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The Lancashire Fusiliers:

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

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The Great War

The Lancashire Fusiliers 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 86th Brigade, attached to the 29th Division. It's MG Section was likely to have been transferred into the 86th MG Coy. which was was formed on the 26 February 1916, at el Kubri.

As a unit of the 29th Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
The division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War. Between January and March, 1915, the division assembled and mobilized in the Midlands, in the area Nuneaton-Rugby-Banbury-Stratford, with headquarters at Leamington. The 12 infantry battalions of which the division was composed were collected from Asia (10), Africa (1), and Europe (1). Of these 12 battalions, one came from China, three from different stations in Burma, six from six different stations in India, one from Mauritius, and the remaining battalion was an existing T.F. battalion from Edinburgh. The brigades were formed in the mobilization area. The mounted troops included a cavalry squadron from an existing yeomanry unit, and a cyclist company which was formed in the mobilization area. Of the artillery brigades, XV. R.H.A. was formed at Leamington, in January, 1915, two of its batteries came from India, and it was completed by a battery which had returned to England from the Western Front to be re-formed; XVII. R.F.A. was in India in August, 1914, and CXLVII. R.F.A. was formed at Leamington, in January, 1915. During mobilization, both field artillery brigades were extensively reorganised. The Highland Mountain Bde. was an existing T.F. formation, the 90th Heavy Bty. came from Nowgong (C.I.); and 14 Siege Battery and 460 (H.) Battery were new formations. The field companies, signal company, field ambulances, and train, were territorial force units.

The division embarked at AVonmouth on the 16th-22nd March, and proceeded via Malta (22nd March) to Alexandria, where the first transport arrived on the 28th March. The division disembarked at Alexandria, and on the 7th April re-embarkation began for Mudros (actually before the disembarkation of the whole division had been completed). On the evening of the 23rd April the ships of the covering force sailed from Lemnos and spent the following day anchored off Tenedos.

The landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula began at about 7 a.m. on the 25th April. For the rest of the year the 29th Division served on the Gallipoli Peninsula and took part in the following operations:-

1915
THE BATTLES OF HELLES
25 and 26 AprilThe Landing at Cape Helles.
26 AprilCapture of Sedd el Bahr.
28 AprilFirst Battle of Krithia.
01 and 02 MayEski Hissarlik.
06 to 08 MaySecond Battle of Krithia.
12 MayGurkha Bluff (29th Ind. Inf. Bde.).
04 JuneThird Battle of Krithia [VIII. Corps].
28 June to 02 JulyGully Ravine [VIII. Corps].
06 to 13 AugustKrithia Vineyard [VIII. Corps].

Between 16-21 August, 29th Divisional H.Q.; 86th, 87th, 88th Inf. Bdes.; 2/London, 2/Lowland, 1/W.Riding Fd. Cos.; 1/London Sig. Coy.; 87th, 88th and 89th Fd. Ambces moved to Suvla and came under IX. Corps. The 29th Divnl. Artillery remained at Helles under VIII. Corps.

THE BATTLES OF SUVLA
21 AugustBattle of Scimitar Hill [IX. Corps].
Night 19/20 DecemberEvacuation of Suvla (88th Inf. Bde.) [IX. Corps].
The 87th Inf. Bde. returned to Helles on 01 October, 1915, and 2/Lond. Fd. Coy. on 02 November, 1915. After the Evacuation of Suvla, Divnl. H.Q., with 86th and 88th Inf. Bdes., and the two Fd. Cos. returned to Helles between 16-22 December, and came again under VIII. Corps. (The three field ambulances were left at Mudros and Imbros).
1916
Night of 07/08 JanuaryEvaucation of Helles [VIII. Corps].

After the Evacuation of Helles, the 29th Division moved to Egypt and was concentrated at Suez. On 25th February orders were received for the early move of the division to France. Embarking in March, the division disembarked at Marseille, and between 15-29 March it effected its concentration on the Somme, east of Pont Remy. For the rest of the Great War the 29th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium.

2nd

The 2nd Battalion was part of the 12th Brigade, attached to the 4th Division. It's MG Section was transferred on 24 January 1916 to form the 12th Bde. MG Coy..

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].
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].

5th

The 5th Battalion was part of the 125th Brigade, attached to the 42nd Division. It's MG Section was transferred on 04 March 1916 to form the 125th Bde. MG Coy..

