Let me present to you my latest project: The base of fire of a rifle squad during the winter of 1944, spring of 1945 as they engage in house-to-house fighting and maybe even a little "house busting." The 94th Infantry Division, 301st Infantry Regiment arrived in Europe in August of 1944 and, like many of the "green" late war divisions, cut its teeth especially in the winter fighting. Known by some as "Patton's Pawns", the 94th fought against fierce resisting in and around the town of Orscholz and the "Orscholz Switch"--a system of dragon's teeth and defensive positions in the Saar triangle. These men had to deal with being somewhat under-prepared for the cold winter. Still, they were well equipped, dynamic fighting squads capable of outmaneuvering the enemy entrenched in defensive positions. These three men represent an assistant squad leader (staff sergeant), an automatic rifleman and a rifleman. Though slightly deviating from the norm suggested in the handbook--which suggested "Baker" or the base-of-fire team to consist of an automatic rifleman and two assistant riflemen/ammunition bearers--the infantry squad was capable of working with what they had and rearranging as necessary in combat.
The assistant squad leader carries an M1 ammunition belt and garand rifle. He's taking it easy and warming his hands while they move through the village. The "jeep coat" worn was actually used by the 94th a lot during the winter months. There is video footage attributed to the 94th in which the jacket is noticeably worn by a few troops in the same squad. The automatic rifleman in front will provide covering fire while the rifleman in the middle prepares a little homemade treat..."the safe cracker." Here the fins and propellant of a 60mm mortar shell have been unscrewed, and the shell has been fitted into the fragmentation grenade adapter for the M7 grenade launcher. The shell would still detonate on impact, and the TNT charge would be very useful for clearing a few rooms down the street. This configuration would not be the best during a fast paced assault as the rifle required a specialized shell to fire the M7. The gunner would need some time to prepare but the successful party-starter would be well worth it. Firing the M7 was called a "shoulder buster" because of the added kick when using the special shell.
These figures are a continuation of my own "Road to Victory" theme in which I try to capture post-Normandy GIs as they would have appeared in the last year of the war. I hope you enjoy them. Photos are edited for a little color correction and fading but I do keep the originals saved as well and I promise nothing's digitally altered ;-).
The best closeup I could get.
This was a shot that inspired me.