Stunning Nazi Mauser P.38 BYF 44 Capture Story for Walk-in Wednesday!
A Deceptively Amazing Walk-in Wednesday
Hey guys, welcome to another walk-in Wednesday. This walk-in Wednesday is a little deceptive because this actually walked in the door in 2012. I've had this one for a long time. It's not a remarkable gun, other than it's a very nice gun. I mean it's a beautiful conditioned gun, a P38. Obviously I haven't done a lot on P38s, I need to do more. And when I was thinking about that, I was thinking what is my most favorite war story that I've ever heard? And so there's a war story that goes with this gun. I'm going to actually read it from the guy who brought it home and I think you're just going love it as well. So I'm excited to bring this one to you.
We’ll talk about the gun first
So let's talk about the gun first. We see here it is a BYF44. The finish on this is remarkably nice, in terms of it's still got a gloss to it. Usually, they dull down a little bit. In fact, what I've always noticed, look at that top, the top cover, it always dulls down faster than the rest of the gun. So if I think a gun has been re-blued I often look to see to make sure that has a dull top rather than a shiny top because they almost always are dull. And you can see here, the top is just a little bit duller than the rest of the gun. You can see the three proofs. This was from the Mauser Factory, BYF was the code for Mauser Factory. Made in 1944 but you also see the Waffen 135 proof. There's always is a Waffen proof, a test proof and then another Waffen proof, so there were three inspection stamps on the right-hand side of the slide. This one has the typical Mauser black plastic grip.
This Gun went through the War
This one is chewed up a little bit, but it went through the war and I'll tell you the story about this gun. The guns all came in 9mm Luger. So all the wartime P38s came in 9mm Luger. And one other thing I wanted to point out to you that I noticed on the barrels, another thing if these have been buffed, the barrels will be smooth. Now the early ones, up till about 1942 would have smooth barrels but take a look at this barrel. I think it's so cool. If I run my thumbnail across it, it has ridges where either it was machined and never smoothed out. So in '43, late '43, '44 and '45 you'll see these barrels that have the machining marks all the way across. I just love this gun. It's just so very cool. But if you think this is cool, wait until you hear the story behind this gun?
The Gun’s Documentation
Okay, today I wanted to go over the documentation that came with this gun. And it comes from an American hero named Kenneth Price. Kenneth Price was from Kansas. Here I have a notarized letter, which I'm going to put up on the screen for you to take a look at. This is the notarized letter and he signed it in 2010. I got the gun in 2012. So obviously, this was put together before he passed away.
And before they decided they sell it, they said, let's get this story in writing. So this is the notarized letter. And then I have a second letter. They call him Kenny, Kenny Price. I have a second letter that goes a little bit over his service and expands a little bit more than the notarized letter. So let me go over it with you. I'm going to go through it slowly and maybe make a few comments but I want to get it accurately.
Who was Kenny Price? Why was he Special?
Kenny Price served in World War II from 1942 until 1945. He was a machine gun operator, manning the Browning 1919, a four machine gun. He first landed on Normandy Beach in June of 1944 (D-day +12). So basically 12 days after the actual invasion. There he carried an M1 Garand which was his first combat weapon that he handled. The gun fired tracer rounds about every fifth shot, and this was a good way to see the placement of their fire. However, after about a half a day, we eliminated all the tracer rounds because they were giving away our positions. Always wondered about that.
As we made our way East, we encountered enemy activity, but always completed our objectives. Soon after months of combat, I replaced my M1 Garand with a M1 carbine because it was easier to handle, but not as accurate. Also an interesting fact. I've heard that story before that people preferred carrying the M1 carbine because it was a lot lighter and it also held 15 rounds. Then I was placed in a machine-gun unit made of four men: a gunner, an assistant gunner, an ammo carrier and a utility man. So four guys to one machine gun. As we made our way through France and liberated the country, we experienced many casualties. The winner came on us as we fought to liberate German occupied territories. The front line was ever moving with well trained German Army.
We found Nazis to be very determined and well-armed. In combat in the Hurtgen forest, I was first injured by shrapnel fire to my left leg. I recovered and re-entered the front line on the Western Front. Which is amazing; if I was shot in the leg I'd want to go home. This guy went back to the frontline. Later, after months of fighting, I was injured again serving in the 3rd Army commanded by General Patton, by rifle round to my left leg in heavy combat to relieve the 101st Airborne Division and the Battle of the Bulge outside of Bastogne. Well, that just blows me away right there. He was with Patton and if you remember watching the movie Patton, they raced to liberate the 101st Airborne. He was one of the guys that did that. The weather conditions were very difficult for all of us.
