A Machine Gun Company was attached to each Infantry Brigade and their subsequent Division.

Brigade attached to: 39th Brigade
Division attached to: 13th (Western) Division
Formed from the: Machine Gun Section of 9th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Machine Gun Section of 7th Bn. Gloucestershire Regiment
Machine Gun Section of 9th Bn. Worcestershire Regiment
Machine Gun Section of 7th Bn. North Staffordshire Regiment

The nucleus of the 39th Bde. M.G. Coy. arrived from England, reached Amara and on 26 October 1916 amalgamated with the Provisional Brigade Machine Gun Company which had been formed from the Machine Gun Sections of the listed infantry battalions.

As a unit of the 13th (Western) Infantry Division during this period, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.

1917
13 December 1916 to 25 February 1917 BATTLE OF KUT AL IMARA [III Tigris Corps].
25 January to 05 February Capture of the Hai Salient [III Tigris Corps].
09 to 16 February Capture of the Dahra Bend [III Tigris Corps].
PURSUIT TO BAGHDAD
07 to 10 March Passage of the Diyala [III Tigris Corps].
11 March Occupation of Baghdad (D. Sqdn., 1/Herts. Yeo. and 6/K.O. entered the city at 10.30 a.m.; and 2 Coys., 4/S.W.B. and 5/Wilts. entered later.) [III Tigris Corps].
CONSOLIDATION OF THE BAGHDAD POSITION
27 and 28 March Delli ‘Abbas [Marshall’s Column].
29 March Duqma [Marshall’s Column].
09 to 15 April Nahr Kalis [Marshall’s Column].
18 April Passage of the ‘Adhaim (38th Brigade) [Marshall’s Column].
30 April Shatt al ‘Adhaim [Marshall’s Column].
18 to 20 October Second Action of Jabal Hamrin [III Tigris Corps].
03 to 06 December Third Action of Jabal Hamrin [III Tigris Corps].
1918
29 April Tuz Khurmatli [III Corps].
After the fight on the 29th April the 13th Division halted at Tuz Khurmatli until the 5th May; the Division then advanced northward past Tauq, reached Kirkuk on the 8th, and remained there until the 24th. On that day the Division began to retire southward through Taza Khurmatli, Tauq, and Tuz Khurmatli to Kifri, which was reached on the 28th May. Divisional headquarters now opened at Dawalib (2 miles east of Delli ‘Abbas), and here they were destined to remain until after the conclusion of the War.

In July orders were received to send the 29th Infantry Brigade (with 72nd Field Company and 40th Field Ambulance) to join the North Persia Force; and the Group left the 13th Division between 10th July and 19th August.

Whilst it was around Dawalib the Division was employed in training, in the instruction of specialists, and in providing large working parties for the upkeep of roads. During July the average maximum shade temperature rose to 111.6 degrees.

In October a column under Br.-Gen. A. C. Lewin (see note below) was pushed northwards. The column passed Tauq (20th), Taza Khurmatli (23rd), and entered Kirkuk on the 25th October. On the 28th Lewin’s Column continued its northward advance and became engaged with a Turkish force which was in position covering the Altun Kopri bridge over the Little Zab, and at 7.30 a.m. on the 31st October the 12th Cavalry of Lewin’s Column entered Altun Kopri. On the 1st November, however, the 13th Division received orders to cease hostilities at once; the Armistice with Turkey had come into force at noon on the previous day – Thursday the 31st October.

On the 7th November Lewin’s Column was abolished; between the 22nd and 30th November all the units rejoined the 13th Division and headquarters of the column again became Headquarters 40th Infantry Brigade. On the 15th December all troops were withdrawn from forward areas, on the 16th I Tigris Corps took over Kirkuk and all the posts to the north of that place, and by the 31st December the evacuation of the forward area was completed.

On the 1st January, 1919 the strength of British officers and other ranks with the 13th Division was 12,476. On the 11th January the Division began to move down the lines of communication to ‘Amara, and thereafter some units left on each day for ‘Amara. Divisional headquarters started on the 31st January and reached ‘Amara on the 2nd February. The final disbandment and disposal of the Division now proceeded rapidly. On the 11th February 6/E .Lanc. and 6/L.N.L. (of 38th Infantry Brigade) were selected to form part of the Army of Occupation in Mesopotamia, and on the 14th and 15th March they were posted to the 34th Indian Infantry Brigade. On the 4th March LV R.F.A. (less 60 How. Bty.) had also been selected for duty in the Army of Occupation.

