Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
TD60

BORDEN'S MOTOR MACHINE GUN BATTERY

Recommended Posts

TD60

Hello

I woul like to know some details about this uncommon unit:

BORDEN'S MOTOR MACHINE GUN BATTERY from CANADA.

Probably it is connected to the Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden.

Does it means he had collected of given money to create this unit ?

How big it was ?

Here is a gravestone I found this unit:

http://perso.wanadoo.fr/tanneguy.desplanqu...chine%20gun.htm

Thanks for your help .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Desmond7

You will also find an Eaton Machine Gun Battery named after Eaton's department store chain and the Yukon Machine Gun Battery named so because the man who paid for it struck gold there!

A forum member - Borden Battery - will, I'm sure, fill in with lots more detail. Over to Dwight!

Des

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Borden Battery

Hello TD60

Here is a sampling of information on the Borden Battery. At the moment I have about 2000 pages of research notes on both this battery and the 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade which absorbed it on 8 June 1918.

The 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade [from the original "Canadian Automobile Machine Gun Brigade No. 1] began recruiting on 11 August 1914 and was formed on 2 September 1914. From its inception, it was totally mobile and hence functionally independent but always tied to higher units and therefore not "independent". However, for the majority of action on the Western Front, and given the static nature of the situation, the Brigade functioned more as a co-ordinated machine gun barrage unit and anti-air craft unit but with its own transport.

There were three original batteries, the Eaton Motor Machine Gun Battery, the Yukon Motor Machine Gun Battery and the Borden Motor Machine Gun Battery. The Borden Battery was also known as the Holland Battery as it was commanded by Major Edward Holland VC. Sir Sam Hughes named the Holland Battery the Borden Battery in honour of the current Canadian Prime Minister - Sir Robert Borden.

Later, these three batteries were merged with 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade (A and B batteries) to form the 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade. The Borden Battery became known officially as "C" Battery, however, the members always referred to themselves as the Borden Battery.

Here is an excerpt from their war diary which outlines one reason for their esprit de corps ….

Tue., Sep 25, 1917 BARLIN, FRANCE

Fine

A General Holiday was declared as the Canadian Corps Rifle and MG. Competition is being held at PERNES this date. Two teams from the 1st C.M.MG. Brig. being entered.

The results were everything that could be desired. One Gun Team consisted of #45600, Sergt. H. Lewis, 1st C.M. MG. Bgde. with #476344, Pte. J.J. Richardson, #862579, Pte. J.A. Henderson, #919834, Pte. G.W. Kirkup of this Battery, and #910851 Pte. R.C. Spence of the Eaton Motor MG. Battery completing the Team.

The Gun Team was successful in finishing first place, and won the “Canadian Machine Gun Corps Shield” proving themselves the Premier Machine Gunners of the Canadian Corps.

The other Brigade Team finished in third place.

--- signed W. C. Nicholson, Capt.,OC

==================================================

During the chaos of the Kaiserschlacht [Operation Michael], the 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade [1CMMGB] was dispatched from the Vimy to the Amiens Sector on 6 hours notice and functioned independently along 3 sections of the front under the very loose direction/lack of direction of General Gough's Headquarters from 23 March 1918 until it is brought in to provide some communication, transport and firepower for Carey's Force during the final stand in front of Villers-Brettoneux. During this period the 1CMMGB suffered 50 percent casualties with some batteries such as Borden Battery suffering 93% casualties on 24 March 1918 as part of a hold at all costs action on the west side of Clery-sur-Somme when this 56-man battery blocked the advance of a German division.

==================================================

In Michael Holden's masters thesis [university of New Brunswick ] and a presented paper [source: http://www.cda-cdai.ca/symposia/2003/holden.htm] he outlined the following:

"On 14 May, the Motors received instructions, which stated that the brigades were to be engaged the following day in ‘Tactical Training carried out under Corps Orders’. The “live fire” drills were designed to teach the men of 1 and 2CMMGB to think and operate in an open warfare setting. The first day witnessed a relatively simple mobile flanking and pincer movement. The first group created a diversionary head-on attack from the north while other motor machine gun batteries paired with half squads of cavalry from the Canadian Light Horse (CLH) and the Canadian Corps Cyclists Battalion (CCCB) moved in on the position from the east and west. The movements were carried out efficiently and the objective taken very quickly. The following day, the Motors were engaged in another tactical training scheme that required the men to move into a position as if to fill a gap until a replacement infantry brigade could be moved into the line.

On the 21st of May the tactical scheme changed slightly. Some of the Canadians, including the Motors, now represented enemy forces on the attack against a railway line. The change was effected in order to give the men the semblance of opposition and to help the units along the learning curve, with respect to the observation of offensive operations. There were small communication and initial cooperation problems but overall the general exercise was deemed successful.

It is important to understand how the CMMGBs trained during summer 1918 because it had a direct influence on their success during the Hundred Days. In May 1CMMGB and 2CMMGB had been involved in two open warfare tactical schemes. The first, the pincer movement was relatively easy. While the assault on the railway proved a little more difficult, it must be remembered that as of 1 May, the Motors doubled in size. Naturally, the brigades felt some ‘growing pains'. Nonetheless, the exercise proved to be very useful. On the 17th of June the CMMGBs fought in a large tactical scheme, this time on the Allied side.

In this latest exercise the Canadian Corps with an attached mobile force, part of which was comprised by the 1stCMMGB, was sent to reinforce the Allied (British) line and keep the enemy from gaining high ground. The mobile force left its transports, and proceeded to dig in. The Motors used direct and overhead fire to prevent the enemy from establishing a footing in the northern side of a densely wooded area. They were also successful in moving their guns by foot to foil the enemy’s advance on the southern edge of the woods. The defence of the woods finished by mid-day, and the scheme indicated next that a gap had been created to the North and the brigade might be used to great advantage in that location. Consequently, the men quickly returned to their vehicles and prepared for action. The fictitious gap was never deemed to have required CMMGB assistance. The orders were designed to provide an opportunity for the brigade to practice preparation for re-deployment.

During July the units took time to learn tactical collaboration with the recently attached sections of 6-inch trench mortars, and practiced using autocars to draw fire and allow the accompanying troops to identify the location of machine guns and points of resistance

A number of lessons were derived from the July exercises. It was found that the use of motor cyclists for scouting and liaison was deficient. During the intra-brigade exercise, defenders did not make proper use of outposts or attached troops to screen and protect the machine gun nests; snipers and enemy patrols had encroached too easily. It was decided that future instruction would revolve around these points. However, this training never occurred. The men were ordered into GHQ reserve and were told that they might be called on to support either the French First Army or the British Fourth Army on the Amiens Front."

"During allied advances beginning on 8 August 1918 wireless became the primary communications for the Canadian Corps. The deep penetrating Canadian Independent Force (based on the Machine Gun Brigade) found that wireless was all that it required. During the 11 days of action Canadians passed 1,400 wireless messages."

[sOURCE: http://www.forces.gc.ca/commelec/brhistory/chap3_e.htm]

===================================================================

The Canadian Expeditionary Force established several "Independent Forces" during the latter part of the Great War. Here are some edited excerpts from a 1926 summary of operations of units associated with the 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade.

In this case, these "Independent Forces" were intended to exploit any breaks in the German line during the Last One Hundred Days. The forces were totally mobile and were in direct communication with both Headquarters and overhead aircraft via spark wireless communication. One might say the forefunner of a "Blitzkreig" formation.

The formation of a mobile force for use in offensive operations had been under consideration and it was decided to organize a "Canadian Independent Force". This force came into effect on 2nd August, 1918, and was composed of the following units:-

H.Q., Canadian Machine Gun Corps.

1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade.

2nd Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade.

Canadian Cyclist Battalion.

5th Canadian Trench Mortar Section.

1 Corps Wireless Section.

Canadian Motor Machine Gun Mechanical Transport Co.

The force itself was sub-divided as under:-

H.Q., the Commander; two staff officers, etc.; wireless section; 10 motor cyclists.

Armoured Car Detachment: 4 armoured auto-cars (two from each M.M.G. Bde - 16 guns); 1 platoon cyclists; 10 motor cyclists.

Trench Mortar Section; 2 lorries each containing 1-6" Newton trench mortar.

No. 1 Group (1st Cdn. M.M.G.Bde.): 5 motor machine gun batteries (40 guns); 2 platoons cyclists; 20 motor cyclists.

No. 2 Group (2nd Cdn. M.M.G.Bde.): 5 motor machine gun batteries (40 guns); 2 platoons cyclists; 20 motor cyclists.

No. 3 Group (Cyclist Bn.): 2 armoured auto-cars (one each from the M.M.G. Bdes.); 4 platoons cyclists; 10 motor cyclists.

Supply Section: ration lorry; ammunition lorry; water lorry; fuel and oil lorry; first aid lorries (2); 5 motor cyclists.

For the Battle of the Drocourt-Quéant Line: 2nd - 3rd September, 1918, Brutinel's Brigade (consisting of 1st and 2nd Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigades and the Canadian Corps Cyclist Battalion) was withdrawn into Corps Reserve on the 30th August for reorganization. Next day the following units were added to the brigade which was to be re-grouped into the Canadian Independent Force (under control of Brig. Genl. R. Brutinel, C.M.G., D.S.O.) for future operations:-

10th Royal Hussars.

Canadian Light Infantry Horse (less 1 1/2 squadrons).

Six heavy armoured cars (17th Tank Battalion).

30th Battery (8th Army Brigade, C.F.A.)

Two sections, medium trench mortars, (5th C.D.A.).

One wireless detachment.

One supply column.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SOURCE: NARRATIVES COVERING OPERATIONS OF The 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade, the Canadian Independent Force, the Composite Brigade and Brutinel's Brigade During 1918:- Historical Section, General Staff. OTTAWA, Canada September, 1926. [p. 10 and p. 30]

==================================================

SAMPLE OF BORDEN MOTOR MACHINE GUN BATTERY

- NAMED IN HONOUR OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER BORDEN

Thu., Dec 10, 1914, MONTREAL, CANADA

This unit was given orders to mobilize in Montreal, Que. on Dec. 10, 1914 and to be known as Borden’s Armoured Battery. The establishment to be six officers, one warrant officer, one Sergeant Major, eight Sergeants, nine Corporals and forty five privates making a strength of sixty officers and men. This included twenty-two artificers.

