In our ongoing effort to improve world security we, here at the Home Office, have been working on a new project with the working name of the Political B*ll Sh*t Detection Device, or the PBSDD. So far we have experienced a great deal of what seems to be one malfunction after another. Every time we get the device in seemingly working order we direct it at the Parliamentary Channel and the darn thing begins to make a very high pitched scream, starts to smoke and then shuts down completely. Taking it to a local gun show and using it near some of the dealer’s tables had the same effect. Pointing it at the GMIC web site seems to prompt no reaction at all, hmmm, strange indeed. We are continuing to attempt to correct these malfunctions and will report back to you when the proto-type device is functioning at peak performance. Thank you for your patience.
Ah, if only I had such a device when I was in my younger years. However, it would seem that age has some benefits, not necessarily wisdom I am sorry to report. The benefits of which I speak is the ability to detect the lies and misinformation we often refer to as b*ll sh*t. I do not like using an asterisk in place of letters however in so-called polite society that seems to be the norm. Interesting that we can still “write” an offensive word as long as we somewhat disguise it. Somehow b*ll sh*t is less offensive than the actual words “bull ”; it really has always astounded me, but then hypocrisy often has that effect. I do digress, blaming it on the mental meandering of age.
When I was very young the only source of military history came from the men who were there, service men from the Boer War, WWI, WWII and Korea. The vast amount of oral history centered mainly around putting one over on the RSM, leaves spent at pubs and the monotony of military life in general. This certainly mimicked the saying that military service, especially during times of war, was 90% monotony and 10% sheer terror. However my first point is not in regard to stories spun by the veterans but what I was told in regard to medals. Remember there was no internet, dealers close by or even very many books available on the topic, not in my area of Canada at least. The medals awarded by the Canadians and British as well to a lesser extent the Americans was a topic well covered by my unintentional mentors but those awarded to the “other side” was less well covered. The Germans, I was told, only gave out the Iron Cross, and they did so by the bushel basket. The Japanese on the other hand never gave out medals to the common soldier reserving the few awarded to the generals and politicians. It didn’t take long for that young novice collector to discover the Royal Canadian Legion was not the place to glean information on the topic of phaleristics. Too bad we didn’t have access to the internet and especially the GMIC website back then, but then who would want a smart ass kid telling those who had “been there, done that” that they were wrong. I was lucky they allowed my in with my father as it was and no they would never serve alcohol to a minor, but the stories went down just as smoothly with a Coca-Cola.
Some of the other myths that have “made their rounds” have to do with firearms, in this case particularly the Sten gun. I have been meaning to write an article, in the proper section, on the STEN and feature the examples from my own collection but time never seems to accommodate my good intentions. We’ve all heard how the sten could go off without warning and empty a clip of 9mm before one could react, putting everyone in the squad in danger. No doubt this has some basis in truth as any weapon with one in the pipe, so-to-speak, and the safety off has the potential for discharge. I think most of the accidental discharges had more to do with having the finger on the trigger and either a every nervous soldier or due to the transport vehicle hitting a bump in the road making the STEN jump upwards engaging that finger on the trigger. It should be noted that “one in the pipe” or a round in the chamber does not apply to the STEN it was the bolt itself that must be cocked, then once released by suppressing the trigger advances and picks up the round injects it into the chamber, firing it and blowing the bolt back to repeat the cycle. In other words if you did have a round in the chamber, cocked the bolt then fired the bolt would still pick up a round from the clip but then slam it against the rear of the round already in the chamber. If the bolt was in the cocked position then one would only need to pull the bolt back a bit farther move the cocking handle straight upward locking it in place. True the bolt could be jarred out of the safe position but this is true with any firearm so I would say it is a poor argument just pertaining to the STEN. Another way the STEN could be accidently fired, according to the sources I consider myth perpetuators, is that the bolt in closed position could fire if the stock was jammed to the floor of the truck or the ground with enough force to move the bolt rearward starting the firing cycle. First of all the soldier would have to neglect to push the cocking lever through the chamber wall by way of the drilled hold used to secure the bolt. Let us say this has not been done so the bolt can move, not being locked closed. I have a Mk. II and a Mk. III in the collection as well as the Mk, V so I decided to attempt to cause the bolt to move to the rear enough to pick up a round and start the firing cycle. The Mk. V bolt is fixed in closed position but both the Mk. II and III specimens are in working condition, except for the ability to discharge a round as per Canadian Law. I slammed the butt of the weapons on a board in my shop and the bolt traveled downwards (or backward) possibly far enough to start the firing cycle. I could not actually measure the amount of travel nor could I say whether this would have been enough to pick up a round from the clip and then cause the round to fire or not. Let me say that I would not rule out the possibility of an accidental discharge, given this scenario. Even so this would only fire a single round, unless the operator has held the trigger back.
Again I will say that the above is possible but only because the operator failed to secure the bolt in the closed position not because the STEN was a poor design.
The myth I have a problem with and one that was conveyed to me by the very soldier who supposedly preformed this maneuver.
This supposedly happened in France just after D-day and involved a squad approaching a farm house occupied by several German soldiers. These Canadians manage to sneak up on the farm house and observed, through a window, a couple of high ranking German officers and several lower ranks inside the house. Apparently this was at night as the room was lit from within allowing the allies full view. It seems that there are no words in the German language for “picket duty” or “sentry duty” as none had been posted. You would think that after going through WWI the German military would have invented such words or commands; makes one wonder if this contributed to their defeat. Our dauntless hero was out of grenades so he cocked his STEN and threw it through the window. When it hit the floor it discharged and didn’t stop firing until it emptied the clip, all 32 rounds, killing everyone inside. One shudders to imagine what would have happened had the STEN not discharged. Possibly a quick witted German soldier would have scooped it up and threw it back out the window, followed by a couple of MP40s just for good measure. One can imagine whole engagements where the air was full of MP40s and STEN guns being tossed by opposing sides. It is interesting that first of all, this veteran never held a rank above Private, the STEN being usually carried by the NCOs and above. Some exceptions were made for those soldiers where a rifle was too cumbersome such as transport drivers, commandos etc. Another interesting point was that everyone in the patrol was out of grenades yet the story never involved prior engagements with the enemy. The final evidence that the story is just that, a story, is that the story teller was in a non-combatant role throughout the war. However, this too was an important function and the fact that he indeed did serve as a volunteer in France, going in just after D-day, commands our respect.
As my wife, an avid knitter likes to say, “You have to love a good yarn”.