Author Topic: Thompson Sub Machine Guns  (Read 3420 times)

Offline Carzee

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Thompson Sub Machine Guns
« on: February 05, 2014, 08:45:43 AM »
 :)

Hi, I'm calling the brains trust into action here regards the Lithgow works and Thompsons. I know we made our Owen gun, but did we ever make Thompsons or did we buy them in from the US?

Trivia perhaps, but I have read an interesting document in the AWM dated December 1970 where we (PM John Gorton) supplied the "new" leader in Cambodia ( a leader some say was installed by Kissinger and the CIA). This comes from chasing details on those Dodge and International trucks we gave as Aid to Cambodia in the first half of 1971.

Did we play a part in the tragedy of Cambodia... and why.

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I wonder what would the 1970 public have thought about this?

Offline Mike C

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Re: Thompson Sub Machine Guns
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2014, 09:12:25 AM »
The TSMG was not produced in Australia as far as I am aware.

All in the AMF/RAAF/RAN were imports, mostly M1928A1. By the time the M1 came out and was available for export, there wasn't much call for TSMGs in Australia anymore, as local production of Austen and OMC were ramping up.

I've seen several re-boxed/re-packed TSMGs ex-RAAF, with packaging dating from the 1950s (when the RAAF repacked them). These were all new, but were nevertheless M1928A1 models. Unfortunately, some zealot thought the serial numbers needed checking, so tore open  the boxes (AGHHHH!!!!!) along with a tropic-proof packed M3A1 'grease gun'. (another  >:( >:( :'().

Mike C

Offline 303Gunner

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Re: Thompson Sub Machine Guns
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2014, 11:50:02 PM »
All Thompson SMG's were purchased through Britain, not direct from US. Despite being offered them for nearly 20 years, the British military saw no need for an automatic weapon of pistol calibre, that is, until war broke out. After Dunkirk (which had the dual effect of demonstrating the effective German use of pistol calibre SMG's, and the loss of literally 90% of Britain's stocks of the Bren and the need to re-arm), Britain urgently sought the Thompson from the US. Initial issues were actually seized stocks from the IRA (who had been enthusiastic users of the TSMG since the earliest production!), but Britain virtually bought any available TSMG from America, any model, new or used.

Following British doctrine, Australia also saw no use for a pistol calibre SMG, until British stocks of the Thompson became available in Nth Africa.

The Lithgow Small Arms Factory manufactured the Bren and Vickers, but had no involvement in the development or manufacture of the Owen, although they did pass through the Factory for refurbishment during the 50's. (The Lewis Gun and Browning MG were also FTR'd at Lithgow, but not made here).

What would the 1970's public think of Arms Shipments to Cambodia? Probably wouldn't bat an eyelid. Lithgow SAF was actively hawking sales of the SLR to all sorts of foreign Governments, Armies and Police forces throughout the 60's and 70's. Here is a partial list of where actual sales were made by SAF of the SLR (both L1A1 Semi-Auto and L2A1 Full-Auto):
Australia
New Zealand
Ghana
Malaya
Ceylon
Singapore
India
Tanganyika
Uganda
Hong Kong
Sarawak
Rhodesia
Kenya
Bermuda
Trinidad
Jamaica
Sabah
Thailand
Brunei
Zambia
Barbados
Bahrain
British Guyana
British Honduras
Mauritius
Botswana
Papua New Guinea
Gambia
Nigeria
Belize
Seychelles
United Arab Emirates
Fiji
Korea

As can be seen, the Sales Agents were clocking up the Frequent Flyer points! Many in the list are Commonwealth nations, but not exclusively so, so Cambodia would not have been off-limits. As the TSMG would have been held in reserve stocks in the 60's (the Owen was still the service SMG during the early half of Vietnam), it would have been easy for the Lithgow SAF agents to offer stocks of obsolete arms if requested to do so by Dept of Defence (who owned SAF) or Foreign Affairs. In fact, it was only during the 1990's that the complete reserve stocks of the Vickers Gun (over 4200 Guns!!!) were sold overseas by Lithgow Sales Agents to a consortium of Dealers in the UK. These Vickers had been held in storage at Moorebank and the storage space was required for other Materiel! 