The following officers were appointed

Major E.J. Holland V.C. in command Nov. 1 - 14

Capt P.A.G. McCarthy 2nd ,, ,, Dec. 16 - 14

Lt. W.F. Battersby ,, 16 - 14

,, J.H. Rattray ,, ,, ,,

,, J. R. Ryan Jan. 9 – ‘15

,, C.B. Grier ,, 22 – ‘15

Later by orders from Headquarters, Ottawa the Warrant-officer was struck off the establishment and one more allowed under Lieutenant.

---signed E.J. Holland, Major, O.C. Borden's Armoured Battery.

Sat., Sep 4, 1915 SHORNCLIFFE, ENGLAND

This unit was issued with 18 old SCOTT TRI-CARS which had been used and abused for many months by the R.N.A.S. and there was also issued 5 STUDEBAKER BOX BODY CARS (load capacity 1500 lbs) and 9 new TRIUMPH MOTOR CYCLES.

---signed by E.J. Holland, Major, O.C., Borden's Motor Machine Gun Battery.

Mon., Sep 6 to

Sat., Sep 11, 1915 SHORNCLIFFE, ENGLAND

The unit was drilled with the MOTOR VEHICLES making road runs and repairing and tuning up the old SCOTT CARS.

---signed by E.J. Holland, Major, O.C., Borden's Motor Machine Gun Battery.

Sun., Sep 12 &

Mon., Sep 13, 1915 SHORNCLIFFE, ENGLAND

This unit was ordered to leave SHORNCLIFFE KENT ENG. for SOUTHAMPTON by MOTOR ROUTE which it proceeded to do making very poor time on account of the condition of the SCOTT CARS. The unit was only able to get as far as HASTINGS the first day and there had to “SCRAP” 2 of the SCOTT CARS as they had not sufficient power to carry them up the grades encountered necessitating towing or pushing up the hills. We Bivouacked at HASTINGS for the night of the 12th – 13th SEPT. leaving HASTINGS at 6 A.M. SEPT. 13th and arriving at SOUTHAMPTON at 5.30 P.M. SEPT 13th just in time to miss the boat for Le HAVRE. The trip from SHORNCLIFFE to Le HAVRE was unsatisfactory in every way owing to the fact hat these old SCOTT machines had been so worn out before being turned over to us that they would make but a few miles at a time without some repairing requiring to be done such as BROKEN CHAINS, LEAKING GASOLINE TANKS, CARBURETTERS AND MAGNETOS out of order. To sum up the machines were in such condition that the unit could not be kept self contained and mobile and taking many hours more than should have been taken and in consequence of which we arrived too late at SOUTHAMPTON to take the boat that night as ordered and had to go to a rest camp for the night.

I wish to record here that the 5 STUDEBAKER CARS issued to this unit were too light for the work required of them and gave no end of trouble during the journey, they could not carry 1500 lbs. and make the hills met with on the ordinary ENGLISH ROAD. We were forced to requisition for a 3 TON TRUCK to carry the surplus Machine Gun Ammunition and spare men and equipment which the STUDEBAKER CARS were supposed to carry and the inability of the SCOTT TRI-Cars to carry their quota of ammunition as they were not fitted with COLT AMMUNITION BOXES added to the necessity of the 3 TON TRUCK.

---signed by E.J. Holland, Major, O.C., Borden's Motor Machine Gun Battery.

Sat, Mar 23, 1918 VERDREL - VILLERS-BRETONNEUX, FRANCE

Fine

Battery left Camp about 5.30 AM. in convoy with the Canadian Corps Motor Machine Gun Brigade and proceeded to VILLERS-BRETONNEUX by way of St. Pol, Doullens and Amiens arriving about 5 p.m.

At 9.30 p.m. Orders were received to “Stand by” and at 11.30 p.m. Battery moved off and proceeded to CORBIE, under Command of Capt. W. C. Nicholson, M.C., Lieut. F.G. Waldron and Lieut. R.H.A. West. On arrival at CORBIE, about Midnight Capt. Nicholson reported to the 7th Corps.

--- signed Lieut. F. P. O’Reilly, MC, O.C.

Capt. Nicholson called up Lieut. Inch who had been back from the line with the men and the armoured cars. Inch was to try and get a message back to headquarters asking for immediate reinforcements. The message ran.

0. C. CDN CORPS MMG BDE

CIO 7th CORPS

Battery in position (sheet 62c) H5a 5050. 1 am in command of both machine-guns and infantry. We have only four guns left which are being manned; others captured or out of (action) order. Capt. Holland wounded. Lieuts. West and Waldron killed. Lieut. Snyder killed, wounded or prisoner. All my NCOs in Borden (‘C’) Battery casualties except one. I have only six men left. ‘B’ Battery has two NCOs, six ORs and one officer left. Both our flanks are in the air and we are being shelled by all calibres, snipers and machine-guns are busy. Enemy took Clery this a.m. about 9.30 and we are fairly well consolidated in an old trench 1000 yards west of the village. Here the infantry are being relieved tonight but no word of relief for us. Enemy aircraft are active. We have only one tripod left. Troops broke and ran this a.m. Great difficulty to rally them. One motorcycle blown up. Cars intact, also solos. Supply of ammunition short. No bombs or flares.

Weather good. Strong east wind. Very misty and many grass fires make it smoky, observation poor as consequence.

No support troops in evidence. Men in fair shape considering all but would heartily appreciate a rest.

Cars at Maricourt cross roads. Presence of Motor cars and our men undoubtedly saved situation somewhat. Capt. Holland did mighty fine work.

W.D. Nicholson Capt.

O.C. Borden M.M.G. Balleo,

3.55 p. in. 24-3 - / 8

by dispatch rider

Am trying to get in touch with Brigade but no answer yet DMGG and staff probably captured.

W.C.N.

Sun, Mar 24, 1918 VILLERS-BRETONNEUX, FRANCE

Fine.

About 2 a.m. Battery proceeded to MARICOURT and came under the Orders of the 21st Division arriving there about 6 a.m. Orders were received to proceed to CLERY, and from there at 7.15 a.m. arrived at Support Line in H.4.C. Sheet 62 (c ) at 8 a.m.

A heavy smoke Barrage was blowing from the East, but not evident hostile activity. Two guns were placed in CLERY Village under command of Lieut. R.H.A. West, shortly after the Enemy broke through on our left flank, and overran the Village. One [of] our guns was blown up and the crew of the other completely killed or wounded, one officer, one N.C.O. and one man remained, they managed to save a Tripod.

The remaining Guns were placed on the MARICOURT-CLERY Road, in an old shallow Trench with no wire in front. This trench was on the forward slope of the Ridge, observation was good, and as good targets were constantly presenting themselves our Guns created great havoc.

We held this Trench until 1 p.m. during which time our Casualties were exceptionally severe. Lieut. F.G. Waldron and Lieut. R.H.A. West were killed by enemy snipers, they being very active, causing many casualties.

Our Guns kept up harassing fire until our Supply of Ammunition became exceedingly low. There being a Trench 50 yds. to the rear, behind a strong line, the Guns were withdrawn to this stronger line. Casualties were continually being received during the whole Afternoon until at 5 p.m. we had only 3 guns (1 out of action) Capt. W. C. Nicholson, one N.C.O. and two men.

We had been reinforced about 11.30 o’clock by the 15th Ches[h]ires, 35th Division, and we arranged with them that we should hold the line until 8 p.m., but the Enemy attacked in force on our left flank, and at the same time on our front in mass. We were compelled to withdraw, but not before we had poured a terrible fire into the close Enemy Ranks.

While proceeding down the Road near Hemp Dump Capt. W. C. Nicholson was hit in the arm by a ricochet, and forced to leave the Line.

The remainder of the Battery, Sergt. A. Peek and two other Ranks [Pte. Mercer and Pte. Findlayson] were instructed to report to D.M.G.C. 35th Div., and were then given instructions to return to Brigade H.Q’s VILLERS-BRETONNEUX arriving about 3 a.m. 25th inst.

During the later part of the afternoon 8 O.R.s, who had been assisting out wounded, attached themselves to “B” Battery, and were joined later by 13 O.R.s under Sergt. C.D. Salkeld, who had arrived as Reinforcements. The Party rested at BRAY overnight.

--- signed Lieut. F. P. O’Reilly, MC, O.C.

Mon., Mar 25, 1918 HÉBECOURT, FRANCE

Fine

Details attached to “B” Battery in the line, went into Action during the day patrolling the Roads in Armoured Cars.

At about 5.30 p.m. Orders were received to move Head Q’rtns to HÉBECOURT, leaving at 6 p.m. and arriving at HÉBECOURT about 8.30 p.m.

--- signed Lieut. F. P. O’Reilly, MC, O.C.

Wed., Apr 3, 1918 HÉBECOURT, FRANCE

Fine

Battery in the line, One Gun Crew doing out post duty in front of the Front line was knocked out by Shell Fire slightly wounding Sergt. C.D. Salkeld and Pte. R. W. Mercer.

Orders were received to withdraw Battery and return to HÉBECOURT, arriving there early in the morning of the 4th inst.

--- signed Lieut. F. P. O’Reilly, MC, O.C.

Thu., Apr 4, 1918 HÉBECOURT, FRANCE

Rain

Battery Cleaning Guns and fighting equipment.

At about 5 p.m. Orders were received from OC. Canadian Corps M.M.G. Bde. that 6 Guns were to proceed to the line, 2 Guns remaining in reserve at HÉBECOURT.

Lieut. A.E. Millward in command of Six Guns left Camp at 5.30 p.m. and reported to Capt. H.F. Meurling, M.C. who was in command of Group.

Battery Taking up Battle positions at O 30c 75 75 Sheet 62D.

--- signed Lieut. F. P. O’Reilly, MC, O.C.

Fri., Apr 5, 1918 HÉBECOURT, FRANCE

Rain.

Battery in the line - 10 minute Barrages were put over at Dusk and Dawn.

About 3 p.m. Brigade Head Quarters moved to DURY, details of this Battery arriving there about 5.30 p.m.

--- signed Lieut. F. P. O’Reilly, MC, O.C.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TD60

Many thanks to 'BordenBattery'.

Your answer is extremly precise and give many detailed information.

WONDERFUL !

:):):)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Borden Battery

I have several pages of information on Lt Currier ... Attestion Papers and many references in the Borden Motor Machine Gun Battery war diary.

Do you wish me to post them?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TD60
I have several pages of information on Lt Currier ... Attestion Papers and many references in the Borden Motor Machine Gun Battery war diary. 

Do you wish me to post them?

Yes please, it would be great !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Borden Battery

The following sample of the Borden Motor Machine Gun Battery war diary material is being transcribed by a two-person team from the CEF Study Group. The material is in near final draft but subject to a final proofing. This War Diary contains several references to Lt. Evert Dysan CURRIER.

His Attestion Papers can be accessed from this site at no charge:

-- http://data2.archives.ca/cef/gat1/071423a.gif

-- http://data2.archives.ca/cef/gat1/071423b.gif

Evert Dysan Currier was born in Ottawa, Ontario on 9 February 1882. His profession was a mechanical engineer. His military background included service with French's Scouts in South Africa [1900-01) and WCOR 43rd Regiment, 37th as a private. He signed his Attestation Papers on 16 December 1914 in Montreal. He was married.

He is seriously wounded and later dies on Sep 26, 1916 during a heavy artillery bombardment at COURCELETTES and later dies at wounds at the Dressing Station in ALBERT.

Sustaining 23 casualties from a Battery of only 56 men is a clear indication of the intensity of the artillery bombardment.

-------------------------------------------------- D R A F T ----------------------------------------------------------

Thu., Nov 25, 1915 WESTOUTRE, BELGIUM

Day fine. Fairly quiet along our front. Enemy shelled WATLING STREET in front of MAXIM FARM during A.M. We did not operate our Machine Guns this day on orders from O.C. Lieut. CARRUTHERS R.C.R. 2 NCO’s and 21 men reported at 4 p.m. and got settled in dugouts and started work on M.G. Continued. M.G. strong point in front of VIERSTRAAT. Sergt. CURRIER relieved Corp. KNAPP at MAXIM FARM he returned to billets with an attack of grippe.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C., Borden's Motor Machine Gun Battery.

Mon., Mar 20, 1916 WESTOUTRE, BELGIUM

Fine. Aerial activity during the day. Some enemy shells landed in VIERSTRAAT between 6 and 7 a.m. also during the day, and some in the vicinity of our batteries at rear of VIERSTRAAT. During the afternoon the enemy shelled the ground along the front of VIERSTRAAT. Our field artillery active all day. Lieut. Currier reported for duty and instruction, and was put in charge of gun and party at VIERSTRAAT No.1. Nothing unusual at night.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

April 5, 1916 Wednesday WESTOUTRE, BELGIUM

Weather.-

Capt. P.A.G. MacCarthy and Lieut. E. D. Currier took four guns and 22 N.C.O.’s and men to Voormezeele to take over the Headquarters and Machine Gun emplacements of the 3rd Motor Machine Gun Battery (British.) Left Billets at 6. P.M. and arrived at Vierstraat at about 7. P.M. and marched the party along the Brasserie Road to Voormeezele, where the new positions were taken over and relief completed about Midnight. This relief took place under very heavy Artillery [inserted by hand. fire]. The enemy's Artillery putting over a bombardment which was practically a Barrage fire and kept us all night covering the position and ground occupied by our Machine Guns. About 5. A.M. the 6th Inf. Bge. [added by hand.……] that everybody was to stand too as the Germans were attacking.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Mon., Apr 10, 1916 WESTOUTRE, BELGIUM

Weather.- Fine.

About 1.30 A.M. the enemy put over an intense artillery barrage, covering the front lines, support trenches and all roads and rear lines of communication, which lasted until about 4.30 a.m. During this heavy bombardment Capt. MacCarthy and Lieut. Currier made the rounds of all Machine Gun emplacements and found everybody on the job and nobody wounded. During the forenoon a number of H.E.’s were fired into Voormezelle Centre and a large number all around our Headquarters during the afternoon. Everything very quiet between 1 P.M. and 5 P.M. About 4.45 P.M. Major Holland V.C. and Col. King D.S.O. called in at Voormezelle Headquarters for a few minutes. From 8 P.M. to 9.45 P.M. the enemy put a heavy artillery curtain fire across our position and lines of communication to prevent our troops moving into support. After this things became very quiet through the rest of the night.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Fri., Apr 29, 1916 WESTOUTRE, BELGIUM

Weather.-Fine

Lieut. Battersby relieved Lieut. Currier at 9.30 P.M. At midnight received a wire stating that prisoners had reported that the germans were to make an attack with gas before morning, accordingly went to French Trench and sent Sergeant Montgomery to “Sardine Box” and stood to all night. At 12.45 A.M. Heavy rifle fire suddenly developed in front of K[e]mmell Hill which quickly grew into an attack and heavy Artillery Fire followed which lasted until 2.45 A.M. The Germans attacked with gas at the “ Bull Ring and [crossed out by hand. “Hollandeschen” and replaced in the right margin by. “Hollandsches”] Salient but were driven off with heavy casualities. The gas cloud blew back over their own lines and the Germans were seen to leave their own front lines and run back overland through our Artillery Bar[r]age. The Enemy succe[e]ded in penetrating our front line at the “Bull Ring” but were immediately bombed out.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Thu., Jun 1, 1916 GODEWAERSVELDE, FRANCE

Lieut. Battersby relieved Lieut. Currier at Sept. Post. Weather fine. British Observation balloon broke loose during the evening, and drifted over the german lines and was shelled very heavily without any apparent effect. After a heavy bombardment of our lines the enemy attacked and took part of our front lines just south of Hooge, held at the time by the 7th Bgde. , 3rd Canadian Division.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C

Fri., Jun 2, 1916 GODEWAERSVELDE, FRANCE

Weather.- Fine

The Germans again opened an intense bombardment of our lines just south of Hooge, commencing at 7.00 A.M. At Noon they attacked and took about a mile of our front line coming through over 700 yds in depth. They took over 500 men and Officers prisoners, including [inserted by hand. Brig.] Genl. Mercer and Brigadier Genl. V.S.A. Williams. The Canadians counter-attacked and took back part of the line inflicting heavy losses on the enemy. We had to wear tear goggles owing to the tear shells. Our 12’’ guns fired all night. [ Inserted by hand. Genl. Mercer was afterwards found to have been killed; His body was recovered and he was buried with military honors at Relinnighelst.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C

Sat., Jun 3, 1916 GODEWAERSVELDE, FRANCE

Weather.- Fine

Very heavy reciprocal bombardment all day. 14 British Aeroplanes passed over on a raiding expedition We saw one falling behind the enemy’s lines. The enemy set one of our Stores of S.A.A. on fire near Ypres. All stood to all night with everything as we were expecting an attack. All the 2nd Division stood too all night. Placed our Machine Guns in shell holes in advance in the open to command country north of the canal. At 8.00 P.M. a violent attack was made north of Hill 60 which lasted about an hour. The actual dispositions of these attacks were very plainly visible from our Gun Positions near Sardine Box Emplacement.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C

Sat., Jun 3, 1916 GODEWAERSVELDE, FRANCE

Major Holland, V.C., Lieut. E.H. Holland and Lieut. E.D. [C]urrier were posted to ‘A’ Camp with 4 Machine Guns for a stand To.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C

Sun., Jun 4, 1916 GODEWAERSVELDE, FRANCE

Weather.-

At 1 A.M. a fierce bombing attack was made by the Canadians at the same moment a fient attack was made by the British division in front of Kemmel to relieve the pressure at Hooge. Stood to all night. Several shells hit our Parapet without exploding saving us casualities.

Standing to at “A” Camp.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C

Mon., Jun 5, 1916 GODEWAERSVELDE, FRANCE

Weather.- Cloudy.

The detatchment of the 24th Can. Inf. Battn. at Sept. Post was relieved by the Kings Liverpool Regt., 3rd Imperial Division. Huns attacked over Hill 60 but the 8th Can. Inf. Battn. immediately counter attacked and bombed them out, the bombers displaying great enthousasiam while carrying out their task. At 11.30 P.M. Lt. Holland and Lt. Currier and four guns arrived and took up positions near ecluse No. 6. on the Ypres Comines Canal.

At 11.30 P.M. took over Nos 1.2.and 4. tunnels and Gordon Post with 4 Machine guns and Officers and men previously detailed to “A” Camp, Major Holland V.C. making his Headquarters at Bedford House. Heavy shelling of all Calibres of guns and trench Mortars on our left from 12.30 to 1.30 P.M.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C

Tue., Jun 6, 1916 GODEWAERSVELDE, FRANCE

Weather.- Raining.

Quiet in the forenoon. Avery heavy bombardment by both sides commenced about noon. Germans attacked and took our front lines at Hooge. Major Holland V.C. visited Sept. Post about 10 P.M. and he also visited [the] other Gun positions on the Canal.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C

Tue., Jun 6, 1916 GODEWAERSVELDE, FRANCE

Weather;- Raining in the A.M and Cloudy and clearing in the P.M.

Early in the Afternoon the enemy heavily shelled our front, Comines Canal and the Bluff. Our Artillery retaliating vigourously. Our ‘Planes active during the evening and night. Intermittent shelling during the night.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C

Wed., Jun 7, 1916 GODEWAERSVELDE, FRANCE

Weather.- Fine Raining in the evening

Lieut. Battersby and his guns were relieved by the 9th Bgde. (Imperial) at 2. A.M. Reached the Billetts at 4. A.M. the 8th.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C

Wed., Jun 7, 1916 GODEWAERSVELDE, FRANCE

Weather.- Raining in the A.M. Cloudy P.M.

Lieut. Currier relieved Major Holland at Bedford House from 11. A.M. to Midnight, Lieut. Holland taking charge of the guns at the Tunnells, Bluff and Gordon Post. Intermittent shelling all day. Our ‘Planes active during the evening and after dark. Considerable Machine Gun and Rifle fire during the night.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C

Thu., Jun 8, 1916 GODEWAERSVELDE, FRANCE

Weather.- Cloudy.

Intermittent shelling all day. Enemy and our ‘Planes active during the afternoon and evening. Heavy rifle and Machine Gun Fire during the night. Capt. P.A.G. MacCarthy returned from leave to Paris.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C

Sun., Jul 2, 1916 GODEWEARSVELDE, FRANCE

Weather.- Fair.

Several of our aircraft active during the evening. After 7.30 P.M. Machine Gun from the enemy was very brisk, until Midnight. Night very quiet. Lieut. E.H. HOLLAND was relieved by Lieut. W.F. BATTERSBY at 9.00 P.M. Lieut. HOLLAND proceeding to Camiers for Machine Gun Course. Lieut. E. D. CURRIER should have relieved Lieut. HOLLAND but had to attend a Board of Inspection for the R.F.C.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt.

Thu., Jul 27, 1916 BELGIUM – (Location to be Confirmed)

Weather.- Fine and Warm.

LIEUT. E.D.CURRIER and party returned at 5 P.M. from Gas Course and were much pleased with what they had learned, the course being very thorough.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt.

Fri., Aug 4, 1916 BELGIUM – (Location to be Confirmed)

Weather fine. Cool. Nothing unusual to report. All classes in training ‘carrying on’. Lieut Currier and 3. O.R. attending course at 3rd Can. Divisional Gas School. None of this Battery in the trenches.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt.

Wed., Aug 9, 1916 BELGIUM – (Location to be Confirmed)

Weather Scorching hot. Brigade Syllabus being continued. in accordance with Operations Order from O.C. 1st C.M.M.G. B’g’de. Major Holland V.C. went to the “B’ Line trenches taking Lieut. Currier with 6 Guns and crews of “C” and “D” Batteries and relieved Capt. Wilkin and Gun Crews of “A” Battery completing the relief at 10.50 p.m. Capt. P.A.G. MacCarthy acting O.C. at billets.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt.

Sat., Aug 12, 1916 BELGIUM – (Location to be Confirmed)

Weather fine. Major Holland V.C. and Lieut. Currier in the Trenches. Lieut. W.F. Battersby at Headquarters Billets carrying on classes in M.G. Training. Capt. P.A.G. MacCarthy at Cassell with Anti air craft Detachment.

Major Holland reported the following from the Trenches.

At 8.30 a.m. the enemy opened a very heavy Barrage of Artillery fire on our front line trenches between Hill 60 and Verbrandenmolen apparently with 5.9’s and 4.1s. They had registered these points yesterday. At 9.45 a.m. enemy lifted some of his fire to Batteries in rear of Railway dugouts. At 10.30 A.M. Zillebeke was heavily shelled with H.E. and Shrapnel, cutting our wires between Priest’s House and Valley Cottages. Two direct hits were made on the School House. At 11.15 a.m. fire slackened. Nothing further unusual occurred during the day.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt.

Mon., Sep 11, 1916 CONTAY, FRANCE

Weather fine.

Received message from 1st Canadian M.M.G. Brigade Headquarters for “C” and “D” Batteries to go to ALBERT tomorrow and establish Headquarters there and to make that our advanced Base to work out our M.G. locations from.

Major E.J. Holland V.C. and Lieut. E.D. Currier went to POZIERES to reconnoitre.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt.

Thu., Sep 14, 1916 ALBERT, FRANCE

Weather. Fine.

The N.C.O.’s + men left Billets in ALBERT with 8 guns.- the following Officers going in charge.- Major E.J. Holland V.C., Captain P.A.G. MacCarthy, Lieut. Battersby, Lieut. Currier composing “C” Battery. Lieut Holland having been attached to “B” Battery. “C” Battery took up and consolidated a Machine Gun position N.W. of POZIERES. The guns were set up and laid during the night to fire at 6.20 A.M. the 15th inst.

---signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt.

Sun., Sep 24, 1916 CONTAY, FRANCE

Sunday. Foggy all forenoon. Fair during rest of day.

Captain MacCarthy + Lieut. Battersby on instructions from O.C. 1st Canadian M.M.G. Brigade left at 5 A.M. to make a reconnaissance of the position to be occupied by the Borden Battery for the action of the 25th + 26th insts. Made location and returned to CONTAY by 1. p.m. At 5 p.m. Lieut. Battersby, Lieut. Currier and Lieut. Maisonville took their Sections up to location and as a working party they prepared the position for the placing of M. Guns digging deep trenches and making cover from shrapnel This party left from COURCELETTE about midnight.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Tue., Sep 26, 1916 WEST OF COURCELETTES, FRANCE

Fine day.

Battery all in position and laid guns for action. Were under heavy shell fire all morning. Pte. Anderson being wounded about 10. a.m. This Battery opened fire at 12.35 pm on targets laid out by O.C. 1st Canadian M.M.G. Brigade and continued firing throughout the action according to schedule lifting the Barrage from time to time as our troops advanced. On receipt of a message by runners from O.C. 14th Canadian Infantry Battalion we put on a special Barrage covering the right flank of his Battalion and annihilated a German counter attack. This Battery was terribly Bombarded by the German artillery barrage all afternoon and during the night. Some Batteries made it their target and searched the area which we occupied. Lieut. Currier was seriously wounded about 1 o’clock and finally died of wounds at the Dressing Station in ALBERT. Private Singleton who was also seriously wounded at the same time died of wounds at the Dressing Station in ALBERT. Private Taylor was killed in Action at about 1.15 p.m. In all there were 23 casualties

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Wed., Sep 27, 1916 CONTAY, FRANCE

Fine day, turning showery in afternoon.

This Battery was withdrawn from its position in the lines W. of COURCELETTE and sent back to CONTAY to rest & to reorganize. Arrived CONTAY about 5.30 p.m.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Thu., Sep 28, 1916 CONTAY, FRANCE

Raining all day.

Battery resting in billets at CONTAY. No parades. Pte J. R. Kennedy promoted Temporary Corporal.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Fri., Sep 29, 1916 CONTAY, FRANCE

Battery parades for Kit and equipment lost in action. O.C. Battery submitted summery of operations of Sept. 25th to 27th to O.C. 1st Canadian M.M.G. Brigade.

Afternoon. Pay parade.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Thu., Oct 12, 1916 ALBERT, FRANCE

Weather.- Cloudy.

Proceeded to ALBERT.

Battery located in billets at 64 + 66 Rue de Boulan

Officers ,” ,” “, ,” 39 Rue de Bapaume.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Fri., Oct 13, 1916 ALBERT, FRANCE

Weather.- Dull. Cold. Hazy.

Received notice that Sergeant #25621 R.G.H.W. MacCarthy} both of BORDENS and Sergeant #202 F. W. Thompson ) M.M.G. Battery MOTOR MACHINE GUN BATTERY had been awarded The Military Medal for Action COURCELETTE Sep 26/27th 1916

Officers of the “C” and “D” Battery went to positions indicated, on the Map by O.C. 1st CMM.G. Bgde to reconnoitre ground and decide on exact location for Gun positions for attack of 16th + 17th insts.

Left Billets at 4.a.m.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Sat., Oct 14, 1916 ALBERT, FRANCE

Weather Changeable. Poor for observation.

Officers went to Tara Hill C. Corps Headquarters to meet O.C. 1st C.M.M.G. Brigade and get maps and plans of scheme of Attack for 16th + 17th insts.

Meeting at 11. a.m. instructions to report again at 3. p.m. to meet O.C. Hotchkiss Detachment to make definite arrangements for carrying water and ammunition to Battery positions.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Sun., Oct 15, 1916 ALBERT, FRANCE

Weather.- Fine.

C. Officers of all Batteries reported to O.C. 1st C M.M.G. Bgde at Tara Hill at 11. a.m. and received orders to cancel all arrangements for attack of 16th + 17th insts & to make arrangements to return to Battery Billets at CONTAY. Battery left ALBERT at 3. p.m. and arrived at Billets at CONTAY

Received warning order from O.C. 1st C.M.M.G. Brigade to be prepared to move to DIVION on morning of 19th inst.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Mon., Oct 16, 1916 CONTAY, FRANCE

Weather. Cold but bright. Good day for observation.

Battery training reinforcements in Side Car driving. preparatory to move.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Tue., Oct 17, 1916 CONTAY, FRANCE

Cold. Rain in afternoon.

B.S.M. Lawson, Ptes Anderson and Logan returned to duty from Hospital at Base.

Lieut O.F. Maisonville (wounded) struck off strength on transfer to C.T.D. Shorncliffe.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Wed., Oct 18, 1916 CONTAY, FRANCE

Weather, Cold, wet and hazy.

Battery engaged in cleaning up Camp, getting equipment in order and loading some on Cars, in preparation for move to DIVION on 19th inst.

Under instructions from 1st C.M.M.G. Bgde, one officer and one man left for DIVION to arrange for Billets for Battery.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Thu., Oct 19, 1916 ALBERT, FRANCE

Weather. Very wet.

Battery left CONTAY at 6. a.m. in order of Parade as laid down by O.C. 1st Can M M. G Brigade and arrived at DIVION about 1. p.m.

All ranks allotted to Billets.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Fri., Oct 20, 1916 DIVION, FRANCE

Weather. Fine, Bright.

Received instructions that the 1st C.M.M.G. Brigade now forms part of the 1st Army with H.Qs at DIVION.

Lieutenants Kerr and Kill posted to this Battery as Temporary Lieutenants vide Lieut. Currier and Lieut. Maisonville.

Received instructions that one Officer with three guns and crews be detailed to leave DIVION at 2.p.m. tomorrow the 21st inst., for SAVY-BERLETTE for duty as AIR-CRAFT SECTION

Capt. P.A.G. MacCarthy, acting under instructions from O.C. 1st Can. M.M.G. Brigade, proceeded to SAVY-BERLETTE and made necessary arrangements.

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Sat., Oct 21, 1916 DIVION, FRANCE

Weather.- Fine, Bright.

Lieut Holland proceeded with 3 guns and 12 men to SAVY-BERLETTE at 2.p.m. as Anti-AIRCRAFT SECTION

Received order that Lieut W.F. BATTERSBY of the BORDEN MOTOR MACHINE GUN BATTERY has been awarded

“ The MILITARY CROSS”

--- signed P.A.G. MacCarthy, Capt. O.C.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Borden Battery

With the Ross Rifle Company's factory producing at capacity, it was possible to arm with the Mark III rifle and bayonet all but one infantry unit (the 15th Battalion, which took the long Mark II to England). To equip the Automobile Machine Gun Brigade and provide the two machine-guns authorized for each infantry battalion fifty Colt .303-inch automatic guns were ordered from an American factory, but only twenty weapons arrived before sailing time. These were issued to the Machine Gun Brigade, the infantry taking with them four obsolescent Maxims that had been used for instruction at Valcartier. When the War Office was unable to supply light Vickers guns ordered by Canada for delivery in the United Kingdom, 51 more Colts were shipped across the Atlantic in November and December and issued to the C.E.F. Artillery units had brought their full armament from the Districts - twelve 13-pounder guns for the two R.C.H.A. batteries, fifty-four 18-pounders for the three field brigades, and four 60-pounders for the heavy battery.

Source: Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War, p 25

Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919, Colonel G. W. L. Nicholson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Roman Jarymowycz

I have several pages of information on Lt Currier ... Attestion Papers and many references in the Borden Motor Machine Gun Battery war diary. Do you wish me to post them?

Good day. i am writing Hist of RoyL Mtl Cavalry (RMC) and the RCH. Present regt is amalgamation of 6th DCRCH and 17th DYRCH - perpetuating the 1st Motor MG.

I would like to find out more about the Borden Battery founded in Mtl.

Any guidance/help much appreciated. Thank you.

Roman Jarymowycz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lancashire Fusilier

Good day. i am writing Hist of RoyL Mtl Cavalry (RMC) and the RCH. Present regt is amalgamation of 6th DCRCH and 17th DYRCH - perpetuating the 1st Motor MG.

I would like to find out more about the Borden Battery founded in Mtl.

Any guidance/help much appreciated. Thank you.

Roman Jarymowycz

Roman,

Welcome to the Forum.

Here are 2 links to pages in a Forum Thread currently running on WW1 Military Motors, which has information and photographs on the Borden Battery and also the ' Autocar ' vehicle used by the Borden Battery.

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=173218&page=23

Regards,

LF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Roman Jarymowycz

Dear LF

Thank you.

I will dive into this.

I am still uncertain re correspondance via this means.

Is this the correct method to say merci or ask further questions?

Is there another way?

I intend to trek to Ottawa this summer and try my luck at archival digs.

Its been a few years...

Regards

RJJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lancashire Fusilier

Dear LF

Thank you.

I will dive into this.

I am still uncertain re correspondance via this means.

Is this the correct method to say merci or ask further questions?

RJJ,

Yes, this is the perfect way to respond and ask questions.

I hope the links are of use to your project.

Regards,

LF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Roman Jarymowycz

Gentlemen,

Thank you all for this prompt and splendid support.

I regret my ignorance re Cdn MMG. I am not aware of British MMG

My aim in the Great War section of our regimental history is crowded with druthers beyond the

Basic and essential mil hist.

1. I wrestle with Montreal histoire: a very cavalry town yet save for the Strathcona Horse, (raised by

A local Scottish baron of industry) no real cav/mech outfit sent to France save for the Borden Bty

2, the Colts - there are two in the Black Watch Museum and seem a curious weapon. Heavy yet small caliber and

A bought by 5 th Royal Scots ( BW) - were Borden MG bought privately?

3. Tactically the Btys seem employed like horseguns or SP arty - I assume indirect area fire was their main attack

4. Operationally they offer hints of mech war. Did Cda influence Blitzkrieg? Or is this hubris?

5. Am I safe in concluding the Hundred Days, with certain aspects of tank ops, cavalry ops (Le Cateau '18) and MMG mobility by battery

Influenced future mech war - I dare not suggest who. I have dabbled in Fuller and Tukhachevskii and figure

What armoured cars as MMG did was "natural" to folks who understood mobile ops intuitively.The op art aspect of this may be beyond MMG units - or was it?

6. What is the better way of understanding the MMG Brigades and Batteries?

Thank you for your insight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Borden Battery

The Borden's Armoured Battery, sometimes originally referred to as the "Holland Battery" after its first commanding officer, Major Edward James Holland VC[1], was organized in Montreal in December 1914 although earlier actions appear to been initiated before November 1914. The origin of the concept of an armoured machine gun unit may have originated in Montreal. It is thought Sir Sam Hughes, then Minister of Militia and Defence, later renamed the battery the "Borden Battery" in honour of the current Canadian Prime Minister - Sir Robert Borden.  Officer Commanding Major Holland earned his Victoria Cross as a 22 year old sergeant in the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Canadian Army during the Second Boer War in South Africa. He had joined the militia in 1895 at age 17 and became a commissioned officer in 1901, after earning his VC. He was one of three men from his regiment who were awarded the VC for actions on 7 November 1900 in South Africa. It appears he was also the key person in the initial recruitment of volunteers and was likely working  in the Cobalt mining region  in north-east Ontario region prior to the Great War.

 

The initial core of members included four of the six original officers being associated with the mining sector and three having served in the Boar War about fifteen years previously.  Twenty-eight members, including two men appointed as part of the five sergeants, had no military experience.  The overwhelming occupational group in the Borden Battery consists of prospectors and miners coupled with four engineers. At least 35 members from the original 59 member Nominal Roll[2] have a documented connection with both the Cobalt mining region and mining in general.  The Officer Commanding, a lieutenant and a sergeant all had the Holland surname - it is believed they were all related.


[1] "Edward Holland was born in Ottawa on Feb. 2, 1878, and was educated at the Model School and the Ottawa Collegiate Institute. At age 17, he joined the militia and served with the 43rd Regiment and the 59th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards from 1895 to 1897. In 1899, he served with the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion—later part of the Royal Canadian Dragoons. In 1901, he was granted a commission in the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards. In 1904, Holland became a major in the 13th Scottish Light Dragoons, and in 1914 was given command of the Borden Motor Machine-Gun Battery which he took to France on Sept. 14 of the following year. In October 1916, he returned to Canada and was transferred to the reserve corps. He retired from the army at the end of WW I, and eventually became postmaster of Cobalt, Ont., where he died on June 18, 1948 at age 70. Source: Canada Legion Magazine - Major Holland VC"

[2] The Borden's Armoured Battery 1915 Nominal Roll with details from Attestation Papers is also available from this Great War website: http://www.canadiangreatwarproject.com/Regimental/Bordens.asp

Edited by Borden Battery
Corrected paragraph spacing

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Borden Battery

Taken from the transcribed "History of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps, C.E.F." - Logan and Levey 1919

INTRODUCTORY.

"While the Infantry Battalion Machine Gun Sections were in this transition stage of Brigade Machine Gun Officer supervision, there already existed, in the Canadian Overseas Forces, Machine Gun Units which, in form, foreshadowed the Machine Gun Company Organisation.  The First Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade, and the 3 Motor Machine Gun Batteries eventually attached to the Brigade – the Borden, Eaton and Yukon Batteries – were, from the time of formation, independent Machine Gun Units, complete with tactical and administrative Staffs and provided with their own Transport.  Theoretically these units formed a Divisional Mobile Reserve of Machine Guns, making the Canadian Organisation conform with the British Divisional Establishments, which included a Motor Machine Gun Battery with each Infantry Division.  For some months the Canadian Motor Machine Gun Batteries did operate with Divisions in this way – the 1st C.M.M.G. Brigade with the First Division, the Borden Battery with the Second, the Eaton with the Third, while the Fourth Division had the Yukon Battery.  But by August 19th, 1916, all 3 Motor Machine Gun Batteries were attached for tactical Operations to the 1st C.M.M.G. Brigade, and, from this time on, all were employed as a Corps Mobile Reserve of Machine Guns.

The 1st C.M.M.G. Brigade and the Borden and Eaton Batteries used the Colt Gun until August 9th, 1916, when they were issued with Vickers Guns.  The Yukon Battery was equipped with the Vickers before leaving England."

 

Page 15

FIRST CANADIAN MOTOR MACHINE GUN BRIGADE.

Authorisation; Initial Establishment.

The First Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade was the earliest Motor Machine Gun Unit in the Corps.  At the time of its formation it was officially known as “The Automobile Machine Gun Brigade No. 1.” On September 2nd, 1914, the Brigade was authorised as a Unit in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force.  The authority for its formation is contained, under Mobilisation Orders, in a report of the Privy Council Committee, of that date, in part as follows: “The Committee of the Privy Council have had before them a report dated 20th August, 1914, from the Minister of Militia and Defence, representing that it is advisable immediately to organise a Machine Gun Corps as a part of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force, and that several public spirited citizens of Canada have volunteered that at their own sole costs, charges and expenses they will provided and deliver immediately to the Canadian Government:

16 Machine Guns
8 Armoured Motor Cars
6 Trucks
4 Automobile Cars for the use of Officers

The said Guns, Cars and Trucks to be of such style, pattern, construction and quality as the Minister and Defence may approve and accept.

“The Minister recommends that this offer be accepted and that he be authorised to receive and take over the said Guns, Cars and Trucks, after they have been duly accepted and approved by him.

“The Minister further recommends that, contingent on his approval and acceptance of the said Guns, Cars and Trucks, authority be granted for the organisation of a Unit of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force under the style and title of “The Automobile Machine Gun Brigade No. 1” and that the Establishment of its Personnel be:-

1 Major
3 Captains
5 Subalterns
4 Sergeants
2 Sergeant Artificiers
4 Corporals
4 Corporal Artificers
101 Privates.

The Order-in-Council also provided for the issue of Clothing, Small Arms and Equipment, for Training, Transportation and for other matters incident to the raising and administration of the new Unit.

Mobilisation.

But much had already been done before the Establishment was officially set forth.  When the above mentioned “public spirited citizens”, whose names are still withheld, presented their generous and patriotic offer to the Dominion Government it was at once accepted and permission granted by an Order-in-Council to recruit men for this purpose.  Major R. BRUTINEL (now Brigadier-General R. Brutinel, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.) was named to command the Unit and to proceed with recruiting.  The task proved an easy one and by September, 9th, 1914, the Brigade was complete in Personnel.  It was more difficult, however, to obtain Guns and Motor Equipment and it was not until the 21st that the “material” as per Establishment was completed, by which time Major BRUTINEL had succeeded in procuring Guns and Cars (in the United States).  Twenty Colt Guns were obtained instead of 16 and 8 Trucks instead of 6 as laid down by the Order-in-Council Establishment: this was the strength in machine Guns set forth in the new Establishment, published on May 16th, 1915, constituting a Brigade of 2 Ten-Gun Batteries.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Alan Bowker

I am researching the life of Homere Joliat, one of 19 men from our church who fell in the Great War. He enlisted in January 1915 in the 8th CMR in Ottawa, and in early 1916 was transferred to the Borden Motor Machine Gun Battery, arriving in the field in March of 1916. He was in C Company of the reorganized 1st CMMGB, but his unit is always referred to as the Borden Motor Machine Battery. He was wounded at Thiepval Ridge on September 26, 1916 and spent some months recovering, rejoining the BMMGB in April 1917. He won the MM in 1917 (not sure the date of action, it was gazetted in March 1918) and was killed in action on March 24, 1918, repelling the German offensive. He is buried in Amiens. I have his service file, and other standard into but would be very grateful for any information anyone might have about him, the unit, and the battles in which it took part while he was in service with it.

BTW his brother Aurel Joliat became a very famous hockey player.

Alan Bowker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Borden Battery

Here is some material.  Contact me by Private Message and I can provide many pages of details.  My late Grandfather was also with the Borden Battery - one of only about 5 men who were not casualties in this battle.  Borden Battery

 

Fri., Mar 22, 1918                VERDREL, FRANCE

Fine.

Work on Emplacements continued.

Orders received from O.C. Canadian Corps M.M.G. Brigade to “Stand by” and prepare to move.

Battery ordered out of the line, arriving in Camp about 2 am 23d inst.

Lieut. F. P. O’Reilly, MC Returned from Can. Corps Gas School.

--- signed Lieut. F. P. O’Reilly, MC, O.C.

 

 

Sat, Mar 23, 1918                  VERDREL  - VILLERS-BRETONNEUX, FRANCE

Fine

Battery left Camp about 5.30 AM. in convoy with the Canadian Corps Motor Machine Gun Brigade and proceeded to VILLERS-BRETONNEUX by way of St. Pol, Doullens and Amiens arriving about 5 p.m.

At 9.30 p.m. Orders were received to “Stand by” and at 11.30 p.m. Battery moved off and proceeded to CORBIE, under Command of Capt. W. C. Nicholson, M.C., Lieut. F.G. Waldron and Lieut. R.H.A. West.  On arrival at CORBIE, about Midnight Capt. Nicholson reported to the 7th Corps.

--- signed Lieut. F. P. O’Reilly, MC, O.C.

 

 

Capt. Nicholson called up Lieut. Inch who had been back from the line with the men and the armoured cars.  Inch was to try and get a message back to headquarters asking for immediate reinforcements.   The message ran.

 

 

0. C. CDN CORPS MMG BDE

CIO 7th CORPS

 

Battery in position (sheet 62c) H5a 5050. 1 am in command of both machine‑guns and infantry.   We have only four guns left which are being manned; others captured or out of (action) order.  Capt. Holland wounded. Lieuts. West and Waldron killed.  Lieut. Snyder killed, wounded or prisoner.  All my NCOs in Borden (‘C’) Battery casualties except one.  I have only six men left.  ‘B’ Battery has two NCOs, six ORs and one officer left.  Both our flanks are in the air and we are being shelled by all calibres, snipers and machine­guns are busy.  Enemy took Clery this a.m. about 9.30 and we are fairly well consolidated in an old trench 1000 yards west of the village.  Here the infantry are being relieved tonight but no word of relief for us.  Enemy aircraft are active.  We have only one tripod left.  Troops broke and ran this a.m.  Great difficulty to rally them.  One motorcycle blown up.  Cars intact, also solos.  Supply of ammunition short.  No bombs or flares.

Weather good.  Strong east wind.  Very misty and many grass fires make it smoky, observation poor as consequence.

No support troops in evidence.  Men in fair shape considering all but would heartily appreciate a rest.

Cars at Maricourt cross roads.  Presence of Motor cars and our men undoubtedly saved situation somewhat.  Capt. Holland did mighty fine work.

W.D. Nicholson Capt.

O.C. Borden M.M.G. Balleo,

 

3.55 p. in. 24‑3 ‑ / 8

by dispatch rider

Am trying to get in touch with Brigade but no answer yet DMGG and staff  probably captured.

W.C.N.

 

 

 

 

Sun, Mar 24, 1918                 VILLERS-BRETONNEUX, FRANCE

Fine.

About 2 a.m. Battery proceeded to MARICOURT and came under the Orders of the 21st Division arriving there about 6 a.m.  Orders were received to proceed to CLERY, and from there at 7.15 a.m. arrived at Support Line in H.4.C. Sheet 62 (c ) at 8 a.m.

 

A heavy smoke Barrage was blowing from the East, but not evident hostile activity.  Two guns were placed in CLERY Village under command of Lieut. R.H.A. West, shortly after the Enemy broke through on our left flank, and overran the Village.  One [of] our guns was blown up and the crew of the other completely killed or wounded, one officer, one N.C.O. and one man remained, they managed to save a Tripod.

 

The remaining Guns were placed on the MARICOURT-CLERY Road, in an old shallow Trench with no wire in front.  This trench was on the forward slope of the Ridge, observation was good, and as good targets were constantly presenting themselves our Guns created great havoc.

 

We held this Trench until 1 p.m. during which time our Casualties were exceptionally severe.  Lieut. F.G. Waldron and Lieut. R.H.A. West were killed by enemy snipers, they being very active, causing many casualties.

 

Our Guns kept up harassing fire until our Supply of Ammunition became exceedingly low.  There being a Trench 50 yds. to the rear, behind a strong line, the Guns were withdrawn to this stronger line.  Casualties were continually being received during the whole Afternoon until at 5 p.m. we had only 3 guns (1 out of action) Capt. W. C. Nicholson, one N.C.O. and two men.[DM1] 

 

We had been reinforced about 11.30 o’clock by the 15th Ches[h]ires, 35th Division, and we arranged with them that we should hold the line until 8 p.m., but the Enemy attacked in force on our left flank, and at the same time on our front in mass.  We were compelled to withdraw, but not before we had poured a terrible fire into the close Enemy Ranks.

 

While proceeding down the Road near Hemp Dump Capt. W. C. Nicholson was hit in the arm by a ricochet, and forced to leave the Line.

 

The remainder of the Battery, Sergt. A. Peek and two other Ranks were instructed to report to D.M.G.C. 35th Div., and were then given instructions to return to Brigade H.Q’s VILLERS-BRETONNEUX arriving about 3 a.m. 25th inst.

 

During the later part of the afternoon 8 O.R.s, who had been assisting out wounded, attached themselves to “B” Battery, and were joined later by 13 O.R.s under Sergt. C.D. Salkeld, who had arrived as Reinforcements.  The Party rested at BRAY overnight.

--- signed Lieut. F. P. O’Reilly, MC, O.C.

 

 

Mon., Mar 25, 1918               HÉBÉCOURT, FRANCE

Fine

Details attached to “B” Battery in the line, went into Action during the day patrolling the Roads in Armoured Cars.

At about 5.30 p.m. Orders were received to move Head Q’rtns to HÉBÉCOURT, leaving at 6 p.m. and arriving at HÉBÉCOURT about 8.30 p.m.

--- signed Lieut. F. P. O’Reilly, MC, O.C.

 

 

Tue., Mar 26, 1918                HÉBÉCOURT, FRANCE

Fine

Party in the line with “B” Battery continued using the Cars for sniping work during the day, at 3.30 p.m. the Cars withdrew out of action and returned to CORBY, rejoining the Brigade at HÉBÉCOURT about 2.30 A.M. 27th inst.

--- signed Lieut. F. P. O’Reilly, MC, O.C.

 

 

Wed., Mar 27, 1918               HÉBÉCOURT, FRANCE

Fine

In reserve at HÉBÉCOURT.

--- signed Lieut. F. P. O’Reilly, MC, O.C.

 

 

Thu., Mar 28, 1918               HÉBÉCOURT, FRANCE

Dull with rain

In reserve HÉBÉCOURT.

--- signed Lieut. F. P. O’Reilly, MC, O.C.

 


 [DM1]Two of the surviving men were Pte. R. W Mercer (911016) and Pte. Pte. Finlayson  (911462).  Pte. Finlayson  is later awarded the Military Medal for this stand before being discharged with shell-shock.  Pte. Mercer wears the Military Medal ribbon with his regular medals.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Borden Battery

The following is an excerpt from the recently transcribed "History of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps, CEF", pp 243-245.  The Borden Battery is also referred to a "C" Battery.

Enemy Advance N. of the Somme.

It was about 8.00 A.M. March 24th, when the Batteries reached the junction of the MARICOURT - CLERY and HEM - CLERY Roads.  At that time a heavy smoke cloud was blowing from the German Lines towards our Lines, but there were few other signs of hostile activity.  The Armoured Cars and Transport were stopped just below the Crest of the slightly rising ground between BOIS de HEM and CLERY.  Capt. HOLLAND and Capt. NICHOLSON went forward to CLERY and reported to Lieut.-Col. SETTLE, who wished to have 2 Machine Guns placed in the Village, 2 Guns, about 500 yds., left of the Village to fire in the direction of ALLAINES, and 2 Guns, on the slight rise, back of the Village to fire up the Valley of the SOMME in the direction of BIACHES.  The Borden Battery, which was ready to go into Action dismounted, was ordered forward, and 2 of its Guns, under Lieut. WEST, were placed in CLERY.  Enemy Shelling and Machine Gun Fire had now increased, and before the other Guns got into Action our Infantry were seen falling back over a slight Ridge on the Left of CLERY.  On Instructions from Lieut.-Col. SETTLE, Capt. HOLLAND and Capt. NICHOLSON tried to rally the Infantry and with them organise for Defence a Trench running half-way up the Ridge back of the Village.  The Infantry Commander, however, issued Orders to fall farther back to a Line just in front of the small Wood E. of BOIS de HEM.  The hostile Artillery was now heavily shelling CLERY and the MARICOURT Road and masses of the enemy came out of the Smoke Cloud and were following our retreating Infantry.  As soon as the German Troops broke through the Left, the enemy Fire on CLERY Ceased and the village was overrun.

"B" Battery and Borden Battery Co-Operation With Twenty-First Division March 24th.

The 2 Guns of the Borden Battery which were in Action on the Eastern outskirts of CLERY inflicted heavy Casualties on the Germans as their advancing Columns emerged from the Smoke Cloud and rushed forward across the Ridge N. of CLERY.  A German Shell blew up 1 of these 2 Guns and either killed or wounded all its Crew.  The members of the other Crew had also become Casualties but the Gun was kept in Action by Lieut. WEST and Corporal JOHNSON until the enemy Troops had entered the Village from the N.  With the Fire of their Revolvers this Officer and N.C.O. kept the Germans at bay until they were able to get their Gun out of the Village.  The Gun was then taken with the other 6 Guns of the Borden Battery and 8 Guns of "B" Battery to the top of the Ridge in front of the small Wood, E. of the Bois de HEM.  The Machine Guns were placed in Positions on both sides of the CLERY-MARICOURT Road, along an old shallow Trench in front of a strong Belt of Wire.  From these Positions the Guns covered by Fire the Valley of the SOMME, CLERY, and the ground to the Left of the Village.

 

The Motor Machine Gunners, who had an excellent view of all the Ground in front of them poured an intense Fire into the Ranks of the advancing enemy, breaking up their formation and inflicting heavy Casualties.  But, as the Germans continued to approach the Positions, the Infantry who were in the shallow trench fell back.  Capt. HOLLAND and Capt. NICHOLSON rallied them again and managed to induce a few of them to return to the Trench to co-operate with the Machine Gunners in the Defence of the Ground.  There was, in all, a Garrison of about 100 men in the Trench holding a stretch of 500 yds.  The determined Resistance offered by the Motor Machine Gun Batteries at this point considerably delayed the advance of the enemy.  The Germans made several unsuccessful attempts to debouch from CLERY and to outflank our Gun Positions from the N.  During one of these encounters, when the Germans were approaching on the Left Flank, Corporal JOHNSON was wounded by a Sniper while endeavouring to bring into Action the Gun which he had rescued from CLERY.  Capt. HOLLAND was seriously wounded while going out, under direct enemy observation and intense Machine gun Fire, to render aid to a wounded Man in a Shell-hole on front of the Trench occupied by our Machine Gunners and the small group of Infantry.  It was largely due to the great example of courage and disregard for personal safety set by this Officer, earlier in the day, that our Machine Gun Detachments with a handful of tired Infantrymen were able to frustrate the efforts at advance made by an enemy overwhelmingly superior in numbers.

Hostile Artillery Activity.

In the meantime, the Shelling on the MARICOURT-CLERY Road had become very heavy.  The Motor Transport was ordered back to MARICOURT, and 3 Armoured Cars were taken a short distance back to a bend in the Road to avoid the Shelling.  The 4th Armoured Car could not be moved back then, owing to its proximity to a Dump of Explosives which had been set of Fire by a German Shell and was still burning.  Eventually the Fire was extinguished, and Corporal HICKS and Private RUMFORD ("B" Battery), who had gone back with the other 3 Armoured Cars, returned to start the stranded Car.  But, as they approached the Car, a Shell burst beside them instantly killing Private RUMFORD and fatally wounding Corporal HICKS.  In spite of the heavy Shelling, Pte. J.A. HENDERSON (Borden Battery) and a "B" Battery Man volunteered to start and drive the Armoured Car away.  Capt. HOLLAND, Corporal JOHNSON, Corporal HICKS, and several other wounded Men were placed in this Car and taken to the nearest Dressing Station. Capt. HOLLAND dies as he was being moved from the Car to a Stretcher.

Casualties Suffered By M.M.G. Batteries; VII Corps Front March 24th.

Owing to the heavy Artillery and Machine Gun Fire and the great activity of enemy Snipers, the Casualties suffered by "B" and "C" Batteries in the Forward Trench were extremely heavy.  The Gun Positions were very exposed and the Trench was so wide and shallow that Men observing at the Guns were shot through the head.  Lieut. SNYDER of "B" Battery and Lieuts. WEST and WALDRON of the Borden Battery, who had undertaken the arduous task of observing for the Guns of which they were in Command, were all shot through the head and instantly killed.  The Fire of enemy Snipers and Machine Guns prevented the 2 Batteries from maintaining at the guns a proper supply of Ammunition, which was beginning to get very low.  The Germans had gradually crept up close to our Gun Positions and were throwing Hand-Grenades into the Positions occupied by the Motor Machine Gunners.  3 or 4 of our Machine Guns had either been blown up or put out of Action by enemy Shells or Machine Gun Bullets.  A few Infantry Reinforcements also came up and took up Positions in a fairly good trench behind a strong Belt of Wire.  This Trench was about 50 yds. in rear of the Trench occupied by the Motor Machine Gunners.  Earlier in the morning, our Machine Guns had been placed in front of the Wire to obtain a better Field of Fire for the guns and enable the Gunners themselves to watch all the movements of the enemy.  This bold employment of Machine Guns was entirely responsible for holding up the enemy advance W. of CLERY.  During the 4 or 5 hours spent in their Positions in the Shallow Trench in front of the Wire, the Gunners of the 2 Motor Machine Gun batteries were almost constantly firing at groups of Germans and inflicting heavy losses on them.

 

At 2.00 P.M. March 24th, the enemy was dangerously close to our Gun Positions, the Ammunition supply was very low, and our Gun Crews had been greatly depleted in numbers.  Capt. NICHOLSON, who was then the only officer in Command of the 2 Machine Gun Batteries and the Infantry, decided to withdraw to the Trench behind the Wire.  A few Casualties were suffered during this withdrawal, which had to be made under enemy observation and through a narrow Gap in the Wire.  In their new Positions, the Machine Gun Detachments were more or less screened from direct enemy observation and they could, therefore, manage to maintain a good supply of Ammunition from a Dump, which had been established on the MARICOURT Road, during the morning.  The Infantrymen in this Line belonged to the 15th Cheshire Regiment (Thirty-fifth Division) and were commanded by Colonel COCHRANE.  The enemy Shelling was still causing us many Casualties in men and Guns.  At about 4.00 P.M., Capt. NICHOLSON had, in all, 4 Guns left; the others had either been blown up or had been put out of Action.  With the 4 Guns there were then only 1 Officer.  Capt. NICHOLSON had sent a few Messages by Despatch Riders to the Twenty-first Divisional Headquarters and to the 1st C.M.M.G. Brigade Headquarters explaining the Situation and asking for Reinforcements but received no response.  At 3.00 P.M., he sent Lieut. INCH back to try and get in touch with Headquarters.  In the meantime, Colonel COCHRANE had received Orders to withdraw his Men to a Line running approximately from HEM towards MAUREPAS.  The Motor Machine Gunners were to cover this withdrawal, which was to take place at 8 o'clock in the evening.  At 5.00 P.M., there were only 2 Machine Guns in Action, manned by 1 Officer, 2 N.C.O.s and a few Men.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2ndCMR

As I recall the account they were being inspected at Aldershot by the King who climbed up on one of the Autocar gun trucks to find the crew crouched down behind the shields as they had been ordered to do.  A slightly awkward moment.  

 

The King made some comment to his entourage such as, "this should be a most useful formation", whereupon K of K ventured to contradict His Majesty, and when asked to explain said, "I'm afraid sir, that it would over-balance the firepower of a division."  Whereupon some other wooden-top hastened to agree, "I'm afraid Lord Kitchener is right sir."  The King kept his own counsel after that it seems.

 

Figure that idea out if you can; too many bullets coming from machine guns as compared to rifles perhaps?  Mustn't take all the sport away from the rifles, eh what!

 

In defence of The Great Man, Baker-Carr does credit him with over-riding the objections of the rest of the Army Council to the establishment of the Machine Gun Corps, so perhaps he had learned something in the meantime.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moonraker

I'm getting a little confused about which unit we're talking about now, but 2ndCMR's anecdote relates to the Automobile Machine Gun Brigade attached to the First Canadian Contingent, the incident taking place at Pond Farm Camp on Salisbury Plain on 4 November, 1914.

 

Since no official regulations on how to parade his Brigade had been published, Major Brutinel made his own arrangements. Most of the personnel paraded in front their vehicles, but a number were left over and, rather than leaving them behind, he placed them inside the open-top cars, but out of sight. The King wanted to inspect the vehicles more closely and rode up to one of them. When the soldiers rose to their feet and came to attention, his horse reared. The King kept control over his mount, thus avoiding an embarrassing situation. Another version of the story has him walking to the car, fingering the front armour, then the armour of the side panels, and jumping on a wheel to have a look inside the truck, prompting the crew to rise hastily to attention. He said to Lord Kitchener: 'This unit should be very useful, I think.' Lord Kitchener replied: 'I don't think so, Sir, it would unbalance the fire power of a Division.'

 

Later the Contingent,s commanding officer, General Alderson, admitted that Lord Kitchener was right. In 1962 Brutinel recorded his recollections and attributed this incident to the Royal inspection of 4 February 1915. However, the Salisbury Journal of 7 November notes: 'at Pond Farm ... the King displayed particular interest in the armoured motor cars, one of which his Majesty and Lord Kitchener entered and inspected the armament'.

 

You have 23 hours in which to bid for a postcard of the Brigade's cars


here

 

(I'm not the vendor.)

 

Moonraker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2ndCMR
Posted (edited)

Thanks for adding the detailed context Moonraker!

 

As for Alderson "admitting that Lord Kitchener was right", he probably knew at  sight a machine gun from a javelin, but I doubt his knowledge went much farther, so as K of K was obviously talking through his hat, I'm not sure how Alderson's attempt at apple-polishing constitutes an "admission": there was nothing to admit!

Edited by 2ndCMR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moonraker
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, 2ndCMR said:

... Alderson ... probably knew at  sight a machine gun from a javelin, but I doubt his knowledge went much farther, so as K of K was obviously talking through his hat ...

Perhaps both recognised the limitations of the Brigade's vehicles. Raymond Brutinel had gone to the United States and bought 20 Colt machine guns and ordered eight armoured cars made to his own design. The cars were not intended to go into action but for use as troop carriers. (I can't see them getting very far and lasting very long on a battlefield.) Their American manufacture would have made obtaining spares difficult - a problem shared by many of the motley collection of vehicles that crossed the Atlantic with the First Contingent.  Similar open-roofed armoured cars of other makes in France proved vulnerable to fire from above, and when most of the Contingent (re-titled as the First Division) sailed for France in February 1915 the brigade was left behind on home-defence duties. It was re-united with the First Division in France in mid-June 1915, when it was re-designated the 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade. Others may be able to comment on the original vehicles' effectiveness and durability from this date.

 

Moonraker

Edited by Moonraker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2ndCMR
Posted (edited)

Brutinel and others had certainly got on with it I agree.  They managed to smuggle the Colt guns out of the factory where the many German immigrants in the workforce made that a risky undertaking.  The Colt gun was certainly not John Browning's greatest design, but it was not his last and the others proved as good as if not superior to the Maxim design.   The Germans found it good enough to mount at least one captured example in an aeroplane later in the war.  The armouring of the trucks was very basic, but certainly better than none.  There doesn't seem to have been any difficulty over spares since these did not have to be ordered through the War Office supply channels but came direct from North America.  As for the "motley collection", your own was at least equally motley where motor vehicles were concerned; such is the nature of wartime expedients and requisitioned vehicles.  The Autocar trucks were not merely used grocer's delivery vans, but brand new commercial-duty chassis; the best that could be purchased at the time probably, and the unique survival of the company to this day might be related to that?

 

The durability of the Autocar trucks in service is well established.  IIRC most of them operated in France until the end of the war and several were brought back to Canada in 1919.  One survives in the Canadian War Museum today.   

 

But contrast this "get on with it" attitude to the one prevailing across the pond where a visitor to the Vickers machine gun department early in the war was told by the manager that he could not understand the lack of interest or orders from the War Office and had literally nothing to do but finish up a foreign order they were working on (one that should have been requisitioned immediately war broke out obviously)  I daresay the Canadians would have happily placed orders with Vickers had they known of that state of affairs.

 

Just as the Royal Navy pioneered the tank, so they pioneered in armoured cars, but for some reason the Rolls Royce armoured cars were gone from France when they were most sorely needed in March and April 1918, and of course when mobile warfare returned in August.  They might have done even greater execution than the Whippet tanks had they been present, as their speed would have made it very difficult for artillery or anti-tank rifles to hit them, despite the vulnerable pneumatic tires used.  Thicker heads prevailed there it seems. 

 

As Baker-Carr's book has been recently republished you can easily read for yourself what the attitude to machine guns was, and many interesting comments on other events of the time I might add. 

 

Edited by 2ndCMR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MikeMeech
14 hours ago, 2ndCMR said:

Brutinel and others had certainly got on with it I agree.  They managed to smuggle the Colt guns out of the factory where the many German immigrants in the workforce made that a risky undertaking.  The Colt gun was certainly not John Browning's greatest design, but it was not his last and the others proved as good as if not superior to the Maxim design.   The Germans found it good enough to mount at least one captured example in an aeroplane later in the war.  The armouring of the trucks was very basic, but certainly better than none.  There doesn't seem to have been any difficulty over spares since these did not have to be ordered through the War Office supply channels but came direct from North America.  As for the "motley collection", your own was at least equally motley where motor vehicles were concerned; such is the nature of wartime expedients and requisitioned vehicles.  The Autocar trucks were not merely used grocer's delivery vans, but brand new commercial-duty chassis; the best that could be purchased at the time probably, and the unique survival of the company to this day might be related to that?

 

The durability of the Autocar trucks in service is well established.  IIRC most of them operated in France until the end of the war and several were brought back to Canada in 1919.  One survives in the Canadian War Museum today.   

 

But contrast this "get on with it" attitude to the one prevailing across the pond where a visitor to the Vickers machine gun department early in the war was told by the manager that he could not understand the lack of interest or orders from the War Office and had literally nothing to do but finish up a foreign order they were working on (one that should have been requisitioned immediately war broke out obviously)  I daresay the Canadians would have happily placed orders with Vickers had they known of that state of affairs.

 

Just as the Royal Navy pioneered the tank, so they pioneered in armoured cars, but for some reason the Rolls Royce armoured cars were gone from France when they were most sorely needed in March and April 1918, and of course when mobile warfare returned in August.  They might have done even greater execution than the Whippet tanks had they been present, as their speed would have made it very difficult for artillery or anti-tank rifles to hit them, despite the vulnerable pneumatic tires used.  Thicker heads prevailed there it seems. 

 

As Baker-Carr's book has been recently republished you can easily read for yourself what the attitude to machine guns was, and many interesting comments on other events of the time I might add. 

 

Hi

 

Reference the Vickers and "lack of interest or orders from the War Office and had literally nothing to do but finish up a foreign order".  Italy had purchased 892 Vickers 'C' Class machine guns between 1910 and 1914, the start of the war ended further deliveries to neutral countries, Italy had to turn to indigenous designs.  We do have the Lloyd George comment from his memoirs stating:

 

"How completely the military direction failed to appreciate the important part this arm would play in the war is shown by the fact that between August 1914 and June 1915 four contracts  only were placed with Messrs. Vickers for a total of 1792."

 

Yes, there were only four contracts from the WO, on 11 August, 1914, for 192 guns, 10 September, for 100, 19 September, for 1,000 followed a few days later for 500 more.  The third contract had a provision for a delivery rate of 50 per week, while 10 to 12 had been allowed on the first order.  These were on a fixed price contract.  In October 1914 Vickers was given permission to lay down plant to make 50 guns a week for the French Government, provided that output for British Forces should not be delayed and the plant made available for British orders when French contract was completed.  The problem was Vickers failed on its promises of delivery, the 1,792 guns due by July 1915 (as mentioned by DLG) turned out to be 1,022 delivered by Vickers, the company was not sitting around for orders, it could not deliver the orders it had from the British forces. The plant for the French contract was used for British orders when ready.  The problem Vickers had was shortage of skilled workers and lack of factory space.  The plant used for the Vickers was Erith, which was expanded with government money and a new plant was built nearby at Crayford and some components were 'outsourced' to other companies.  By the end of 1916 wartime production totalled 10,260, a big improvement but still short of the demand.  It is interesting to note that DLG was using a Ministry of Munitions document for his quote which also mentioned, reference to "continuation options existed" ie. increasing orders, K of K had his comment added as a footnote to the document, that this 'continuation option' would have facilitated the delivery of 27,000 Vickers guns by the end of 1916.  Vickers just did not have the capacity to reach that figure despite the efforts, the demands of the army exceeded supply! 

Also from Autumn 1914 the Lewis gun was ordered as a 'supplementary supply' and from February 1915 arrangements were being made for the production of the Hotchkiss gun in England so as to increase the numbers of 'machine-guns' to the British Forces.  The quote given in the previous post appears not to be accurate.

 

Sources:  'Machine Guns and the Great War' by Paul Cornish, Pen & Sword, 2009.

                'The Official History of The Ministry of Munitions - Volume XI, The Supply of Munitions' in  'Part V, Machine Guns'

 

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MikeMeech
19 hours ago, 2ndCMR said:

Brutinel and others had certainly got on with it I agree.  They managed to smuggle the Colt guns out of the factory where the many German immigrants in the workforce made that a risky undertaking.  The Colt gun was certainly not John Browning's greatest design, but it was not his last and the others proved as good as if not superior to the Maxim design.   The Germans found it good enough to mount at least one captured example in an aeroplane later in the war.  The armouring of the trucks was very basic, but certainly better than none.  There doesn't seem to have been any difficulty over spares since these did not have to be ordered through the War Office supply channels but came direct from North America.  As for the "motley collection", your own was at least equally motley where motor vehicles were concerned; such is the nature of wartime expedients and requisitioned vehicles.  The Autocar trucks were not merely used grocer's delivery vans, but brand new commercial-duty chassis; the best that could be purchased at the time probably, and the unique survival of the company to this day might be related to that?

 

The durability of the Autocar trucks in service is well established.  IIRC most of them operated in France until the end of the war and several were brought back to Canada in 1919.  One survives in the Canadian War Museum today.   

 

But contrast this "get on with it" attitude to the one prevailing across the pond where a visitor to the Vickers machine gun department early in the war was told by the manager that he could not understand the lack of interest or orders from the War Office and had literally nothing to do but finish up a foreign order they were working on (one that should have been requisitioned immediately war broke out obviously)  I daresay the Canadians would have happily placed orders with Vickers had they known of that state of affairs.

 

Just as the Royal Navy pioneered the tank, so they pioneered in armoured cars, but for some reason the Rolls Royce armoured cars were gone from France when they were most sorely needed in March and April 1918, and of course when mobile warfare returned in August.  They might have done even greater execution than the Whippet tanks had they been present, as their speed would have made it very difficult for artillery or anti-tank rifles to hit them, despite the vulnerable pneumatic tires used.  Thicker heads prevailed there it seems. 

 

As Baker-Carr's book has been recently republished you can easily read for yourself what the attitude to machine guns was, and many interesting comments on other events of the time I might add. 

 

Hi

 

Reference the British Armoured Cars, early on was the 'famous' RNAS improvised armoured cars followed at the end of 1914 with the formation of the Royal Naval Armoured Car Division, October 1914, using a variety of chassis including Rolls-Royce, Lanchester, Talbot and Delaunay-Belleville cars.  The first squadron was ready with Rolls-Royce AC by December 1914 and was used initially to patrol the east coast of Britain against an invasion threat. By January 1915 eight squadrons were ready except for machine guns, Maxim MGs were then taken from ships of the fleet t arm the cars.  No.2 Sqn. went to France in March 1915 equipped with the armoured cars and three Seabrook lorries fitted with 3 pdr. Hotchkiss (which became standard on squadrons), there were also wireless equipped vehicles.  However, they did not have much work to do after the front became rather static.  Many of the cars and crews went to overseas theatres such as the Middle East, German South West Africa, East Africa and Russia.

The British Army also had armoured cars on the Western Front and they are seen operating with the Cavalry, such as the 2nd Indian Cavalry Division, on operations such as 14 July 1916, where they formed part of small 'all-arms' formations with cavalry, artillery, RE and MGC units.  The ACs were part of the MGC.  Rolls-Royce ACs also appear in photographs in the village of Tilloy-les-Mofflaines during the Battle of Arras, where they also took part (2 cars) with elements of the Oxford Light Infantry and 18th Bengal Lancers in capturing the German held village of Roisel on 26 March 1917.  All the ACs appear to have withdrawn from France by October 1917.  The ACs returned to France between April and June 1918 with the 17th (Armoured Car) Battalion Tank Corps, equipped with Austin ACs (originally to be delivered to Russia before the Revolution).  They then had a busy time during the 100 Days.

 

The ACs, and motor transport generally, were very limited to the terrain they could operate on, having to keep to roads or firm 'flatish' ground, they were not all terrain vehicles.

 

To some extent the same problem applied to the Machine Gun Corps (Motors) batteries (title from October 1915) which were added to each division in February 1915.  These had 18 motorcycle and sidecar combinations and 6 Vickers mgs (25 batteries formed).  By mid 1916 it became obvious that there were limited opportunities to deploy them at the front so they became a Corps asset, some being disbanded, others going overseas, some of the personnel going onto tanks.  However, they did operate during the 100 Days and four batteries were formed into a Motor Machine Gun Brigade in November 1918 with the Second Army in Belgium.

 

Sources: 'Armoured Fighting Vehicle of the World', Cannon Books, 1998. (original contents from 1970 Profiles)

               'The Rolls-Royce Armoured Car' by David Fletcher, Osprey, 2012.

               'Horsemen in No Man's Land' by David Kenyon, Pen & Sword, 2011.

               'British Army Handbook 1914-1918' by Andrew Rawson, Sutton, 2006.

 

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×