1. “Good grief, how do the Russians keep their machine gun ammunition from turning into a roulette of idiotic deaths?” If for some odd reason the pan magazine got hit, would it explode and kill everyone around it with debris?

    At least the Italians didn’t get their hands on this magazine or one of them would have been tempted to use it as a frying pan. One tale recalls how a squadron of Italian pilots in North Africa got sick when one of the pilots fried fish in motor oil from a Macchi MC. 202…

    • As with Nazi Germany, education apparently went into the dumper in Fascist Italy. All that was really taught was political propaganda.

      As related in the Time Life book The New Order, part of their series on Nazi Germany, by 1938 math and science scores in Germany were in the bottom tenth percentile in all of Europe. Most of the school day was spent in teaching Nazi ideology. And the worship of the “Messiah”, Hitler.

      In this they mainly followed the lead of Italian schools, which mostly taught children the glories of reviving Ancient Rome, without going too deeply into exactly how to go about it. Plus of course the worship of Il Duce.

      By the beginning of the war, Mussolini had been in power in Italy for two decades (1921). So it’s probably not surprising if Italian school curricula were even more polemicized and “dumbed down” than German ones.

      As for “tales”, my uncle (Lt. Col Army Corps of Engineers, North Africa & Italy 1942-45) quoted a joke that was common in the Western Desert;

      “If you encounter a unit you can’t identify, fire one round over their heads so it won’t hit anyone.

      “If the response is a fusillade of rapid, precise rifle fire, they’re British.

      “If the response is a s**tstorm of machine-gun fire, they’re German.

      “If they throw down their arms and surrender, they’re Italian.

      “And if nothing happens for five minutes and then your position is obliterated by support artillery or an airstrike, they’re American.”

      I suspect the Italian response would have been mainly due to their awareness of the inadequacy of most of their weapons. After all, who wants to get stuck with a Breda Model 30 in a full-on firefight, especially against Brens, BARs, or Browning mediums?



      • As long as you always ran into regular Italian units, you were sure not to get a hard fight. But if you ran into Bersaglieri or the Savoia Cavalleria, you would probably be screwed… American rookies got routed by the Bersaglieri at Kasserine pass, if I’m not mistaken.

        • Very good point — really tough, well-organized, well-led and determined fighters easily the equal of the Allies’ best. To this list, we should also add the Auto-Saharan companies.

      • Scary…the education in the Axis countries sounds eerily similar to our current education system. Good thing history never repeats itself, eh?

    • I dont think magazines do that… either it breaks and scatters intact ammo around or only deform and stop working.
      Ive seen Galil and AK mag take a round without any problem, i dont see how a pan magazine would act differently.

  2. Maybe they are looking for their names on them…

    The grinning fellow seems to have found the helmet’less ones, one.

  3. Note the collar patch of the fellow at the top; The grinning skull of the 3rd SS division “Totenkopf” (death’s head). This division was destroyed and rebuilt several times during the war. This photo seems to have been taken during the invasion of 1941. In the winter of 1941-42, this division was trapped in the Demyansk pocket and virtually annihilated, suffering 80% casualties

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