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Remembered Today:

Lewis gun team


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Usually 2 Lewis gunners trained at Lewis Gun School supported by another 2 trained within the battalion (possibly by the first two) The core two would be trained in firing, stoppage clearance, barrel changing, maintenance and cleaning, direct and indirect fire, gun location, target acquisition, ranging. The supports could fire and clear blockages and carry spare ammo drums.

Major C H B Pridham wrote the Lewis Gun "Bible" for the British army which should contain all you need to know in terms of looking after and using one, (he also wrote some excellent stuff on Cricket !)

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Many thanks. The second piture is interesting,the man firing the gun seems to be in American uniform could he be under instruction? So there were 4 in the team,would the other 2 be carrying ammo and rifles?

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You may find this article from the WFA of interest


and previous threads (among many others)



As noted above it's difficult to define a 'typical' Lewis Gun team, one of the posts in the latter thread refers to an eight man team though this seems unusually high but in a major offensive the gunners would need more protection.


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By 1918 and by the book there was supposed to be 8 men in the Lewis Team/Section plus the NCO.


No.1---Gunner - gun and 1 Magazine

No.2 Assistant---- 4 Magazines and spare parts bag

No.3 Main ammo supplier/retriever-----4 Magazines



No.6, 7 and 8--Carried main ammunition supply --12 Magazines each

This was ideal and accounted for 1 gun with 2068 rds of ammunition.

Reality may have been something else. Rarely in photos do you see an Ammo carrier carrying 4 panniers and bucket.

Joe Sweeney

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Many thanks. The second piture is interesting,the man firing the gun seems to be in American uniform could he be under instruction? So there were 4 in the team,would the other 2 be carrying ammo and rifles?

Both soldiers in that photo are Americans.


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The second of centurians images ae Americans. Fighting in the British areas, training or armed with the US Savage Lewis variant????


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TT et al.,

As for the Americans if the photo is taken in France then they would have had British supplied Lewis guns.

The following is information on all the units and what they got when either training with the British-or in the case of the II Corps Divisions stayed and fought on that front. In the case below--Automatic rifle would be the Lewis.

The equipping of US divisions by the British Army was a serious matter. It initially came into play with what would be called the 6 Division plan, later 10 Divisions actually fell under it. The agreement basically stated that Britain would supply enough shipping for 6 (later 10) complete US divisions if these served on the British front. Eventually the 77th, 82d, 35th, 28th, 4th, 30th, 27th, 33d, 78th, and 80th US Divisions all were part of this scheme and received SMLE’s at one point or another. The US 37th, 91st and 92 Division was not part of this plan but served in the British sector for a time.

It was basically a disaster from the beginning and caused much bad feelings amongst the AEF towards the British. Prior to the agreement Britain declared no shipping would be available. However, shipping might be found for individual battalions that could be incorporated into British Divisions. Pershing soundly rejected this proposal. When Britain put forth the counter proposal that she could supply enough shipping for 6 Divisions, if they served on the British front, Pershing is noted as sarcastically remarking about the miraculous appearance of what had been non-existent shipping. Not a good way to start a working relationship.

Eventually several modified agreements were reached that stated that the training of six, later 10, American divisions with the British will be carried out in three periods:

Period A Preliminary training out of the line.

Period B Attachment to British troops in the line.

Period C Advanced training by regiments in a back area.

After Period C has been completed regiments should be ready to go into the line and

take over a sector as part of British division who will withdraw a brigade to make room

for them.

This effort did not work. As most of the US Divisions were withdrawn from the British sector long before the training was completed due to various reasons e.g, real world contingencies, US complaints the British troops assigned to train in phase A (B1 Divisions) were sub standard and battle fatigued, and the use of US troops with out US permission (Hamel incident etc.)

Below are extracts from the UNITED STATES ARMYIN THE WORLD WAR, 1917-1919

Training and Use of American Units With the British and French

Volume 3.

