Who's Who - John Thompson

John Thompson John Thompson (1860-1940) was responsible for U.S. small arms and ammunition supply to the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during World War One.

Thompson joined the U.S. artillery in 1882, spending eight years there until his transfer in 1890 to the Ordnance Department.  The remainder of Thompson's illustrious career was thereafter spent in the design of small arms.

Thompson is particularly renowned for his invention of the Springfield M1903 rifle and was instrumental in developing the .45 calibre rimless cartridge subsequently adopted for use in the Colt 1911 pistol designed by John Browning.

Thompson chose to retire from the army in November 1914 while aged 54.  He did not seek retirement from work however, promptly joining the Remington Arms Corporation as their Chief Engineer.  He was soon at work on the design of an automatic rifle, which would later be commonly referred to as the "Tommy gun".

While at Remington Arms Corporation Thompson helped design purpose-built factories used for the production of rifles for the British and Russian armies (the Enfield and Mosin-Nagant respectively).

America's entry into the war in April 1917 resulted in Thompson's predictable recall to army service.  He was handed responsibility for small arms and ammunition supply to John Pershing's AEF and promoted to Brigadier-General.  He worked to convert British Enfield production depots to enable production of American .30 calibre Enfields.

Awarded the Distinguished Service Medal as a reward for his work Thompson retired from the army for a second time immediately following the war's close in December 1918, returning to rifle design.  The Thompson sub-machine gun finally saw the light of day in 1920.

He died in 1940.

French tanks were used for the first time in battle on 17 April 1917, when the 'Char Schneider' (as they were known) was used during the Second Battle of the Aisne.

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