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Remembered Today:

Kitchener and Machine Guns


PhilB
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As posed inhttp://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=208712&page=2, the BBC suggested that Kitchener had disapproved of the use of MGs in Europe which had led to the Germans having far more. This view was frowned upon by a couple of replies but this article

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=aZLL_XTEnigC&pg=PA130&lpg=PA130&dq=kitchener+machine+guns&source=bl&ots=hlxAPCqNrm&sig=jVSC_3IL4HENPCAlsT9v66f2aJk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6hK9U-ejL6HE7AaxpoHwCQ&ved=0CD0Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=kitchener%20machine%20guns&f=false

would seem to confirm it. Was Kitchener influential in restricting MG supply or was he not? :unsure:

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As ever not that simple and the piece you quote is simplistic. No least it ignores the actual rethinking about machine gun usage and deployment which went on during the period of the war. Secondly take everything the Welsh Weasel said or claims to have done with a pinch of salt. Not least

1 British mg allocation was the same as the Germans on out break of war.

2 Machine gun production capacity was limited in 1914 - most regular bns deployed Maxims and production costs and difficulties wer4e a major factor.

3 Ammunition supply was another problem as was were supply logistics in the line.

4 Artillery ammunition supplies were the major problem in 1914

4 Machine gun deployment was well codified and the value of the guns well recognised by the British Army in 1914.

Start from there youm get a differentn picture.

equally have you a source for K's comment about the use of machine guns in Europe - and equally when was it claimed to have been said

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According to Haldane (Secretary of State for War 1905 -1912 and Chancellor 1912 -1915 ) the real reason for the under-supply of both heavy machine guns and artillery was that both the French and British General Staffs had advised that the "forthcoming campaign would be one in which swiftness of moving troops would be the determining factor" and the outcome decided in no more than seven great battles in which heavy machine guns would be an "impedimenta to mobility" ["Before the War" Viscount Haldane 1920] Whilst this may have been an incorrect analysis of what was to come it was one that was widely shared by many in France and Germany (including Tirpitz)

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"Impediment to mobility"? (I am relying on several years' memory, but I believe I am right, factually.) While in 1914 a German Infantry regiment had one MG company with four MG 08s, a Jaeger battalion, light infantry, with one company mounted on bicycles for mobility, tasked with screening and reconnaissance, had a MG company with eight MG 08s. So, man for man, the light Jaeger formation had six times as many MGs as an infantry regiment.

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As to an 'impediment to mobility'. I have just started to read an English translation of a book on Marshal (then General) Joffre in the the period leading up to the war and his time as C in C. (I will post something in the right place in due course). The author seeks to explain the origins of the spirit of the 'offensive' and how its misinterpretation lead to disaster in the 'Battles of the Frontiers'. A heavy machine gun would have little foreseen use in such operations as a suitable vehicle for its carriage was not available.

Old Tom

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And wether iwas or was not is not the issue it was, as Haldane pointed out, what the general staffs of a number of countries believed it would be that mattered.

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One needs to consider the number of Machine Guns lost or put out of action. By the end of Le Cateau one Division had lost all but two of its 24 machine guns with the infantry battalions.....only a week into the war. The shortages were quite desperate for some time in 1914-15. MG

Edit: The Official History of the Ministry of Munitions vol XI: The Supply of Munitions is the bible on this. Vol XI has Part V: Machine Guns which gives a very good overview of the situation that Kitchener inherited. Given the scales for an infantry battalion doubled... and doubled again.... and doubled again, it is difficult to see how Kitchener was preventing the wider use.

In 1914 the Maxim was already obsolete and being phased out. The introduction of Mark VII ammunition required significant strengthening of the working parts. Production of the Vickers was limited in a number of ways; limited factories and more importantly a limit of skilled workers able to carry out the work.

The production tables are below: (from page 27 of pat V)

post-55873-0-31071300-1404915512_thumb.j

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