The Great War
During the Great War, the Battalions were distributed as follows:
As a unit of the 28th Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
|The Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great war.The Division assembled and mobilized at Hursley, Pitt Hill, and Magdalen Hill Camps (around Winchester) during December, 1914, and January, 1915. The 12 infantry battalions, of which it was composed, came from India (10 from nine different stations), Singapore (1), and Egypt (1); the brigades were formed at Winchester. The mounted troops included a cavalry squadron from an existing yeomanry unit, and a cyclist company, which was formed at Winchester. Of the field artillery brigades: in August, 1914, III. was in India and XXXI. was at Sheffield, whilst CXLVI. was only formed at Winchester. The field companies, signal company, field ambulances, and train, were territorial force units.
The 28th Division embarked at Southampton on the 15th-18th January, 1915, disembarked at Le Havre between the 16th-19th January, and concentrated between Bailleul and Hazebrouck by the 22nd January.
The 28th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium until the middle of October, 1915. It embarked for Egypt in October and November, and, on arrival, it encamped in the neighbourhood of Alexandria. On the 17th November, order were received for the division to embark for Salonika as soon as possiblle. Embarkation began on the 20th November, but it was not until the 4th January, 1916, that all the units had completed disembarkation at Salonika. (The XXXI. and CXLVI. Brigades, R.F.A., proceeded direct from Marseille to Salonika, sailing on the 17th November; these two brigades arrived: XXXI. on 27th November, and CXLVI. on the 2nd December.)
|BATTLES OF YPRES|
|22 and 23 April||Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].|
|24 April to 04 May||Battle of St. Julien [V. Corps, Second Army, until 28/4; then Plumer’s Force].|
|08 to 13 May||Battle of Frezenberg Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].|
|24 and 25 May||Battle of Bellewaarde Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].|
|27 to 05 October||Battle of Loos [I. Corps, First Army].|
|At noon on the 19th October, the division was ordered to be ready to entrain in 48 hours for an unknown destination. On 21st October, the division beganto entrain for Marseille, and on 24th October the first units sailed from that port. Units began to reach Alexandria on 29th October, and the division (less XXXI. and CXLVI. Bdes., R.F.A.) reached Egypt by 22nd November.The 28th Division was then sent from Alexandria at Salonika on the 4th January, 1916.|
The 7th Battalion started the Great War as a member of the 50th Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division.
|This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September 1914 authorized the further addition of six divisions (15th – 20th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army (see Appendix I). This augmentation formed the Second New Army, and during September 1914 the 17th (Northern) Division began to assemble around Wareham.
By the end of September 1914 all the surplus stores of arms, equipment, and uniforms had been issued, and for some time no uniforms were available for the rank and file of the 17th Division. Even blankets were scarce in the improvised billets and later on in the crowded camps. For months the infantry had only a few old drill-pattern rifles; and machine guns had to be represented by home-made dummy guns. In October a varied assortment of peace-time uniforms arrived; the infantry then paraded in red coats, combined with civilian head-dresses and overcoats. At the same time a supply of tents was issued to the Division, and the men were placed under canvas until the unsettled November weather compelled the abandonment of tents; the units were then moved into recently erected huts. Before the end of 1914 the infantry received a large supply of Lee-Enfield magazine rifles and a generous supply of ammunition; elementary musketry instruction became possible. Then, in March 1915 a limited issue of service rifles and new leather equiepment was made to the infantry.
In the Artillery most of the officers had everything to learn, and it was soon found that 20 per cent of the recruits, who had been accepted in the rush, were unfit for military service and had to be replaced, also very few of the recruits had ever ridden of had any previous experience with horses. At the outset the only available artillery materiel was a few limbers and wagons, together with some ancient and obsolete guns and two old French 90-mm. guns, dating from the war of 1870 – pieces which were more suitable for museums than for a training centre. Even so the guns were without sights, and naturally no dial sights, directors, range tables, or telephones were available. But ingenuity, assisted by the local carpenters, provided rough and ready imitations of the missing stores, and allowed the recruits to be given some training during the early months. The first horses for the artillery arrived in February 1915, the 18-pdrs. were issues in April, and the first howitzers reached Swanage in the middle of May.
During this time the artillery had been in empty houses in Swanage and the infantry brigades had shifted their quarters more than once. Originally the three infantry brigades were around Wareham; but in October 1914 the brigades were at Wareham (50th), West Lulworth (51st), and Bovington Camp, Wool (52nd). In December the 51st moved to Wool, and the 52nd to Wimborne. In March 1915 the 51st returned to West Lulworth, and the 52nd moved back to Wool. These stations were maintained until May. Between the 27th May and the 1st June the Division marched to Winchester, Romsey, Hursley, Pitt Corner, and Flowerdown, and final intensive training for the field was undertaken.
On the 5th July the Division was informed that it would be retained in England for some time and be employed on Home Defence. At midnight this arrangement was cancelled and the 17th Division was ordered to embark for France between the 12th and 15th July. On the 6th the advanced party left, and on the same day the Division completed its mobilization – but the three field ambulances only joined the Division at Southampton during embarkation. On the 12th July embarkation began. By the 17th the Division concentrated to the southward of St. Omer, and on the 19th July it moved forward and came under V Corps, Second Army. For the remainder of the Great War the 17th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:-
|09 August||Hooge [V Corps, Second Army].|
It’s 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.
The battalion had transferred from the 62nd Brigade, 21st Division on 16 November 1915.
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.