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Remembered Today:

Lewis Team


DCLI
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When a company/Battalion went over the top, what did their Lewis Team do?

Did they follow them or lay down covering fire at a high angle over the attacking troops? My grandfather was a Lewis gunner (see avatar)and was seriously wounded in one such 'over the top' action. I was wondering if he could have been hit on the move or not.

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MG barrages were typically the domain of Vickers teams. Lewis gunners accompanied the men over the top. Their task was to provide integral fire support to the infantry, engaging pillboxes and strongpoints as well providing covering fire in the event of a counter-attack.

Robert

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In the 1917/18 period, the Lewis gun teams would work with the rifle bombers as 'fire support', while the bayonet men and hand bombers were the assault group.

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From the British tactical instructions, SS143, February 1917.

post-1722-1144609191.jpg

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A great picture Simon, thanks. It's remarkable for the fact that each of the waves meeting the point of resistance does not seem to have suffered any casualties. I wonder how many times it was that two bombers from the first wave could cross both enemy trenches and take a position of strength from a rear flank. Presumably these were the tactics that worked so well for the 3rd Ypres?

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From the British tactical instructions, SS143, February 1917.

post-1722-1144609191.jpg

Excellent stuff, thanks everyone. I this has been asked before. Did the Lewis men fire on the run or dash forward lie down fire, get up run lie down fire etc.

regards to all.

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In 'Somme' by Lyn Macdonald, page 123:

Cpl Bob Thompson, 13th Bn The Rifle Brigade

'I had a Lewis-gun team of about six men. We weren't in the front of the first of the first line because, with a Lewis-gun and carrying ammunition, you're not able to do trench attacking really. You let your attacking infantry take the line, then you go in, you see, because you can't defend yourself with a Lewis-gun. So we were in the second line, or what was left of us.'

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Lewis gunners would typically fire from a stable position. The gun could be fired from the shoulder but not for any length of time. Although the Chauchat could be, and was, fired from the hip on the move, this was not standard practice with the Lewis gun.

Robert

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Although the Chauchat could be, and was, fired from the hip on the move, this was not standard practice with the Lewis gun. Robert

Robert, I have seen some Canadian War Diary reports that during Amiens 1918, success was gained by "slinging" the Lewis over the shoulder to support the weight so that it could be fired "from the hip" in walking and/or running assaults to support other infantry against strong points, etc.

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Robert, I have seen some Canadian War Diary reports that during Amiens 1918, success was gained by "slinging" the Lewis over the shoulder to support the weight so that it could be fired "from the hip" in walking and/or running assaults to support other infantry against strong points, etc.

I believe I've seen similar references to Australians firing whilst resting the gun on someone else's shoulder - bet that caused the mother and father of all headaches!

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Bronitzky, you are right. The French Chauchat gunners were taught to use the LMG in this way, en masse. It was not the only way the Chauchat was used of course. With the Lewis gun, it could be done but it was not standard practice.

Robert

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Hello,

I think the use of the Lewis as part of a 'fire and movement' tactic or drill at platoon level is an indication of, or the result of, the realisation that infantry could deal with strong points, if they had a fire section under command, rather than having to seek the support of the artillery (via a Gunner Observation Officer). The same idea applies to the 2" mortar and the rifle grenade. Pehaps more importantly it shows the acceptance of the need to delegate command to levels below battalion and company and reflects the experience and skills developed in the New Armies as the war progressed.

Old Tom

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