Prior to the start of the Great War, Lieutenant EJW Spread of the 1st Battalion was one of the first members of the British Army to attend, and qualify from, a Vickers Gun course run by the School of Musketry at Hythe between 25 October and 15 November 1913.
The Great War
During the Great War, the dispositions of Battalions were distributed as follows:
On the outbreak of War the 1st Division was quartered at Aldershot, and it mobilized there. The division crossed to France between the 11th and 15th August, concentrated around le Nouvion, and began to move forward on the 21st August.Becke, 1934
As a unit of the 1st Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
|23 and 24 August||Battle of Mons [I Corps]|
|24 August to 5 September||RETREAT FROM MONS [I Corps]|
|27 August||Etreux (1st Guards Bde)|
|6 to 9 September||Battle of the Marne [I Corps]|
|13 to 26 September||BATTLE OF THE AISNE [I Corps]|
|13 September||Passage of the Aisne|
|20 September||Actions on the Aisne Heights|
|26 September||Action of Chivy|
|19 October to 15 November||BATTLE OF YPRES [I Corps]|
|21 to 24 October||Battle of Langemark [I Corps]|
|29 to 31 October||Battle of Gheluvelt [I Corps]|
|11 November||Battle of Nonne Bosschen [I Corps]|
|20 to 21 December||Defence of Givenchy|
|9 May||BATTLE OF AUBERS RIDGE [I Corps, First Army]|
|Attack at Rue du Bois|
|25 September to 1 October||Battle of Loos [IV Corps, First Army]|
|5 to 8 October|
|13 October||Hohenzollern Redoubt [IV Corps, First Army]|
As a reserve battalion of the 1st Division, it was one of the first units to receive the Vickers machine gun in 1914; however, it was only one gun per battalion at this point, the rest being Maxims.
337. Issue of Vickers Machine Guns to Reserve Cavalry and Infantry.
Ref. L* 104/Gen. No./3592 (M.T. 2) of 5th Oct., 1914, and also regarding the forthcoming issue of Vickers Machine Guns to reserve units of cavalry and reserve battalions of the 1st Infantry Division, G.Os.C.-in-C. are informed that, if possible, those officers who are at present undergoing a Vickers machine gun course at the School of Musketry, Hythe, should not be drafted to the front until they have given at least one month’s instruction to selected personnel of their unit.
2. One Vickers machine gun will be issued to the above-mentioned regiments and battalions immediately.
3. Attention is invited to the advisability of withholding from drafts all officers and N.C.Os. who undergo courses until sufficient time has elapsed for them to impart their knowledge to the necessary personnel.
(L. 104/Gen. No./3595, M.T. 2)Army Council Instruction 337, 31st October 1914.
The 6th Battalion was part of the 38th Brigade, attached to the 13th (Western) 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 13th (Western) Division began to assemble.
The infantry brigades first assembled on Salisbury Plain. In September and October the 40th Brigade moved to Chisledon and Cirencester; and in January 1915 the 39th Brigade moved to Basingstoke. By the end of February the 13th Division concentrated for its final intensive training at Blackdown, near Farnborough; equipment and arms were now practically complete and the artillery and engineers had joined the division. Divisional field manoeuvres were undertaken.
