The Great War
The Dorsetshire Regiment consisted of Infantry Battalions that would have had an MG Section as part of their Battalion Headquarters. These weapons were been brigaded when the Machine Gun Corps was formed in 1915. The guns, and crews, would have been formed into a Machine Gun Company.
The 5th Battalion started the Great War as a member of the 34th Brigade, 11th (Northern) Infantry Division.
|This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.A proclamation was issued on the 11th August, 1914 asking for an immediate addition of 100,000 men to the Regular Army (see Appendix). Army Order No. 324 of the 21st August (amended by Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September) authorized the addition of six divisions (9th to 14th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation formed the First New Army, and late in August, 1914 the 11th (Northern) Division began to assemble around Grantham.
On the 22nd August when the G.O.C. reached Grantham he found that only the A.-A.&Q.-M.-G. of the division had arrived. On the 27th the first batch of 1,000 infantry (with a small proportion of regular officers and non-commissioned-officers, from depot staffs) reached Grantham. Other parties followed and by the 21st September the strength of the infantry had risen to 13,000. At first the infantry of the 11th Division consisted entirely of north country battalions; later on, however, when the 6/East Yorkshire became the pioneer battalion its place was taken by a Wessex battalion – 5/Dorsetshire.
At first there was the usual shortage of clothing, equipment, and arms, leading to some discomfort and to considerable delay in training for war. Nevertheless, on the 18th October Field-Marshal Earl Kitchener visited Grantham and inspected the infantry in Belton Park. Until the following April the Division remained scattered: infantry at Grantham, artillery at Leeds, Sheffield, Norwich, and Weedon; engineers at Newark; field ambulances at Sheffield; train at Lichfield. Then on the 4th April the 11th Division began to move to its concentration area at Witley and Frensham, and final training was carried out and divisional operations undertaken.
On the 31st May H.M. the King inspected the 11th Division on Hankley Common, and on the 12th June orders were received that the Division was to be ready to leave at short notice for the Dardanelles. On the 20th June embarkation began at Liverpool, and the bulk of the Division sailed in the Aquitania and the Empress of Britain. On the 10th July the Aquitania with divisional headquarters and the 32nd Infantry Brigade reached Mudros. On the 23rd all headquarters and troops at Mudros left Lemnos and moved to Imbros, and the 11th Division completed concentration at Imbros on the 28th July.
At 8.30pm on the 6th August the Division left Imbros for Suvla Bay; the troops embarked in torpedo boat destroyers and motor lighters (about 500 in each vessel) each man carrying on him 220 rounds of ammunition and 2 days’ iron rations. At 11.30pm the flotilla anchored off Suvla, and shortly after m/n. 6th/7th August disembarkation began near Lala Baba.
During the Great War the 11th (Northern) Division served in Gallipoli and in Egypt, and on the Western Front (in France and Belgium), and was engaged in the following operations:
BATTLES OF SUVLA
|06 to 15 August||The Landing at Suvla [IX Corps].|
|07 August||Capture of Karakol Dagh (34th Bde.) [IX Corps].|
|21 August||Battle of Scimitar Hill [IX Corps].|
|21 August||Attack on “W” Hills [IX Corps].|
|Night, 19/20 December||Evacuation of Suvla [IX Corps].|
|On the last night every gun, trench mortar, cart, and animal was withdrawn, and the 11th Division suffered no casualties to its personnel during the final evacuation of Suvla. On leaving Suvla the Division concentrated at Imbros.|
The 6th Battalion joined the 50th Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division in March, 1915, to replace the 7th Yorks & Lancaster Regiment when it became the Pioneer Battalion for the Division.
|09 August||Hooge [V Corps, Second Army].|
Its MG Section will have been disbanded on the attachment of 50th MG Company, which took place on 12 February 1916, machine gunners may have been absorbed by the 50th MG Company, or trained on the Lewis Gun, which now equipped the Infantry Battalion.
In 1927, the platoon of the Dorsetshire Regiment had their photograph taken behind eleven of the guns that had in the platoon. This was presumably eight service guns and one drill-purpose or skeletonised piece. There are also two guns on the floor not on their tripods so possibly drill purpose as well. There are two rangefinders in the photo as well as a range of the spare parts and indirect fire equipment.
The Second World War
This remained until the formation of Divisional Machine Gun Battalions in 1936 where guns were brigaded once again.
Post-Second World War
Upon the disbandment of Divisional Machine Gun Battalions in the post-WW2 restructure of the British Army, the Vickers Machine Gun assets reverted to individual Battalions as part of the Support Company as a Machine Gun Platoon.