The purpose of this page is to provide a space on the website for information on the weapons that were used alongside the Vickers in the machine gun battalions, such as the 4.2-inch mortar and down to the ‘support’ weapons carried by the machine gun sections, including the ‘Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank’.
The personal weapons of the machine gunners are covered here.
Other weapons in the machine gun platoon
First carried in the Platoon Sergeant’s Truck from 1939, the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle fired a .55-inch armour piercing round. It was a bolt-action rifle that used a five-round magazine. It would be carried and used by whoever was spare or required it.
Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank
By 1944, the Anti-Tank Rifle had been largely replaced across the British Army by the Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank (PIAT), which was a spigot-type weapon that projected a bomb from a large spring. It was carried in the Platoon Sergeant’s carrier, along with six spare bombs.
In the Australian Military Forces, it was called the ‘Projector, Infantry, Tank-Attack’.
The small arms training manual on the PIAT is available to download by clicking on the image below:
3.5-inch Rocket Launcher
When the PIAT was replaced by the 3.5-inch Rocket Launcher (a ‘bazooka’ type weapon) it was replaced in the machine gun platoon as well; however, by 1951, rather than being in the Platoon Sergeant’s carrier (as this had been removed from the establishment), one was carried in each of the Section Commanders’ carrier (of which there were two).
Light Machine Gun
Also by 1951, the Section Commanders’ carriers carried a light machine gun each. This would have been the Bren Light Machine Gun, a magazine-fed weapon in .303-inch like the Vickers (it was later converted to 7.62mm so the same ammunition was used with the Self-Loading Rifle L1A1 and the General Purpose Machine Gun).
Various manuals are available for the light machine gun from the small arms training pages.
Other weapons in the Support Companies
Where the Vickers MMG was employed as part of the infantry battalion during the inter-war period and with specialised infantry units, such as the airlanding battalions and commando units, they worked alongside other weapons in those support companies or troops.
The battalion-level indirect fire asset for the infantry was the 3-inch mortar during the Second World War. It was in the support company of the infantry battalion, along with the 6-pounder anti-tank guns. In an infantry battalion in the Indian Divisions and airlanding battalion, there were MMGs as part of this company. In commandos and parachute battalions they didn’t have the anti-tank guns but did have mortars and MMGs working alongside each other.
Much of the knowledge and many of the skills required for firing the mortar were aligned with the indirect fire for the MMG and the men were sometimes transferred across these platoons with ease. Both had rangetakers as part of their establishment.