Machine Gun Company (Great War)

With the establishment of the Machine Gun Corps on 14 October 1915, Army Order 414 also detailed the official war establishment of a Brigade Machine Gun Company, meaning those machine gun companies attached to Infantry Brigades and part of the Machine Gun Corps (Infantry).

These companies consisted of a headquarters and four sections of four guns each. There were 150 men, including 2 attached from the Army Service Corps, 52 horses and four bicycles. A full transcript of the establishment is available as a PDF download.

With Army Order 131 of April 1916, an additional officer (Captain or Lieutenant) as second in command, with one riding horse, was added to the establishment, along with one batman.

Terminology of machine gun units was officially set out in 1917.

Machine-Gun Corps.- The following definitions are laid down for the Cavalry, Infantry and Motor Branches of Machine Gun Corps:-

Section = 4 machine guns with personnel.

Sub-Section = 2 machine guns with personnel.

Detachment = 1 machine gun with personnel.

Training Manuals and War Establishments will be amended accordingly.

Army Order 164 of 1917.

Other than a few minor amendments, as the Great War progressed, it appears that little changed with the numbers in the company; however, the terminology was changed as, from 1917, there was also a Divisional Machine Gun Company alongside the three Brigade Machine Gun Companies. It’s believed all were using the same organisation though.


Transport was provided by horse-drawn Wagons, Limbered, GS and officers were mounted.

In Spring 1918, many of the Machine Gun Companies were transferred and consolidated into Machine Gun Battalions, each of four companies.


  • The National Archives. WO 123/57. Army Orders 1915.
  • The National Archives. WO 123/58. Army Orders 1916.
  • The National Archives. WO 123/59. Army Orders 1917.
  • War Office, 1917