The Great War
During the Great War, the Battalions were distributed as follows:
The 1st Battalion was part of the 6th Brigade, attached to the 2nd Division.
As a unit of the 2nd Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
|23 and 24 August||Battle of Mons [I. Corps].|
|24 August to 05 September||RETREAT FROM MONS [I. Corps].|
|01 September||Villers Cotterets.|
|06 to 09 September||Battle of the Marnes [I. Corps].|
|13 to 26 September||BATTLE OF THE AISNES [I. Corps].|
|13 September||Passage of the Aisne.|
|20 September||Actions on the Aisne Heights.|
|19 October to 20 November||BATTLES OF YPRES [I. Corps].|
|21 to 24 October||Battle of Langemarck [I. Corps].|
|29 to 21 October||Battle of Gheluvet [I. Corps].|
|11 November||Battle of Nonne Bosschen [I. Corps].|
|15 to 20 May||Battle of Festubert [I. Corps, First Army].|
|25 September to 04 October||Battle of Loos [I. Corps, First Army].|
|13 to 19 October||Hohenzollern Redoubt [I. Corps, First Army].|
The 1st/4th Battalion disembarked at le Havre on 06 March 1915. It joined the 9th (Sirhind) Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division, at Robecq on 09 March 1915. It left the 3rd (Lahore) Division on 10 November 1915 and joined 137th Brigade, 46th Division. On 03 December 1915 the Battalion transferred to the 56th Brigade, 19th (Western) Division and then on 19 December 1915, it moved to 58th Brigade, 19th (Western) Division.
At around this time it is likely that it’s Vickers machine gunners of the MG Section will have transferred on 12 February 1916 to the 58th MG Coy when this took over the Vickers MG role in the Division.
The 2nd (Garrison) Battalion was part of the 228th Brigade. It’s unclear whether this unit had an MG Section; however, if it did, it was likely to have been transferred into the 228th MG Coy. which was formed on 11 September 1917.
The 228th Brigade was attached to the 28th Division from March 1917; albeit formally Corps Troops.
The 12th Battalion was part of the 61st Brigade, attached to the 20th (Light) Division.
As a unit of the 20th (Light) Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
|FORMATION, BATTLES, AND ENGAGEMENTS|
|This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September 1914 authorised the further addition of six divisions (15th to 20th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation formed the Second New Army, and during September, 1914 the 20th (Light) Division, the junior division of the Second New Army, began to assemble in the Aldershot area.
At first the infantry brigades formed at Blackdown, Deepcut, and Cowshott Camp; and all units encountered the usual difficulties which were eventually overcome by goodwill and keeness. The divisional artillery was started by sending to Deepcut two officers and two drafts of nearly 2,000 men each. The available artillery accommodation, which had been built for two brigades with a total peace-time strength of 700, was strained to its utmost: rooms originally intended for 20 men had to accommodate about 50. By December, in the Artillery, the men were clothed partly in full dress blue uniforms, partly in canvas suits, and partly in shoddy thin blue suits. By this time a few horses had also arrived, and the available saddlery was made up of civilian-pattern snaffles, regulation bridles, hunting saddles, and colonial saddles. Each artillery brigade also possessed enough harness for one six-horse team, and each brigade also had 4 guns (2 French 90m/m and 2, 15-pdrs.) but no sights. In February 1915 twelve old 18-pdr. Q.F.s arrived from India and each 18-pdr. battery received one gun, henceforward proudly known as “our battery’s gun.”
Later on in February 1915 the Division moved to Witley, Godalming, and Guildford; but part of the divisional artillery had to go by train as there was not enough harness to move all the vehicles. The issue of khaki now began, additional horses and harness arrived, and the divisional ammunition column was completed with mules.
In April 1915 the Division marched to Salisbury Plain, covering the 62 miles in four days. On arrival the artillery drew its remaining harness and modern 18-pdr. Q.F. equipments were received; but it was somehwat later before the 4.5″ howitzer equipments were issued. From the outset the 4.5″ howitzers were equipped with No. 7 dial sights, whereas until July 1916 there were only No. 1 dial sights for the division’s 18-pdrs. In June all the batteries went to gun-practice. THe training for war was now nearing its final stage.
On the 24th June H.M. The King inspected the 20th Division on Knighton Down. EMbarkation for France began on the 20th July and by the afternoon of the 26th July the Division completed its concentration in the area to the west of St. Omer. For the remainder of the Great War the 20th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:-
|25 September||Attack towards Fromelles [III Corps, First Army].|
The battalion has transferred from the 76th Brigade to the 8th Brigade on the 23 October 1915 and was subsequently transferred, after the formation of the 8th Bde. MG Coy., to the 9th Brigade on 04 April 1916.
The Inter-War Period
During the Inter-War Period, battalions held inter-unit competitions. The 8th (Rifle) Battalion of the King’s Own (Liverpool Regiment) held one in 1929 that included a machine gun competition. The programme for which is available as a free PDF download here.
The Second World War
This remained until the formation of Divisional Machine Gun Battalions in 1936 where guns were brigaded once again when the majority of Battalions had their Machine Gun assets centralised into those Battalions.
The 1st Battalion was part of the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade, and a ‘Chindits‘ Battalion, where it was formed into Columns each having an MG Section of two guns, the Battalion’s MG Platoon being spread across the Columns and supplemented with additional guns and machine gunners where required.
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.