As a unit of the 42nd Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
MOBILIZATION, BATTLES, AND ENGAGEMENTS
The division - an existing T.F. division - was drawn from Manchester and Salford and the Cotton and Colliery Towns of East Lancashire, with the divisional headquarters in Manchester. The twelve infantry battalions came from Bury, Rochdale, Salford (2), Blackburn, Burnley, Ashton-under-Lyne, Oldham, Wigan, and Manchester (3). The artillery was very scattered: headquarters was at Nantwich (Cheshire); the I.E.Lanc.Bde. had its headquarters, one battery, and its ammunition column at Blackburn, with two outlying batteries at Church and Burnley; and the III.E.Lanc.Bde. was concentrated at Bolton. (The other two artillery brigades of the division did not go overseas until June, 1915. In 1914 the II.E.Lanc.Bde. was concentrated in Manchester, and the IV.E.Lanc.(How.)Bde. was at Carlisle, with an outlying battery at Workington.) There was no divisional ammunition column at the outbreak of the Great War. Except the heavy battery (which came from Liverpool) the remainder of the division - field companies, signla company, field ambulances, and the Divnl. T. and S. Column - came from Manchester.

The order to mobilize was received at 5-30pm on the 4th August, and units were billeted within reach of their respective headquarters. On the 10th August the Territorial Force was invited to volunteer for foreign service; and, on the 20th, the division, having accepted the liability, moved out into camps for training. On the 5th September, the division was warned that it would be sent to Egypt. On the 9th it began to entrain for Southampton, and the first transport sailed on the 10th. The East Lancashire Division possesses the proud distinction of being the first division of the Territorial Force to leave England for foreign service.

The division began its disembarkation at Alexandria on the 25th September. The Manchester Inf. Bde. (less 1½ battalions) remained at Alexandria. This brigade sent a half-battalion to garrison Cyprus and one battalion to Khartoum. The rest of the division concentrated around Cairo for training. Towards the end of October some detachments were sent to strengthen the Canal Zone, and on the 5th November Great Britain declared war against Turkey.

1914
1915
On the 1st May the division began to embark at Alexandria for Gallipoli. The first transports left on the 2nd and the last followed on the 6th. By the evening of the 9th, Divnl. H.Q., and all the infantry had landed at Helles. The strength embarking for Gallipoli was 14,224 all ranks, with 24 15-pdr. B.L.C. guns, and 24 machine guns.
THE BATTLES OF HELLES
6 to 8 MaySecond Battle of Krithia (125th Bde.) [with 29th Div.].
4 JuneThird Battle of Krithia [VIII. Corps].
6 to 13 AugustKrithia Vineyard [VIII. Corps].
On 26th December the divison was ordered to prepare to leave Helles. Between 27 to 31 December the division (with the S.E.Mtd.Bde.) reached Mudros (less the Divisional Artillery, detnt. of R.E., and 1st and 3rd Fd. Ambces., which were all attached to the 13th Divison, and with it took part in the Evacuation of Helles, 7th/8th January, 1916).
1916
The Division embarked for Egypt between 12-16 January and concentrated at Mena on 22nd January, its effective strength on this day was 6,669 all tanks. On 29th January the division began to take over part of the IX. Corps front, Canal Defences.

6th

The 6th Battalion was part of the 125th Brigade, attached to the 42nd Division. It's MG Section was transferred on 04 March 1916 to form the 125th Bde. MG Coy..

As a unit of the 42nd Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
MOBILIZATION, BATTLES, AND ENGAGEMENTS
The division - an existing T.F. division - was drawn from Manchester and Salford and the Cotton and Colliery Towns of East Lancashire, with the divisional headquarters in Manchester. The twelve infantry battalions came from Bury, Rochdale, Salford (2), Blackburn, Burnley, Ashton-under-Lyne, Oldham, Wigan, and Manchester (3). The artillery was very scattered: headquarters was at Nantwich (Cheshire); the I.E.Lanc.Bde. had its headquarters, one battery, and its ammunition column at Blackburn, with two outlying batteries at Church and Burnley; and the III.E.Lanc.Bde. was concentrated at Bolton. (The other two artillery brigades of the division did not go overseas until June, 1915. In 1914 the II.E.Lanc.Bde. was concentrated in Manchester, and the IV.E.Lanc.(How.)Bde. was at Carlisle, with an outlying battery at Workington.) There was no divisional ammunition column at the outbreak of the Great War. Except the heavy battery (which came from Liverpool) the remainder of the division - field companies, signla company, field ambulances, and the Divnl. T. and S. Column - came from Manchester.

The order to mobilize was received at 5-30pm on the 4th August, and units were billeted within reach of their respective headquarters. On the 10th August the Territorial Force was invited to volunteer for foreign service; and, on the 20th, the division, having accepted the liability, moved out into camps for training. On the 5th September, the division was warned that it would be sent to Egypt. On the 9th it began to entrain for Southampton, and the first transport sailed on the 10th. The East Lancashire Division possesses the proud distinction of being the first division of the Territorial Force to leave England for foreign service.