Note that the following are actually British Army Documents and not American.

FROM: Lt. Col. George S. Simonds, General Staff 1 March 1918

TO: Chief of Staff, A. E. F.

1. As a result of the preliminary conferences and those, which have been held since my arrival, the following points have been agreed upon with regard to the supply and equipment of the six divisions to be brought to the British front:

(a) American troops will arrive with equipment C except transportation, machine guns, automatic rifles, Stokes mortars, and 37-mm. guns.

( B) The British will furnish for the duration of the period on this front, transportation both motor and animal, including rolling kitchens and the necessary carts of various types: Vickers and Lewis guns in place of our machine guns and automatic rifles: and 3” Stokes mortars.

© Our Ordnance Department will obtain from the French the 37-mm. guns with the necessary ammunition and appurtenances.

(d) The British C-in-C has approved the proposition of turning over to us permanently all animal transportation and has requested from the British War Office authority to do so, this question remains unsettled until reply is received. Motor transportation cannot be turned over permanently.

(e) The British rifle and ammunition will be used. American rifles and ammunition brought over will be stored at suitable places, presumably in the training areas. They cannot furnish pistols.

(f) Ammunition supply, except pistol and 37-mm.. will be handled by the British as for their own troops.

(g) Bombs, grenades, rockets, and flares: same as (f).

(h) The British will provide all subsistence and replacements of clothing. The rum ration will be omitted.

(i) The British will furnish the necessary mounts and mounted equipment.

(k) It is understood that the artillery, including the ammunition tram and trench mortar battery, will be first sent to the American front and for the present no arrangements are being made for them here. With regard to the small arms ammunition supply, which is normally handled by our divisional ammunition tram, the British trains will take that over during the stay of our infantry here, or until our artillery is brought to this front.


No. 52-A

0. BJ2196


The prospective arrival of additional American divisions will necessitate a recasting of the arrangements now in vogue for training these divisions.

At present the following cadre divisions are employed with American divisions as under:

16th Division with the American 4th Division in the Samer area

30th Division with the American 35th Division in the Eu and Gamaches area

34th Division with the American 28th Division in the Lumbres area

39th Division with the American 77th Division in the Recques area

66th Division with the American 82d Division in the St-Valery area

Arrangements will now have to be made to provide a supervising establishment and a training staff for the American 27th, 30th, 33d, 78th and 80th Divisions. Under the new scheme for the formation of Anglo-American divisions which is now being considered, it is proposed that 2 British brigade staffs and 8 battalion training staffs should proceed with the American divisions to the southern training areas. In order to provide a supervising establishment and battalion training staffs for the additional American divisions without forming new staffs, it is proposed to utilize the spare brigade staffs and battalion training staffs of the divisions already detailed with American formations, supplemented by battalion training staffs from B1 Divisions, and to move these brigade staffs and battalion training staffs into the new areas to which American divisions will be directed on arrival. This will involve the following arrangements being made:

One brigade staff and 4 battalion training staffs of the 39th Division to the Eperlecques area to train the American 30th Division.

One brigade staff and 4 battalion training staffs of the 34th Division to an area west of the Lumbres to train the American 78th Division.

One brigade staff and 4 battalion training staffs of the 66th Division to the Rue area to train the American 27th Division.

One brigade staff and 4 battalion training staffs of the 30th Division to Hallencourt area to train the American 33d Division,

One brigade staff and 4 battalion training staffs of the 16th Division to an area to be selected later to train the American 80th Division. This will involve the transfer of 2 battalion training staffs to each of the 30th and 66th Divisions, and 5 battalion training staffs to each of the 16th and 34th Divisions

from the 39th Division (1). 40th Division (6) and 59th Division (7).

Each of the above brigade staffs will be affiliated to their respective divisions and will be assisted insofar as is necessary by the divisional staffs of those divisions.* * *

May [22], 1918.

C. G. S..

Chief, General Staff.

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