Friday, February 24, 2012

The Sedgley Glove

Looking back it seem a fair number of my blogs of late have started off by referencing
something I saw at hellinahandbasket. This is another one. There was an article discussing gimmick weapons or systems. This odd ball came up in the comments.

The curious device above is known far and wide as a Glove Gun. More properly it is a Sedgley Glove or Sedgley Glove Gun if you prefer. For years they have appeared in books or articles about the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) with a one paragraph description. As the name suggest the implement attached to the back of a standard cowhide work glove is a fire arm. To be exact it is a single shot .38 caliber fire arm. The plunger extending past the barrel is the triggering device. To discharge it, you punch the dude where you want the bullet to go – can’t miss!
Sources differ as to whether these are chambered in .38 Special or .38 S&W. I know the part of the block containing the barrel would rotate up for loading and unloading. I have no idea how it is cocked. Is there a safety? I can see arguments for and against it. One would assume there is a manual on this beastie somewhere but I have never encountered either the manual or the weapon it’s self in the ‘flesh’. In the day it would most certainly have been classified. If anyone out there can address any of these points I would love to hear from you.

My best information is that the weapon was designed by the Office of Naval
Intelligence. There are several theories about how it was employed.

One is that Sedgley Gloves were provided to heavy equipment operators with the Sea Bees. Reason being that bulldozer operators were unarmed due to the requirements of their jobs. The story goes that Sedgley Gloves came in right and left hand pairs. In case of a surprise attack by the Japanese this gave the Sea Bees a way to defend themselves.

With all due respect, I wouldn’t even have mentioned this one if I hadn’t encountered it several times in my research. Japanese soldiers tended to lead with their bayonets during an attack on what they thought to be an unarmed opponent. A glove, even a Sedgley Glove, against a bayonet looses. I have talked to a lot of Sea Bees. Some of them have mentioned side arms, others spoke about finding a way to keep a rifle or shotgun handy if they felt the need. Sedgley Gloves never came up.

I would offer two other arguments against this practice. First, in all my years of research I have only seen pictures of Sedgley Gloves made for the right hand, never the left. Second, if they had been issued in quantity to the Sea Bees we would be seeing a lot of them at gun shows. This is not to say the idea wasn’t suggested, maybe tested, but there has to be a reason Naval Intelligence designed them and the OSS ended up with them.

The Sedgley Glove pictured above is from the World War Two Museum in New Orleans. It was the property of Lawrence Ney Hanna. Lt. Hanna had been an officer with a unit called the Beach Jumpers and is the only case I know of where a Sedgley Glove was carried in combat.

The Beach Jumpers were the brain child of none other than Douglas Fairbanks
Jr. Fairbanks was that rare Hollywood type that existed outside officers clubs and PR appearances. His like traveled to dangerous places and made them more dangerous when they got there.

The job of the Beach Jumpers was to convince the enemy that a major force was attacking an all but empty beach. Their ride was a 63-foot double-hulled plywood air-sea rescue fast boat. Each boat was crewed by an officer and six enlisted men. The boats were equipped with twin 50 caliber machine guns, 3.5 inch window rockets, smoke pots and generators, and floating time-delay explosive packs. They also carried the unit’s specialized deception equipment: the multi-component "heater," consisting of a wire recorder; 5-phase amplifier, and 1000 watt, 12 horn speaker; and ZKM and MK-6 Naval balloons to which strips of radar reflective window had been attached. The latter could be towed behind the boats to enhance their radar cross-section.

This boat could convince the enemy a task force was landing in their back yard. By the time the defenders responded they were long gone – they hoped!

The glove had been issued to Lt. Hanna in case his boat was ever boarded. He was to hold his hands up as if surrendering until someone got close. With the fire arm component on the back of the glove it would not be seen by anyone in front of him. Once a boarder was close enough Lt. Hanna would punch them with the Sedgley Glove. The theory being that the punch and unexpected weapon report would take the man out and could create enough of a diversion for the crew to take back the boat.

So what are the chances of surviving such a stunt? Slim, but considering the kind of interrogation these folks could expect, being taken alive wasn’t an option. Luckily for Lt. Hanna he never had to use the Sedgley Glove.

In the half century plus since World War Two the only time Sedgley Gloves have been used in a movie was INGLORIOUS BASTARDS. I am pretty sure these were re-pops.

The Sedgley Glove reminds me of a saying my Grandmother used to have, “Book smart
and horse stupid!” Someone put a great deal of thought into this beastie, but never stopped to ask themselves if it was worth the effort to build it. This is the kind of thing I would expect a street thug to cobble up, not Military Intelligence.

I would love to have one for my collection, but would never fire it.

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