Blitzkrieg 1939-41

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It had two odd-looking pistol grips … it had no butt-stock. The user held the weapon on his hip by firmly grasping the two grips – and squeezed the trigger. Then things began to happen. From the muzzle burst a sheet of flame … from the breech erupted a shower of shiny brass cases. Crowds gathered. 45 Automatic pistol bullets. ’ was the topmost question. ‘A machine gun? ’ Clearly the demonstration had some effect, for the NYPD purchased ten of the guns, but sales were generally slow to law enforcement agencies.

Although no individuals were ever brought to trial for the killings, the repercussions were many. A Bureau raid on a suspect named Fred Dane found two M1921s, several drum magazines and 900 rounds of ammunition. Tracing the origin of the guns was not difficult: one had been bought by a known gangster from a Chicago sporting goods shop, the other by a deputy sheriff from Illinois, who had known connections with a Chicago gang. Forensic tests on the guns provided bullets that matched those taken from bodies in the garage, and further investigations showed that Dane was actually the pseudonym of Fred ‘Killer’ Burke, a professional hitman.

There were several times when a long burst from that gun saved our skins. Two young Marines who served on Guadalcanal pose with their M1 Thompsons ‘somewhere in the Pacific’ alongside another soldier. Note the man on the right wears the five pocket 20-round web belt designed specifically for the Thompson magazines. 30-calibre round to penetrate trees. But in reality no single weapon existed that was perfect for jungle fighting, being suitably portable as well as able to deliver a high volume of fire of a suitable calibre to penetrate any obstacle.

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