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Machine guns at Gallipoli


John_Hartley
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I've read of a battalion receiving two "new" machine guns just prior to going into action at Gallipoli in May 1915. The way it's worded makes me think that, prior to this, perhaps they didnt have machine guns. There's quite a lot of practice with them on the voyage.

So, two questions.

Is this Territorial battalion likely to have MGs before this (and, therefore, "new" means replacement or additional)?

And, are they likely to have been Lewis or Vickers guns?

TIA

John

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John

I'm far from an expert on weapons but I think some Territorial units - and some Regulars - still had old maxim machine guns at the start of the war. Don't think lewis guns were available at all when the Gallipoli campaign started, so my guess would be that this is a reference to the replacement of the old maxims by vickers machine guns.

I'm sure others more expert will be able to give you a more definitive answer.

Cheers,

Jim

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Lewis guns first became available to the infantry in the summer of 1915 which I think is just too late for your unit.

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Is this Territorial battalion likely to have MGs before this (and, therefore, "new" means replacement or additional)?

John

The TF battalions with which I am familiar did have MGs so I would guess "new" does indeed means either replacement or additional.

Chris

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Kim - I hadnt read that thread before. As you say, quite fascinating. Who would have thought that there would be nearly 400 posts discussing whether or not the Turks had machine guns during the opening hours of the initial landings.

Thanks to others - looks as though this must be "replacement" (I now have a diary reference to the MGs being brought up to the firing line and there's only two mentioned).

John

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When did the compliment of 2 MGs per battalion get increased?

Dolf Goldmiths "The Grand Old Lady of No Mans Land" page 47 gives the following extract from the post-war History of the Ministry of Munitions Volume XI, The Supply of Munitions, Part V, Machine Guns:

Development of the Demand

Growing Importance of Machine Guns

At the outbreak of war, the machine gun was regarded by British authorities as a weapon of opportunity rather than an essential munition of war. The number alloted to each battalion was only two. This number was soon increased, and by June, 1915, machine gun requirements had been raised to eight per battalion, and a project for forming machine gun units was under discussion.

It was originally customary for each battalion to make what use it could of its own small machine gun equipment. Later, the value of co-operation was appreciated, and at the close of 1915 the War Office statement of machine gun requirements was based on an establishment of 64 guns per brigade. In recommending this establishment, the Commander-In-Chief suggested that 16 should be formed into a brigade machine gun company, four should be attached to each battalion as a battalion machine gun section, and two of lighter type should be attached to each company of the battalion. This principle of co-operation was adopted and developed. The importance of the machine gun as a weapon of defence and offence in Land Service was still further emphasized in the later stages of the war by waning manpower...

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  • 4 weeks later...
At the outbreak of war, the machine gun was regarded by British authorities as a weapon of opportunity rather than an essential munition of war. The number alloted to each battalion was only two.

This was the position for the War Office, the Navy had seen the machine gun as a weapon of war since at least the attack on Alexandria in 1882. In 1914 battleships had 5 MGs.

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John,

The Mediterranean Expeditionary Force was not the priority for equipment and modernisation. I don't have the references handy, but quite a number of units (most?) did not have Vickers MG and were still equipped with Maxim MG. I would imagine a number of units did not have any MG's.

Cheers,

Hendo

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, the Navy had seen the machine gun as a weapon of war .............

Indeed. And more reading since I started the thread indicates that the Navy appears to have lent MGs to infantry at Gallipoli.

John

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