Third Party Press

XXI District Vz24 vet bringback out of the woodwork

Warrior1354

ax - hole
This rifle was nothing but a stroke of luck, and having good knowledge under your belt. And surprisingly Gunbroker of all places, but it was advertised incorrectly by the seller with not very good photographs. I did verify from the seller that the stock matched, as well as the bolt. He told me it did, and they have a seven day inspection period. So I hit that buy now button! Luckily I sold something a few days before. What I made off that rifle, and what I had in it. I'm in this rifle maybe $900! When the rifle was in hand far better then expected. It's completely untouched, and I'm keeping it that way! Nothing has been done to it, and it's had a hard life. Shows battle fatigue. Check out that butt plate area? Not from light use. But check out the parts? So many cool made parts from different manufacturers: Early Sauer, Early Mauser, BLM, early Gustloff, some Erma, even Imperial. Like the lower barrel band, an Erma made part that was once numbered. You can still see the old faint numbers by the new numbers. Cool 1939 dated barrel as well. I'm sure others will chime in and tell me more about these cool parts. Love to hear your findings. I thought this would be the end of it, but it's not. Me breaking this rifle down for the first time in a very long time, brought up more findings. What I found in the stock channel was a Veterans name, rank, and service number!

Not only that I found information on the veteran as well. Most of this information was found in his letters he wrote home to his family, as well as battlefield reports where he was interviewed. They were donated in 2002 from his estate when he died at the age of 91. I have a felling the rifle was sold around the same time. Maybe because of the anti-gun laws in New Jersey the family sold it possibly?

So far this is going to be the short version of this life, due to I have so much more info to post on this thread. Private Victor V. Evangelista was drafted at the age of 33 out of New Jersey. Left behind a wife of Irene, and a son Noel. He left for Texas early 1944 for Infantry training for combat in Italy. From his letters to his wife the heat was unbearable. He was sent to Italy late 1944 with the 337th Infantry Regiment part of the 85th Infantry Division. They were basically brought in as replacements to fight in the Italian campaign. From more of his letters many of these replacements were killed in the first week, and he lost quite a few friends. Later on in the Spring of 1945 in his words. "This weather made the winter go away, but now we have the mud and rain." Around the same time his battalion commander was killed by a Granatwerfer 42. At the same time his unit was heavily engaged with the German 1st Parachute Division up until the last days of the war. Still his regiment of combat draftees fought for well over 260 days of combat in terrible conditions, and suffered heavily losses. The 85th Infantry Division total suffered 1736 men killed, 6314 men wounded, five President unit citations, received four Medals of honor, 545 silver stars, and 4988 bronze stars.

I have so more information to go through, but will post more findings when I come across them.

You know guy's it's been almost two years since I bought a K98k. As much as love this variation type. To me this history makes it so very special. These men really were the Greatest Generation. I'm proud to own such a special rifle, and thank you so very much Mr. Evangelista for you and your fellow soldiers service to this country.
 

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Warrior1354

ax - hole
Bolt numbers and Rear sight group:
 

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Warrior1354

ax - hole
Stock:
 

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Warrior1354

ax - hole
Barrel bands, bayonet lug, buttplate, and magazine housing group. Forgot to meation follower was unmarked and not numbered, but blued.
 

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Aaron

Senior Member
SO MANY tiny cool details, codes, and waffenamts I've never seen before, this really is something remarkable, excellent piece and should be stickied in the beutewaffen section. Only thing that looks to have a wrong serial is the bayonet lug? Unless they just never bothered with that part which wouldn't surprise me.
 

Wolfsburg

Senior Member
Wonderful find and just goes to show things can still fly under the radar! The veteran's information is just icing on the cake!
 

Warrior1354

ax - hole
Here are a few of the letters he wrote home. This website is well worth checking out. There are so many more letters of Mr. Evangelista life during WWII. So glad these were saved by the family. I have more after action reports I still need to go through.

 

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Warrior1354

ax - hole
From Elite assault the 85th Infantry Division.

