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Units That Used The Vickers

The Gordon Highlanders:

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

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The Great War

The Gordon Highlanders was an Infantry Battalion 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 8th Brigade and transferred to the 76th Brigade on 19 October 1915, both Brigades attached to the 3rd Division. It's MG Section was transferred by 13 April 1916 to form the 76th Bde. MG Coy..

As a unit of the 3rd Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
1914
23 and 24 AugustBattle of Mons [II. Corps].
24 August to 05 SeptemberRETREAT FROM MONS [II. Corps].
26 AugustBattle of le Cateau [II. Corps].
06 to 09 SeptemberBattle of the Marne [II. Corps].
13 to 20 SeptemberBATTLE OF THE AISNE [II. Corps].
13 SeptemberPassage of the Aisne.
20 SeptemberActions on the Aisne Heights.
10 October to 02 NovemberBattle of La Bassee [II. Corps] (3rd Division (less 8th Brigade, left under Indian Corps) was relieved on 29 October)
05 to 21 NovemberBATTLES OF YPRES [I. Corps].
11 NovemberBattle of Nonne Bosschen [I. Corps]. (In this battle the 3rd Division was formed of 7th, 9th, and 15th Brigades).
14 DecemberAttack on Wytschaete.
1915
16 JuneFirst Attack on Bellewaarde [V. Corps, Second Army].
19 JulyHooge [V. Corps, Second Army].
25 SeptemberSecond Attack on Bellewaarde [V. Corps, Second Army].

2nd

The 2nd Battalion was part of the 20th Brigade, attached to the 7th Division. Its MG Section was transferred on 10 February 1916 to form the 20th Bde. MG Coy..

As a unit of the 7th Infantry Division, its MG Section will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.

The division had no existence before the outbreak of War; it was gradually assembled at Lyndhurst between the 31st August and the 4th October, 1914. The 12 infantry battalions included the three remaining unalloted regular battalions left in England, as well as nine battalions brought back from various overseas stations, viz. - Guernsey (1), Gibralter (2), Malta (2), Cairo (1), Natal (1), and the Transvaal (2). The mounted troops included an existing yeomanry regiment as well as a cyclist company, formed on mobilization. The Field Artillery was made up by one R.H.A. Brigade (XIV., of two batteries), and one R.F.A. Brigade (XXXV.) still left at home, together with one R.F.A. Brigade (XXII.) from the Transvaal. The two heavy batteries were new units formed at Woolwich after the outbreak of War, and the field companies came from Chatham and Pretoria. Three of the A.S.C. companies (30, 40 and 42) came from Gibralter, Malta, and Pretoria, but the remaining company (86) was a new formation.

The 7th Division embarked at Southampton on the 4th and 5th October, and began disembarkation at Zeebrugge on the 6th October. The division moved to Bruges on the 7th October, and reached Ghent on the 9th October. During the night of 11/12 October, a retirement on Ypres was begun and the place was reached on the 14th. The 7th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium until the 17th November, 1917, when it began entraining for the Italian Front, on which it served for the remainder of the War. The 7th Division was engaged in the following operations:-

1914
09 and 10 OctoberAntwerp Operations [IV. Corps].
19 October to 05 NovemberBATTLES OF YPRES
21 to 24 OctoberBattle of Langemarck [IV. Corps].
29 to 31 OctoberBattle of Gheluvelt [I. Corps].

18 DecemberRouges Banes - Well Farm Attack [IV. Corps].
1915
10 to 13 MarchBattle of Neuve Chappelle [IV. Corps, First Army].
09 MayBattle of Aubers Ridge [In reserve, IV. Corps, First Army].
15 to 19 MayBattle of Festubert [I. Corps, First Army].
15 and 16 JuneGivenchy [IV. Corps].
25 September and 08 OctoberBattle of Loos [I. Corps, First Army].

8th

The 8th 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..

10th

The 10th Battalion was part of the 44th 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 44th 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 Gordons was one of the Regiments originally selected for this role but only the 4th Battalion was actually converted.

4th

The 4th 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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