Royal Artillery

The Great War

Prior to 1924, the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) and Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) were separate elements of the Royal Regiment of Artillery (along with the Royal Horse Artillery and the Royal Artillery ammunition storage and supply element).

Royal Field Artillery

The RFA Was the original unit that fielded Motor Machine Gun Batteries using Mk. I Vickers MGs mounted on Clyno Motorcycle combinations.

Members of these units were transferred to the Machine Gun Corps upon its formation in 1915.

Royal Garrison Artillery

The RGA was responsible for many of the coastal defences around the United Kingdom and out-stations of the Empire. Within these defences, machine guns were used to provide local protection for the emplacements.

In 1914, it’s likely that the RGA would have still been armed with Maxim machine guns; however, they were still restricted with ammunition expenditure and only 420 rounds of ammunition were available per machine gun for training. It was intended that each man of the detachment would be able to fire 100 rounds each as practice (Army Council Instruction 181 of 19th December 1914).

Second World War

During the Second World War, the Royal Regiment of Artillery (formed from the amalgamation of the Royal Field Artillery with the Royal Garrison Artillery and Royal Horse Artillery in 1924) used the Vickers when it operated as infantry as part of the Chindit Columns in Burma. Only the 51st, 60th, and 69th Field Regiments were used in this role.

The 4th Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery, serving in Malta, had allowance for Vickers machine gunners from the Royal Malta Artillery to serve with them in the Outer Fire Command of Malta Defences.


  • The National Archives, WO 24/938, War Establishments 1940 July to December.
  • The National Archives, WO 293/1, Army Council Instructions 1914.