Through various treaties and agreements between Britain and Egypt, the Sudan was occupied by the British between 1899 and 1956. As such, it’s armed forces were part of the British Empire and aligned closely with the British Army.
Second World War
During the Second World War, the forces in the Sudan were run by the British Army, with British officers and many British specialists attached to Sudanese units.
The Frontier Battalions of the Force including a machine gun company of 16 Vickers machine guns alongside three rifle companies. These machine guns were carried in trucks.
The Station Headquarters at Shendi included Vickers machine guns as part of their establishment for the training of recruits.
The Recruit Training Centres also had Vickers machine guns as part of their teaching. The Northern Training Depot included five service guns and five instructional guns.
- VI/SDF/153A/1, 11th February 1942 – Sudan Defence Force Recruit Training Centres (Other than Omdurman)
- VI/SDF/154A/1, 11th February 1942 – Sudan Defence Force Northern Training Depot
- VI/SDF/154A/2, 5th May 1942 – Sudan Defence Force Northern Training Depot
The Northern-region infantry companies contained machine gun platoons in both their animal and mechanical transport companies. These platoons appear to have had six guns each.
- VI/SDF/164/1, 24th December 1941, Sudan Defence Force, An Infantry Company (Northern) with Mechanical Transport
- VI/SDF/165/1, 24th December 1941, Sudan Defence Force, An Infantry Company (Northern) with Animal Transport
The Mounted Infantry Company included a machine gun troop, also with six guns, but only four pack horses so possibly two spare or carried in the other troops. The Headquarters of the Mounted Infantry Company included a Machine gun troop as well, with 12 guns, including 4 in reserve.
- VI/SDF/170/1, 24th December 1941, Sudan Defence Force, Mounted Infantry Company
- VI/SDF/151/A, 11th February 1942, Sudan Defence Force, No. 2 Headquarters Mounted Infantry Company, Western Arab Corps (Including Area Headquarters)
There was also an Armoured Train, the armaments of which included a medium machine gun, most likely a Vickers, alongside anti-tank rifles and light machine guns.
They also made extensive use of armoured cars. This included a Mobile Machine Gun Group with headquarters and then individual companies, but not all of them used armoured cars, with the others relying on unarmoured trucks and vans.
- VI/SDF/166/1, 5th September 1941, Sudan Defence Force, Mobile Machine Gun Group, Headquarters
- VI/SDF/172/1, 21st January, 1942, Sudan Defence Force, A Mobile Machine Gun Company (With Armoured Cars)
- VI/SDF/173/1, 28th January, 1942, Sudan Defence Force, A Mobile Machine Gun Company (Without Armoured Cars)
The regional headquarters of the Sudanese Defence Force included their own Vickers machines guns based at their depots. They also, until the introduction of the Mobile Machine Gun Group Headquarters, commanded the Mobile Machine Gun Companies in their areas.
- VI/SDF/174/1, 7th January 1942, Sudan Defence Force, Headquarters, Eastern Area and Eastern Arab Corps
- VI/SDF/152A/1, 11th February 1942, Sudan Defence Force, Headquarters, Central Area and Camel Corps
Even the Service Company of the Sudan Defence Forces included two Vickers machine guns. The Company had a local transport section, 7 service sections, and animal transport section as well as reinforcements. It’s unclear which section used the Vickers.
The Sudanese Defence Force later introduced Motor Battalions that included an Armoured Car Platoon containing seven Vickers machine guns mounted one each on the cars. They replaced the Mobile Machine Gun Group Headquarters and Companies.
Also in March 1942, an infantry battalion war establishment replaced the Frontier Battalion and the Infantry Companies (Northern). The infantry battalion consisted of three rifle companies and a machine gun company of three platoons, each of four Vickers machine guns.
The recruit and reinforcements depot for the Khartoum Independant District included one Vickers machine gun and a total of 3,000 rounds of ammunition, including the reserve, so presumably for training only as this was less than the 3,500 rounds of first line ammunition usually kept.
As of May 1942, the Area headquarters and Depots of the Sudan Defence Force each had four Vickers machine guns. An Area was commanded by a British Lieutenant-Colonel.
In July 1942 an anti-tank platoon was added to the headquarters company of an infantry battalion. This was eight 2-pounder anti-tank guns carried on 3-ton portee trucks. The machine gun company remained 12 guns across three platoons.
A ‘lower establishment’ infantry battalion also existed. This didn’t include the 2-pounder anti-tank guns and there was only a machine gun platoon (four guns) instead of a company.
- VI/SDF/166B/1, 7th September 1943, Sudan Defence Force, An Infantry Battalion (Lower Establishment).
- The National Archives, WO 24/939, War Establishments 1941 January to June.
- The National Archives, WO 24/941, War Establishments 1941 October to December.
- The National Archives, WO 24/943, War Establishments 1942 January to June.
- The National Archives, WO 24/944, War Establishments 1942 July to September.
- The National Archives, WO 24/945, War Establishments 1942 October to December.
- The National Archives, WO 24/946, War Establishments 1943 January to March.
- War Office (1940). E 1090. London: Imperial War Museum.
- War Office (1940). E 1100. London: Imperial War Museum.
- War Office (1940). E 1109. London: Imperial War Museum.
- War Office (1940). E 1113. London: Imperial War Museum.