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Lewis Gun Teams


SteveE
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Can anybody help me sort a query out please, just how many men were part of a Lewis Gun Team?

LLT mothersite states that a Vickers Gun team consisted of six men and a Lewis Gun team two.

I'm currently reading a book, based on letters from the front, which suggests that this soldier was "sixth man on the Lewis Gun". It's not the first reference to the Lewis Gun in the letter in question but I'm wondering if it is a case of mistaken machine gun identity, should it really have been the Vickers?

Any help gratefully received.

Steve

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The basic team for a Lewis Gun was two men, but these were supplemented by ammuntion carriers, I have seen total numbers ranging from 5 to 6.

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Good question! Good answer!

A great uncle was a Lewis Gunner with 1st SWBs and awarded MM. Often thought as to how men were chosen for the Lewis Gun, and how they were deployed. Did they have fixed firing positions when at the front like the ordinary infantry, or were they more mobile.

Did they accompany units on night time patrols in an aggressive way, or were they purely defensive like the Vickers. Were they allocated an extra wage? Would they have come under the MGC during the later part of the war? Steve - hope I'm not hijacking your thread - but it's something I've often wondered about.

Geraint

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The basic team for a Lewis Gun was two men, but these were supplemented by ammuntion carriers, I have seen total numbers ranging from 5 to 6.

Delta

Thanks for that, makes very good sense as it was he (as sixth man) who was sent back to get more ammunition. I have no reason therefore not to believe the content of the letter, Lewis Guns it is.

Geraint

No problems, hopefully somebody will answer your questions.

Regards

Steve

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I quote Joe Sweeney:

By 1917 SS 143 “Instructions for the Training of Platoons for Offensive Action” (Feb 1917 version) specified a Lewis Section carrying 30 Magazines (carried by 8 men). SS143 recommended that mags could be carried using two normal Haversacks thrown over the shoulder two mags in front sack and three in back sack. The number of magazines increased as the war went on.

The Lewis teams load was increased in 1917 and was supposed to consist of 8 men. This corresponded to the introduction of the Lewis Panniers/pouches worn like a vest.

No 1 carried the gun. (one magazine)

No 2 carried a bucket with four magazines

No. 3 carried a bucket with four magazines

No 4 and 5 no magazines

No 6, 7 and 8 carried Thirty six magazines between them. Each man carried a vest with four pouches. each holding two magazines, and carried a bucket with 4 magazines.

All magazines were of the 47 rnd variety.

Total ammunition carried in 44 magazines (not including the magazine carried by Number 1) amounted to 82.5Kg (182lbs) or 2068 rounds carried and 47 rounds with the gun.

This organization was ideal and very rarely did teams actually reflect this, usually teams consisted of less men in practice. Also, rarely are men photographed wearing the full vest with four pouches. Most carried only two pouches.

Best wishes,

GT.

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And Steve, the Nos. 1 and 2 would have been armed with a revolver only, while the rest with Lee-Enfields. Of course, in the heat of battle, this would have gotten mixed up as casualties occurred.

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