AEF Officer's British proofed 1914 .45 ACP Colt Government
Here for your viewing pleasure are photos of my WWI British-proofed .45ACP Colt Government Model pistol C 13731 which was 1 of 300 shipped to the London Armoury Company on November 18 1914. The London Commercial proof and view marks (Crown/V and Crown/intertwined GP) are visible on top of barrel and on left side of slide above Rampant Colt and left side of frame below thumb safety. The accompanying US Model 1912 holster is marked 1st LT G C Wilkins. The owner of this pistol was 1st Lt George Carl Wilkins, a 1918 Harvard Graduate. He entered Officers' Training Camp at Plattsburg NY in May 1917; commissioned 1st Lt Infantry August 15; assigned to 301st Machine Gun Battalion, 76th Division and sailed for France July 8, 1918. He was transferred to the 146th Machine Gun Battalion, 41st Division on November 9 1918 and returned to the U.S. on February 25, 1919. He transferred to the 153rd Depot Brigade, Camp Dix on 27 February and was discharged on 25 May 1919.1st lt Wilkins most likely acquired this pistol as a private purchase in the UK while in transit to France, training in the UK or on TDY to the UK. Many AEF units were first transported to the UK where they encamped and trained before being deployed to France. I think there's also a good chance 1st LT Wilkins was sent to the UK for further training (The US forces had never fought trench warfare and had to learn the hard lessons already learnt by the allies) prior to departing for France. In his time here he purchased his own side arm from the London Armoury and it would need to be in .45 auto as per US standard of the time. This pistol was not part of any official British Government contract as were the later .455 Colt Government Model pistols. It was shipped to Colt's London Armoury Agency which handled commercial sales in the UK as can been seen by the London Commercial Proof and View marks on the barrle and frame. It has no British military property, proof or viewing marks whatsoever. Such pistols sold commerically by the London Armoury Agency were private purchases by British or to ther officers who initially had to purchase their own firearms. This pistol was not sold to or issued by the British Government. Since officers did supply their own weapons this may have been a private purchase. Secondly, the US did not have enough ships to transport forces to France, and this lack was a major obstacle to the war effort. After lengthy discussions in early 1918, the British agreed to transport infantry, machine gun, signal, and engineer units for six divisions in their ships. Upon arrival in France, these units were to train with the British. The British executed the program in the early spring of 1918, eventually moving the 4th, 27th, 28th, 30th, 33d, 35th, 77th, 78th, 80th, and 82d Divisions to France. The 39th, 40th, 41st, 76th, 83d, and 85th Divisions served as depot organizations. Shortly thereafter Pershing revised the replacement system for the AEF. Instead of relying on a replacement and school division and a base and training division for each army corps,The depot division processed casuals into the theater, and the replacement battalions forwarded them to the units. Both the 41st and 76th served as depot/replacement divisions and 1st Lt Wilkins served in both. He also may have acquired the pistol while training with a British unit or puchased it from a British officer serving in France etc. So there are many ways 1st LT Wilkins may have acquired the pistol.
Last edited by varifleman; 12-31-2013 at 06:27 PM.