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21st Bn., MGC - details of structure, and any other information?


headgardener
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Can anyone tell me how a Machine Gun Corps battalion would have been structured up to about March 1918? And does anyone know any references for 21 Bn., MGC in particular?

I'm researching an officer (George Wesley JACK) who was serving with 'A' Co., 21st Bn., MGC when he was POW at Peronne on 21 March 1918.

Were MG Bns. structured like an infantry battalion? (i.e. A, B, C, D & HQ). Would I be correct in assuming that each company was assigned to a Brigade within the Division? And would the 'assignment' typically be a permanent thing or would Companies be rotated in and out of the line irrespective of the Brigade it was supporting?

Many thanks for any advice!

Edit; I have his MIC, ICRC details, and have already seen his officers service papers.

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Further to my previous post, I just found this on another thread (any further thoughts or comments are very welcome);

21st Battalion MGC was officially formed on 24th Feb 1918 and consisted of four companies. Prior to the forming of the MG Battalion, these companies were originally attached to their relevant infantry brigades of the 21st Div and were numbered 62nd, 64th, & 110th MG Company with 237th MG Company being the Divisional MG Company.

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The change hadn't necessarily fully taken effect in March 1918, 245 MG Coy (with 50th Division) and the rest of the MG Coys of that division still turned in separate war diaries that month, with a battalion diary first appearing in April 1918. The diaries show that the assignment of companies was already fairly flexible, despite their nominal brigade affiliations before the amalgamation. Remember too that 21 MArch was pretty chaotic with the German advance desparately trying to be stopped. The officer I researched was killed a day or two later than your man was taken prisoner, while defending crossings on the Somme.

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The change hadn't necessarily fully taken effect in March 1918, 245 MG Coy (with 50th Division) and the rest of the MG Coys of that division still turned in separate war diaries that month, with a battalion diary first appearing in April 1918. The diaries show that the assignment of companies was already fairly flexible, despite their nominal brigade affiliations before the amalgamation.

Thanks, David. It would explain why, at the time of his capture, my man was reported locally to be serving with 62 MG Coy while his ICRC records show him with 'A' Co., 21st Bn. Maybe he never truly served with 21st Bn.

Are you saying that MG Coys were affiliated (on paper, at least) with specific brigades?

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Before the almalgamation (as you indicated yourself), there was a nominal affiliation. They were used as required afterwards, and in practice had been to some extent before the reorganisation.

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Before the almalgamation (as you indicated yourself), there was a nominal affiliation. They were used as required afterwards, and in practice had been to some extent before the reorganisation.

David - Many thanks for your advice.

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  • 1 year later...

Hello,

I am researching the deaths of Lt Col Settle (CO) and Captain Pope (Adjutant) both of the 21st Bn MGC, who were KIA on 24th March 1918. Earlier that month Lt Col Settle had been transferred from the 19th Hussars and Capt Pope from 7th Dragoon Guards.

Apparently Lt Col Settle and a small group of officers and men may have been KIA at Clery sur Somme during the German offensive in March 1918.

Any help or advice relating to the action that resulted in their deaths would be appreciated.

Thank you, Barry

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My grandfather was the CO of a MGC Company in March 1918. On the 24th he was wounded and captured. In later latters he wrote that he was never really part of the MGC Bn - 'it happened after I went'. I have found details of another captured officer from his Coy and in his 'statement' he also refers to himself as in the Coy.

Actually this Coy was "officially" turned into a Bn on the 17th - BUT it seems that this may have happened on paper but was not yet fully effective at ground level. Interestingly here is a hiatus with the War diaries as the first Bn WD was clearly written up some time latr !

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Julian,

I think it depends on which battalion/division is involved. Some introduced the new MG battalion structure earlier than others; 50th Division, and some that were in Italy, may not have done this immediately. Most MG battalions were in place by 21st March; though, as you suggest, some diaries may have been written as such.

In many ways the changes were cosmetic - a company would have been given a letter instead of their number, its defence scheme was coordinated by a battalion HQ and CO rather than a Divisional MG Officer and it is likely that they likely still supported the same brigade.

Kind regards

Colin

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Thanks Colin,

I was specifically referring to 123 MGC Coy - 123rd Bde, 41st Div.

On 17th March it became B Coy, 41st MGC Bn.

Yes they were in Italy but were rushed back for the imminent German offensive. I'm rather think they were too busy preparing for that to be bothered by the change.

Unfortunately, there is a break in my grandfather's letters between 15th March 1918 from Italy to 14th April 1918 from Germany !

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