The Vickers Machine Gunner was a specialist in his occupation. The gun he would have to use was one of the most complicated pieces of weaponry on the battlefield, he would have to know, off by heart, how to work, fire and maintain the gun in the some of the most adverse conditions in the world. The Vickers was a weapon that would take lives but save lives and to save lives it had to work at all times and in all conditions.

The table below shows the preliminary training that a Machine Gunner would have to have undertaken in 1951. This four week course was what every gunner undertook before he would serve in action with the Vickers MG. A further course, the Fire Controllers’ Course was an extension to this for those selected as possible Fire Controllers to co-ordinate the Vickers MGs lethal fire.

To decode the lesson numbers please go to the lesson list:

 

Subject 1st Stage 2nd Stage 3rd stage 4th Stage
Lessons Periods Lessons Periods Lessons Periods Lessons Periods
The Gun and Tripod 1 & 2 3
Stripping 3, 4, 5 & 6 5 7 & 8 3
General Maintenance 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 & 15 9
Spare parts and repairs 17 2 18 1
Immediate Action 19, 20, 21 & 22 11 23 2 Revision 5
Mechanism 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 & 29 10
Causes of Stoppages 30, 31, 32, 33 & 34 6
Instruments and Aiming 35 2 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 & 42 11 Revision 3
Gun Drill 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55. 15 56, 57, 58, 59. 11 60 (TOET) 6
Advanced Machine Gun Handling 61, 62, 63, 64, 65 10
Visual Training 66, 67 3
Section Drill 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74 12
Indirect Fire Drill 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82 16
Part I MMG Course Practices 1 to 3 3 Practice 4 3 Practice 5 2
Part II MMG Course Practices 1 to 3 2
TOTAL 39 TOTAL 39 TOTAL 39 TOTAL 39

Qualification badges

Having succesfully passed his Elementary Training, the Machine Gunner would take an Annual Machine Gun Course. If successful, he would classed as a “trained” machine gunner and be awarded the Skill at Arms insignia and trade-related pay, if applicable.

The qualification was initially awarded in different categories:

  • Qualified gunner;
  • First-class gunner; and,
  • Marksman gunner.

The classification would depend on the number of points scored during the MG Course.

Qualified gunner

mgtrade

This is the most common qualficiation and all “trained” machine gunners would be entitled to wear it. It was worn on the left wrist by other ranks Corporal or below; however, prior to 1942, it could be worn by ranks above Corporal on the right sleeve above the rank insignia. After 1942, ranks above Corporal were not permitted skill-at-arms or trade insignia.


Sources