The division began its disembarkation at Alexandria on the 25th September. The Manchester Inf. Bde. (less 1½ battalions) remained at Alexandria. This brigade sent a half-battalion to garrison Cyprus and one battalion to Khartoum. The rest of the division concentrated around Cairo for training. Towards the end of October some detachments were sent to strengthen the Canal Zone, and on the 5th November Great Britain declared war against Turkey.

1914
1915
On the 1st May the division began to embark at Alexandria for Gallipoli. The first transports left on the 2nd and the last followed on the 6th. By the evening of the 9th, Divnl. H.Q., and all the infantry had landed at Helles. The strength embarking for Gallipoli was 14,224 all ranks, with 24 15-pdr. B.L.C. guns, and 24 machine guns.
THE BATTLES OF HELLES
6 to 8 MaySecond Battle of Krithia (125th Bde.) [with 29th Div.].
4 JuneThird Battle of Krithia [VIII. Corps].
6 to 13 AugustKrithia Vineyard [VIII. Corps].
On 26th December the divison was ordered to prepare to leave Helles. Between 27 to 31 December the division (with the S.E.Mtd.Bde.) reached Mudros (less the Divisional Artillery, detnt. of R.E., and 1st and 3rd Fd. Ambces., which were all attached to the 13th Divison, and with it took part in the Evacuation of Helles, 7th/8th January, 1916).
1916
The Division embarked for Egypt between 12-16 January and concentrated at Mena on 22nd January, its effective strength on this day was 6,669 all tanks. On 29th January the division began to take over part of the IX. Corps front, Canal Defences.

7th

The 7th Battalion was part of the 125th Brigade, attached to the 42nd Division. It's MG Section was transferred on 04 March 1916 to form the 125th Bde. MG Coy..

As a unit of the 42nd Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
MOBILIZATION, BATTLES, AND ENGAGEMENTS
The division - an existing T.F. division - was drawn from Manchester and Salford and the Cotton and Colliery Towns of East Lancashire, with the divisional headquarters in Manchester. The twelve infantry battalions came from Bury, Rochdale, Salford (2), Blackburn, Burnley, Ashton-under-Lyne, Oldham, Wigan, and Manchester (3). The artillery was very scattered: headquarters was at Nantwich (Cheshire); the I.E.Lanc.Bde. had its headquarters, one battery, and its ammunition column at Blackburn, with two outlying batteries at Church and Burnley; and the III.E.Lanc.Bde. was concentrated at Bolton. (The other two artillery brigades of the division did not go overseas until June, 1915. In 1914 the II.E.Lanc.Bde. was concentrated in Manchester, and the IV.E.Lanc.(How.)Bde. was at Carlisle, with an outlying battery at Workington.) There was no divisional ammunition column at the outbreak of the Great War. Except the heavy battery (which came from Liverpool) the remainder of the division - field companies, signla company, field ambulances, and the Divnl. T. and S. Column - came from Manchester.

The order to mobilize was received at 5-30pm on the 4th August, and units were billeted within reach of their respective headquarters. On the 10th August the Territorial Force was invited to volunteer for foreign service; and, on the 20th, the division, having accepted the liability, moved out into camps for training. On the 5th September, the division was warned that it would be sent to Egypt. On the 9th it began to entrain for Southampton, and the first transport sailed on the 10th. The East Lancashire Division possesses the proud distinction of being the first division of the Territorial Force to leave England for foreign service.

The division began its disembarkation at Alexandria on the 25th September. The Manchester Inf. Bde. (less 1½ battalions) remained at Alexandria. This brigade sent a half-battalion to garrison Cyprus and one battalion to Khartoum. The rest of the division concentrated around Cairo for training. Towards the end of October some detachments were sent to strengthen the Canal Zone, and on the 5th November Great Britain declared war against Turkey.

1914
1915
On the 1st May the division began to embark at Alexandria for Gallipoli. The first transports left on the 2nd and the last followed on the 6th. By the evening of the 9th, Divnl. H.Q., and all the infantry had landed at Helles. The strength embarking for Gallipoli was 14,224 all ranks, with 24 15-pdr. B.L.C. guns, and 24 machine guns.
THE BATTLES OF HELLES
6 to 8 MaySecond Battle of Krithia (125th Bde.) [with 29th Div.].
4 JuneThird Battle of Krithia [VIII. Corps].
6 to 13 AugustKrithia Vineyard [VIII. Corps].
On 26th December the divison was ordered to prepare to leave Helles. Between 27 to 31 December the division (with the S.E.Mtd.Bde.) reached Mudros (less the Divisional Artillery, detnt. of R.E., and 1st and 3rd Fd. Ambces., which were all attached to the 13th Divison, and with it took part in the Evacuation of Helles, 7th/8th January, 1916).
1916
The Division embarked for Egypt between 12-16 January and concentrated at Mena on 22nd January, its effective strength on this day was 6,669 all tanks. On 29th January the division began to take over part of the IX. Corps front, Canal Defences.

