This Colt Model 1911 Automatic Pistol was Sold to the United States Government and shipped to the Commanding Officer at Rock Island Arsenal in Rock Island, Illinois on August 18th, 1914 in a 600 gun shipment.
According to the National Archives this model 1911 automatic pistol, serial no. 91863 at the National Archives and have found that a .45 auto pistol with this serial number was issued in France to 1s Lieutenant Martin Thomas Bretherton, Engineers, during World War I.
On 9 January 1920, Bretherton, in El Paso, Texas, wrote to the U.S. Army Chief of Ordnance saying this pistol had been issued to him while he was "Agent Engineer Disbursing Officer at Bordeaux, France," and that he had retained the pistol during his return to the States because he was escorting government property. He had failed to take the pistol with him when he went to Camp Travis, Texas, for discharge and wanted to keep it and pay its cost to the government.
Unfortunately, the sale of standard service pistols and revolvers could only be made to officers on active duty and the Chief of Ordnance replied that he should turn the pistol in to the ordnance officer at Ft. Bliss. The Chief also advised the Ft. Bliss ordnance officer of this on 19 January and directed him to advise the Chief if the pistol was not returned in thirty days.
The Ft. Bliss ordnance officer answered on March 4th that he had received the Chief's letter on 26 January and had given Bretherton a few extra days but the pistol had not been turned in. On learning this, the Chief again wrote Bretherton on 10 March and provided the Ft. Bliss officer a copy. But by 1 April the Ft. Bliss officer still did not have the pistol. He had visited Bretherton's office at the Anson Mills building in El Paso on "two or three occasions" but was "unable to get in touch with him."
This time the Chief sent a registered letter to Bretherton telling him that if there were any further delay in turning the pistol in, the matter would be turned over to the Department of Justice for action. This letter reached Bretherton at Toyah, Texas and he responded in an undated endorsement to the Chief's registered letter. He said he had been out of the city for about six weeks but did not understand why this had happened, for he had instructed his clerk in his Mills Building office to turn the pistol over to any Army officer who called for it.
He was clearly upset with the threat made in the Chief's letter and stated he had gone to Ft. Bliss to turn the pistol in when first told to do so but could not find the ordnance officer. He said he hoped to return to El Paso in the next ten to 14 days and would try again and that in the meantime his clerk had it available in his office.
An apologetic Chief of Ordnance replied on 28 April that he regretted the misunderstanding and that the chief of the Ft. Bliss Ordnance Depot would be directed to call at Bretherton's office for the pistol. On 11 May 1920, Capt. Edgar Nickum of the Ft. Bliss Depot, advised the Chief that on that day he had gone to Bretherton's office at #213 Mills Building and "secured from his clerk one (1) pistol, Colts, Automatic, caliber .45. Model 1911. Serial #91863.
The 1920 El Paso City Directory, page 381, lists Bretherton as the manager of the El Paso Multigraphing Co., Public Stenographic Service, and he lived in a room at the YMCA. His business entry on page 477 listed him as the manager and said the firm did "circular letters, public stenography, addressing and mailing." At the time he registered for the draft his occupation was as a stenographer in Galveston, TX, for Maj. E. N. Johnston, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commander of the Galveston District in 1916-1917. He appears to have entered service as an enlisted man and at some point received a commission, probably in the Army Reserve, since he does not appear in Regular Army officer registers.