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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Machine Gun Corps

Jim Gordon

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Can any of the experts out there enlighten me as to the procedure followed when a Officer was transferred to the MGC or was already MG Officer in a Battalion at the time of origin of the MGC and was absorbed into it?

I came across an instance where an Officer in the Gordon Highlanders, who was already the Battalion MG Officer, was transferred to the MGC. His name was removed from the Monthly Nominal Roll of Officers serving in the Battalion and never appeared there again . He survived the War and had a distinguished career in the MGC consequently there is a profusion of references to him in the London Gazette but in all entries his name is bracketed with the Gord. Highrs although the entry is under an MGC heading.

Even his M.C. citation states his name and his associated regiment as the Gord. Highrs. but I am pretty sure he won the decoration after he had been transferred to MGC. Also in a list of Officers awarded the M.C. during his term as C.O. the aforesaid C.O. has added M.G.C. after this officers name.

On another tack, would an Officer transferred or absorbed into the M.G.C. change his uniform and cap badge ?


Jim Gordon

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This is hasty without reference to notes, but on recollection of research.

Were you a Bn MG officer in autumn 1915, it was a near racing certainty that you would - involuntarily - be transferred MGC. I think of the case of Douglas Wimberley (later Maj Gen, GOC 51st Highland Div at El Alamein) - Camerons - 'forcibly' transferred to the MGC and resented it ever thus.

Give me the name of your officer, and I can cross ref him. There are plenty of references to officers in the MGC MC list 'Leicester R att MGC' etc - so you weren't 'eradicated' .

Partner's grandfather - commissioned from ranks 1914, to MGC late 1916, appears both under KRRC (with italic m.g. after his name, indicating 'attached MGC') and MGC in the Army List up to 1919.

As to badges.... the same officer ref above - the KRRC didn't wear collar badges. He 'put up' the crossed Vickers of the MGC, but retained his black KRRC buttons. I have never found directions that officers imported or 'attached' were actually forbidden from retaining some form of 'hark back' to their regiment of origin. Your officer may well have taken down his Gordons cap, but wore Gordons collars. Wimberley was instrumental in getting the TOS adapted for MGC wear in 51st Highland - with an MGC badge therein, but buttons and collars (for officers) had 'latitude'

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The MG Coys (and the MG Bns when these were formed in 1918) certainly did keep War Diaries. We are reading them all. The point is that the Companies were effectively an 'independent' asset at Brigade level and had a separate existence. When you call them up at the PRO, you will often find them in the box which contains the rest of the units in the Brigade (but not Brigade HQ).

His MC was not awarded with the MGC; I'm trying to pin him down in the online London Gazette. However, I have found an ARCHIBALD Douglas Spark, 7th (Deeside Highlanders) Bn, Gordon Highlanders, commissioned 13 Aug 14.

MC citation 22 September 1916 p3282:

Lt. (temp. Capt.) Archibald Douglas Spark,

Gord. Highrs.

For conspicuous gallantry in action. When ordered to keep his guns close behind

our attack until a strong point was captured he was informed that all the company officers had become casualties. Leaving his guns with his serjeant he took command of the company under very heavy fire. He finally covered the retirement and personally shot four of the enemy.

The reference to 'his guns' suggests MGs, but he is listed as Gordons.. Lewis guns, not Vickers? (Therefore not MGC) I'll do some more trawling to see if I can find a date for attachment to MGC.

I could be barking up the wrong tree.....

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Lt. Archibald Douglas Spark is indeed the Officer I am interested in.

Lt. A.D.Spark was commissioned into the 1/7th. Gordons in August 1914 and went to France with them in May 1915. His name appears in each Monthly Nominal Roll of officers up to November 1915 at which point the 1/7th. War Diary ceased to keep a Nominal Roll. It resumed again in June 1916 bit Lt. Spark is not in the list and never appears again.

It woud appear that he was transferred to MGC on its formation as he was the Battlion MG Officer.

