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Units That Used The Vickers

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders:

Great War - Inter-war - Second World War - Post-war

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders


The Great War

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders consisted of Infantry Battalions that would have had an MG Section as part of its Battalion Headquarters. These weapons would have been brigaded when the Machine Gun Corps was formed in 1915. The guns, and crews, would have been formed into a Machine Gun Company.

During the Great War, the Battalions were distributed as follows:

1st

The 1st Battalion was part of the 81st Brigade, attached to the 27th Division.

As a unit of the 27th Infantry Division, its MG Section will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
The division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

The division assmebled and mobilized at Magdalen Hill Camp (2 miles east of Winchester) during November and December, 1914. The 13 infantry battalions of which was composed came from India (10 from ten different stations), Hong Kong, Tientsin and Canada (P.P.C.L.I.); the infantry brigades were formed at Winchester. The mounted troops included a cavalry squadron from an existing yeomanry unit and a cyclist company, which was formed at Winchester. Of the field artillery brigades: I. was originally at Edinburgh, whilst XIX. and XX. came from India; but all three were extensively reorganized and re-formed at Winchester. The field companies, signal company, field ambulances, and train came from territorial force divisions.

The 27th Division embarked at Southampton on the 19th - 21st December, disembarked at le Havre between the 20th - 23rd December, and concentrated between Aire and Arques by the evening of the 25th December.

The 17th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium until November, 1915. In the following month it embarked for the Macedonian Front, on which it served for the remainder of the War.

1914
1915
14 and 15 MarchSt. Eloi [V. Corps, Second Army].
BATTLES OF YPRES
22 and 23 AprilBattle of Gravenstafel Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].
24 April to 04 MayBattle of St. Julien [V. Corps, Second Army, until 28 April; then Plumer's Force].
08 to 13 MayBattle of Frezenberg Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].
24 and 25 MayBattle of Bellewaarde Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].
On the 1st November the division was warned to be ready to entrain for Marseille on the 10th November. Entrainment began on the 15th, and embarkation for the Macedonian Front on the 17th; but it was not until the 13th February, 1916, that the last of the division disembarked at Salonika.

Its MG Section was transferred on the 16 May 1916 to form the 81st Bde. MG Coy..

7th

The 7th Battalion was part of the 10th Brigade, attached to the 4th Division.

As a unit of the 4th Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
1914
25 August to 05 SeptemberRETREAT FROM MONS [II. Corps, 26 to 30 August 1914, and III. Corps from 31 August 1914.]
26 AugustBattle of le Cateau [under II. Corps].
01 SeptemberNery (1/R. War. R. and 2/R.D.F., 10th Bde.)
06 to 09 SeptemberBattle of the Marne [III. Corps].
13 to 20 SeptemberBATTLE OF THE AISNE [III. Corps].
13 October to 02 NovemberBattle of Armentieres [III. Corps].
13 OctoberCapture of Meteren
1915
25 April to 25 MayBATTLES OF YPRES [V. Corps, Second Army].
25 April to 04 MayBattle of St. Julien [V. Corps, Second Army, and from 28 April to 07 May in Plumer's Force].
08 to 13 MayBattle of Frezenberg Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].
24 and 25 MayBattle of Bellewaarde Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].

It's MG Section was transferred on 22 December 1915 to form the 10th Bde. MG Coy..

10th

The 10th Battalion was part of the 26th Brigade, attached to the 9th Division.

As a unit of the 9th Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
FORMATION, BATTLES, AND ENGAGEMENTS
This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

Great Britain declared war on Germany at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, the 4th August 1914, and on the 5th Agusut Field-Marshall Earl Kitchener of Khartoum was appointed Secretary of Strate for War. On the 6th August Parliament sanctioned an increase of 500,000 men for the Regular Army, and a proclamation headed: "Your King and Country need you. A Call to Arms," was published on the 11th August. This proclamation asked for an immediate addition of a hundred thousand men to the Regular Army, and issued on the 21st August 1914, and amended by Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September authorised the addition of six dibisions (9th to 14th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation became the First New Army, and the 9th (Scottish) Division was formed towards the end of August, 1914.

