The Great War
During the Great War, the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) were intended to be equipped with the M1915 Vickers machine gun and many of the official publications of the period include the Vickers; however, the Browning M1917A1 became available in sufficient quantities and replaced it once the AEF formed their own Corps.
To assist in their training, some members of the Machine Gun Corps went to the United States as instructors. One is known to have died there in April 1918 – Private J H Hartley.
Whilst the American 77th Division were working alongside the British Army, and were trained by members of the 39th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps, in the use of the Vickers Mk I during May 1918.
They also received instruction in boxing.
The Second World War
Despite the Browning being the primary machine gun used by the US Army, there seems to have been a unique use of the Vickers in the Second World War by American forces. The US Army Rangers used the Vickers GO No. 1 Mk. I as additional firepower for cliff assaults.
For the Pointe du Hoc assault on 06 June 1944 – Operation Overlord ‘D-Day’ – they utilised multiple guns at the top of extendable ladders mounted on of DUKW amphibious vehicles. Initially, this was a triple installation in training, but then appears to have been reduced to a pair for the actual operation. This may have been as part of an armoured housing with additional magazines.
The available photos show Twin Vickers K guns mounted on the top of the ladder and a grave at the top of Pointe du Hoc utilising a Vickers GO and US M1 helmet – alongside the gun and helmet is the magazine from the ‘K’. This is supplemented by a short (and poor quality) Imperial War Museum clip of the Ranger training, showing the triple ‘K’ mounting.
- Burton Bradstock Online, 2012
- Goldsmith, 1994
- Imperial War Museum photo collection – all photos individually captioned.
- Nevington War Museum (nd). DUKW Extension Ladder [online]. Available at: http://www.nevingtonwarmuseum.com/dukw-extension-ladder.html (Accessed 4 June 2019).