The Great War
The Royal Irish Regiment consisted of Infantry Battalions that would have had an MG Section as part of its Battalion Headquarters. These weapons would have been brigaded when the Machine Gun Corps was formed in 1915. The guns, and crews, would have been formed into a Machine Gun Company.
During the Great War, the Battalions were distributed as follows:
The 1st Battalion was part of the 82nd Brigade, attached to the 27th Division.
|The division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.The division assembled and mobilized at Magdalen Hill Camp (2 miles east of Winchester) during November and December, 1914. The 13 infantry battalions of which was composed came from India (10 from ten different stations), Hong Kong, Tientsin and Canada (P.P.C.L.I.); the infantry brigades were formed at Winchester. The mounted troops included a cavalry squadron from an existing yeomanry unit and a cyclist company, which was formed at Winchester. Of the field artillery brigades: I. was originally at Edinburgh, whilst XIX. and XX. came from India; but all three were extensively reorganized and re-formed at Winchester. The field companies, signal company, field ambulances, and train came from territorial force divisions.
The 27th Division embarked at Southampton on the 19th – 21st December, disembarked at le Havre between the 20th – 23rd December, and concentrated between Aire and Arques by the evening of the 25th December.
The 17th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium until November, 1915. In the following month it embarked for the Macedonian Front, on which it served for the remainder of the War.
|14 and 15 March||St. Eloi [V. Corps, Second Army].|
|BATTLES OF YPRES|
|22 and 23 April||Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].|
|24 April to 04 May||Battle of St. Julien [V. Corps, Second Army, until 28 April; then Plumer’s Force].|
|08 to 13 May||Battle of Frezenberg Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].|
|24 and 25 May||Battle of Bellewaarde Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].|
|On the 1st November the division was warned to be ready to entrain for Marseille on the 10th November. Entrainment began on the 15th, and embarkation for the Macedonian Front on the 17th; but it was not until the 13th February, 1916, that the last of the division disembarked at Salonika.|
The 5th Battalion was part of the 29th Brigade, attached to the 10th (Irish) Division.
As a unit of the 10th (Irish) Infantry Division during that period, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
|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 324 of the 21st August (amended by Army Order 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 10th (Irish) Division began to assemble in Ireland. The infantry of the Division was composed of Battalions of all the Irish line regiments, the men were of all classes, creeds, and political opinions, and in August 1915, when the 10th Division went into action in Gallipoli, it had the honour of being the first Irish Division to take the field in War.
At first there was a shortage of arms and equipment. Rifles (of various marks) and bayonets were soon obtained, but the artillery had to undertake most of the preliminary training with “quaker guns” and very few horses. In 1915 the Division moved to the Curragh, Newbridge, and Kildare; brigade training was then undertaken. In May the Division crossed over to England, concentrated around Basingstoke, and began its final training. On the 28th and 29th May, H.M. the King saw the 10th Division, and on the 1st June Field-Marshal Earl Kitchener inspected the Division in Hackwood Park.
On the 27th June the Division was ordered to prepare for service in Gallipoli; divisional headquarters embarked at Liverpool on the 9th July, and by the end of the month the bulk of the division had collected on the Island of Lemnos. On the 6th August the troops embarked at Mudros, and on the 6th and 7th the Division (less the 29th Brigade, which was operating with the Anzac Corps) landed at Suvla and assaulted the Turkish position.
For the remainder of the Great War the 10th (Irish) Division served in Gallipoli, Macedonia, Egypt, Palestine and was engaged in the following operations:
|06 to 10 August||Battle of Sari Bair (29th Bde.) [Godley’s Force, A. & N.Z. A.C.].|
|06 to 15 August||The Landing at Suvla [IX Corps].|
|Night, 7/8 August||Capture of Chocolate Hill (31st Bde. and 7/R.D.F., 30th Bde.) [Hill’s Force, IX Corps].|
On 07 August 1915, the 5th Bn became the Pioneer Battalion for the 10th (Irish) Division.
The 6th Battalion was part of the 47th Brigade, attached to the 16th (Irish) Division.
|This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September 1914 authorized the further addition of six divisions (15th to 20th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army (see Appendix I). This augmentation formed the Second New Army, and during September 1914 the 16th (Irish) Division began to assemble in Ireland.
Divisional headquarters formed in Dublin, and the infantry brigades at Fermoy, Buttevant, and Tipperary. The artillery was at Cahir, Fermoy, and Kilkenny; the engineers at Moore Park, Kilworth; the army troops battalion (which became the divisional pioneer battalion) at Mullingar. On the 8th October divisional headquarters moved to Mallow. OIn the 8th March 1915 the pioneer battalion went to Kilworth, on the 19th June the 48th Brigade moved from Buttevant to Mallow, and on the 21st June divisional headquarters was transferred to Fermoy.
Meanwhile the training of the Division had progressed slowly, hampered by lack of equipment and materiel and by other difficulties. In the artillery it was some time before the batteries were able to option even 15 horses each for training purposes; and up to February 1915 the howitzer brigade had only managed to collect an old 12-pdr. B.L. gun to use for drill. Thus the Division gradually fell behind the time-table. In August it was decided to transfer three of the artillery brigades (18-pdrs.), the D.A.C., twi if the field companies, and the divisional signal company to the Guards Division which was then forming in France. At the same time the third field company was sent to France to join the 7th Division. The three field ambulances had already been transferred to the 37th Division, and they reached France by the beginning of August.
It was September 1915 before the remainder of the 16th Division left Ireland wand moved to Aldershot for its final intensive training. At last on the 10th December the Division was notified that embarkation would begin on the 17th. Even then the Division left for France without the divisional artillery, motor-machine-gun battery, one section signal company, one field ambulance, and one company of the Train. The 16th Division began disembarkation at le Havre on the 18th, and by the 22nd December had completed its concentration south of Bethune in the area of IV Corps, First Army. On the 22nd February 1916 the new divisional artillery joined the Division in France and on the 24th February the 49th Brigade arrived. The Division was now complete.
It’s MG Section will have been disbanded on the attachment of 47th MG Company, which took place on 28 April 1916, machine gunners may have been absorbed by the 47th MG Company, or trained on the Lewis Gun, which now equipped the Infantry Battalion.
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.