His M.C. citation is dated 22/09/16 and if he won the decoration with the 1/7th. then it must have been at High Wood on 31/07/16 . However the War Diary gives no report of the Battalion being engaged in such a heavy close quarter combat situation as that described in his citation.

Also Lt.-Col. Robert Bruce , the 1/7th. C.O. from July 1916 until July 1917 has left a list of Officers and men whom he knew had won decorations (unfortunately without date of award and possibly compiled post-War). The list includes Lt., now Capt. A.D. Spark and he has M.G.C. in parethesis opposite his name.

I therefore think that Lt. Spark won his M.C. when attached to another Regiment.

Lt. (ultimately) Major Spark survived the War but every time his name appears in the Gazette under the heading of Machine Gun Corps the name of his original Regiment appears in parenthesis after it.


Jim Gordon

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  • 2 years later...

Hi just seeking aid for inquiry re & Gordons & found this old thread.

Archibald Douglas Spark is my Gt Uncle

He won his MC while serving with 153 Machine Gun Company

153 Machine Gun Company was formed 12 January 1916

FREMONT 12/1/16 List of Officers who joined at formation:-

Includes Lieut A D Spark 1/7th Gordon Highlanders

26/7/16 Brigade took over HIGH WOOD sections of Front line. Coy has 5 guns in Front line, 7 guns in Support line between MILL near BAZENTIN LE PETIT through BAZENTIN LE GRAND and along French running E towards LONGUEVAL. 4 guns were in Brigade Reserve at MAMETZ WOOD.

Lieuts Troup & Adamson 4 guns No 3. 1 of No 4 in Front line.

Capt Spark & Lieut McPhail 3 guns No 4 4 of No 1 in Support line.

27/7/16 Casualties 3 KILLED Other ranks. 1 OR Wounded

28/7/16 “ 1 KILLED “

29/7/16 “ 2 WOUNDED “ at HIGH WOOD

HIGH WOOD 30/7/17 6.10pm Brigade attacked GERMAN LINE. Attack failed. I had relieved the Firing line guns in morning. The distribution before attack was Capt Spark, Lieuts Wallace & Dixon went into Firing line with 3 guns of No 4 Section and 2 guns of No 1. In Support line 2 guns of No 1, 4 of No 3 and 1 of No 4 under Lieuts Troup, McPhail, Adamson. 4 guns of No2 and Coy HQRS in BAZENTIN LE GRAND.

The orders were that 3 guns would advance after the Infantry had attacked their objective, and during the consolidation of the line. The other 2 guns in Firing line were on the W side of HIGH WOOD. They were to fire over Front to be attacked by 19th Div. 7 guns in support were to fire Indirect Fire on Enemy Communications. The Infantry only got forward part of the distance and had to stay there, eventually returning back to old line. The three guns all got partly forward and the arrangements made beforehand were well carried out. 2 extra guns were sent in from Support during the night as reinforcements.

1/8/16 Relieved by 152 Coy. Our Brigade then going back to camp near MEAULTE.


MEAULTE. 2/8/16 During the eleven days in the line the gun casualties were 2 guns out of action. One hit by shrapnel and bullets in barrel casing. One check lever plate broken. Two tripods knocked out. It was found that by taking over belt boxes and handing over the like number was the only practical way to relieve, as there are not enough men to carry in all the belt boxes.

RECOMMENDATIONS Capt AD Spark, DSO, Lieut Adamson MC, Pte Newton,

Gt Uncle Douglas recommendation was downgraded to an MC

C'est la guerre


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Fascinating! Closes the loop, AND anchors him to the MGC Honours and Awards List.

And spookily enough I drove past the memorial to 7/Gordons on my way to Balmoral last Saturday...

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Well the loop completes as he is buried in Banchory Churchyard after a long life (84 years) & according to his daughter was salmon fishing in the Dee only a few days before he died.


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  • 10 years later...

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