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Found in France
While helping my in-laws with yard work near Beaugency in Tavers, France, I came across a bullet [see photo above] in the dirt. My father-in-law said he had found them before and that he had been told they were machine gun bullets from the Franco-Prussian War. My own research makes me think it is too big for that. It is about 42 mm long, 11 mm in diameter and weighs 48 gr.

I thought I might check in with the experts. Any ideas?

Troy Snell
Honolulu, Hawaii

Historynet Chief Military Historian David T. Zabecki responds: I’m almost certain this is a mitrailleuse bullet. Some models of the gun were chambered for 13 mm, but 11 mm was more common. The weight is also right. The standard was 50 gr. I am also certain this particular round was never fired. The mitrailleuse barrels were rifled. If this thing was in the ground for 100-plus years, the rolled paper tube and gunpowder disks would have long since dissolved. The brass base cap is probably still there in the ground somewhere.

Forgotten
“Breakthrough at Saint-Lô,” by Ron Soodalter (September 2021), mentions the four highest-ranking American soldiers killed in the war—Lt. Gens. Lesley J. McNair, Frank Maxwell Andrews, Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr. and Millard Harmon. I find it somewhat disappointing that Soodalter left out Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose, commander of U.S. 3rd Armored Division, who was killed in action on March 30, 1945. Rose is considered one of the greatest combat generals of the war. Sadly, he’s also one of World War II’s greatest forgotten commanders, as is stated in the well-written book Major General Maurice Rose, World War II’s Greatest Forgotten Commander, by Steven L. Ossad and Don R. Marsh. I guess Ossad and Marsh hit the nail on the head.

David C. Diefendorf
Banning, Calif.

Spies
After reading the January 2021 issue, I felt compelled to locate and read both Agent Sonya, by Ben Macintyre [Interview, by Dave Kindy], and The Coastwatchers, by Eric Feldt [subject of a feature by Ron Soodalter]. Macintyre as always makes history so enjoyable and colorful with his accounts that the text reads more like an action-adventure than a history book. I was not familiar with the name Ursula Kuczynski but have studied World War II special operations and intelligence organizations long enough to recognize her mentor, Richard Sorge. Macintyre is to be congratulated on the incredible amount of detail he presents for minor as well as major players in this work. Not all communist agents were fanatics but believers in their cause, husbands and wives with families hoping to contribute balance to world power by passing secrets to the Soviets. Sonya learned too late of Joseph Stalin’s purges, which claimed a number of her good friends and fellow agents.

I’ve studied the War in the Pacific but haven’t really seen or heard much about the role of the Coastwatchers until I read Soodalter’s article [“Not in Colorado Anymore”]. Whether Commonwealth or American, civilian or military, these men lived an extremely dangerous existence reporting on Japanese army and navy movements in the southwest Pacific islands from 1941–45. If captured or betrayed to the Japanese, few would survive. Royal Australian Navy Commander Eric Feldt was in charge of the “Ferdinand” [Coastwatchers] organization, and who better to write its history. His storytelling is edge-of-the-chair stuff, and I’m surprised Hollywood didn’t make a feature film from his book.

Gary Cota
Green Lane, Pa.

Not Second Best
Enjoyed the May 2021 issue, but I must take opposition to the cover caption that links the U.S. 1st Infantry Division (“Big Red One”) with “Second to None.”

As a member of the 2nd Infantry Division (2ID) Association and the son of a 2ID Korean War veteran (1950–51, CO, heavy mortar company, 9th Infantry Regiment, aka “Manchus”), I need to point out that “Second to None” is the 2ID’s official motto, which the division tagged itself during World War I when it was the best U.S. Army infantry division in the war, regardless of the 1ID being Gen. Pershing’s favorite. I know the 2ID ranks, along with the U.S. Marine Corps’ 5th and 6th Regiments, also take offense.

I look forward to future issues of Military History. Have a great history day.

Rolfe L Hillman III
Abingdon, Va.

Editor responds: No offense intended to the 2ID or Marines. Editor Stephen Harding (a former 1ID mortarman) was carried away by esprit de corps.

 

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This article appeared in the March 2022 issue of Military History. For more stories, subscribe and visit us on Facebook.