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Saving Private Ryan - Wrong Guns, Wrong Medals, Wrong Weapons
OK, there are several minor errors here. One, Capt. Miller is given a Thompson when those were only issued to paratroopers. Two, when Jackson kills the sniper in the bell tower, he removes an American Distinguished Rifleman Medal from the German's chest.
Three, in the final battle scene Ryan and Miller are shown hitting rounds against a box and throwing them.
This is impossible. If this could be done, the round would explode in their hands.
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Rated 2.3/10 (109 ratings) Your opinion?
Special Requirements: movie and a sharp eye
Contributed By: Anonymous on 02-01-2001 and Reviewed By: Webmaster
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jtiel writes:
Officers were issued either the M1 carbine or Thomspon M1 at that time and place. I didn't catch the medal, I'll look next time. As for the grenades, those were designed to be fitted over the end of the barrel on the M1 Garand, at which point a round was fired into them and caught in a trap inside the grenade. The purpose of the wire slammed into them was to start the fuse that was normally ignited by the impact of the bullet. These rifle grenades explode on impact, if they exploded when the fuse was started on the end of the gun there would have been a lot of unhappy soldiers.
40 of 56 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Rexfelis writes:
Good eye, and good military knowledge. But as for your second comment...the sniper may have taken the medal from an American sniper he had killed, probably as a badge of honor. You know, being better than the other sniper.
27 of 34 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
The Dread Pirate Roberts writes:
As for the Tommy gun (Thompson submachine gun) that Capt. Miller carried - Rangers often carried whatever weapons they liked, disregarding "official issue". As for them being issued only to paratroopers - my father toted a Tommy gun for a while in North Africa - and he was in the 1st Armored Division. I was curious as to why Capt. Miller would want to carry the Tommy gun, because the damn things are heavy! That's why my dad got rid of his...
21 of 24 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Mett writes:
The Thompson was widely used in various units and theatres... It was by no means strictly an Airborne weapon. I never saw the medal removing scene... Not on my DVD.. The rounds they lobbed were mortar rounds... It's just like firing them without the tube. Normally you drop the round in, the fuse is armed when it's fired out and blows up on impact. They did the same thing except armed the fuse by hitting it against the ammo can and lobbed it instead of using the mortar tube.
18 of 20 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Rob L writes:
Thompson M1A1 Submachine guns were used through out the war and were not "issued" to any specific groups.
18 of 24 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
ZackyD writes:
No, throwing mortar rounds is possible, when the round drops down the tube and fires out a "safety" is relased, and then it is armed. Then when the round hits the ground on the nose it explodes. By slaming then on the ground, that arms them, then you can use them as impact grenades, as long as they hit the ground with enough force, they will explode.
15 of 20 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Dunc007 writes:
With Regards to the Mortars, Quote Found on another Site: ANDERSON, BEAUFORD T. Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, 381st Infantry, 96th Infantry Division. Place and date: Okinawa, 13 April 1945. Entered service at: Soldiers Grove, Wis. Birth: Eagle, Wis. G.O. No.: 63, 27 June 1946. Citation: He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. When a powerfully conducted predawn Japanese counterattack struck his unit's flank, he ordered his men to take cover in an old tomb, and then, armed only with a carbine, faced the onslaught alone. After emptying 1 magazine at pointblank range into the screaming attackers, he seized an enemy mortar dud and threw it back among the charging Japs, killing several as it burst. Securing a box of mortar shells, he extracted the safety pins, banged the bases upon a rock to arm them and proceeded alternately to hurl shells and fire his piece among the fanatical foe, finally forcing them to withdraw. Despite the protests of his comrades, and bleeding profusely from a severe shrapnel wound, he made his way to his company commander to report the action. T/Sgt. Anderson's intrepid conduct in the face of overwhelming odds accounted for 25 enemy killed and several machineguns and knee mortars destroyed, thus single-handedly removing a serious threat to the company's flank.
10 of 11 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
The Boy Scout writes:
People, people, you have to pay attention. I have the real deal about the Thompson. Capt. Miller came off of the Higgin's boat with an M1 Garand. Later, when Capt. Miller and the rest of the group reach the base of the bunker, we see a dead soldier slouched over. Capt. Miller pushes him over and leaning against the bunker is a THOMPSON! He takes it and keeps it through the remainder of the movie. Watch and you'll see.
