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About this blog

This blog is about 22nd Motor Machine Gun Battery. The battery formed in 1915 and deployed to India in 1916. It spent the rest of war patrolling the North West Frontier, and then fought in the Third Afghan War of 1919. Among the soldiers was my grandfather, Cpl, A/Sjt Ernest William Macro.

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22nd Battery Mobilises

On the Khyber, having pushed back the initial Afghan invasion, on 13th and 14th May 1919 the British advanced into Afghanistan to Loe Dakka. Meanwhile 22nd Battery, having recovered  from policing operations in the Punjab to Rawalpindi, was warned for further operations. On 14th May, the battery left Rawalpindi by train at 0200 hours, arriving in Kohat at 1300 hours the same day. The following day, 15th May, all the baggage cars, with the guns of Number 1 Section, formed a road convoy to move fo

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Policing in the Punjab (3) and the start of the Third Afghan War.

On 5th May 1919, Capt Ewing's mobile column marched in two parties to Harpoki on the Chenab Canal. The cavalry party moved across country. The other party, 22nd Battery Motor Machine Guns, "went along banks of canal, visiting village of Chiohoki Mallian. Camped at Harpoki the night." Although those involved in policing operations in the Punjab were almost certainly unaware,  the Afghans had already invaded India - on 3rd May they had crossed the frontier on the Khyber and captured the village of

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Patrolling the North West Frontier (5)

103 years ago in 1916, 22nd Battery Motor Machine Gun Service's thousand mile familiarisation patrol of the North West Frontier concluded.  In his letter to The Motor Cycle magazine Sgt Fielder concludes with masterly understatement; "On the 29th [April] we returned to Peshawar, the hardest climb in the whole journey. On May 1st we left Peshawar for Pindi, a distance of 117 miles, in the pouring rain, and so ended a month's hard travelling. Being the sergeant mechanic,  in charge, I had a fairly

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Policing in the Punjab (2)

Capt Ewing's evidence to the Disorders Enquiry Committee noted that on 29 April 1919 the "Motor Machine Gun Battery went to a village 57 miles away to make two arrests, returning same evening, distance 114 miles." On 1 May "Mobile column went to Sukeke where it picked up one troop of 18th Lancers having left one troop 19th Lancers, at Lyallpur. Motor Machine Gun Battery had to go on to Hafizabad to detain and come back by road. Camped Sukeke for the night."

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Patrolling the North West Frontier (4)

103 years ago in April 1916, 22nd Battery Motor Machine Gun Service continued their familiarisation patrol of the North West Frontier. Sgt Fielder's letter to "The Motor Cycle" continues: "On the 17th we left Kohat for Thal, a nice journey; distance sixty-one miles. On the 18th we left for Parachinar, right up on the hills, where it was very cold at night, snow being on the hills just above; distance fifty-nine miles. On the 19th we went field firing on the Afghan frontier, afterwards returning

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Policing in the Punjab

One hundred years ago, in April 1919, the Punjab was in flames.  Following the Amritsar massacre on 13 April, trouble had spread throughout Punjab. Railway lines were cut, telegraph posts destroyed, government buildings burnt and Europeans murdered. The British declared Martial Law on 15 April. When exactly 22nd Battery Motor Machine Gun Service became involved in policing operations is not clear - but they were involved by 19 April.  In evidence given to the Disorders Inquiry Committee, more wi

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Patrolling the North West Frontier (3)

Having patrolled up the Khyber Pass on 11 April 1916 to Landi Kotal Fort, 22nd Battery Motor Machine Gun Service returned to Peshawar the same day, a distance of 75 miles. Sgt Fielder commented in a letter to the Motor Cycle magazine, "The road was very dangerous, being twisty and right at the edge of the cliffs. On the 12th we were inspected by the Chief Commissioner, who was very satisfied with our work. On the 13th we went to Chubcudda [I cannot determine where this might be - can anyone help

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Amritsar Massacre

Today, 13 April, marks the 100th anniversary of the Armitsar Massacre.  On 10 April 1919, there was a protest at the residence of the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar. This was to demand the release of two popular leaders of the Indian Independence Movement. For the next two days Amritsar was quiet, but violence continued in other parts of the Punjab. Railway lines were cut, telegraph posts destroyed, government buildings burnt and Europeans murdered. By 13 April, the British government had

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Patrolling the North West Frontier (2)

