This page provides some information on personal weapons used by, principally British and Commonwealth, Machine Gunners. It is not intended to provide technical information on the weapons but more how they were used by the MGers themselves.
Made as part of our ‘reenactorism‘ series, the following videos gives an idea of how personal weapons were carried with the Vickers machine gun.
Pistols and Revolvers
Pistols, Revolver, No. 1, Mk. VI – .455-in. Webley; with 6-in. barrel
This was the standard service revolver of the Great War period through to the 1930s, when it was replaced with the .38-in. revolvers. It was first issued to the Nos. 1 and Nos. 2 of the machine gun detachments of Machine Gun Squadrons and Cavalry Regiments in June 1916 (Army Council Instruction 1916/1265) and then to the Machine Gun Detachments of Machine Gun Companies in July 1916 (Army Council Instruction 1916/1382).
Revolver firing was part of the machine gunner training during the Great War, and is known to have required practice with either hand.
During the period that the .38-inch revolver was used, the majority of units with machine guns, particularly the Divisional (Machine Gun) Battalions were equipping all of their machine gunners with rifles; however, certain units did vary this and include pistols for the their Nos. 1 and 2 in the detachments.
- The Frontier Battalions of the Sudan Defence Force.
- The Mechanized Regiment of the Arab Legion of Transjordan.
Pistols, Revolver, No. 2, Mk. I – .38-in., with 5-in. barrel
Pistols, Revolver, No. 2, Mk. I* – .38-in., with 5-in. barrel
Pistols, Revolver, No. 2, Mk. I** – .38-in., with 5-in. barrel
Colt M1911A1 .45-inch Automatic Pistol
The Airborne and Commando units used Colt Automatic Pistols and sidearms for Machine Gunners. Whilst the rest of the British Forces largely used rifles for Machine Gunners, those specific forces used pistols to save on weight and improve ease of movement.
Pistol, Browning, F.N. 9 mm. H.P., No. 2 Mark I*
Rifle, .303-inch, No. 1, Mk. III
Rifle, .303-inch, No. 1, Mk. III*
Rifle, .303-inch, No. 4, Mk. I
Rifle, .303-inch, No. 4, Mk. I*
Rifle, .303-inch, No. 4, Mk. II
Rifle, .303-inch, No. 5, Mk. I
Rifle, 7.62-mm., L1A1
Carbines and Sub-Machine Guns
Carbines, Machine, Sten, 9-mm., Mk. I
Carbines, Machine, Sten, 9-mm., Mk. I*
Carbines, Machine, Sten, 9-mm., Mk. II
Carbines, Machine, Sten, 9-mm., Mk. III
Carbines, Machine, Sten, 9-mm., Mk. V
US M1A1 .30-inch Carbine
Gun, Sub-Machine, 9mm, L2A3
Knives and Bayonets
Bayonets, Patt. ’03
Bayonets, No. 1, Mk. I – Patt. ’07
Bayonets, No. 4, Mk. I – For Rifles, No. 4, Mk. I
Bayonets, No. 4, Mk. I – For Rifles, No. 4, Mk. II
Bayonets, No. 4, Mk. I – For Rifles, No. 4, Mk. II*
Bayonets, No. 5, Mk. I
Fairburn-Sykes Commando Knife
Swords, Cavalry, No. 1, Mk. I* – Service ’08; hilt painted or polished.
Section or Platoon Weapons
Also used within the British and Commonwealth MG Platoons and Companies were the following weapons. They were usually in addition to the personal weapons and would be allocated as required for the task. They were usually carried with the command or administration elements of the unit.