View Full Version : Need Information on the B.A.R.

11-30-2008, 11:52 AM
My Father fought in WWII and was a B.A.R. for his squad. He was wounded in Okinawa on May 16, 1945. He was with the Army's 96th Division, 382nd Infantry, Company E.

If anyone has information regarding the automatic rifle he used or his involvement in his squad, etc., I would really appreciate any help you could give me. I'm writing a military history of my Father's service.

Thank You!

Carl Schwamberger
12-02-2008, 07:30 AM
Not a small subject.

The US Army offcially assigned one BAR to each rifle squad.

Its role was to provide a light weight fully automatic weapon for the rifle squad, to support the squad in the assualt.

Its role in the defense was secondary due to its low rate of fire. Doctrine suggested its best role in the defense was in the counter attack role.

The BAR man was susposed to be teamed with part of the rifle squad to provide a base of fire while the remainder made the final assualt.

One of the squad members was designated the BAR assistant and carried additional amunition in magazines, helped the BAR gunner spot targets, and covered his flank or rear.

Veteran inantry have told me two things.

1. The BAR drew enemy fire as they wanted to eliminated the higher firepower weapons first. Thus some soldiers avoided carrying them. One told me he pretended not to hear a order from the platoon sergeant to pick up the squads BAR when the gunner was wounded, for just that reason.

2. Veteran infantry units accquired extra BAR and used them due to the lack of a good light machine gun in the US infantry company. The official US rifle company To/TE had just two machine guns and they were medium tripod mounted types. A infantry vet from the Pacific told me his company had five or six BAR in each rifle platoon rather than the official three.

In photographs I have noticed the bipods are often not used. The soldiers carrying the BAR are carrying them as if a ordinary rifle. One of the photos showed two soldiers with BARs positioned as if working as a team amoung some ruined buildings.

That scratches the surface. A ton more detail as you will likely learn.

A factor that probablly wont relate to your story is that the BAR was also manufactored in Belgium and Poland. Both the Belgian and Polish armys used this weapon. The Germans took possesion of these and issued them to second and thir line formations, like security units. Occasionally US soldiers encountered Germans using these against them.

Rising Sun*
12-02-2008, 08:47 AM
2. Veteran infantry units accquired extra BAR and used them due to the lack of a good light machine gun in the US infantry company. The official US rifle company To/TE had just two machine guns and they were medium tripod mounted types. A infantry vet from the Pacific told me his company had five or six BAR in each rifle platoon rather than the official three.

This suggests that the Army learnt the same lessons as the Marines, who evolved during the Pacific War into a squad based on three fire teams, each team based on a BAR. http://www.ww2gyrene.org/rifle_squad.htm The emphasis on the BAR in tactics and training was exemplified by the instructors' often stated exhortation that if only one man survived an action, he'd better be a BAR man.

colonel hogan
12-02-2008, 03:28 PM
the bar is a browning automatic rifle.it was invented by john moses browning in 1918. it is full auto and has a 30 round magazine. it had a bipod but most gi's took it off because the rifle was so heavy

Man of Stoat
12-03-2008, 03:51 AM
the bar is a browning automatic rifle.it was invented by john moses browning in 1918.

Given that it was adopted into service in 1917, he invented it rather earlier.
it got the designation "model of 1918" to avoid confusion with the belt-fed, water cooled browning model 1917 machine gun.

it is full auto and has a 30 round magazine.

No, it has a 20 round magazine.

it had a bipod but most gi's took it off because the rifle was so heavy

Some models had a bipod, some didn't. Some of those with the bipod had it removed, many didn't.

12-03-2008, 11:09 AM
Thanks everyone for posting these replies and for the great information!! This is a great forum and I'm learning a lot from all of you....thanks again!

12-04-2008, 06:17 AM
Battle-weary infantryman Terry Moore w. his BAR (rifle) at his side, eating canned "C" ration lunch of meat, beans & desert during mid-morning respite in the fighting against the Japanese enemy on a hillside

American infantryman Terry Moore taking cover as incoming Japanese artillery fire explodes nearby during the fight to take Okinawa.
Location: Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands
Date taken: May 1945

American infantryman Terry Moore of F Company, 184th Reg., 7th Infantry Div., looking tense during fight to take Okinawa from its fanatical Japanese defender (captured town of Yonabaru in bkgrd.)
Location: Yonabaru, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands
Date taken: May 1945

Terry Moore, soldier stopping for a cigarette break during the fight for Okinawa.
Location: Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands
Date taken: June 1945

Amer. infantryman Terry Moore holding his BAR rifle while crouching behind rocks as he assesses his attack path towards his objective, the coastal town of Yonaburu.
Location: Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands
Date taken: May 1945

12-04-2008, 08:07 AM
Great pics Hawkeye!

12-04-2008, 12:17 PM
Thanks Hawkeye....those pictures are great!!

Dixie Devil
12-04-2008, 04:24 PM
Does anyone know what the rational behind replacing the wooden butt stock with a fiberglass one on the M1918A2 BAR but leaving the foregrip wood?