14 of 20 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
JohnDoe writes:
A. You can remove the initial propellant charge from a 60mm mortar round, its more or less like a shotgun shell in the base. So, yes, it would be possible to use 60mm rounds as grenades, and actually using them as such is mentioned in a number of world war two sources. (Possibly in "Ordinance Went Up Front") B. The M1A1 wasn't restricted to Airborne use, and was certainly used by rangers. The claim that the M1A1 is significantly more weather resistant than an M1 Rifle is silly: a M1A1, when ready to fire (since it is an open bolt SMG), has a open ejection port inviting dirt and crap to get in. An M1 rifle is pretty closed up, with the bolt forward. Pliofilm was used to cover both weapons, and even came in a submachine gun size. See this reinactor supply website for details:
5 of 9 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
mdbigdee writes:
Look up the Medal of Honor citation for Cpl.Charles E."Machinegun"Kelly.Kelly was awarded the MOH for his one-man stand against overwhelming odds in Italy.At one point Kelly picked up a 60mm mortar round,removed the safety pins and threw it like a grenade,killing five Germans.
1 of 1 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Malarkey writes:
After some research, These are my conclusions Medal scene: Frankly, that's incorrect. M1A1 Thompson: Ranger and Paratrooper-issued only, that's it. There's not much of a difference, The Thompson's of all trades (M1A1 and M1928) were issued to NCO's and all that, not to regular infantry or marines, but Rangers and Paratroopers. Before anyone starts an argument, yes, the Original 'chopper' M1928/A1 Thompson's were occaisonally found amongst American soldiers, not just the British. Throwing 60 rounds: Possible, back then there was a little armed wire with a cap, which would be removed upon entrance of the tube and ejected, which would charge the round, then upon firing the tip of the mortar round would engage upon exit of the tube, arming it for explosion. HOW TO DO ALL THAT ABOVE MANUALLY: Pull out the fuse-arming wire by hand, (Not that hard, it's about as big as two quarters mushed together), and slam the tip against something flat and hard, then fling it, and upon contact, boom. *Note: JM was carrying a Thompson in the LCVP
2 of 4 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Jones writes:
As a grunt in Desert Storm, I can tell you that whatever weapon he had was irrelevant. In Iraq I picked up a Russian Mak pistol off a POW and had an AK that I found in a bunker to compliment my regular issue M-16. If there was a video clip of me, you would all be screaming it was fake because I had the "wrong" weapon. Like me, maybe he just found it and kept it. You'd be suprised at all the types and quantity of weapons lying around an active battlefield.
0 of 0 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
War_Chick writes:
I do not know a thing about the military so I can't really help with the guns or hand grenade things, but I think i know a bit about the way people's minds work, so I can help with the medal. I think that the man would have taken it as a token to show off to his mates that he was better than the American's, and that is why they show the American taking it off the soldiers neck. It makes the whole scene have some meaning....why else would they show him taking off the medal? It could also be that the American was going to take the medal as a sign of victory...but found that the enemy soldier had had the same idea.
5 of 11 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
MattB writes:
Regarding the Thompson SMG: in wartime and especially in the front line and even more so with elite units such as the Rangers, definitions of what is official or 'issue' tend to go out the window. That can apply to weapons, vehicles and uniforms, there is plenty of photographic evidence for this from WW2 right through to Desert Storm.
2 of 6 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Ranger_Lu writes:
It's not far fetched at all. Taking trophies is a large part of war, sort of a pride issue. And taking out counter sniping is very hard and time consuming, taking a trophy from the guy you rocked would be more than well deserved. And why couldn't you make up little stories yourself? No reason.
1 of 4 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
I have a few points on the issue of Capt. Miller and Private Ryan with the 60 mm mortar shells. Yes 60 not 80 it is very clear that he says 60. The line says "We can use them without the tube!" "How?" "Fuse-arming wire, set back, heave it!" I'm sure that this would not be the actual way to turn a mortar shell into a hand grenade but I'm sure it would be possible.
3 of 8 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Ryan writes:
Hi, I believe that Thompson's were used in all action, even up untill Korea. They were a weapon often issued to officers, esp. officers in elite units such as the rangers. Good eye anyway
2 of 6 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
BJ writes:
The man does say "here - use these eighties" Thing is what they were useing were sixties - not eighties. Matter of fact there are no eighties. there are sixties, eighty ones, there "were" seventy six's, and there are 4.1 inchers.
3 of 8 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
MattTheBrave writes:
to answer your question stockiestfiend, the rounds were 60mm mortar rounds. when cpt. miller runs out of ammo, ryan says "those 60 rounds! we can use without the tubes!" also, it is possible to throw them. if you remember, ryan pulls out the explosives that send the round flying before slamming it on the metal plate.
3 of 8 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Wittmann writes:
Actually if you watch the dday landing from the start, you will notice that Miller's weapon changes from the Garand to the Thompson after the first "shellshock" effect(where the sound muffles and you see the Flamethrower Explode), this is noticeable if you watch the weapon in the bag change, also he unpacks his thomson after the bangalores have been exploded
2 of 6 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Tony Gies writes:
Yep, I also think that he took the medal as a trophy from a man he killed.
