History vs. Hardware

Posted by Bruce Canfield

After a number of months, the revamp of my website has been completed.  The Home Page now features scrolling images of key weapons in each of my books with an ordering link for each.  However, the coolest new feature is that I can now upload images onto “Canfield’s Corner.”

As you have already noted, there is an image of a M1941 Johnson rifle along with a bayonet and scabbard and a Marine Paratrooper unit patch.  This rifle is one of the favorite pieces in my collection as it is one of relatively few U.S. military weapons of WWII that can be attributed to an individual serviceman and utilization in a specific battle.  The fact that this particular rifle was only issued in small numbers to an elite unit makes it even more special. I’ve covered this rifle before a couple articles and in my book on Johnson weapons so I won’t go into detail here.  Basically, it is a Johnson rifle with a couple of minor “in theater” modifications found on a number of these rifles issued to the USMC First Parachute Regiment. This was the only U.S. military unit to have had Johnson rifles as part of their TO&E (Table of Organization and Equipment).  This particular rifle was issued to Marine Paratrooper Clifford Goodin of the 1st Para Reg. and used in combat on Bougainville where it accounted for three Japanese KIAs.  The bayonet and scabbard pictured accompanied the rifle during its overseas duty. When I acquired the rifle from Mr. Goodin (who is now deceased) a number of years ago, I was able to get rather detailed hand-written comments from him about his acquisition and use of the rifle.  A lot of subsequent research using primary Marine Corps documentation confirmed what he told me. Mr. Goodin later gave me his Marine Paratrooper wings (which are rare since there weren’t many Marine Paratroopers), two of his .45 pistol qualification medals and various and sundry items related to his service in the 1st Parachute Regiment.

All of this is to say that as I get older (there seems to be a lot of that going around), I am more interested in the “back story” of the weapons I collect and write about, along with the story of their development, production and use.  This isn’t to say I don’t care about the “hardware” any more, but I get a lot more satisfaction than I used to from researching the context in which the weapons were used.  I am now working on my 13th book which will be even more comprehensive and detailed than my last book, The M1 Garand RifleI’m not ready to divulge the subject of the book but it will be a massive rework of a book I wrote many years ago.  Yes, there will be a lot of information and photos on the actual weapons but there will also be even more documentation and background information on why they were developed, details of their production and their utilization by soldiers and Marines.  As the book progresses, I’ll probably start giving some more details. The fact I mentioned the Johnson rifle is a hint as to the subject of the book but, no, it’s not a new book on Johnson weapons.

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