World War I
Pictured below is the museum's German model 1908 Maxim Machine Gun ("MG08"). Developed in the late 19th century, the Maxim was the first fully automatic machine gun ever invented and was the most used heavy machine gun of WWI. The MG08 is said to have killed more people than any other single military instrument and has been called "the most murderous weapon of WWI." The soldier's facing this machine gun called it by another name: "the Devil's Paintbrush."
The fully automatic machine gun forever changed warfare as a single well-placed gun could annihilate entire battalions. Maneuver warfare therefore became trench warfare, and the Great War devolved into a battle of attrition accompanied by death on a massive scale.
Yet, WWI was also the stage for the South Carolina 118th Infantry Regiment's finest hour. As part of the famous 30th "Old Hickory" Infantry Division, the 118th played a pivotal role in cracking Germanys formidable Hindenburg Line. They did so by staring down those murderous machine guns and taking out key German outposts. As a result of their heroic actions, fresh units were able to move forward and ultimately cleave the Line in two. Germany was all but done.
World War II
Although the Museum houses several exhibits regarding WWII, including German and Japanese displays, pictured is our American WWII exhibit. This display features the iconic M-1 Garand Battle Rifle whose eight round clip enabled U.S. soldiers to fire more quickly and therefore outgun their opponents. Also of interesting note is the crude looking FP-45 Liberator pistol. The Liberator was intentionally made cheap for mass production and then airdropped to various resistance movements behind enemy lines.
Like the 118th in WWI, several South Carolina units would distinguish themselves in WWII. Foremost among them was the 178th Field Artillery Battalion which fired the first Allied artillery rounds in the invasion of Europe (Sicily), and supported General Mark Clark's 5th Army as it fought its way through Italy. Throughout it all, the 178th served en toto 630 days of combat including an amazing 249 consecutive days on the line.