Guest Post-Luger Bring Back from WWII

This guest post and accompanying photographs are contributed by a guest writer, Alton Chiu. Alton currently writes for Small Arms Review, and has done a thorough job of photographing and writing about a Luger that he recently came across through a mutual friend of his. Not only does he describe the captured Luger, but he also researched and points out that it was most likely used in the First World War, as well as the Second, where it was captured by an American Soldier in the 3rd U.S. Army. Although we can’t definitively say this, but I can’t imagine it being not too far of a stretch to assume that the German officer it was “liberated” from, had the handgun inherited or gifted to him from a family member or friend who served in the First World War with the Luger.

James Bullock didn’t talk about the war much. Like many in the Greatest Generation, he stepped out of the economic frying pan of the 1930s and into the martial fire of the 1940s. After helping to liberate Europe, he settled down in Southern California and raised a loving family. Later in life, he told humorous sketches about his time as an artilleryman. In one occasion when taking counter-battery fire, James dove for a shallow depression only to find a number of soldiers beating him to it. By the time he reached the modicum of a shelter, he was at the top of the dog pile and ended up above ground level.

Jovial anecdotes aside, James never recounted in detail as to how the Nazi banner or the Luger P08 pistol came to be captured. He only related to his family that he happened across a deceased German officer and relieved him of the sidearm. As an artilleryman in Patton’s Third Army, James sometimes served as a forward observer and it was likely that he encountered the Luger pistol on such duties. This article features that piece of history. 

The Pistol

The P08 that James captured is a 1908 commercial product from DWM which was accepted for service with the army and likely saw action during WWI. This can be inferred from the marking on the front strap reading B.1.R.C.3.6 which translates to Bayerisches 1. Reserve-Kavallerie-Regiment, 3 Eskadron, Waffe 6 (Bavarian 1st Reserve Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Squadron, Weapon 6) (Footnotes (1),(2)). The astute reader will notice that modern German spells Cavalry with a K. The German Orthographic Conference of 1901 changed spelling largely based upon the Prussian school, with many “hard” Cs becoming Ks, and “soft” Cs becoming Zs. Given the federal nature of the German Empire and the love of tradition in military organizations (e.g. British rifle regiments still carry the tradition of fixing swords rather than bayonets, dating from the Napoleonic era Baker rifle), it is not surprising that the Bavarians spelled Cavalry with a C. The author thanks Tobias Ecker for his research on this.

The wood magazine buttplate, featuring a serial number matching that of the pistol, is also consistent with WWI vintage manufacture. The safety is marked Gesichert. The number 58 marked at the rear of the toggle under the rear sight is the last two digits of the serial number. The full serial number was marked in matching pair on the frame and barrel, with a cursive b denoting that one should add 20,000 to the 4-digit as-marked number for the full serial number.

The WWII era holster captured along with the pistol has larger letters P08 in the backside to indicate that it is meant for the Luger rather than the Walther P38. Also visible are the lettering of dtu. 41 and WaA183; these are Waffenamt codes indicating manufacture by G. J. Ensink, Ohrdruf, Thüringen in 1941. The inside flap has the number 4131 on the right and 364 above the tool pouch. The significance of the numbers as well as the illegible letters is lost to the author. The holster also held a disassembly tool that looks to be stamped with a faint eagle and the numbers 655.

James also passed down some 9x19mm ammunition that must have been purchased post-war. Their headstamps read SO43 or SO44, and 9. These 9x19mm cartridges were manufactured by Sako AB of Riihimaki, Finland in 1943 and 1944. The green sealant is the original loading with corrosive primer, and the red sealant indicates that it was converted to non-corrosive.

The Legacy

Later in life, the Bullock family became friends with Yvonne who was one of many Jewish children in occupied France. On the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, she left this note by the grave of James and Lucille Bullock.

Dear Jim,

Thank you so very much for all you did to liberate France and especially us, Jewish kids and adults! Merci a thousand times! We love you, and all of you.

Yvonne.

Accompanying Footnotes-

(1)Davis, Aaron. Standard Catalog Of Luger. 1st ed. Iola: Gun Digest, 2006. 15. Print.