Offline Mike C

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Re: Thompson Sub Machine Guns
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2014, 04:13:06 AM »
"All Thompson SMG's were purchased through Britain, not direct from US."  I think that statement is essentially right, but might be clearer with a little background explanation.

Commonwealth countries bid for allocations of US-sourced materiel through a centralized purchasing commission, the British Purchasing Commission (BPC), which was made up of various sub-offices and had representatives from each bidding nation, plus a liaison from the USA. Bids were centrally collated/tallied and then, based upon the available output from each month's US production of a particular item, an allocation was made to each nation by the BPC (which rarely matched the bid, especially early in the war). (Available output = Production less US Forces requirements, who got first bite of the monthly apple).

The $$ value of the materiel was added to the receiving nation's Lend Lease account, so in the end, it was the receiving nation that 'paid' for it. In Australia's case, there were two accounts: the LL account, and the Reciprocal Lend Lease account: by war's end, the $$ value of the RLL account was around 75% of the LL account, because Australia supplied so much materiel to US Forces.

There were all sorts of policy agreements used in determining how much of an item was allocated, and what percentage was to be new production, or refurbished to as-new standard (in some items, up to 50%). Policy agreements also determined credits and debits for losses en route, too.

Interesting you mention the sale of arms to the UK in the 90s to make room at DNSDC: I was on the periphery of two instances of that around 2005: the exit of remaining stocks of M16A1 and SLR from the small arms warehouse to make room for new weapons, and the clean-out of the comms warehouse. The M16A1 were sold back to the US - I gather the SLRs went to scrap. The comms equipment was put through the 'muncher' and reduced to shredded scrap.

Mike C

PS: Hope you don't think I was inferring that OMC was manufactured at Lithgow (it wasn't): I was referring to the overall Aust military requirement for SMGs. With Owen/Austen decisions to manufacture taken, there was no requirement to divert a proportion of SAF Lithgow from Vickers and Bren production to produce another SMG, of which there were imported stocks on hand anyway.

Offline Carzee

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Re: Thompson Sub Machine Guns
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2014, 12:13:34 PM »
Here is the orig Bill Of Lading out of Patricks, 02nov70


Apparently the first part of the TSMG shipment got a bit waylaid and some questions had been asked perhaps.

A 07dec70 cable says the shipment is not "scrap metal" as per manifest... and a direction to ""on forward" the shipment via RAAF to Cambodia.


Here is a mention in the 1ALSG Turnaround report, saying the first portion was unloaded on 04dec70, then the other on 06dec70, and reading between the lines, it was a hassle. Maybe the secret agent thing calling it scap metal had something to do with that.


Here is another shipment of TSMG, the following month, January 1971. I have no documents to say these arrived at Vung Tau as yet.

In this one we see that Patricks' wharfies know its TSMG, and its destination, so why the need to use a "scrap metal" cover previously in December? It appears to be one more pallet of TSMG.


The other text mentioning children's cots, Red Cross aid, Civil Affairs items such as clothing etc, leaps out in contrast to the TSMG. A paradox. One one hand we had a strategy of pacification and building community, and on the other we were dealing arms.




 

Offline Chazza

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Re: Thompson Sub Machine Guns
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2014, 08:22:39 PM »

The other text mentioning children's cots, Red Cross aid, Civil Affairs items such as clothing etc, leaps out in contrast to the TSMG. A paradox. One one hand we had a strategy of pacification and building community, and on the other we were dealing arms.

That is the trouble with arms factories, whether Govt owned or private, they will run at a loss unless they are sold overseas. It takes a considerable financial investment to build the facility, with not too many customers at the end of it.

The bad news is the misery created at the the end of the line, although it is pleasing to see that Australia's customers would have used them wisely, except for perhaps Cambodia,

Cheers Charlie
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