Fascinating! I have never seen these before. WWII soldiers and airmen in the field were fabricating clear, see-through grips out of scrapped plexiglass they found from wrecked aircraft windows. The left side grip was typically left unadorned so the soldier could easily tell how many rounds remained in the magazine and the other side often housed a photo of of their wife or girlfriend back home. They came to be know as ‘Sweetheart Grips’.
I found this account of someone who seen one of these pistols recently, which I thought was very cool, and bonus, the story shows that even thieving arseholes can have a conscience!
“I had a great opportunity to have a young officer’s sidearm to display at a museum I worked at, for a special WW2 display. He and his wife arrived a few minutes before me and were seated at a table in the archives. I sat down across from the silver haired couple in their early 80’s. He took the .45 out and slid it across to me. I noticed the clear grips. On one side was an American flag. He told me how he had made the grips from the plexiglass from a downed German fighter. I flipped it over and right there under the grip was a picture of a naked woman. I looked at it, I looked at him, and looked at his wife and she said, “Yes it’s me.” “I would prefer you put that side down while it’s on display.”
Unfortunately, the story took a sour turn when someone stole the .45 during a museum Christmas party. I was distraught; I had to tell a man who fought his way across Europe and during the Battle of the Bulge (that his pistol had been stolen). I asked the community newspaper to do a story on the officer and his exploits in WWII. The day the paper printed a whole front page article, a phone rang at that veteran’s home. The caller begged forgiveness. He stated that he had seen it in the museum display and had always wanted a .45 and he just took it. He asked that the veteran go out and get the package on his front porch. Inside was the .45 in perfect condition. The veteran told the voice on the phone that he forgave him.”
(via Denzil R. Heaney on FB)
If you do a Google image search for ‘sweetheart grips’ you can find many examples of this cool little war time tradition.