(2)Görtz, Albrecht Wacker-Joachim. Handbuch Deutscher Waffenstempel Auf Militär Und Dienstwaffen 1871-2000. 1st ed. Herne: VS-, 2005. 81. Print.



Miles

Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Juggernaut

    That’s the difference between a Luger and a 1911- nobody would bother to pick a 1911 up.

    • Spencerhut

      I know you don’t actually believe that BS.

      • Juggernaut

        Uh, yeah, I do- that’s why I said it, Einstein.

        • Twilight sparkle
          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Dont bother.
            Hes a troll.

          • .45

            Fun fact: Not only did the Germans use captured Mosin Nagants, but the US even used Mosins at one point. We were making them for Russia and using them as training rifles, so why not?

          • Phillip Cooper

            …and a dumb one at that!

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Right?
            Thats why the Luger is still carried by so many armies and police forces and the 1911 was scrapped long ago.

          • Deneris

            Not to be a dweeb, but that is actually a Vis 35, not a 1911. It was a standard issue German sidearm.

          • .45

            The Germans used every freaking handgun they could get their greasy little hands on. A local museum I like has a display case with a half a dozen random handguns, all taken off Nazis. Lugers, a Hi Power, even some sort of crappy looking Italian revolver that greatly resembled a boat anchor and must have given the officer carrying it back problems.

          • demophilus

            IIRC, the Norwegians had a license to make 1911s, and the Luftwaffe issued a few.

          • Twilight sparkle

            The rear sight looks too beefy and he has his finger too far back to be a vis 35.
            Bonus picture since I could be wrong https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/33841f43fbcf37654f5949ed9418f11e826015f5381f3e03e12d1064c5d32e78.jpg

        • Spencerhut

          Ok, so if you really believe someone would pick up a Luger over a 1911 you are just not real intelligent. Got it.

    • SP mclaughlin

      Isn’t there a Taiwanese imageboard for you to go frogposting on?

    • .45

      Yeah, it would be a shame to pick up and use a more reliable pistol with a easier to use safety.

      • ostiariusalpha

        As shown by Ian & Karl in a mud test on InRange, the Luger was surprisingly more reliable than a 1911.

        • .45

          I reject your reality and substitute my own. All hail the Colt .45, because they don’t make a Colt .46!

          • ostiariusalpha

            Hahaha! That seems to be the fashion these days. I’m going to go fondle my own 1911.

  • Spencerhut

    My wife collects Lugers and I have passed this story on to her. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/85e1ec221181aa849c3f18c27822874899dbff3300996a201611bf40df950e4f.jpg Well written with some good history. Always nice to see a war trophy with a bit of a story.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    “Thank you so very much for all you did to liberate
    France and especially us, Jewish kids and adults! Merci a thousand
    times! We love you, and all of you. ”

    A seemingly much needed reminder nowadays of who our friends really are in Europe.

    • Juggernaut

      barf

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Im sure the idea of helping Jewish people is truly nauseating to the Neo-Hitlerites who seem to be multiplying like roaches.

        • Wolfgar

          My neighbor fought under Patton as a field artillery observer who also brought back a Luger very similar to the one in this article. He witnessed the horrors by all combatants but nothing like the Germans and Russians. How easily we forget what tyrants and propaganda are capable of.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            My grandfather fought in Europe against the fascists and my father in Vietnam against the communists. The idea that either of these two “ideologies” could take hold in America is truly sickening.

          • Wolfgar

            It is unbelievable!

  • B-Sabre

    I have a Walther Model 4 of similar origin, but none of the details as to how my uncle “acquired” it.

  • Ridge

    My father brought one back just like that, same holster and tools (better finish), except in .30 Luger. The precision of fit and machining is incredible. When action closes, it doesn’t clang but “snap”. I always felt the Luger ergonomics were the best as the stock angle is exactly the same as a half closed fist at the end of an extended arm. Would love to get a 9mm .

