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Remembered Today:

21 Motor Machine Gun Battery


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owen4256

 

All I can find online is "Moved to IX Corps in Mediterranean theatre in March 1916".

 

I found a newspaper article from January 1916 (Reading Mercury 08 January 1916) which records the Battery leaving Reading after five months' training and mentions the following:

 

 

ATHERTON Harold Major OC Section 21 Motor Machine Gun Battery January 1916 To France 18th September 1916 TFWM Later Major Tank Corps 118A Finchley Road Swiss Cottage NW3

 

PLASTOW Stanley James Captain Commissioned 15th Service Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps Transferred to Motor Machine Gun OC Section 21 Motor Machine Gun Battery January 1916 To France 7th September 1916 Later Captain Tank Corps

 

TOD David Captain DSO OC Section 21 Motor Machine Gun Battery January 1916 France 1917 MID DSO Capt. David Tod, Machine-Gun Corps, of Road, attached to the armoured cars, who has done year and a half’s service in France and ten months in Mesopotamia , has been awarded the D.S.O. (Reading Mercury 04 May 1918)

 

CAMERON Captain CO 21 Motor Machine Gun Battery January 1916

 

COLGAN Herbert BSM Enlisted as 4963 Royal Munster Fusiliers To Motor Machine Gun Service as 1943 BSM 21 Motor Machine Gun Battery January 1916

 

 

Clearly too late for Gallipoli . Can anyone shed any light on where they ended up?  Any details on "Captain Cameron" would also be appreciated.

 

Best

 

Clive

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david murdoch

I don't have very much on 21st MMG. I've also seen the "Moved to IX Corps in Mediterranean theatre in March 1916" That appears in Charles Messenger's lists in the back of David Fletcher's War Cars from away back. However I've updated these lists with more recent information. I really don't think 21st MMG actually ever left the UK. I have never found any war diary for them. Going by the battery timeline they were formed in summer 1915 as an MMGS unit (and a motorcycle unit). By early 1916 once MGC had taken over they cancelled completely around 12 planned MMG batteries and re equipped/re purposed another seven already existing. There is evidence that 20th MMG were actually equipped with Model T Fords in the UK  -those later associated with the light car patrols in the middle east, but they re equipped with Rolls Royce  and became 13th Light Armoured Car Battery. By the timeline, MGC had a clear out of remaining MMG batteries in February 1916 with 18th,19th and 24th sent to France on 6th February and 22nd to India on 26th February.  The batteries remaining in UK I believe to be have been 20th, 21st, 23rd, 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th (none of those having war diaries) A couple more of these batteries were almost certainly re equipped and retrained as  armoured car units, as 7th, 8th, and 9th Light Armoured Car Batteries left for France in March 1916. 

My grandfather enlisted in MMGS at the beginning of August, and I believe he was in one of these batteries as he certainly trained on Clynos but then armoured cars with 8th L.A.B and 8th L.A.M.B

Of the people mentioned above David Tod was my grandfather's CO in Mesopotamia (with 8th L.A.M.B), Herbert Colgan  discharged 9th December 1919  - almost certainly coming back from Mesopotamia - numbers close to him served with 14th L.A.M.B (which was formed in UK likely from one of those batteries). Surviving Tank Corps service records show a number of men from those remaining batteries being transferred to Heavy Branch in April 1916 - this includes several from 21st MMG which hints they never left UK. The officers who ended up in Tank Corps likely went to Heavy Branch first. Going by the transfer dates the last of those batteries were probably disbanded April/May 1916. 

Edited by david murdoch
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owen4256

David

 

Many thanks for the prompt response. The differing dates of entry for the officers do suggest that the battery was broken up in the first half of 1916. The rest of the article suggests that the 21st was training near Wokingham from August  to December 1915 . I am primarily interested in the MMG Batteries that went on to form part of the various Corps Mounted Troops, so I can cross 21 MMGB off the list.

 

I wasn't even aware that the 26th, 27th and 28th MMGB were formed. Duly added and crossed off. An item in the Surrey Advertiser 26 April 1916 “Gunner James Atkinson 26th Battery , cook, Motor Machine Gun Service was brought up on remand charged with having stolen 81/2 lbs of beef…. BSM Forsyth showed that a sack containing..." Suggests that 26 MMGB was still a unit in April 1916.

 

Best regards

 

Clive

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david murdoch

Clive. 

The first two officers dates of entry in September 1916 is indicating that they were almost certainly  transferred  to MGC Heavy Section and first tank men then later Tank Corps. I'll speak with Stephen Pope about them.  28th Is the highest numbered battery I've seen recorded and 24th was the highest number that deployed. In The Motorcycle newspaper in mid 1915 it clearly states that MMGS were recruiting for "up to 40" batteries, and there was heavy recruitment in July/August 1915. This all changed when MGC was created and took them over. Everything got put on hold, then MGC(Motors) took over the armoured cars from RNAS, some of the existing pool of men were re trained on them. Towards the end of 1915 recruiting was closed and the training centre was full. There was a big gap from July 1915 to February 1916  before more MMG batteries were deployed.  19th MMG (by the start of their war diary) were further out at Bulford in late December 1915 and were recalled to Bisley then mobilised. I think these complete batteries were moved out of Bisley to make space in the training centre. A number of 21st MMG men I have joining D Coy Heavy Section late May 1916, so went to France with Tanks in September 1916. Others show up being with armoured car units in the Middle East.

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owen4256

 

David

 

Harold Atherton ended up as Battalion Engineer with 6th Battalion as below:

 

The Tank Corps official history records the action on 23rd August 1918. Orders were received from 2nd Tank Bde. that A Company, 6th Battalion consisting of 6 Whippets, under Capt R F Howell, and C Company of 9 Whippets under Capt A R Chapman were to support 2nd Div in the capture of Ervillers, Behgnies and Sepignies. On the morning of August 23rd the 4th Corps would attack Achiet-le-Grand and Bihucourt, but the operations of 2nd Div would proceed irrespective of the success of 4th Corps. The 15 Whippets left Monchy-au-Bois at 6am on 23rd, and joined the infantry on the Blue line at 8.30 am. A Company proceeded with the infantry to the starting point, 1st Kings and 2nd South Staffs to the east of the railway. Just before the starting point was reached, whippet A351, Lieutenant John Black developed mechanical trouble north of Courcelles. Whilst outside trying to repair the Whippet, Lt Black and the Battalion Engineer, Capt H Atherton, were wounded by shell fire. Lt Black subsequently died of wounds.

 

Nothing found on Plastow

 

 

Best

 

Clive

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Sorry, I can't add anything to this thread, although I will watch it to see what occurs.

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david murdoch
21 minutes ago, delta said:

Sorry, I can't add anything to this thread, although I will watch it to see what occurs.

The two officers Harold Atherton and Stanley James Plastow both having dates of entry in September 1916 implies they were both probably transferred into Heavy Section  and went on to be Heavy Branch then Tank Corps. Atherton being 6th Battalion later in the war when he was wounded. He has a pension card, and so does Plastow. I guess officers records would reveal more. As I mentioned a number of ex 21st MMG men seem to have gone to D Coy in spring 1916. Not seeing anything coming up on a name search on First Tank Crews.

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