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The Great War

The Devonshire Regiment was an Infantry Battalion that would have had an MG Section as part of its Battalion Headquarters. These weapons would have been brigaded when the Machine Gun Corps was formed in 1915. The guns, and crews, would have been formed into a Machine Gun Company.

During the Great War, the Battalions were distributed as follows:

1st

The 1st Battalion started the Great War as a member of the 8th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.

As a unit of the 3rd Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.

1914
23 and 24 August Battle of Mons [II. Corps].
24 August to 05 September RETREAT FROM MONS [II. Corps].
26 August Battle of le Cateau [II. Corps].
06 to 09 September Battle of the Marne [II. Corps].
13 to 20 September BATTLE OF THE AISNE [II. Corps].
13 September Passage of the Aisne.
20 September Actions on the Aisne Heights.

On 30 September 1914, it became part of the 14th Brigade (redesignated 95th on 12 January 1916), attached to the 5th Division.

As a unit of the 5th Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.

1914
10 October to 02 November Battle of la Bassee [II. Corps].
05 to 19 November BATTLE OF YPRES [I. Corps]
1915
17 to 22 April Capture of Hill 60 [II. Corps, Second Army].
23 April to 01 May BATTLE OF YPRES [V. Corps, Second Army].

It’s MG Section was transferred on 20 December 1915 to form the 14th Bde. MG Coy., later redesignated the 95th.

2nd

The 2nd Battalion started the Great War as a member of the 23rd Brigade, 8th Infantry Division.

As a unit of the 8th Infantry Division, its MG Section will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.

1914
The division had no existence before the outbreak of War. The first units to arrive (from Malta) assembled on Baddesley Common (near Southampton), and on 2nd October, 1914, Divisional H.Q. and available units moved to Hursley Park (near Winchester), where concentration ws effected. The arrival of the 2/E. Lanc. R. on the 30th October completed the division. The 12 infantry battalions had all been brought back from various overseas stations, viz: – India (3), S. Africa (1), Aden (1), Egypt (3), Malta (3), and Bermuda (1). The mounted troops included an existing yeomanry regiment and a cyclist company, which was formed on mobilization. The Field Artillery was made up by one Horse Artillery Bde. (3 batteries), and the two Field Artillery Bdes., which still remained at home. The two Heavy Batteries were new units formed at Woolwich after the outbreak of War, and the Field Companies came from Cairo and Gibraltar. The three Field Ambulances of the Wessex Division (T.F.) were used; and of the four A.S.C. Companies, one (41) came from Cairo and the other three were new formations.The division embarked at Southampton on the 4th and 5th November, and disembarked at Havre on the 6th and 7th; it began entraining for the Front on the 8th November, and completed its assembly around Merville by the 12th.

Throughout the remainder of the War the 8th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium, and was engaged in the following operations:-

18 December Neuve Chapelle (Moated Grange Attack) [IV. Corps].
1915
10 to 13 March Battle of Neuve Chapelle [IV. Corps, First Army].
09 May BATTLE OF AUBERS RIDGE
Attack at Fromelles [IV. Corps, First Army].

25 September Bois Grenier [III. Corps, First Army].

Its MG Section was transferred on 15 January 1916 to form the 23rd Bde. MG Coy..

8th

The 8th Battalion joined the 20th Brigade, attached to the 7th Division, from England on 04 August 1915.

As a unit of the 7th Infantry Division, its MG Section will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.

1915
25 September and 08 October Battle of Loos [I. Corps, First Army].

Its MG Section was transferred on 10 February 1916 to form the 20th Bde. MG Coy..

9th

The 9th Battalion joined the 20th Brigade, attached to the 7th Division, from England on 08 August 1915.

As a unit of the 7th Infantry Division, its MG Section will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.

1915
25 September and 08 October Battle of Loos [I. Corps, First Army].

Its MG Section was transferred on 10 February 1916 to form the 20th Bde. MG Coy..

 


Inter-war Period

In 1922, the Machine Gun Corps was disbanded and the guns returned to the Infantry Battalion as a Machine Gun Platoon and then formed as a Machine Gun Company in the early 1930s.

 


Second World War

This remained until the formation of Divisional Machine Gun Battalions in 1936 where guns were brigaded once again.

However during the Second World War, the 12th (Airborne) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment became an Airlanding Battalion of the 6th Airlanding Brigade of the 6th Airborne Division. This Battalion therefore retained a Machine Gun Platoon within its support company. These guns were transport using ‘Man Carry’ and with Jeeps.

The 12th Bn had two MG Platoons: No. 23 and No. 24, part of ‘E’ Company. For Normandy, the platoons were commanded by Captain C J Snell and Lieutenant W F Robinson respectively.

The 6th Airborne Division was formed on 3rd May 1943. It saw action at the following battles:

  • Normandy (6th June 1944)
  • Rhine Crossing (23rd March – 18th April 1945)

 


Post-Second World War

After the Second World War, the MG assets reverted to MG Platoons within support companies of Infantry Battalions.


Sources