According to English Wikipedia, during the 1942 Raid on Makin Atoll (modern-day Butaritari, Kiribati) the Marine Raiders used Boys anti-tank rifles to attack the Japanese flying boats that attempted to land in the lagoon.

When were they issued (or when did they otherwise acquire) these British weapons and why this particular model?

I can't find any information on American Marines being supplied with these, other than the small stub of info, nor any evidence they ever used them again.

  • Hi, just a little comment for META question: could you please re-post your question about the Gilbert? I prepared an answer but so it was deleted. Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 9:38
  • @LarsBosteen Just a thing: PIAT was British made. The Bazooka is a US made weapon Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 9:41
  • @totalMongot Yes, thanks, so I see from the Wiki article on the PIAT. Seems one of the articles I read got that wrong. Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 9:50
  • @totalMongot Unfortunately I don't feel comfortable with it, as folk were unhappy with the way it was written. Thank you for the offer. Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 14:01
  • @JessieKirk Ok that's quite sad but your decision. I guess the "cruelty" word should have been rephrased or question-oriented defined Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 14:58

2 Answers 2


According to The Online Tank Museum and US Marine Corps 1941–45 by Gordon L. Rottman, both cited in Wikipedia's Boys anti-tank rifle, the marines got them from Canada.

This American Rifleman article gives more details,

At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the American military was woefully short of many types of modern arms, and there was no infantry anti-tank weapon in service. The M2 Browning .50-cal. machine gun filled that niche throughout the 1920s and 1930s, but the M2 with its tripod weighed about 128 lbs., which precluded it from being carried by one man for any distance.

In the bleak early days of America’s war in the Pacific, the U.S. Marine Corps formed Raider units, loosely based on the British Commandos. Raiders were trained in “hit-and-run” tactics that required easily portable arms. The Raiders needed an anti-tank arm and quickly settled on the Boys. To this end, the Marines standardized the Boys in 1942.

The Boys, although heavy, was lighter than the M2 Browning .50-cal. An article by Major Jon. T. Hoffman, USMCR, From Makin to Bougainville: Marine Raiders in the Pacific War has this.

Perhaps the oddest weapon carried by the raiders was the Boys antitank rifle, a 35-pound behemoth firing a .55-caliber round. Edson adopted these Canadian weapons to provide his men with a light but serviceable capability against enemy armor. The rifle eventually saw use with other raider battalions. The heavy round was accurate at more than 1,000 yards, and the 2d Raiders used a Boys on Makin to destroy two Japanese seaplanes.


It is likely that the Boys anti-tank rifles used by Carlson's Raiders during the Raid on Makin Atoll were acquired through clandestine means or through cooperation with British forces. It was not uncommon for allied forces to share weapons and supplies during World War II. The Boys rifle was chosen for its ability to effectively target and disable Japanese flying boats, which posed a significant threat to the American forces during the raid. It is possible that the Marines did not use these rifles again due to the availability of other, more suitable anti-tank weapons for their needs.

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    Hi and welcome to History SE. If you could add sources, your answer would be much improved. Thank you. Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 23:49
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