first-line pieces, only then in the process of replacing older guns in American field artillery formations. The bung in the keg was driven by another veteran of that unit, quoted in Neil Smith’s 1992 Tid-Apa: The History of the 4th Anti-Tank Regiment 1940–1945 as recalling the American guns had been “originally bound for Yugoslavia”. Well, that makes the case. As regards their deployment during the battle for Malaya-Singapore, I can only confirm they were part of the island defensive line facing the Johore Strait, but—my extrapolation—there certainly had been ample time to get some of them across the causeway for the defensive lines set up in southern Johore. Whatever, I suspect their total contribution was not substantial.

> Colombia (from the Canal Zone) also received them early 1940 as well as Haiti. You can find pictures of the gun in both countries (now with different wheels). >

Will you post two or three such photos? My only caution is the U.S. 3-inch field guns of the previous generation—the Models 1902, 1904, 1905—also found their way to southern parts, and at first glance there is quite a strong resemblance.

Thanks for your assistance in trying to get that email address.


This message has been edited by nuyt from IP address on Sep 19, 2015 2:06 PM

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