Having stopped at Nowshera on 6 April 1916, 22nd Battery's North West Frontier familiarisation patrol continued on 7 April. They moved 60 miles up to the frontier, in the Himalaya Mountains. In his letter to the Motor Cycle magazine, Sgt Fielder recalls, "it was a fairly stiff climb". On 8 April the Battery went field firing. This was to; "put the fear of God into the native chief and tribesmen, which we fairly succeeded in doing, returning afterwards to Mardan; distance fifty miles. In the even

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Patrolling the North West Frontier (1)

Having arrived in Rawalpindi in late March 1916, 22nd Motor Machine Gun Battery were not given much time to settle in. Despite the heat they were soon out on a month long 1000 mile familiarisation patrol on the North West Frontier. The Battery Mechanic Sergeant was Sgt Alfred Fielder. He recorded in a subsequent letter to the Motor Cycle magazine that the Battery left Rawalpindi on 5th April and drove/rode to Nowshera, a distance of eighty miles. On the way they passed Attock, the confluence of

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Arrival in Rawalpindi

Around this time 103 years ago, late March 1916, 22nd Motor Machine Gun Battery arrived in their new home, Cambridge Lines, Rawalpindi. We know the Beltana docked on 20 March. Gunner John Manton Travell Gough later recalled that " On landing at Bombay we were met with the information that we had four days railway journey to Rawalpindi. We arrived safely, but before there was time to settle down we were called out for inspection, very shortly afterwards proceeding on a tour of the N.W. Frontier".

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22nd Battery Arrives in India

The SS Beltana, the ship carrying 22nd Motor Machine Gun Battery, arrived at Bombay 103 years ago today on 20 Mar 1916. The Battery commanding officer was Major Alexander Molony, attached to the Machine Gun Corps (Motors) from the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. The Battery Sergeant Mechanic was a well known pre-war motorcyclist, Sgt Alfred Fielder; he had ridden for the Hudson Motor Company.  Amongst the soldiers were 'Bill' Macro, JP Jamieson and Walter Patrick. Once the Beltana had docked there would

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George Pearsall - Briefly in 22nd Motor Machine Gun Battery

At least one member of 22nd Motor Machine Gun Battery was not destined to sail to India with his comrades 103 years ago. Instead he was to travel to the battlefields of northern France as one of the very first tank commanders. Herbert George Pearsall, known as George, was born at Smethwick on 17 July 1888. When war broke out George enlisted at Dewsbury on 6 April 1915 and joined the Motor Machine Gun Service at Bisley on 14 May. He was promoted corporal on 18 June and then serjeant on 14 August

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March 1916 - The SS Beltana passes through the Suez Canal

At about this time 103 years ago in 1916, the SS Beltana, passed through the Suez Canal as she carried the officers and men of 22 Motor Machine Gun Battery to India. Whether the men were allowed to go ashore at either Alexandria or Port Said is not recorded, although having been onboard for 2 weeks since sailing from Devonport on 26 February, it would be nice to think they had the chance to stretch their legs. At least the Beltana was a modern, oil fired ship, so the troops were spared the miser

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February 1919

In February 1919 the men of 22 Motor Machine Gun Battery were taking part in a Machine Gun Concentration and Demonstration Camp in Gondal, to the North of Bombay. On the evidence of A/Sjt Macro's photo album this also seems to have also involved air-ground cooperation and familiarisation training with aircraft of the RAF. These were almost certainly from 31 Squadron, and despite the caption, they were BE2E's, not BE2Cs. Given the soldiers had been in India for nearly three years, and the war in

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Onboard the Beltana

Onboard the SS Beltana, 103 years ago in late February 1916, lifejackets were worn until the ship cleared the U-boat danger area of the Western Approaches.    The SS Beltana was Clyde built, by Caird & Co. of Greenock and launched in 1912, for the P&O Branch Line.  She had carried up to 1100 passengers on the UK to Australia route via Cape of Good Hope.   Thanks to JP Jamieson, grandson of Gnr (later A/Cpl) James Petrie Jamieson, for the photo.    

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The Beltana Sails from Devonport

103 years and 1 day ago, on 26 February 1916, the SS Beltana sailed from Devonport. Onboard were 5 officers and 68 men of 22nd Motor Machine Gun Battery. Among then was my grandfather Ernest William "Bill" Macro. Also onboard were the Battery's 19 motorcycle combinations, 8 motorcycles and 8 cars. I assume their Vickers Machine Guns were also onboard! It was the start of a journey which would take the Battery to Bombay and then Rawalpindi. The next three years were then spent on the North West F

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