Prior to the start of the Great War, Lieutenant JE Tennant of the 1st Battalion was one of the first members of the British Army to attend, and qualify from, a Vickers Gun course run by the School of Musketry at Hythe between 25 October and 15 November 1913. He was followed between 29 January and 20 February 1914 by Lieutenant JD Macindoe of the 1st Battalion on the 53rd Qualifying Course at Hythe. Their attendance implies this regiment was one of the earliest to receive the Vickers machine gun.
The Great War
During the Great War, the dispositions of Battalions were as follows:
At the outbreak of War, the 1st Battalion was part of the 1st (Guards) Brigade, 1st Division.
On the outbreak of War, the 1st Division was quartered at Aldershot, and it mobilized there. The division crossed to France between the 11th and 15th August, concentrated around le Nouvion, and began to move forward on the 21st August. Throughout the War, the 1st Division served on the Western Front, and it was engaged in the following operations:Becke, 1934
As a unit of the 1st (Guards) Brigade, it took part in the following actions.
|23 and 24 August||Battle of Mons [I Corps]|
|24 August to 5 September||RETREAT FROM MONS [I Corps]|
|27 August||Etreux (1st Guards Bde)|
|6 to 9 September||Battle of the Marne [I Corps]|
|13 to 26 September||BATTLE OF THE AISNE [I Corps]|
|13 September||Passage of the Aisne|
|20 September||Actions on the Aisne Heights|
|26 September||Action of Chivy|
|19 October to 15 November||BATTLE OF YPRES [I Corps]|
|21 to 24 October||Battle of Langemark [I Corps]|
|29 to 31 October||Battle of Gheluvelt [I Corps]|
|11 November||Battle of Nonne Bosschen [I Corps]|
|20 to 21 December||Defence of Givenchy|
|9 May||BATTLE OF AUBERS RIDGE [I Corps, First Army]|
|Attack at Rue du Bois|
As a battalion of the 1st Division, their reserve battalions (in this case the 2nd and 3rd Guards Reserve Battalions) were among the first units to receive the Vickers machine gun in 1914; however, it was only one gun per battalion at this point, the rest being Maxims. It’s likely that the battalion overseas, meaning this battalion, would have already had the Vickers.
337. Issue of Vickers Machine Guns to Reserve Cavalry and Infantry.
Ref. L* 104/Gen. No./3592 (M.T. 2) of 5th Oct., 1914, and also regarding the forthcoming issue of Vickers Machine Guns to reserve units of cavalry and reserve battalions of the 1st Infantry Division, G.Os.C.-in-C. are informed that, if possible, those officers who are at present undergoing a Vickers machine gun course at the School of Musketry, Hythe, should not be drafted to the front until they have given at least one month’s instruction to selected personnel of their unit.
2. One Vickers machine gun will be issued to the above-mentioned regiments and battalions immediately.
3. Attention is invited to the advisability of withholding from drafts all officers and N.C.Os. who undergo courses until sufficient time has elapsed for them to impart their knowledge to the necessary personnel.
(L. 104/Gen. No./3595, M.T. 2)Army Council Instruction 337, 31st October 1914.
In July, 1915, His Majesty approved the formation of a Guards Division, and in August, 1915, the Guards Division was formed in France, the units, on arrival, being concentrated around Lumbres (near St. Omer).Becke, 1934
It was transferred to the 2nd Guards Brigade, Guards Division, on 23 August, 1915 (arriving on 25 August, 1915). It’s MG Section was transferred between 01 September and 19 September, 1915, to form the 2nd Guards Bde. MG Coy.
At the outbreak of war, the 2nd Battalion was part of 20th Brigade, 7th Division.
The division had no existence before the outbreak of War; it was gradually assembled at Lyndhurst between the 31st August and the 4th October, 1914. The 12 infantry battalions included the three remaining unallotted regular battalions left in England, as well as nine battalions brought back from various overseas stations, viz. – Guernsey (1), Gibraltar (2), Malta (2), Cairo (1), Natal (1), and the Transvaal (2). The mounted troops included an existing yeomanry regiment as well as a cyclist company, formed on mobilization. The Field Artillery was made up by one R.H.A. Brigade (XIV., of two batteries), and one R.F.A. Brigade (XXXV.) still left at home, together with one R.F.A. Brigade (XXII.) from the Transvaal. The two heavy batteries were new units formed at Woolwich after the outbreak of War, and the field companies came from Chatham and Pretoria. Three of the A.S.C. companies (30, 40 and 42) came from Gibraltar, Malta, and Pretoria, but the remaining company (86) was a new formation.
The 7th Division embarked at Southampton on the 4th and 5th October, and began disembarkation at Zeebrugge on the 6th October. The division moved to Bruges on the 7th October, and reached Ghent on the 9th October. During the night of 11/12 October, a retirement on Ypres was begun and the place was reached on the 14th. The 7th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium until the 17th November, 1917, when it began entraining for the Italian Front, on which it served for the remainder of the War. The 7th Division was engaged in the following operations:-Becke, 1934
As a unit of the 7th Division, it will have taken part in the following engagements.
|25 August to 05 September||RETREAT FROM MONS [II. Corps, 26 to 30 August 1914, and III. Corps from 31 August 1914.]|
|26 August||Battle of le Cateau [under II. Corps].|
|01 September||Nery (1/R. War. R. and 2/R.D.F., 10th Bde.)|
|06 to 09 September||Battle of the Marne [III. Corps].|
|13 to 20 September||BATTLE OF THE AISNE [III. Corps].|
|13 October to 02 November||Battle of Armentieres [III. Corps].|
|13 October||Capture of Meteren|
|25 April to 25 May||BATTLES OF YPRES [V. Corps, Second Army].|
|25 April to 04 May||Battle of St. Julien [V. Corps, Second Army, and from 28 April to 07 May in 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].|
The 2nd Battalion was transferred from 20th Brigade, 7th Division, to the 3rd Guards Brigade, Guards Division on 08 August, 1915 (arriving on 09 August, 1915). It’s MG Section was transferred between 01 September and 19 September, 1915, to form the 3rd Guards Bde. MG Coy..
The Inter-war Period
The 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
After the Second World War, the MG assets reverted to MG Platoons within support companies of Infantry Battalions.
- Becke, 1934
- School of Musketry, Register of the School of Musketry 1911 to 1924 (Hythe: Corps of Small Arms and Machine Gun Schools; 1924).
- The National Archives, WO 293/1, Army Council Instructions 1914.