The Machine Gunner was himself a specialist in his field but they could not operate to full effectiveness without the MG Fire Controller. This was part of the role of the section or platoon officer but it was also a separate course at the School of Musketry during the Great War. At that time it was not a machine gun course but to enable infantry company officers to direct the artillery accompanying them.
73. Classes for Instruction in Fire Direction and Fire Control
It has been decided to hold divisional classes for instruction in “Fire Direction” and “Fire Control.”
2. An officer will be detailed by the Commandant, School of Musketry, Hythe, to hold these classes, which will be of six working days’ duration. It is the intention that one officer per infantry company should be put through a course in each division.
3. The Commandant, School of Musketry, Hythe, has been directed to make all preliminary arrangements, as regards dates, place, &c., for each course, direct with the divisions concerned.
4. The first course will commence on 15th February, 1915, and divisions will be visited in the following order:-
2nd London (Reserve) Div., T.F.; South Midland (Reserve) Div., T.F.; North Midland (Reserve) Div., T.F.; 9th Div., New Army; 11th Div., New Army; 13th Div., New Army; 14th Div., New Army; 10th Div., New Army.
5. As control and direction of fire is primarily the duty of a senior company officer, as many senior company officers can be spared should be ordered to attend this short course.
(L. 104/Art./2667, M.T. 2.)Army Council Instruction 73, 7th February 1915.
By 1951, the course the fire controllers had to undertake was more theoretical than that of the MG training and, as such, a man with even higher specialist skills emerged after a long and strenuous period of training. To decode the lesson numbers found in the below table please go to the lesson list.
|Instruments and Aiming||43||1|
|Indirect Fire||Revision, Direct Fire||2|
|Revision, Indirect Fire||4|
|Flanking and Overhead Fire||102||1||2|
|Spare Parts and Repairs||18||1|
|MMG Range Course||Part 3, Direct||4|
|Part 3, Indirect||4|
|Rangefinder||Construction of Range Cards||1|
|Blank Firing Attachment||Appendix I||1|
- The National Archives, WO 293/2, Army Council Instructions 1915 January to June
- War Office, 1951a