On the 7th June, 1915 the Division received orders to prepare to move to the Mediterranean theatre of war. The motor bicycles and all mechanical transport (except 4 motor cars) were withdrawn; and, except in the artillery, engineers, and signal company, first reinforcements were not to proceed with the Division. On the 10th June embarkation orders were received and the first transports sailed on the 13th. Immediately before embarkation a third machine gun was issued to each infantry battalion). On the 16th June a message to the 13th Division was received from H.M. the King, and on the 18th Divisional Headquarters sailed from Avonmouth. Alexandria was reached on the 28th and headquarters landed at Mudros on the 4th July. Between the 6th and 16th July the infantry of the Division crossed to Helles and relieved the 29th Division on the left of the line. The infantry returned to Mudros at the end of the month, and between 3rd to 5th August the 13th Division landed at Anzac. Thereafter, and for the remainder of the Great War, the 13th (Western) Division served in Gallipoli, Egypt, and Mesopotamia, and was engaged in the following operations:Becke, 1934
As a unit of the 13th (Western) Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
|BATTLES OF SUVLA|
|06 to 10 August||Battle of Sari Bair [Godley’s Force].|
|07 August||Russell’s Top (8/Ches. and 8/R.W.F.).|
|27 and 28 August||Hill 60, Anzac (4/S.W.B.) [Cox’s Force].|
|After the evacuation of Suvla the 13th Division concentrated at Mudros, and between 27 and 31 December Divisional Headquarters and the infantry of the Division (less 38th Inf. Bde.) moved from Mudros to Helles and took over the Left Section of VIII Corps Front Line.|
|07 January||Last Turkish Attacks at Helles [VIII Corps].|
|Night, 08/09 January||Evacuation of Helles [VIII Corps].|
|After leaving Helles the 13th Division went to Mudros until 18 January 1916′ on this day the Division began to embark for Egypt, and by 31 January 1916 the whole Division concentrated at Port Said. The Division then held posts on the Suez Canal. On 08 February 1916 orders were received for the 13th Division to move to Mesopotamia, and on 12 February 1916 the Suez Canal posts were handed over to the Ayrshire Yeomanry and Lanarkshire Yeomanry. On the same day the first troops of 13th Division left Port Said by rail for Suez, embarked at Suez on the 13th, sailed on the 14th, and disembarked at Basra on the 27th February. On the 2nd March the Division began to move by river up the Tigris, on the 13th March divisional headquarters reached Shaikh Saad, and by the 27th March the whole Division had arrived at Shaikh Saad (less 7/Glouc., of 39th Bde. segregated for fever at Basra; 7/Glouc. rejoined 13th Division on 19 April 1916). On 02 April 1916, 13th Division took over a portion of Tigris Corps Front and became engaged in the third attempt to relieve Kut al Imara. From this time until the end of the Great War the 13th Division served in Mesopotamia and was engaged in the following operations:|
|THIRD ATTEMPT TO RELIEVE KUT AL IMARA|
|05 April||Capture of Hanna and Fallahiya [Tigris Corps].|
|09 April||Second Attack on Sanniyat [Tigris Corps].|
|17 and 18 April||Bait ‘Isa [Tigris Corps].|
|22 April||Third Attack on Sanniyat [Tigris Corps].|
It’s MG Section was amalgamated with those of the other Battalions in the Brigade to form a Provisional Brigade MG Company. This was then amalgamated with into the 38th MG Coy. which was formed on 24 October 1916 at Amara.
The 7th Battalion was part of the 56th Brigade, attached to the 19th (Western) Division. It’s MG Section was likely to have been sent to Grantham for retraining and subsequently transferred into the 56th Bde. MG Coy. which disembarked at Le Havre on 09 February 1816 and joined the Division on 14 February 1916.
This New Army Division has no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.Army Order No. 285 of the 11th September 1914 authorized 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 19th (Western) Division began to assemble near Bulford.
At first the infantry brigades were camped at Tidworth, Ludgershall, and Grately. In December, the brigades went into comfortable billets at Andover and Whitchurch, Basingstoke, and Weston-Super-Mare. The early discomforts and difficulties were similar to those which were experienced by all the divisions of the New Armies, consequently a few D.P. rifles were received with enthusiasm.
By March 1915 the Division was clothed in khaki and a great advance had been made in training. During March the Division concentrated around Tidworth to begin its final preparation for the field, and regimental training was completed by mid-May. On the 7th June the 19th Division first operated together as a complete division, and between the 12th and 18th June the 19th Division Artillery carried out its first gun-practice. On Wednesday, the 23rd June, the 19th Division was inspected by H.M. The King; and, at the end of the parade, His Majesty said to the General-Officer-Commanding: “Your Division is as good as anything I have seen in the New Army.”
On the 11th July the advanced party of the 19th Division left for France, on the 16th the Division began to move, and by the 21st July it had crossed to France and completed its concentration near St. Omer. For the remainder of the Great War the 19th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:-Becke, 1934
As a unit of the 19th (Western) Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
|25 September to 02 October||Battle of Loos [Indian Corps, First Army].|
|25 September||Action of Pietre|
The Inter-War Period
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.
- Becke, 1934
- School of Musketry, Register of the School of Musketry 1911 to 1924 (Hythe: Corps of Small Arms and Machine Gun Schools; 1924).
- The National Archives, WO 293/1, Army Council Instructions 1914.