Private Victor V. Evangelista arrived with this January contingent. A married thirty-three-year-old pre-war employee of the New York’s Conservation Department from Gloversville, New York, who had a four-year-old son back home, Private Evangelista had been drafted into the Army on April 20, 1944. Unlike the original Custer Men who had spent two full years in the 85th Division training, Evangelista spent only eight months and thirty-six days in the Army before arriving alone at the 337th Infantry Regiment’s headquarters on January 25. Recounting his arrival on the front lines to his wife, Evangelista gave insight into both the situation of new replacements and how the men of the 85th were perceived by other servicemen in Italy. Evangelista was saddened by the fact that the replacement system, which sent men out to units on an “as needed” basis, had separated him from his last two of his friends from boot. However, Evangelista was buoyed by tales of the “85th Division of the famous 5th Army"

Few, if any, of the replacements had undergone any simulated combat training that resembled the mountain fighting they now faced, and the 85th sought to correct this lack of preparation as fast as possible. Private Evangelista even declared, “Believe you me honey I have learned more since I’ve been over here than I ever was taught in my basic training.” For one-on-one tutoring, each replacement soldier was paired with a veteran Custer Man to serve as his foxhole buddy. In the case of Private Evangelista, he was partnered with “a Polish fellow from Buffalo, N.Y. …Henry Gajewski,” a twenty-four-year-old married man with one child who had joined the Army back in November 1943. The 85th Division had developed a system where recent replacements went on rotation to forward observation dugouts for battlefield indoctrination, a nerve-wracking but important experience. Private Evangelista wrote about this dangerous duty, explaining that, “The only reason that they sent us [replacements] up there [to the Observation Posts] was to get us used to battle noises and to learn to tell when a shell was coming in or going out. This battlefield indoctrination became even more vital due to the unique combat conditions of the frigid mountain peaks. The bright white snow’s ability to silhouette even camouflaged soldiers meant that all combatants on the mountains shifted their fighting styles to focus on night patrols and ambush points, with the 85th Division men even experimenting with the use of War Dogs from the 38th Quartermaster War Dog Platoon to detect German movement at night. Both sides avoided all daytime movement due to the close proximity of the opposing lines, for, as Private Evangelista wrote, “even though we couldn’t see one another we were only actually a few hundred yards apart.


The arrival of spring brought a new wave of challenges for the draftees and their fellow compatriots serving in the Italian mountains. Snow quickly gave way to rain and, in the words of Private Evangelista, “but God, we sure have got the mud.” This change in battlefield conditions led to new waves of casualties, with men suffering from ailments such as trench foot, pneumonia, and rheumatism. At the same time, the Germans increased their attacks with indiscriminate, indirect fire weapons. A particularly brutal example of the random lethality of this tactic occurred on February 20, when a 120mm round from a German Granatwerfer 42 sailed over the front lines and scored a direct hit on the First Battalion, 337th Infantry Regiment’s Command Post, killing the battalion commander along with four members of his staff and leaving a dozen men wounded. The randomized loss of life from such weapons and the removal of men from the line due to sickness helped harden the replacements. Like many of his fellow soldiers, Private Evangelista soon became emotionally detached. After his foxhole buddy was sent to a field hospital, he wrote his wife, “That’s the trouble here, you make buddies then something comes up and you have to start all over again. Private Evangelista undertook his assigned tasks alongside his company’s veterans, but the men alternately fell into bouts of melancholy, thinking that no one would be able to recognize their own children if they returned home, then rising up in cheer as veterans passed on tricks of how to make front line positions comfortable or cook Army rations in a way to make them more edible. Above all, his experiences built up an opinion that diminished civilian problems back in the States. Contemptuous of civilian belly-aching, he wrote that, “if the people [back home] could see what it takes to operate an Army successfully, I am sure that each and every one back home wouldn’t let any one squak.


More info in the link well worth reading.

 

WreckTangle

Mad Dog 20/20 Connoisseur
Wow. That is awesome. Sweet rifle and all the history to go with it. You'll never part with this one. What a score.
 

waffenmeister

Senior Member
Very nice find with a lot of history and documentation. That’s only the second “cul” rear sight sleeve I’ve seen. Well done!
 

heavy_mech

RKI- Reasonably Knowledgable Individual
Wow. What an amazing find. The provenance, huge amount of Vet information and the incredibly wide variety of parts from so many different suppliers just make this a unique piece. As noted the cul marked rear sight sleeve and ax marked seer are really cool touches. Congrats Jordan!!
 

cj556

Senior Member
Very neat and scarce rifle. Amazing it has the vet graffiti and you were able to dig up the vets info.
 

flynaked

Repo Field Gear Collector
Cool rifle Jordan, the inspections on the stock are my favorite part, usually the kind you see on other types of parts and materials. I live just down the road from Fort Wolters, I’ll snap some pictures next time I’m out that way.
 

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