Colt 1911A1 serial number 721974 (ca. 1940) with
Coltrock stocks and accessories as issued to US Navy pilot
Lt. Melvin Roach. Coltrock stocks are not commonly
encountered on these pistols as Coltrock proved to be too
brittle for military use. It is a 1940 production pistol
that was part of the second Army contract for that year.
The second order ranged from sn 719753 to 721977
inclusive with deliveries beginning in October. This pistol
was delivered to the Commanding Officer, Springfield Armory
on December 27, 1940. Serial Numbers 721963 thru 721977
inclusive were then delivered January 23, 1941 to Naval
Operations Base, Norfolk, Virginia.
Lt. Roach with his aircraft "Little
Betty" named after his wife. Caption on the back to his
wife, "This is my own plane how do you like the name of it?"
Lt. Melvin Roach was from Oilton, OK.
He graduated from Oklahoma A&M with a degree in Chemical
Lt. Roach was a Hellcat pilot assigned to the Yorktown,
Saratoga and Essex, squadrons VF-5, VF-6 and VF-15. He
fought at Guadalcanal, The Solomon Islands and Coral Sea.
Being awarded the DFC at the Philadelphia
Ensign Melvin C. Roach was awarded the
Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism in the Battle of
Midway, June 4-6, 1942 and posthumously awarded the American
Legion Gold Star.
Flying Cross citation presented to Ensign Melvin C. Roach,
United States Naval Reserve signed by Secretary of the Navy
Frank Knox. The Citation reads as follows: "For heroic
achievement in aerial flight as a pilot of Scouting Squadron
SIX in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Battle of
Midway, June 4-6, 1942. While engaged in combat
patrol, Ensign Roach, at great personal risk made a daring
attack against enemy aircraft approaching the U.S.S.
YORKTOWN and assisted in the destruction of at least one
enemy airplane. His skill as an airman, his courageous
perseverance and devotion to duty were in keeping with the
highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
As a member of "The Fighting Five" Squadron
VF-5, they were responsible for shooting down 98 enemy
Lt Roach was credited with four kills and two unconfirmed
Chicago Sun newspaper article
Lt. Roach shot down an enemy reconnaissance
aircraft during the Battle of Guadalcanal but not before
return fire shot out his oil line and seized his engine. He
ditched and swam 25 miles to a Japanese held island and hid
in a sea cave until his rescue four days later.
Out on the town in Chicago while on leave
from the war. Caption on the back "A boy from Texas
and myself having a big time in a nite club here". The other
pilot is Lt Mark Bright.
After Guadalcanal, the squadron flight
surgeon diagnosed several of the pilots with flying fatigue
and were awarded
30 days leave. During that time, Lt. Roach and four other
VF-5 pilots toured the US in an effort to sell war bonds
and broadcast their war stories on CBS radio, Chicago.
July 27, 1944 - Newspaper article of Lt.
Melvin Roach's death.
On June 12, 1944, he volunteered to take the
place of a fellow pilot who fell sick. The mission was to
Japanese convoy on the island of Saipan. Lt. Roach launched
off the Essex in Hellcat (plane #34) which was
normally flown by his squadron mate, and according to
witnesses, the plane went down about a mile directly in
front of the ship. The plane exploded upon impact. No one
knows what happened and his body was never recovered. A
destroyer was dispatched but no remains were recovered.
Model 1911A1 Serial No. 721974 - right side.
There is a P proof on the top of the
slide, in front of the rear sight and also a P on the
left side of the frame near the magazine release button.
The barrel in this gun is a Springfield replacement barrel
with S and P stamps on the lug.
Right Side close-up.
The initials of Major Charles S. Reed, Officer in
Charge of Outside Inspection, were stamped on all M1911A1
pistols manufactured in 1940 and partially into 1941, signifying government
acceptance of the pistol. His initials were stamped on the
left side of the receiver below the slide stop in accordance
with Ordnance drawings.
The initials C.S.R. were
also stamped on the top of the receiver near the
disconnector hole to indicate provisional inspection,
replacing the previous letter "R" within an oval.
Colt 1911A1 serial number 721974 (ca. 1940) -
matching numbered slide.
Period Storage Pouch: left and right side of
leather pouch gun was stored in for over 70 years. "Ensign
Roach VF 5" on one side.
"Guadalcanal 1942" on the other side.