On this day in 1918, U.S. Marines at Belleau Wood in France gained significant ground in their push to drive back a German offensive during World War I. After the Allies won the battle, General John Pershing, commander of U.S. troops in France, said, ”The deadliest weapon in the world is a United States Marine and his rifle.” The Battle of Belleau Wood had lasted all month with both sides suffering heavy losses. Many Marines died as they crossed open fields to attack enemy positions. These types of casualties fueled a growing interest by gunmakers in developing smaller automatic-fire guns that fighters could shoot to keep the enemy pinned down as they moved across open ground. As discussed in American Gun, gun designers began developing more military automatic and select-fire rifles. This work eventually led to the development of the AR-15.
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