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Remembered Today:

Machine Gunner 1916


Liam94
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Hi all, I'm currently researching my great-grandfather's time in the Cheshire Regiment and was wondering if anyone would be able to help me with a quick query regarding what was most likely his role within his company.

 

I'm specifically asking about the organisation of a company in July 1916. The information I have is patchy at best, but I do know that he was definitely part of the 9th Battalion's "C" Company on 2nd July 1916, and in one document he is listed as a Machine Gunner. I just wanted to know whether this information indicates that he would have been part of a team handling a Lewis gun or something heavier like a Vickers? From what I can gather from my own reading, at this point in the war a Vickers machine gunner would have been attached to a unit separate from a Company, but I'm quite possibly wrong on that point.

 

If anyone has any ideas about what role my great-grandfather most likely had it would be most appreciated!

 

Thanks very much,

Liam

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If a machine gun is mentioned then yes, in an infantry battalion he would have been operating the Lewis Light Machine Gun.  The Vickers guns by that stage of the war were being operated separately by a specialised Machine Gun Corps.  The Lewis Gun became the infantry support weapon, initially one per platoon but later two.  Each gun was operated by two men with three further men to assist by carrying spare drums of ammunition in special carriers.  When in defence the Lewis Guns were carefully positioned to give fire support to a trench line or line of outposts, usually from a flank so that enfilade (crossing) fire could be directed on any advancing enemy.  In the advance and attack small teams with the Lewis Gun tried to manoeuvre to a dominating position where they could deliver suppressive fire on the enemy position until their comrades could get close enough to make a close quarters assault with bomb and bayonet.
You can read a little about one man’s experience (Harry Patch), here: https://spartacus-educational.com/FWWlewis.htm

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Edited by FROGSMILE
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2 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

If a machine gun is mentioned then yes, in an infantry battalion he would have been operating the Lewis Light Machine Gun.  The Vickers guns by that stage of the war were being operated separately by a specialised Machine Gun Corps.  The Lewis Gun became the infantry support weapon, initially one per platoon but later two.  Each gun was operated by two men with three further men to assist by carrying spare drums of ammunition in special carriers.

 

That's brilliant, thanks very much for helping me out

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8 hours ago, Liam94 said:

 

That's brilliant, thanks very much for helping me out


I’m glad to help, you can watch a gif of one firing here (scroll down):  https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Lewis_gun

The efficiency of its firing mechanism is very apparent. 

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11 hours ago, Liam94 said:

If anyone has any ideas about what role my great-grandfather most likely had it would be most appreciated!

 

You probably are already aware but there is quite a bit of detail on the activities of 9 Cheshires in their war diary for July 1916,  especially the appendices which contains a detailed listing of casualties (including other ranks) and operation orders.  If you have an Ancestry account, the diary for July begins at:

https://www.ancestry.co.uk/imageviewer/collections/60779/images/43112_2090_0-00150?ssrc=&backlabel=Return

 

Alternatively, you can download the diary (for free if you register) from the National Archives:

 

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14054020

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3 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:


I’m glad to help, you can watch a gif of one firing here (scroll down):  https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Lewis_gun

The efficiency of its firing mechanism is very apparent. 

 

I can see the reason for the distinctive cylindrical barrel casing now!

 

 

1 hour ago, Don Regiano said:

 

You probably are already aware but there is quite a bit of detail on the activities of 9 Cheshires in their war diary for July 1916,  especially the appendices which contains a detailed listing of casualties (including other ranks) and operation orders.  If you have an Ancestry account, the diary for July begins at:

https://www.ancestry.co.uk/imageviewer/collections/60779/images/43112_2090_0-00150?ssrc=&backlabel=Return

 

Alternatively, you can download the diary (for free if you register) from the National Archives:

 

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14054020

 

 

Thanks for this - I've actually been writing up the experiences of the 9th Battalion during the attack on La Boisselle based on these documents as my great-grandfather was wounded on 2nd July 1916. I wanted to paint a picture of what he would have been doing during the attack - as a member of C Company I can deduce he was initially stationed at Becourt Wood on 1st July, then moved up to the British front line, attacking the German front line in the early hours of 2nd July. His Company was then sent to reinforce Lochnagar Crater before the entire Battalion attacked deeper into the German lines. His wound is listed as a result of shrapnel, and the Battalion diary makes reference to vicious boming attacks and counterattacks from both sides on 3rd July, which is where I'm thinking he was wounded (initially listed as missing until 6th July). 

 

 

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