The Jeep first became acquainted with the Vickers MG when introduced into British Service in around 1942
In British Army service the Universal Carrier and 15-cwt Truck were used as the means of transporting the Vickers MG when in a Divisional Machine Gun Battalion or Divisional Support Battalion. The Jeep was only used in British Army service for transporting the Vickers as part of the Airlanding Battalions of the Airborne Division.
The Australian 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion, whilst serving in the jungle, developed a system to use the jeep for a Machine Gun Section’s equipment. It was found that the jeep was much more suitable than any other vehicle that they had available. The system developed was then expected to be adopted across all of the Machine Gun Battalions serving in the same theatre.
The following series of photos shows the layouts used and the equipment carried:
- Equipment carried:
- Bottom layer:
- Middle layer:
- Top layer:
Vickers Mk. I
The mobility of the jeep gave it some advantages over other fighting vehicles; however, it was not armoured and, therefore, not widely suitable to be used as a fighting vehicle. For airborne forces though, it was transportable by glider. The photograph below shows a jeep with a Vickers fitted to it and capable of being fired from it. This is believed to be an early photo of the 1st Airlanding Reconnaissance Squadron (later to become the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron and using the Vickers Gas-Operated No 1 Mk I as discussed below).
The Small Arms School at Netheravon also developed a system for storing the equipment on the Jeep, with the gun mounted using the same mounting at the Universal Carrier. It is not believed that this saw any service. There is both a gun carrying variant and a Section Commander’s variant with the range-finder stowed.
Vickers GO No. 1 Mk. I
The Jeep was used as a fighting vehicle by the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron which was part of the 1st Airborne Division. It was mounted on a specially-adapted Parish-Lulworth-Motley (PLM) mounting, which was stripped down to remove all of the remote firing and gears which were used when the Vickers GO was mounted on Armoured Cars.
The benefit of having the Vickers GO was a high-rate of fire that could provide immediate suppressive fire that would overwhelm any ambush by the enemy. Magazines were not carried in any special way other than by using a biscuit tin (which fits the diameter of the magazine very well) to keep them from being loose in the footwell. A tension plate was fitted to the side of the Jeep that could be used to wind the magazines when being reloaded.
They were fitted at the insistence of the Squadron Officer Commanding, Major ‘Freddie’ Gough.
In response to his submissions, and long before the Arnhem operation was ever thought of, Major Gough, had succeeded in getting his jeeps equipped with the Vickers “K” guns. Special permanent mountings of tubular steel were devised for the vehicles, so that the guns could be operated from the front seat beside the driver. Provision was also made of the gun to be quickly removed from the mounting, in the event that the vehicles might have to be temporarily abandoned in the course of an attack. For the Arnhem operation, what was unsatisfactory about their use was the limitation of one Vickers “K” gun per jeep. In vain, Gough argued that, at the very least, each vehicle needed the fire power of a twin-mounted set. Indeed, it was known that in Italy, some SAS vehicles had been in action with as many as give such guns! His request was regretfully turned down, on the grounds that the problems of transporting all the ammunition needed would, under the conditions or airborne supply, be unrealistic.
The Jeep was also the main mode of transport for the Special Air Service and often mounted up to five Vickers GO guns as the armament.
The similar set-up was also used by the Long Range Desert Group.
- Dawson, 1944a
- Fairley, 1978
- Royal Marines’ Museum
- Spender, 1942