12-05-2008, 12:13 AM
Wood doesn't melt.......

12-06-2008, 03:17 AM
The BAR also was redesighned later to have not only selective fire but ajustable rate of fire, I have had mixed opinions of this weapon from many veterans from WW II and usually they gave the smallest guy in the unit the weapon "becuase they were animals when using them" god only knows why. and the person above who commented on the pols and belgians using and manufacturing them I think you are confusing them with a belgian and check version of the BREN gun not the BAR.

12-07-2008, 03:08 AM
Hi Cpt_Prahl,
I found your comment interesting and I'd love to hear anything else you know regarding the BAR. What you said about them usually giving this rifle to the smallest guy in the unit is something I hadn't thought about before, but I've read several personal accounts written by men who did carry it and when they described themselves many of them were around 5' 8" or so....I honestly hadn't made any connection between the two until I read your comment.

My Father that carried the BAR wasn't small, though....he was 6' tall and about average weight. He was actually seriously wounded because his gun misfired (at least that's what he called it) not just once, but twice when he had crawled up to the ridge of **** Hill in Okinawa and came face to face with two Japanese soldiers. He ended up being completely defenseless and was almost killed because his BAR didn't function properly. He's said that to this day he still doesn't know why it didn't work because he was meticulous about keeping it cleaned and oiled. He has wondered if the ammunition had gotten wet. Have you heard of anyone else having this experience with this rifle?

Thanks for any information you can give me!!

12-07-2008, 03:33 AM
No, the Germans used a captured version of the BAR made by the Swedes, it's a variant of the R75 with a pistol grip.

In Ballou's book on the BAR he states the reason that the weapon usually was issued to the smallest GI was because of the way squads were made up, tallest to shortest, and the position of the automatic rifleman in that squad.

Oh and the 1918 BAR had selective fire, but the 1918A2 that was used most during the war was a full auto only with a slow and fast rate of fire, but it had no semi position.

12-08-2008, 11:23 AM
I know that my Grandfathers unit for example was issued mostly WW I weapons including the BAR, 81mm Mortar, and Browning 1917 watercooled MG, as far as the swedish version of the BAR which I have seen up close and personal it's numbers were probably under 3,000 and they were chambered in 6mm mauser (swedish) and most likely 8mm mauser for the German versions this is another new twist to the over streached german arsenal, of which was just one more reason for the German military's ultimate failure on all fronts. I'll site the stg 43/44 for example many units were issued them but never had an adiquate ammo supply they ended up using the K98 because they would run out of the ammuntition for them.

As for the BAR being issued to the smallest in the squad was probably for many reasons use some logic the bigger the guy the bigger the target, not to mention it was a good way to beef up the little guys a 20 pound weapon vs a 9 pound weapon think about it.

As for your Father is he still with us? and you have to think in a wet damp environment ammo can sour easily if not kept dry and even today ammo is not dud free he was a lucky man to have survived the encounter... where was his Loader when this happened? and also people the BAR teams used to fire in sucession of one another one man loading his bar while the other BAR fired his magazine they worked in teams of 3 BAR's per platoon and the 3 BAR teams working together to provide supressing fire for the unit.

the BAR Jamming it could have been any number of things a peice of dirt in the gas port bad ammo a double feed meaning 2 rounds being fed at one time many things can cause a automatic weapon to fail.
Pm me if you like.

Dixie Devil
12-08-2008, 11:37 AM
Wood doesn't melt.......

The easiest answers are usually the right ones...Guess the fiberglass of the day wasn't quite was well suited to stand up to heat.

12-08-2008, 11:52 AM

Field manual for the BAR

12-08-2008, 12:35 PM
I did some diggng and the germans used the polish version of the BAR in limited numbers on the russian front, there is little or no indication of the Polish or Belgian BAR "IMG 28" being used by the Germans against the Americans but it was used against the Russians and Free Polsih troops.

Unless the Germans were using American made BARs against them on the western front, Needless the german aspect of this thread has nothing to do with this paticular threads purpose and I sugest a new thread "Allied weapons in Axis use" so that we may get back to helping this Gentelman find more information about his Fathers service and the American BAR, of which there were many varients in Use in WW II. H company 16th Regiment having only one regular rifel platoon would have had only 3 for the whole company not to mention the 4 1917 water cooled MG's and 4 81mm Mortars.

Your father belonged to E company being a straightup Rifel company not a heavy weapons company like My Grandfathers company so in that they would have had a different TO&E. I hope the FM helps you better understand the weapon I have also held one and it was a weapon belonging to the 26 IR of the BRO and was a selective fire versin modified over to the 1918a2 stock (Wooden with folding sholder plate and ajustable base plate). It was found in a Barn not far from the beach.

And at 20 pounds was light to me I carried it around for 8 to 10 hours in full kit just to see how tired I would get and to me it seemed light. I am 6 foot 1 and 175 pounds.