By the beginning of March the strength of British officers and other ranks with the Division had dwindled to 5,034, and on the 11th orders were received for the Division to be reduced to cadre. The end came on the 17th March, and on that day the 13th Division, the only British Division to serve in Mesopotamia, ceased to exist. During the Great War the 13th Division lost 12,566 killed, wounded, and missing (7,822 of these casualties occurred in Mesopotamia).

NOTE: Composition of LEWIN’S COLUMN:

Hd. Qrs. 40th Inf. Bde. and Bde. Signal Sec.,
Portion, B. Flight, 30 Sqdn., R.A.F.,

12/Cav. (less 1 Sqdn.) and M.G. Sec.,

A/LXVI (less 1 Sec.),

1 Sec., 61/(H.)/LXVI,

Portion, LXVI B.A.C.,

13/L.A.M. Bty.,

No. 1 Pack Wireless Station,

1 Sec., 71st Fd. Coy., R.E.

2 Bns. (8/R.W.F. and 4/S.W.B.), 40th Inf. Bde.,

H.Q. and 2 Sec., 40th M.G. Coy.,

Portion, 40th S.A.A. Sec.,

39th Fd. Ambce. (less 2 Secs).

39th Infantry Brigade, July, 1918 to August, 1919On 01 July 1918, 39th Brigade (under Lieutenant Colonel W.F.O. Favell, acting Brigadier) received orders to move to North Persia. The move began on 04 July 1918. The Brigade was to move north via Khaniqin (25 July), Kermanshah (27 July), and Hamadan. The leading troops reached Hamadan on 29 July 1918. On 01 August 1918 troops were pushed on towards Kazvin and Enzeli, On 05 August 1918, 7/N. Staff reached Baku; and on 11 August 1918 the rear troops of the Brigade reached Hamafan. By this time the Brigade was very scattered. On 12 August 1918 Brigade Headquarters reached Kazvin, and small parties were daily leaving Kazvin for Baku. On 20 August 1918, 9/R. War. arrived at Baku, and on the same day Brigade Headqurters left Kazvin and reached Kazian (near Enzeli) on 21 August 1918. On 22 August 1918, Brigade Headquarters embarked on Russian s.s. Tuga, disembarked at Baku on 24 August 1918, and attended a conference at Dunsterforce Headquarters in Hotel Europe. (On 04 September 1918, 9/Worc. (less No. 1 Coy.) reached Baku.). 39th Brigade took part in:-

DEFENCE OF BAKU (26 August to 15 September 1918)

39th Brigade held part of the defensive line, north and west of Baku: Digya-Binagadi-Mud Volcano.

The fighting at Baku was divided into 4 phases, viz.: (i) Turkish Attack on Mud Vulcano (held by D Coy., 7/N. Staff.– Captain B.H. Sparrow) on 26 August 1918; (ii) Turkish Attack on Binagadi Hill, 31 August 1918; (iii) Turkish Attack on Digya, 01 September 1918; and (iv) Turkish General Attack on Baku, 14 September 1918.

On 26 August 1918 the attack on Mud Vulcano opened at 10.30 a.m., and were seen surrounded and engaged in hand to hand fighting. Only 6 unwounded men and a few early casualties got away, and the Company lost 3 Officers and 80 Other Ranks wounded, and missing. The Turks then moved against Binagadi Hill and the hill was hurriedly evacuated by the Armenian Battalion which held it. A Coy., 7/N. Staff., was hurried from Digya to Binagadi, and the Company arrived about 2.15 p.m., just in time to save the situation. A Company at once occupied the empty trenches and succeeded in surprising a party of 250 Turks who were moving up the western slope to occupy the hill. The Turks were driven back with heavy loss.

At 6 a.m. on 31 August 1918 the Turks attacked Bunagadi Hill in force, and at 8.30 a.m., after severe fighting, A Coy., 7/N. Staff., was ordered to withdraw to the Oil Derricks (to the south of the hill). In this defence the Coy. lost the commander and one other officer as well as 34 other ranks killed, wounded, and missing.

On 01 September 1918 the Turks attacked Digya. The Armenians and Russians, near Digya, broke, and in covering their withdrawal 9/R. War. lost 4 Officers and 67 Other Ranks either taken prisoner or missing. The fighting value of the local troops was negligible, and the responsibility for the defence of Baku fell on the British force. On 14 September 1918 the Turks launched a general attack against local troops who still occupied part of the Baku defences. The local troops broke at once and exposed the flanks of the British troops, Baku was evacuated, and the situation seemed so serious that all documents were destroyed. Eventually the Turks were held back; but owing to a lack of reserves, the situation could not be restored and the British troops re-embarked. On 15 September 1918 Brigade Headquarters reached Enzeli.

