Raymond Rosenbusch and his M-1 Carbine, the "Window Cleaner"
My friend, Raymond Rosenbusch liked only two kinds of pie - hot and cold .... When I was in town, we met often for pie and coffee at Jim's Restaurant in Balcones Heights, Texas. Being two combat vets, I mentioned anecdotes from my short tour in Vietnam and he talked of World War Two. His stories added a lot of seasoning to The Other Side Of Courage. ( Also see research web-page HOMEFRONT )
But, Raymond had one hell of a story to tell. This other story is how Raymond came to be in possession of his “Window-cleaner,” a General Motors M-1 carbine manufactured August of 1943.
Raymond was a battalion tactical radio communicator but reassigned as a prisoner classifier in England in May 1944 awaiting D-Day. He was promoted to Segeant First Class and assigned two MPs and a jeep with a trailer to carry paperwork. The government likes lots of paperwork. Also that month, Raymond was issued a brand-new M-1 carbine that was unique. This one had a bayonet lug that came with a leather-handle bayonet, because he would soon be in constant proximity to POWs – prisoners of war. He removed the cosmoline wrapping and cleaned the weapon.
Raymond landed on Normandy sunrise the morning after D-Day and witnessed the aftermath of the carnage. No words could describe the sight or smells. He went to work interviewing and catagorizing prisoners, while moving forward, eventually getting closer and closer to the front lines.
Most soldiers carried the M-1 Garand while senior sergeants and officers carried carbines and tommy guns. On occasion, Raymond would find himself among soldiers street-fighting with only Garands and have to step up to give suppressing fire while soldiers repositioned to engage fixed emplacements in buildings, hence the nickname: “Window-cleaner.”
The day finally came when Raymond found himself at the Siegfried Line and a friend took the photo above with a “Brownie.” The war moved on and came to an end. But, instead of going home, Raymond was made an MP and assigned to the Nuremberg Trials as a guard.
Before departing, Raymond was issued a footlocker to place everything, but certain uniform items he would need later. An officer made the decision for Raymond to disassemble and place the M-1 and bayonet in the footlocker but surrender magazines and other war instruments including web-gear. The footlocker was locked and stenciled with Raymond’s information and the key to the brass padlock given him. So now, Raymond was off to the trials and the rest of his life.
Years went on and Raymond returned to his favorite job of cabinet maker and in 1951, the post office delivered the footlocker. Not giving it a second glance, Raymond tossed it in a corner and more things found their way on top. The footlocker was shuffled around over the years.
In 1971 while working in his Balcones Heights shop, Raymond was looking for a particular piece of wood for a gift project when he came upon the footlocker. Curiosity overcame his distaste of war. He found some bolt-cutters and took off the lock. Inside he found the M-1 with a web-sling and reassembled it.
Since it was government property, Raymond took the M-1 to Fort Sam Houston’s provost marshal’s office. As he walked in a sergeant immediately called out for the captain.
When the captain stepped from his office and saw Raymond with the carbine he exclaimed, “Oh no! I did not see that. We don’t want it and I am not going to deal with it. I don’t care what you do with it, just do not bring it back here.”
So Raymond took the M-1 home. The carbine sat for another twenty years.
It was 1991 and I was nearing my retirement from the Marines when Raymond asked me if I would take custody of his “window-cleaner.”
I agreed but I asked him, ‘why would he give up such a family heirloom?’ He replied he was getting old and he was afraid when he died someone would just trade or sell the rifle but I would understand what it was and what it meant. The next week, we met at Obar’s Guns on Fredericksburg Road in San Antonio where the M-1 was registered into my name and I took the “window-cleaner” home.
From time to time, I would ask Raymond if he wanted his “window-cleaner” back and he would reply it was better off where it was. On the 3rd of July, 1999 my friend Raymond died.
I remained friends with Raymond’s family, including his grandchildren. Recently I returned the “Window-cleaner” to Raymond’s grand-children, Jamie Graham-Lee and Jonathan Graham.