  • datimes

    My father obtained a Luger from his stock broker who was a Colonel in Europe during the war. He brought back this beautiful gun dated 1936. Not quite new condition with matching serial #’s including the magazine. He had me sell it at a CADA show and used the money to purchase a fancy Nikon. In the day of digital cameras this is now a boat anchor.

  • nova3930

    I’d love to have a luger in the collection but I just can’t stomach the price of one right now…

  • Don Ward

    Of course how many of these bring back Lugers were obtained was because grandpa traded a few cartons of Lucky Strikes, won it in a crooked poker game, or was a rear echelon guy who confiscated it from the personal effects of some other GI when no one was looking.

    • Tinkerer

      Dude, your grandpa sounds kinda shady…

      • Don Ward

        A lot of people’s grandpas were shady in WW2. But it always sounds more glamorous when the story is told how one of these is taken off a dead Nazi officer.

        • Wolfgar

          Most of the story’s I heard came to my attention from other people. Most of these guys never talked about their experience much until they were nearing the end of their lives and began to reflect about their WW2 experience. I never heard bravado but the human experiences they shared with friends and enemy alike. So much history is being lost by the declining WW2 veterans who never shared their story. I have been fortunate to hear many.

          • Cymond

            I know a guy who was on the USS Farquhar (DE-139). He’s still haunted by the sinking of U-881. He doesn’t show the pain openly, but he talks about the experience often. He wrote to German naval command after the war and received the names of the men on board. He still carries a newspaper clipping in his wallet.

            He also has a story, perhaps from some other ship or perhaps scuttlebutt, about worse. I mean, like, war crimes, and not against enemy combatants.

          • Cymond

            My own grandfather never talked about his experiences much, expert flirting with German girls during the postwar occupation, and one time he had to fill in for the tank’s gunner, but didn’t have the proper great protective gloves.

          • Wolfgar

            I new many WW2 vets but I had four WW2 vets who spoke in depth to me about their war experiences, two from the Pacific campaign and 2 from the European campaign. All of them were close friends. Only my neighbor who fought under Patton is still alive and doing well. My neighbor has a Nazi flag he brought home and said he damn near killed himself retrieving it when he ripped it off a flag pole outside a window from a high story building where he almost lost his balance in the process. All these men were successful in life and raised good families. All I can say is no matter how tough I think I have been in my life, I will always be a cream puff compared to these guys. I doubt we will see this kind of generation again but I could be wrong.

    • RocketScientist

      Does any of that matter?

  • Peter Gremmer

    All i can say is that the guy better put a light film of oil on it since it looks dry and starting to corrode.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Very interesting, this is what I come here for!

  • LGonDISQUS

    I really should buy a p08 before they become too price-prohibitive…..

    Yes, I would shoot it. (not often)

  • Odinson

    My dad brought a Luger back from WW2. It is dated 1938, and it is in near mint condition. I take it out and shoot it and am amazed at the accuracy. It shoots better than most of the modern handguns I own. The Germans knew their guns, this Luger never misfires.

  • demophilus

    I’ve wondered if someone could 3D print a Luger receiver that could use other surplus parts. Might make for a fun project.

  • Gustav Sandåker Tangen

    Absolutely gorgeous post. Great pistol!

  • Full Name

    The photos in this are great!

  • Brasstard

    I still have a .44 Russian revolver made at the Tula arsenal in 1889 and a double action 12mm pinfire made in Belgium in 1860 that my grandfather brought back from somewhere in the Pacific. He never mentioned how he acquired them. He was in the 82 field artillery and fought from Los negros island to Leyte gulf and participated in the occupation of Japan. I have wondered if the 44 came into Japanese hands from the Russo Japanese war

    • demophilus

      That’s plausible. I read something not too long ago, maybe here at TFB, to the effect that Japanese officers and NCOs were only issued sidearms sometimes — often they bought or furnished their own. So the WWII bringbacks from the Pacific aren’t always issued Nambus — there are also European pistols, and American. I’d guess your guns were confiscated during the Occupation, but they could’ve been given to sons or grandsons shipping out.

      If you check the serial ## or proof marks you might get some clues, but it might lead nowhere. Good luck…