On 19 September 1918, 9/Worc. moved to Resht; on the same day Brigadier General Andrus returned from Ceylon and took over command of troops at Resht and Kazian, and on 29 September 1918 Brigadier General Andrus resumed command of 39th Brigade. On 29 September 1918, 9/R. War. sailed from Enzeli to Krasnovodsk to join Major General W. Malleson’s Force. On 01 October 1918, 7/Glouc. was moving up from Bijar-Zenjan, and by the end of the month 7/Glouc. was concentrated at Kazvin; the other battalions were then at Enzeli, Resht, and Krasnovodsk. At noon on Thursday, 31st October, 1918, hostilities ceased with Turkey.

On 15 November 1918, 7/Glouc. concentrated at Enzeli; and on the same day, 39th Brigade Headquarters, 7/Glouc. (less 1 Coy.), 9/Worc., 7/N. Staff., 39th Bde. M.G. Coy. (less 1 section at Krasnovodsk), and 39th Brigade Sappers and Tunnellers Company embarked at Enzeli and disembarked at Baku on 17 November 1918. The whole force at Baku was placed under Brigadier-General-Commanding 39th Infantry Brigade. On 30 November 1918 the strength of the Brigade was 1,480 all ranks. On 09 December 1918 the remaining Company of 7/Glouc. reached Baku, and on 12 December 1918, 39th Brigade Small Arms Ammunition Section and part of 72/Field Company also arrived. At the end of the year the effective strength of the Brigade was 2,027 all ranks.

From 01 January 1919 all troops in Baku came under the orders of General Headquarters Constantinople, and on 16 March 1919, 39th Brigade, at Baku, was placed directly under 27th Division at Tiflis. Demobilization proceeded slowly, and parties left for U.K. via Batum. On 07 April 1919, 9/R. War. left Krasnovodsk and rejoined 39th Brigade at Baku on 10 and 12 April 1919. On 13 June 1919, 72nd Field Company, Royal Engineers, left for Batum. On 14 June 1919, 7/N. Staff. was disbanded, and the personnel left Baku and joined 7/R. Berks. at Tiflis. On 07 August 1919, 9/R. War. left by train for Tiflis. On 13 August 1919 orders were issued to evacuate Baku; all animals, saddlery, and harness were to be sold. The move by train to Batum began on 15 August 1919, and the evacuation of Baku was completed by 6 p.m., 24 August 1919. 39th Brigade embarked at Batum for Constantinople on 29 and 30 August 1919. 39th was demobilized on 31 August 1919 at Constantinople.

9/R. War. reached Haidar Pasha (Constantinople) from Batum on 02 September 1919, and moved to Tuzla (20 miles S.E. of Constantinople). On 24 September 1919 the Battalion was disbanded and the personnel was transferred to 9/Worc.

7/Glouc. reached Haidar Pasha on 02 September 1919. On 17 October 1919 Battalion was absorbed by 8/O. and B.L.I.

9/Worc. On 13 August 1919 No. 1 Coy. was sent by sea from Baku to Petrovsk and thence by rail to Novorossisk (on the Black Sea) to escort stores. No. 1 Coy. rejoined the Battalion at Haidar Pasha, where the Battalion arrived on 02 September 1919. On 03 September 1919 Battalion entrained for Tuzla. On 24 September 1919 Battalion absorbed 9/R. War., and on 30 September 1919, 9/Worc. absorbed 11/Worc. 9/Worc. was disbanded at Tuzla on 19 December 1919.

39th Bde. M.G. Coy. After arrival at Constantinople, the personnel was absorbed was absorbed by 81st Bde. M.G. Coy.

39th Sanitary Section, reached Baku on 17 April 1919 and joined 39th Bde. The Section left Baku on 20 August 1919, embarked at Batum on 01 September 1919, and landed at Haider Pasha on 06 September 1919. The Section went to Derije (near Ismid) and was disbanded there on 30 September 1919.

As this Company stayed in the Middle East, it wasn’t amalgamated with other Machine Gun Companies in the Division (the 38th, 40th and 273rd) to form a Machine Gun Battalion.


Sources