The supply and repair of the Vickers machine gun was not the responsibility of the unit using the Vickers. This was dealt with by centralised Corps, who carried out these operations across the whole of the British Army, with similar organisations in other Commonwealth Forces.
Army Ordnance Corps
Royal Army Ordnance Corps
Becoming ‘Royal’ in 1918, this Corps was responsible for the supply and repair of the Vickers, along with other weapons. Many repairs could be carried out by the unit armourers; however, this was only within the capability of what was carried in the Spares Equipment and covered in the Small Arms Training Manuals. Anything beyond this scope would be dealt with centrally and Machine Guns returned to central Army Ordnance Depots (AODs) for those repairs, where specialist tools may be available.
The demand for weapons was such that it was important all were returned no matter what repairs were required.
General Routine Order 494 (As amended by General Routine Order 663) dated 30 December 1914.
Machine guns, Demands for.
All demands for machine guns made on the Lines of communication will be repeated to the Quartermaster General and it will be stated at the time whether the guns to be replaced have become deficient or merely unserviceable.
Damaged machine guns, whether considered to be repairable or not, must invariably be handed over as soon as possible to a Railhead Commandant for conveyance to the base and a receipt taken. Every effort must be made to recover guns which may be buried when the side of a trench is blown in.
General Routine Order 1064 dated 8 August 1915.
Rifles and Machine Guns. Surplus or Unserviceable.
Every surplus or unserviceable rifle or machine gun should be sent to the Base on the first opportunity. However bad its condition, it will have some parts which can be utilized in the production of a new weapon, and its return to store will consequently assist the output of new or repaired rifles or machine guns.
Repair and Alteration of Arms and Equipment.
No repairs or alterations of any kind to machine guns or rifles are to be carried out in workshops other than those of the Army Ordnance Department.
Minor repairs to arms should be executed by regimental armourers and equipment should be repairs by regimental artificers or in the mobile workshops of the A.O.D.
Any rifles or machine guns requiring repairs being the capacity of the regimental armourer should be sent to the Base Ordnance Depot, where the A.O.D. workshops execute any repair required. Every surplus or unserviceable rifle or machine gun should be sent to the Base on the first opportunity. However bad its condition, it will have some parts which can be utilized in the production of a new weapon, and its return to store will consequently assist the output of new or repaired rifles or machine guns.
They were also responsible for the supply of ammunition. As well as the forward supply of live ammunition, it was important to recover the spent cases to enable recycling back into more ammunition and war-like stores.
General Routine Order 986 dated 2 July 1915
Fired S.A.A. cases are required at home.
Every effort should be made to collect these, and hand them over at Supply or Ammunition Railheads for transmission to the A.O.D. at the base.
They should, whenever possible, be packed in sacks or empty small arm ammunition boxes, and care should be taken to ensure that live rounds are not included.
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
In 1942, the REME was formed and took on the repair elements of the RAOC, leaving that organisation to be concerned with supply only. This included the repair and maintenance of the vehicles that were used in the Divisional (Machine Gun) Battalions.
Because of the number of vehicles and the reliance that was placed upon them, each machine gun battalion had its own Light Aid Detachment attachment to it. It was the “Type B (non-armoured)” variant of the detachment – the full War Establishment is available to download. The Light Aid Detachment primarily dealt with the vehicles whereas there were attached REME. personnel in the administrative platoon of the battalion itself.
- The National Archives, WO 24/950, War Establishment 1944.
- The National Archives, WO 293/1, Army Council Instructions 1914.
- The National Archives, WO 293/3, Army Council Instructions 1915 July to December.