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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Armoured Machine Gun Wagon - Canadian Contingent


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Any vehicle buffs out there recognise these vehicles?

The picture is from a Letter Card booklet titled "In Camp with the Canadian Contingent" published by A Smee, Salisbury.

Many thanks



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I don't have notes at hand but it was known as an Autocar and equipped the Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade, formed by the (ultimately) Brigadier Raymond Brutinel. See here for another picture: http://www.chakoten.dk/images/can_mg_motor_3231.jpg As it says, the guns on the back were Colt models, latterly replaced by Vickers. The restored (and sole surviving) Autocar is in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. I drop by to see it whenever I'm there - and it has Vickers mounted on it.

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The Canadian Autocars played a heroic role in resisting the German offensive in 1918 and their crews incurred heavy casualties. They were not so much armoured cars as machine gun carriers ( a sort of forerunner of the universal and Brengun carriers of WW2). More tomorrow unless someone beats me to it.

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Thanks for that, Pals.

My next question was going to be about the 'saloon' version but the link to previous posts answers that nicely.



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Here is some material from The Brutinel Tapes which I transcribed several years ago. The machine guns in this image are Colt Machine Guns. They were replaced with Vickers Heavy Machine Guns in 1916. These machines represented the first motor machine gun unit in the British Empire and served with distinction during the Luddendorf Offensive on the Somme. Borden Battery


Sir Clifford asked me to prepare for the following day, 2nd of August, 1914, a note concerning machine guns, their fire power and their employment, also a project I had mentioned to form a Machine Gun Motorised Unit of 16 Guns, this number being consistent with the ascertained capacity of the Colt Company to manufacture 303 machine guns within three or four weeks.

Sir Clifford took these papers to Sir Samuel Hugh[e]s then Minister of Militia and Defense and he explained to him that all the funds necessary for the contemplated Unit would be provided privately.

Sir Samuel Hughes gave at once his enthusiastic agreement to the formation of the Motorised Unit and granted prior right for its equipment with the Colt machine gun.

After considering the paper dealing with the machine gun and its fire power, he had extracts published in the Daily papers and made up his mind to endow each Infantry Battalion with 4 machine guns instead of two as provided in the establishment then in force.

He promptly secured an option on practically the entire production of the Colt Company.


I contacted a few prominent citizens in Montreal. Mr. J. W. McConnell, Sir Andrew Holt, Sir Vincent Meredith, Mr. Blak of the Ogilvies and four other gentlemen joined Sir Clifford Sifton and myself in the subscription of the funds necessary for the Motorised Unit comtemplated.

Major Jack Sifton, the son of Sir Clifford, took charge of the relations with the Militia Department concerning establishments, recruiting of Officers, N.C.O.'s and men, small arms equipment, uniforms and of many details accruing to the formation of this extemporised Unit.

Thanks to him, I could hasten the manufacture of machine guns, the design and construction of motor trucks, the testing and making of steel to armour them.

The trucks of the Auto Car Company of Ardmore, Pen., were selected on account of their rugged strength and their flat horizontal motors. Mr. Clark and Mr. Odlum of the Auto Car Company fired their workers and the steel makers with the most helpful spirit, much to my satisfaction.

Twenty-seven days after being ordered, armoured and service trucks were ready for delivery in Ardmore. Miss Clark had the kindness to offer to the Brigade an ambulance and this fine gift, so appropriated, was gladly accepted and proved of great value in Salisbury Plains.

At the same time, the Colt machine guns were being made and tested. When ready they were removed by night from Holyoak on account of the hostile attitude of some workers of the Colt factory who were of German origin.

The first establishment concerning personnel provided: 1 Major, 3 Captains, 5 Subalterns, 4 Sergeants, 2 Sergeants' Artificers, 4 Corporals, 4 Corporals' Artificers and 101 Privates. It had been worked out by Major Jack Sifton in consultation with the Militia Department and was authorised by an Order in Council. Permission to recruit personnel was granted the 9th of September, 1914. This establishment proved inadequate and was promptly increased from 128 O.R. to 168 O.R. Thus the 1st Motorised Machine Gun Brigade was born.

It was, of course, a bedraggled outfit.

Variegate equipment of men did not lend itself to much beautification, but little attention was given to this aspect, sterner business being ahead.


Several high-minded citizens had financed the formation of small Motorised Units such as the :

Borden Machine Gun Battery 6 machine guns

Eaton Machine Gun Battery "

Yukon or Boyle Machine Gun Battery "

In 1916 they were attached to the 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade and later, after the provision of light transport, they formed the 2nd Motor Machine Gun Brigade.

As such, they served with distinction till the end of the war.

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