The Browning Automatic Rifle was a mainstay of the Marine rifle squad and platoon. It deployed to every campign that Marines fought in during World War II. The images on this page show the BAR in some of these actions.


A rifle platoon formation of the Sixth Marines, Marine Barracks, San Diego – mid-1941. In front is the platoon's BAR squad. These Marines wear heavy marching order. Of note is the grenadier at left with the VB grenade launcher in pouch on his cartridge belt. The automatic riflemen carry the early model of the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle. They carry the M2A1 service gas mask. Life Magazine

New River, N. C. – May 1942. Paramarines of the 1st Parachute Battalion, First Marine Division, during a field problem. Although the Johnson Light Machine Gun was the standard squad automatic weapon in parachute units, this photo shows that they used BARs, at least until Johnsons were available for issue. Office of War Information

Wellington, New Zealand – 14 June 1942. Leathernecks of the Fifth Marines march past another unit's stacked BARs to the train station for rail travel to Camp Paekakariki. Still image from USMC combat camera film


New Zealand – 14 June 1942. Troops of the Fifth Marine Regiment detrain near Camp Paekakariki after arriving in New Zealand. The BAR man in front carried an M1918A2 BAR with bipod still attached.

This Marine wears the Basic Badge over his left pocket. Two separate BAR qualification bars were authorized for attachment on the Basic Badge: automatic rifle expert, and sharpshooter. The bars were silver-finished metal with the inscription: EX-AUTO-RIFL or -SS-AUTO- RIFLE. These Marines wear full combat gear, including field transport packs, with their dress greens, including US Navy Mk III gas masks. The Fifth Marines only stayed in New Zealand for five weeks before shipping out on 22 July 1942 for Guadalcanal. Still image from USMC combat camera film

Camp Pendleton – 1943. Marines at the Raider Replacement Training Center demonstrate the weapons in use with Raider battalions in the Pacific. R-L back row: Thompson Submachine Gun, Browning Automatic Rifle, Boys .55 antitank rifle. R-L front row: M1 carbine, M1 rifle, .45 pistol. Life Magazine


Camp Pendleton – 1943. Marines at the Raider Replacement Training Center negotiate the assault course. Life Magazine

November 1943 – En route to Tarawa aboard USS Zeilin (APA-3) a BAR man and his assistant from Landing Team 2/2 load BAR magazines. The Marine at left is using a magazine loader, which aligned the .30 cal. rounds and helped seat them properly in the magazine.

Under LtCol Herbert Amey, (KIA on D-Day), 2/2 landed on Red Beach 2 and took extremely heavy casualties on Tarawa. USMC Photo


Cape Gloucester – 1944. First Marine Division infantrymen advance with support of a 1st Tank Battalion M4A1. Still image from USMC combat camera film


Somewhere in the South Pacific, Raiders train in small boat drills. The BAR man in the bow acts as a look-out and provides security during movement. USMC Photo


First Marine Division Leathernecks train for the assault on Peleliu. Still image from USMC combat camera film


A First Marine Division BAR man shows the toll that the unremitting horror of war takes on human beings. USMC Photo

Pfc John D. New, a BAR man in 2nd Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, in combat in the Umurbrogal on Peleliu – September 1944.

Pfc New was killed in action on 25 September 1944. He selflessly gave his life by smothering the blast of grenade with his own body, thereby saving the lives of two nearby Marines. Pfc New received a posthumous Medal of Honor. USMC Photo


Camp Pendleton – 1944. Pfc Tom Williams of Los Angeles, Calif., with his BAR. Tom served with 1st Platoon, Company H, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines, Fifth Marine Division. He was wounded in action on Iwo Jima and resides in Eugene, Ore. Photo courtesy of Tom Williams


Saipan –1944. A BAR man advances with his platoon. Although this image is blurred, the Marine's face shows the stress of carrying the weight of his weapon and ammunition in 90 degree heat. Still image from USMC combat camera film

Ross Whitney (right) with two of his shipmates in 1944. The left-hand Marine carries a BAR and the center Marine hold an M1 rifle.

Ross served as a infantry Marine. He trained at the Raider Replacement Training Battalion at Camp Pendleton. Afterward he was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 27th Marines, Fifth Marine Division

Among the many heroes in Company E was 1stLt Jack Lummus, former New York Giants End and posthumous Medal of Honor recipient. Photo courtesy of Cole Whitney


A Third Marine Division BAR man on Guam engages enemy targets from the high ground. This is an M1918 BAR identifiable through lack of a magazine guide and the fore arm covering the rear of the barrel. USMC Photo


A BAR man on Iwo Jima attempts to unclog his weapon of dust and grit. Because the BAR fired from the open bolt and did not have a dust cover, dirt and debris could easily fall into the action through the open ejection port. This Marine has a collapsible cleaning rod set attached to his ammunition belt. Still image from USMC combat camera film


Iwo Jima – 1945. After ten days of combat in Iwo's northern badlands, Al Perry (right) and his buddy (with BAR) pose for a snapshot. These Marines were with Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, Fourth Marine Division. Photo courtesy of Al Perry (RIP Marine)


A Sixth Marine Division BAR man provides fire support for his platoon on Okinawa – 1945. This Marine has attached a wooden pistol grip to the fore arm of his weapon, a modification that made it much easier to support the BAR's weight while firing. He also wears the equipment suspenders designed for use with Corpsmen's medical pouches. Still image from USMC combat camera film


A heavily armed assault team moves forward across Okinawa's blasted landscape.

With satchel charges and flamethrower, these Marines will destroy enemy emplacements one by one. The BAR man will provide covering fire while his shipmates concentrate on the Japanese position. USMC Photo


The BAR is an iconic weapon and served in every campaign of World War II. Life Magazine

Camp Pendleton – 1949. On the set of 'Sands of Iwo Jima' BAR man Pvt Hellenopolis (played by Peter Coe) and two shipmates provide covering fire for their squad leader in the Tarawa sequence. Still image from the RKO motion picture 'Sands of Iwo Jima'

Reconstruction of a late-war automatic rifleman wearing the Field Marching Pack and M1 steel helmet. He wears standard-issue dungarees with the trousers rolled up outside of his leggings and boondockers. Marines often did this to keep water from filling the bottom of their trouser legs.

On his left hip, this Marine wears an M2 jungle first aid kit with a battle dressing hanging below.

He carries two canteens, one in a late-war canteen cover. The hanger was sewn to ease extraction of the canteen from the BAR ammunition belt.

The entrenching tool stowed on the Marine's haversack is the folding type produced from 1943. It was developed from a similar tool used by the German army. He does not carry a bayonet, but a sheathed Ka-Bar hangs from the right side of his ammunition belt.

He wears a US Army-issue lightweight service gas mask. These were carried in many amphibious assaults in 1944-45, but Marines threw them away almost immediately on hitting the beach. Equipment and uniform from the WW2 Gyrene collection






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