After enlistment the men went to their depots; they were then sent on to training camps in the Salisbury Training Centre, and in September the 9th Division assembled around Bordon. At first the scarcity of arms, munitions, and equipment added to the difficulties of training; but as the deficiencies were overcome intensive training for war began and in due course unit training was followed by divisional field manoeuvres. On the 5th May 1915, Field-Marshall Earl Kitchener inspected the 9th Division on Ludshott Common, and on the 7th May embarkation orders were received. The Division crossed to France between Sunday the 9th and Wednesday the 12th May, and by noon on Saturday the 15th May the Division was concentrated in billets to the south-west of St. Omer.

Throughout the remainder of the Great War the 9th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:-

1915
25 to 29 SeptemberBattle of Loos

It's MG Section was transferred on 29 January 1916 to form the 26th Bde. MG Coy..

11th

The 11th Battalion was part of the 45th Brigade, attached to the 15th (Scottish) Division.

As a unit of the 15th (Scottish) Division, its MG Section may have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
FORMATION, BATTLES, AND ENGAGEMENTS
This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

On the 6th August 1914 Parliament sanctioned an increased of 500,000 all ranks to the Regular Army. The first hundred thousand men for this purpose were used to form the First New Army. The formation of the divisions of the Second New Army from the section augmentation of a hundred thousand men was authorized by Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September 1914 (see Appendix I). Six more divisions (15th - 20th) and Army Troops were now added to the Regular Army, and during September 1914 the 15th (Scottish) Division, the senior division of the Second New Army, began to assemble at Aldershot.

Whilst it was at Aldershot H.M. the King inspected the Division on the 26th September. This was the first time the Division paraded as a formed unit and, with the exception of the staff, the Division paraded in plain clothes. The Division remained at Aldershot until the 18th-22nd November when it moved to Salisbury Plain.

On the 22nd January 1915 the Division paraded in the most inclement weather for another inspection, this time by Field-Marshal Earl Kitchener and M. Millerand (French Minister of War). On this occasion all ranks paraded in uniform, and sufficient obsolete drill rifles were available to arm the front ranks of battalions; but many essentials were still lacking.

Horses arrived soon after the assembly of the Division. At first, however, not much use could be made of them as only a headstall was available for each animal; some time elapsed before harness and saddlery reached the Division. In the artillery in the early days the only equipment was an improvised gun made from a log of wood mounted on the Bordon funeral gun-carriage; somewhat later the artillery armament was doubled bu annexing a 9-pdr. brass muzzle-loading gun from the Ordnance Officers' Mess. Later on the divisional artillery received some early 15-pdr. B.L. equipments and some French 90 mm. B.L.s; neither equipment was more than 20 years out of date. Modern Q.F. field guns and 4.5" howitzers only arrived much later, and it was nearing mid-June, 1915 before gun-sights were received. Nevertheless on the 21st June it was a division ready to take the field which paraded for the second time before H.M. the King on Sidbury Hill.

On the 3rd July the Division received the warning that it was to move to France; entrainment began on the 7th, and by the 13th July the Division completed its concentration around Tilques (near St. Omer). On the 15th July the Division began moving south towards Bethune, and on the 17th July the Division joined IV Corps, First Army. For the remainder of the Great War the 15th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:-

1915
25 and 26 SeptemberBattle of Loos [IV Corps, First Army].

It's Vickers machine gunners of the MG Section will have transferred on 12 February 1916 to the 45th MG Coy when this took over the Vickers MG role in the Division.


Inter-war Period

In 1922, the Machine Gun Corps was disbanded and the guns returned to the Infantry Battalion as a Machine Gun Platoon and then formed as a Machine Gun Company in the early 1930s.


Second World War

This remained until the formation of Divisional Machine Gun Battalions in 1936 where guns were brigaded once again. The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders was one of the Regiments originally selected for conversion to that role but not all Battalions were converted. Those that were stayed as such for only a short period of time.

6th

The 6th Battalion was organised as a Divisional MG Battalion but attached to General Headquarters, British Expeditionary Force, available to Corps Troops as required. It took part in the Campaign in France and Belgium, May 1940.


Post-Second World War

Upon the disbandment of Divisional Machine Gun Battalions in the post-WW2 restructure of the British Army, the Vickers Machine Gun assets reverted to individual Battalions as part of the Support Company as a Machine Gun Platoon.


Sources

  • Becke, 1934
  • Joslen, 1960
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