The Vickers MG Collection & Research Association (VMGCRA) was formally incorporated in 2011. It was established to ensure that the historical collection and research established since 1994, by Richard Fisher, would be safeguarded for the future.
Richard recognised in 2009 that the collection had become significantly valuable with many pieces becoming nearly 100 years old. Furthermore, the amount of information that was being collated on the gun and its use around the world was not being disseminated as widely as was possible. Whilst the website was an excellent avenue and had helped many people research the use of the gun, it was only one-dimensional and the Vickers collection was a very physical asset that warranted more than just photographs and text.
After several events where some items from the Vickers collection were displayed, Richard received positive feedback on the collection and expressions of interest for more of the same! These were both static displays alongside lectures and museum events, as well as living history and reenactment events, where the public could see the guns and people portraying how machine gunners would have trained and lived at different points in history.
Also, with the increasing legislative burden on weapons collectors, ensuring that the Vickers collection had the least possible impact on future changes in the law was an important driver to establish a legitimate organisation for the management of the collection.
With the establishment of the Company, it is hoped that it will give the collection a formality that will enable others to take an interest in it and set it apart from the traditional private collection. It is hoped that the collection will be recognised as something of importance and opportunities for display and exhibition will be taken as much as possible.
Formal documentation of the Company can be requested through Companies House.
The purpose of the Company is to make more people aware of the Vickers and its use. The Object of the Association, as defined in its Articles of Association is:
To inform and educate the public’s knowledge of the Vickers machine gun’s role in military history.
If anybody wishes to visit the collection (in Swindon, UK) or have a display at their meeting or event, please contact me.
A little bit more is available in the interview that The Armourer’s Bench conducted with Richard Fisher in September 2018.
Machine Gun Corps History Project
In 2016, the VMGCRA formally incorporated the Machine Gun Corps History Project into its portfolio of work. This has been an independent effort by a group of individuals over many years. With an unparalleled amount of information on the MGC, the Project intends to publish a full series of works on the history of the MGC.
One of the objects of the Project is to form an MGC study centre and the VMGCRA and its collection provides some of the capability to do so in a central location.
The Emma Gees is the living history element of the VMGCRA. The purpose of it is to provide displays of the Vickers in as accurate environment as possible. It’s not a formal group with established membership lists and hierarchy, but merely a group of individuals with similar aims – many of whom Richard has known through Recce and Monty’s Men.
Richard has collected militaria from around aged 10. It started when clearing a Great Aunts’ house after she’d died. He inherited the medals of his Great-Great-Uncle – Edgar John Hinton – from the Great War. He was a member of the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry and the Wiltshire Regiment and was killed on 21st March 1918 in the ‘Lundendorff’ offensive of the Spring.
The specific interest in the Vickers Machine Gun was as a result of his Grandfather’s – John Frederick Hinton – service in the Second World War. He served as Machine Gunner in the Cheshire Regiment in Italy. He died, after illness, on the 5th January 2000. This site is dedicated to him.
He encouraged the militaria collection and regularly took Richard to view the military exercises on Salisbury Plain. ‘Tank-chasing’ was a regular school holiday past-time. In the early years, Richard was collecting any military-related items from many periods. Car-boots, local auctions and some militaria fairs, were the main sources.
The first idea of purchasing a Vickers MG was when Richard’s other Grandfather was sent a flier from ‘Andrew S. Bottomley’ militaria which included the Vickers MMG, tripod, transit chests for both, No. 10 ammunition box and ammunition belt – all for £350. Shipping was £12 on top. Although now known at the time, it was of Australian manufacture and the serial number was B1916. This was delivered and Richard was a twelve-year-old with a Medium Machine Gun (albeit ‘deactivated’). That was 26th January 1996. The collection has included Vickers items ever since. During the ‘early years’, Richard’s focus was still quite wide and acquisitions including German MG42 and MP44, Bren Light Machine Guns and some other non-Vickers items. With the realisation that the Vickers was an area he was becoming a specialist in, these have now all been sold to finance Vickers items.
In 2001, Richard discovered the concept of ‘re-enacting’ and ‘living-history’. He had been displaying the collection at Bletchley Park and was approached by the members of Summer of 44 and invited to join them at the War and Peace Show that year and get together the kit that would allow him to display the guns and accessories in the appropriate attire. It was at this show that he purchased the Vickers ‘GO’ gun and this was a major stepping stone in creating a wider Vickers collection.
Having just bought the main armament used by the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron, Richard was approached by the section of the World War Two Living History Association that represented that unit. They invited him to attend English Heritage’s Kirby Hall show as part of their display, along with some other members of Summer of 44. He did so and started many of the friendships that last to today.
Following this, he attended a couple more shows and was invited to go to Bussum, Holland, with several other members of ‘Recce’ and help out a Dutch unit which portrays the Dutch infantryman of the ‘Prinses Irene Brigade’. He’d joined ‘Recce’ as a full-member and, for a while, the ‘K’ Gun became the most ‘used’ part of the collection.
He was also one of the first members of the Monty’s Men Living history Group and visited various sites across North-West Europe in order to represent the ‘Poor-Bloody-Infantry’ that saw service there. This was usually as part of a 30-plus strong contingent representing an Infantry Platoon of the 1944 period, previously as the 8th Bn, Durham Light Infantry, 50th (Northumberland) Infantry Division and the 1/4th Bn, Welch Regiment, 53rd (Welch) Infantry Division.
The Vickers Machine Gun website has been established since 1998. It has included a forum, mailing lists and now uses Facebook to communicate and collaborate. In 2000, Richard met Dolf Goldsmith (author of the ‘Grand Old Lady of No Mans Land’) for the first time. Dolf expressed his support for Richard’s work and encouraged it further. This meeting was thanks to the late Doug Preece, of ABI Militaria. Doug had supported Richard’s collecting for several years, often giving him an early opportunity for Vickers items he had for sale.