4 Replies Latest reply on Jun 12, 2021 1:31 AM by Bob Scott

    What's the story behind the Lincoln Memorial bullet holes?

    Bob Scott Wayfarer

      In September 1942 several projectiles hit the east side of the Lincoln Memorial. What's the story behind this?

        • Re: What's the story behind the Lincoln Memorial bullet holes?
          Ceri McCarron Wayfarer

          Dear Mr. Scott,

           

          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

           

          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the Subject Index to General and Formerly Confidential Correspondence, 1917 - 1954 which is an index to the General Correspondence, 1917 - 1947 in the Records of the Office of the Inspector General (Army) (Record Group 159) that may include a file if an investigation was held at the Army level. Otherwise, the investigation may have been conducted by the unit. For more information about these records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at archives2reference@nara.gov.

           

          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

           

          We also searched the internet and located a picture of a small newspaper article at the California Digital Newspaper Collection, which is a project of the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research (CBSR) at the University of California, Riverside. There is a longer article that explains what happened from Architect of the Capital, Hidden History in Washington, D.C.

           

          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

          1 person found this helpful
          • Re: What's the story behind the Lincoln Memorial bullet holes?
            Aaron Garber Newbie

            Family history as told by my uncle:

            My grandfather was stationed in Burma during WW2. He got super sick and they sent him state side and he finished his time in DC. He was stationed on top of the treasury building(.50 cal duty). One day, he didn’t check the chamber after a shift switch, thinking it was clear... 3 rounds landing on the side of the Lincoln Memorial.  Hope this adds to your search.

              • Re: What's the story behind the Lincoln Memorial bullet holes?
                Bob Scott Wayfarer

                Aaron

                 

                I'm really sorry to hear about your grandfather. Conditions in Burma at the time were horrendous, with continuous Allied retreats and poor health conditions. He's lucky he made it back stateside at all

                 

                This is really good info, confirming my thought about the nature of the weapon (.50 caliber) but adding a new location to the possibilities (Treasury.) There have always been questions as to whether the weapon might have been a 37 mm anti-aircraft gun and whether the shots came from Interior, the 14th Street Bridge, or perhaps another location.

                 

                I found a short article in the Washington Post from September 4, 1942 confirming that the event did occur. It stated that four shots were fired but only three hit the Memorial. Do you recall any info about a fourth bullet? The article also announced the start of an investigation by the Public Buildings Administration but I've not been able to find any results of such an investigation, although I've not tried to obtain such info through a FOIA request ( a long process.)

                 

                The reason for the questions is that next year is the centennial of the Memorial and a fellow history buff and I have the thought of suggesting they advertise the event as an interesting piece of the history of the Memorial that few know anything about. I'd like to use whatever info you provide in our efforts in this regard but do not need to mention names, if  that would be your preference.

                 

                Looking forward to hearing further from you.

                 

                Bob

                • Re: What's the story behind the Lincoln Memorial bullet holes?
                  Bob Scott Wayfarer

                  Aaron

                   

                  Do you happen to know what military unit your grandfather was attached to? We have some info that indicates that the 71st Air Defense Artillery Regiment was assigned to DC at that time but that may only be conjecture. Do you know anything about his military career before, during, and after that time? Hopefully he recovered quickly, Anything you could add to our story would be a big help.

                   

                  BTW - We have a grandfather connection - mine, Irving C. Root, was the Superintendent of National Parks at the time of the incident and told me about it when I was quite young. However, he did  not give me a lot of details.

                   

                  Thanks.

                   

                  Bob