1 of 5 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
L3w53r writes:
I don't think their rifle grenades either...I remember Ryan saying that they still have mortar rounds but the tube was destroyed. And later during the battle he says they can still fire the rounds w/o the tube. I'm not very sure if WW2 rifle-grenades needed tubes but I know that todays rifle-grenades doesn't use one and has a small rocket(?) motor that fires for a couple of seconds.
2 of 7 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
CBMark writes:
First off, I'd have to watch again to see the medal. As for the Thompson. It was a favorite among officers and NCO's. It was an excellent, sturdy weapon. Many officers carried one as their primary weapon. Likewise, even many 'private' soldiers (what we call the enlisted now-a-days) would end-up with 'boutique' weapons that they were not issued. Those are mortar shells they are tossing at the German tanks. Not quite sure how those particular weapons were fused, but many weapons of that era were time or distance fused, by which case they require an initial 'impulse' (be it electrical or physical) which starts a timing device, either chemical or mechanical, and the weapon can only be triggered once this timer has 'run-out', so to speak.
2 of 7 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Conrad writes:
It *is* possible to throw mortar rounds. British soldiers of WW1 used to chuck them into German bunkers and dugouts to kill anyone inside and collapse the structure. A tad overkill, but effective.
1 of 5 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Malarkey writes:
Thompson: Eh, alright American Medal: When did that scene ever happen? The last Neuville au Plain scene was Reiben saying 'F*** Ryan', and the camera skipped to SSgt. ordering 'Jimmy T' around. Throwing Mortars: Possible, The makers did get it wrong, so did you blithering about it. first off, THEY ARE 60MM mortars! They can be thrown, you remove the fuse-arming wire, slam the TIP, not the end of the Mortar on something hard, which makes it live, but not armed, which is why it doesn't explode in the tube, then explodes when it hits the ground.
1 of 5 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Jackal writes:
stockiestfiend: You clearly have NO idea what you are talking about whatsoever. I had to sign up for the site just to put you straight. First off, mortar rounds are NOT grenades in any way shape or form, so consistently referring to them as such demonstrates your ignorance. Secondly, it most certainly IS possible to use a mortar AS a grenade if you remove the safety wire and bang the TIP, not the back like they were. You ARE totally right that what THEY were doing would hurt you badly. If you don't think you can use a mortar as a grenade check out the Medal of Honor Society's archives. Look for CPL Kelly in WWII. He did just that and he wasn't the only MOH for it either.
1 of 5 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
MattTheBrave writes:
the boyscout is right, when cpt. miller gives the order to gather weapons and ammo, he tears open the plastic protective covering of his m1 garand. this plastic covering was not necessary on thompson submachine guns because they did not jam due to water intake in the action like m1's did.
1 of 7 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
cool guy writes:
The shells they lob are 80 mm mortar shells! You can clearly hear Ryan say, "Here use these eighties!"
3 of 12 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
0341-USMC writes:
"jamma the war expert writes: the medal thing isnt evan on thats aload of crap and the thompson was issued to officers not paratroopers they were issued with 160 rounds of m1 garand and two handgrenades and one white phrospherous grenade and an orange smoke grenade" I'll tell what is a load of crap there Jamma the expert, ORANGE Smoke Grenades? Man where did you pull that one from? The only ORANGE smoke device I'm aware of in wwII is the signal smoke in the air crew survival kits! I think you've been sniffing ORANGE smoke!
0 of 6 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
jamma the war expert writes:
the medal thing isnt evan on thats aload of crap and the thompson was issued to officers not paratroopers they were issued with 160 rounds of m1 garand and two handgrenades and one white phrospherous grenade and an orange smoke grenade
1 of 9 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
garethgazz writes:
The medal bit must be on a different version because on mine you see him die and thats it. Anyway, i think its a bit far fetched saying he got it from another sniper he killed. Thats like saying, maybe when he was little his dad was in the army, then the medal got passed down blah blah blah. If there is no reference to it being taken, then it wasn't, you can't just make your own little stories up :) I'm not being nasty but it sounds abit far fetched to me.
4 of 17 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
stockiestfiend writes:
Throwing mortar grenades: impossible. Mortar grenades have a small explosive at the bottom which ingites on impact (dropping them in the mortar tube) and makes them fly. Heavier mortars (>80mm) work the same way expect that they are ignited manually after they have landed at the bottom of the tube. The killing explosion happens only after the cone of the grenade (meaning the top of it) is hitted hard enough, like when they come down from the sky and hit the ground. There is also 2 - 15 second gap (depending of the grenade, sometimes adjustable) before the grenade is armed, and though it won't explose if it accidentally hits a tree or something. On what comes to the movie, If you would just hit the bottom of the grenade you would end up losing your arm and propably your life too. Mortar grenades just don't work that way. Another thing is, are the grenades in the movie rifle grenades or mortar grenades. I cannot verify this since I don't have the movie and cannot remember that scene exactly.
2 of 17 found this helpful. Did you? Yes

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