The 33rd Bn, MGC was formed between 9 and 19 February 1918. It is perhaps one of the most written about Battalions of the Machine Gun Corps due to the propensity of its commanding officer – Lieutenant Colonel Graham Seton Hutchison – to include its exploits and activities his own work and it is the only Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) unit to have a history specifically about it. This history, and the water-colours from it, have been reprinted by the Vickers MG Collection & Research Association.
|Division attached to:||33rd Division|
|Formed from the:||19th Machine Gun Company|
98th Machine Gun Company
100th Machine Gun Company
248th Machine Gun Company
As a unit of the 33rd Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
|BATTLES OF THE LYS|
|11 April||Battle of Messines (100th Bde., in reserve to 25th Div.) [IX. Corps, Second Army].|
|12 to 15 April||Battle of Hazebrouck [IX. Corps, Second Army].|
|13 to 15 April||Battle of Bailleul (1ooth Bde., under 25th Div.) [IX. Corps, Second Army].|
|14 April||Defence of Neuve Eglise (100th Bde.).|
|17 to 19 April||First Battle of Kemmel Ridge [IX. Corps, Second Army].|
|8 May||Fighting for and recapture of Ridge Wood (with Comp. Bde., 30th Div., attached) [XXII Corps, Second Army].|
|THE ADVANCE TO VICTORY|
|BATTLES OF THE HINDENBURG LINE|
|18 September||Battle of Epehy [V Corps, Third Army].|
|29 September to 2 October||Battle of the St. Quentin Canal [V Corps, Third Army].|
|3 to 5 October||Battle of the Beaurevoir Line [V Corps, Third Army].|
|9 October||Battle of Cambrai [V Corps, Third Army].|
|9 to 12 October||Pursuit to the Selle [V Corps, Third Army].|
|THE FINAL ADVANCE IN PICARDY|
|23 to 25 October||Battle of the Selle [V Corps, Third Army].|
On the 26th October the attack was continued and the Division captured the village of Englefontaine. During the night of the 26th/27th the Division was relieved in the front line by the 38th (Welsh) Division, and the 33rd Division then concentrated around Troisvilles. On the 5th November the Division advanced through the Forest of Mormal heading for the Sambre; during the afternoon the leading battalions crossed the river and established bridgeheads along the line of the St. Quentin – Mauberge railway. On the 6th Leval was captured, and by 9 p.m. on the 7th November the advanced troops were on a line to the west of the Avesnes – Mauberge road; the Division was then again relieved in the front line by the 28th Division, and drew back into the Sambre Valley near Leval. On the 11th November it was still in the same position when the Armistice brought hostilities to a close.
On the 12th the Division concentrated around Berlaimont, on the 15th November it moved back to Montigny (S.W. of le Cateau); and on the 4th December H.M. the King passed through the divisional area. On the 6th December the Division began to march back to the Hornay area (W. of Amiens and S. of the Somme) and the move was completed by the 17th.
In 1919 demobilization proceeded rapidly, and divisional headquarters moved to the coast at Quiberville (13th January), then to Varengeville (31st January), and lastly to Etretat in the le Havre area (28th February). Gradually units dwindled to cadre, and on the 15th May the first cadres embarked for England. On the 18th June divisional headquarters was reduced to Equipment Guard and on the 30th June the war history of the 33rd Division came to an end. During the Great War the 33rd Division lost 37,404 killed, wounded and missing.
To trace the locations and actions of the 33rd Battalion, as part of the VMGCRA reprint of its history, we have visualised and plotted the locations mentioned in the chapters on Google Maps.
- WO 95/2417/2 – February 1918 to August 1919 (France and Flanders).
- Becke, A.F. (1934) History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Division Part 3a New Army Divisions (9-26). London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office.