Many men died not only from combat but also from the consequence of the cold weather. I have high regards for General Patton as he made his way along the lines inspiring us. I met him on three occasions. We passed along his presence down the line for fear that he would catch us sitting around. I actually saw that in the movie Patton, where he would go to the line and yell at the guys. As the bullets flew by, he would still command our maneuvers to meet our objectives. The 331st Infantry Division along with two other divisions, we made our way through the Ardennes to the Rhine River, where we knew the Germans would hold firmly. We were the first to cross the Rhine and at that time was when we first saw German jet fighters passing over. This is something we had never seen before. While defending the river in a tower with my machine gun, a bomb was dropped on our position, killing the assistant gunner and the ammo carrier. I received white phosphorus burns to my neck and my arms.
The machine gun I operated would get so hot that the bullets would just drop out of the barrel. Many times throughout combat, we would have to pull back or take cover to allow the barrels to cool down. We would even have to stop and adjust the headspace and then re-enter the front. In the late spring, we made our way across the Elbe River outside of Berlin, knowing that we had pushed the Germans back to their last stand. We waited what seemed like a month for the Red Army to take Berlin and capture Adolf Hitler. If you don't know that part of history, it was part of the agreement the Allies gave the Russians the honor of taking Berlin. So as Patton and his army got closer they had to stop and wait for the Russians. We experienced strong resistance from an SS Division and I thought I would not make it out alive.
I nearly gave up fighting but I managed to avoid injury. After many days of hard fighting, the SS Division surrendered to us at night avoiding capture from the Red Army, who were making their way into Berlin. This is when I received this Walther P38, serial number 5914W, from one of the soldiers who turned it in. So it was an SS Division that he captured this gun from. Interestingly, General Patton wanted us to take Berlin since we were there first. But General Eisenhower had already agreed to allow Stalin to advance on to Berlin. By May of 1945, Hitler recognized his fate and committed suicide.
The fight was over in the European Theater. However, we still experienced pockets of resistance, even after the surrender of the German army to the Allied forces. I was in the second batch to come home due to having high number of points. You got points for battles and for injuries and different accomplishments. So he earned enough points in order to be in the second batch. Now, one of my favorite parts, the history of this is just phenomenal but this is one of my favorite parts. I want to share a couple of humorous experience which I had at the time.
I picked up a Panzerfoust, as the Germans were retreating, and my assistant gunner and myself shot it, but it just bounced off the ground, did not go off. We were not aware of the fact that you had to set the round before you fired it. On another occasion, when we followed the Germans into one of the towns, my CO told me to go and check around the corner of a building for a German position. But when I poked my head around the corner, me and a German soldier actually butted heads, as he was doing the same thing I was doing. We both were so surprised that we both took off running. I didn't hear any shots fired in my direction, so I assume he was as frightened as I was. And that's signed by Kenneth W. Price.
Incredible story! Must Read!
I mentioned at the very beginning of this video that I've had this gun for several years and never really looked into it, other than I love this story, so I put it away in the safe. In doing this video, I pulled it out of the safe and that kind of led me to do a little bit of research and see if I could find out who Kenneth Price was in the United States. So of course, I went to my dad. I mentioned before he does research on vets, and he was able to find Kenneth Price.
Kenneth Price’s Daughter
He put me in touch with his daughter Kelly. I spoke to her on the phone and she sent me some information so that we can make this story come more alive for you. The incredible part about Kenny's story is just like many other American, actually hundreds of thousands of men and women who were called to serve their country in extraordinary times. They were just ordinary people, faced with incredible challenges. So doing this video is just a reminder to all of us to stop and remember the veterans who fought for our freedoms, not only in World War II but also the wars thereafter. Let's take a little further look at Kenneth Price.
More about Kenneth Price
The first picture we have is of Kenneth when he first signed up in for the US Army in 1942. We then have a picture of him with some of his buddies, these are unidentified. So this picture that we got from his daughter is some of the honors that he got in the war. Kenneth Price was in the 83rd Infantry Division, also known as the Thunderbolt Division. We already mentioned that he carried an M1 Garand and here we see the most likely some souvenirs of that Garand. We also see that he was a member of a light machine gun company. We even have the manual from that gun. We know that when the war ended, he was a staff sergeant. He was the recipient of the Purple Heart, along with two oak leaf clusters, which means he was wounded in combat three times.
He was the recipient of a bronze star with oak leaf clusters for heroic achievement in two battles. He was also the recipient of a silver star, the third-highest honor given out by the United States Army and this was for gallantry in action. And then you see various combat badges, along with marksmanship badges. Some interesting things here. We see in this corner, a New Testament that was given out, actually issued by the US military.
They would issue New Testaments to people who wanted them. We also see his honorable discharge. We can also see here the triangular patch from the 8th Armored Division, nicknamed The Thundering Herd. That division went through Europe in late 1944 and into Germany. So, Kenny came back from the war and just like many other Americans, they went back to their ordinary, quote-unquote, ordinary lives. He met and married Joyce Favre. They moved to Johnson County in Kansas in 1952 and he began a Ford dealership called Broadway Motors in 1950. Kenneth lived a full life and was well-loved by his community. He was survived by two daughters, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren.
Thanks so Much for Reading and Listening!
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