John Taliaferro Thompson

John Taliaferro Thompson

Newport, Campbell County, Kentucky, USA
Death 21 Jun 1940 (aged 79)
Great Neck, Nassau County, New York, USA
Burial West Point, Orange County, New York, USA
Plot Section 13, Row A, Grave 38
Memorial ID 3655 · View Source
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U.S. Army Brigadier General, Inventor of the Thompson Submachine Gun. Born in Newport, Kentucky, he was the son of a Union Civil War Colonel and career Army Officer, James Thompson. He grew up at military posts in the mid-west and later attended Indiana University for a year. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1882, 11th in his class. Thompson became a 2nd Lieutenant and was assigned to the 2nd U.S. Artillery. He served at various posts until he was assigned to the Army Ordnance Department in 1890. During the Spanish-American War, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and appointed as Chief Ordnance Officer. Thompson became a small arms specialist and was instrumental in developing the .45 caliber rimless cartridge for use with automatic weapons and eventually for use with the Colt Model 1911 .45 Automatic handgun. After years of failing to persuade the Army to adopt automatic weapons, he resigned in 1914 and accepted a position as a director with the Remington Arms Corporation. Remington built a factory to support the European War Effort and produced rifles for the British and Russian Armies. When the United States entered World War I, Thompson was recalled to active duty and was commissioned as a Brigadier General. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his service as Director of Arsenals. After the war, he retired from the Army and concentrated on developing a practical automatic rifle. He invented the Thompson Submachine Gun, using .45 caliber ammunition, and sold the weapon in large quantities to law enforcement agencies after proving its effectiveness. The weapon popularly became known as the "Tommy Gun" and earned notoriety for its use by gangsters in the 1920s. His invention was later adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and was put to great use during World War II. Thompson died at his residence in Newport in 1940 when he was 79 years old.

Bio by: K Guy

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 1 Oct 1998
  • Find a Grave Memorial 3655
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Taliaferro Thompson (31 Dec 1860–21 Jun 1940), Find a Grave Memorial no. 3655, citing United States Military Academy Post Cemetery, West Point, Orange County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .