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Remembered Today:

'Musketen' - The Madsen Machine Gun


Jack Sheldon
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Sorry I can't help with a photo but its a bit of a coincidence as recently I 've read little bits about the Musketen Battalions but not in great detail and would like to know more.

The way I understand it they were IV Battalions of existing regiments although not all regiments had them, is this correct?

Roger.

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Not quite. I have written a section about 'Musketen' in my forthcoming 'Defence of Beaumont Hamel' for the 'Battleground Europe' series and blow me down, I cannot find a good photo to include with it. In brief there were two battalions of these weapons, armed with a total of just under 200 guns. For about a month in early 1916 they were designated 4th and 5th Bns IR 117, but the directive was quickly rescinded. In July 1916 about a company of them (30 weapons) were deployed with 26th Reserve Division and by the September, there were rather more, with 50 being deployed in the final fight for the Schwaben Redoubt. It's a good story, but I need a photo from someone please!

Jack

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Jack, I have never seen a photograph of the Madsen in action. It would be fabulous if you can get hold of one. Good luck. For anyone who is interested, these are some links that show the Madsen. The last one illustrates the Bren-like magazine:

http://www.wwi-models.org/Photos/Guns/UFO/

http://www.rememuseum.org.uk/arms/machguns/armmg1.htm

http://www.military-collections.com/weapons.html

Robert

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Also, thanks Jack it's a bit clearer now. What I have read about the Musketen is very sketchy indeed.

Roger

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This isn't what Jack asked for but it is a nice view of a Madsen in the armoury of a Russian armoured train in 1919, on eBay item 6556758327, plus a Lewis and a Maxim.

Simon

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Out of interest Jack, I found the magazine of one of these weapons thrown out by the farmer alongside a field opposite the bunkers at Martinpuich some years ago. Do you have any evidence of its use their?

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Thanks everyone so far. If anyone else can help I should be grateful. Paul I cannot answer that one straight off, but it is certainly a most interesting discovery. I shall have a dig around and see what I can find.

Jack

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Hello Jack

The best I can do is this rather grainy photo of two pickelhaube-wearing German infantrymen operating a Madsen, although it's most likely in a training area rather than under actual combat conditions.

Judging from photos of surviving examples, there seems to have been several slightly different models of the Madsen LMG in service with the Imperial German Army in WWI, as I've observed slight differences in the shape of the flash-hider, and also the prescence/absence of a bayonet fitting under the barrel.

The LMG here doesn't have the distinctive magazine fitted, and it appears that the soldier with the NCO lace around his collar is in the process of loading the magazine with rounds from charger clips -you can just about see two clips next to the bi-pod.

This photo is from Philip J. Haythornthwaite's "A Photohistory of World War One" (ISBN 1860198546, Brockhampton Press, 1998) which is primarily a reprint of photos found in WWI period magazines of the "War Illustrated" type. Because of this, I've no idea who the actual copyright holder of the image is.

Hoep this is of some help, all the best

Paul.

post-2041-1136150332.jpg

Edited by P.B.
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Fabulous, thanks Paul. As you say, it looks like a training exercise but it is not hard to imagine the loader ducked down behind a parapet while the gunner is using the same stance. I believe the Germans did attempt to manufacture the Madsen, presumably under licence ;) . Perhaps this explains some of the variation, though my guess would be that some of the variance related to modifications made at the front. This was not too unusual.

Robert

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I believe that manyof the Madsens used by the Germans were guns captured on the Russian front that were originally 7.62 x 54mm calibre and re-barrelled to 7.92mm by the Germans. In addition to these were the guns that Germany had acquired from Bulgaria. The story of those guns is very convoluted but essentially were old model Madsens in 7mm calibre that had been purchased by Brazil and later sent to Denmark in 1915 for upgrading to the latest spec. The deal fell through (the French were involved as well) and the DRRS sold the 660 guns to Bulgaria which was then neutral. These guns ended up in Germany.

This would perhaps account for the minor differences in detail between guns.

The Dansk Rekylriffel Syndykat in Copenhagen always claimed that they remained friendly to the Allies and refused all approaches from Germany to buy their entire output.

The Russian Madsens were either those supplied directly to Russia by the DRRS or manufactured in Russia at the licensed factory at Kawrow, near Moscow.

Britain had ordered Madsens from Denmark for both the cavalry and the Royal Navy but was unable to get the guns out of Copenhagen. Plans for Rolls Royce to build a factory in the UK to make the Madsen for the tanks also came to nought,

To return to your original question, I do not know of any photos showing German Madsens in action, but there are a couple if IWM photos of captured weapons, Q132 and Q155. both dated July 1916.

Regards

TonyE

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Thanks to one and all for their continuing interst in this thread and for the additional information, which is helping me to develop y knowledge of these weapons. I know the Russians used them a great deal in the Russo-Japanee war, which probably accounts for some being captured, but I do know that the bulk of the guns for the 'Musketen' battalions, were meant to be for Bulgaria, but were expropriated by Germany en route.

Jack

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I am not sure if "expropriated" is the right word. It seems that the guns went to Germany with Bulgaria's full consent, and may even have been ordered by the Bulgarians as a clandestine order on Germany's behalf.

Why would the Bulgarians purchase guns in 7 x 57mm calibre which would be extremely hard to convert to their 8 x 50R round, a short fat rimmed cartridge? On the other hand, to convert 7 x 57mm to 7.92 x 57mm means only changing the barrel, which explains why on the German guns only the barrel bears German military proofs.

Regards

TonyE

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Thanks to one and all for their continuing interst in this thread and for the additional information, which is helping me to develop y knowledge of these weapons. I know the Russians used them a great deal in the Russo-Japanee war, which probably accounts for some being captured, but I do know that the bulk of the guns for the 'Musketen' battalions, were meant to be for Bulgaria, but were expropriated by Germany en route.

Jack

Jack,

I found your comment interesting. I've read that the Russians bought a few hundred Madsens in 1902/1903 for use with their cavalry, but that only a few made it to Manchuria, and it is unknown if they were used. Can you pass along the source for their use?

Paul

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