8th

The 8th Battalion was part of the 125th Brigade, attached to the 42nd Division. It's MG Section was transferred on 04 March 1916 to form the 125th Bde. MG Coy..

As a unit of the 42nd Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
MOBILIZATION, BATTLES, AND ENGAGEMENTS
The division - an existing T.F. division - was drawn from Manchester and Salford and the Cotton and Colliery Towns of East Lancashire, with the divisional headquarters in Manchester. The twelve infantry battalions came from Bury, Rochdale, Salford (2), Blackburn, Burnley, Ashton-under-Lyne, Oldham, Wigan, and Manchester (3). The artillery was very scattered: headquarters was at Nantwich (Cheshire); the I.E.Lanc.Bde. had its headquarters, one battery, and its ammunition column at Blackburn, with two outlying batteries at Church and Burnley; and the III.E.Lanc.Bde. was concentrated at Bolton. (The other two artillery brigades of the division did not go overseas until June, 1915. In 1914 the II.E.Lanc.Bde. was concentrated in Manchester, and the IV.E.Lanc.(How.)Bde. was at Carlisle, with an outlying battery at Workington.) There was no divisional ammunition column at the outbreak of the Great War. Except the heavy battery (which came from Liverpool) the remainder of the division - field companies, signla company, field ambulances, and the Divnl. T. and S. Column - came from Manchester.

The order to mobilize was received at 5-30pm on the 4th August, and units were billeted within reach of their respective headquarters. On the 10th August the Territorial Force was invited to volunteer for foreign service; and, on the 20th, the division, having accepted the liability, moved out into camps for training. On the 5th September, the division was warned that it would be sent to Egypt. On the 9th it began to entrain for Southampton, and the first transport sailed on the 10th. The East Lancashire Division possesses the proud distinction of being the first division of the Territorial Force to leave England for foreign service.

The division began its disembarkation at Alexandria on the 25th September. The Manchester Inf. Bde. (less 1½ battalions) remained at Alexandria. This brigade sent a half-battalion to garrison Cyprus and one battalion to Khartoum. The rest of the division concentrated around Cairo for training. Towards the end of October some detachments were sent to strengthen the Canal Zone, and on the 5th November Great Britain declared war against Turkey.

1914
1915
On the 1st May the division began to embark at Alexandria for Gallipoli. The first transports left on the 2nd and the last followed on the 6th. By the evening of the 9th, Divnl. H.Q., and all the infantry had landed at Helles. The strength embarking for Gallipoli was 14,224 all ranks, with 24 15-pdr. B.L.C. guns, and 24 machine guns.
THE BATTLES OF HELLES
6 to 8 MaySecond Battle of Krithia (125th Bde.) [with 29th Div.].
4 JuneThird Battle of Krithia [VIII. Corps].
6 to 13 AugustKrithia Vineyard [VIII. Corps].
On 26th December the divison was ordered to prepare to leave Helles. Between 27 to 31 December the division (with the S.E.Mtd.Bde.) reached Mudros (less the Divisional Artillery, detnt. of R.E., and 1st and 3rd Fd. Ambces., which were all attached to the 13th Divison, and with it took part in the Evacuation of Helles, 7th/8th January, 1916).
1916
The Division embarked for Egypt between 12-16 January and concentrated at Mena on 22nd January, its effective strength on this day was 6,669 all tanks. On 29th January the division began to take over part of the IX. Corps front, Canal Defences.

10th

The 10th Battalion started the Great War as a member of the 52nd Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division.

As a unit of the 17th (Northern) Infantry Division, its MG Section may have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
1914
This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September 1914 authorized the further addition of six divisions (15th - 20th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army (see Appendix I). This augmentation formed the Second New Army, and during September 1914 the 17th (Northern) Division began to assemble around Wareham.

By the end of September 1914 all the surplus stores of arms, equipment, and uniforms had been issued, and for some time no uniforms were available for the rank and file of the 17th Division. Even blankets were scarce in the improvised billets and later on in the crowded camps. For months the infantry had only a few old drill-pattern rifles; and machine guns had to be represented by home-made dummy guns. In October a varied assortment of peace-time uniforms arrived; the infantry then paraded in red coats, combined with civilian head-dresses and overcoats. At the same time a supply of tents was issued to the Division, and the men were placed under canvas until the unsettled November weather compelled the abandonment of tents; the units were then moved into recently erected huts. Before the end of 1914 the infantry received a large supply of Lee-Enfield magazine rifles and a generous supply of ammunition; elementary musketry instruction became possible. Then, in March 1915 a limited issue of service rifles and new leather equiepment was made to the infantry.

In the Artillery most of the officers had everything to learn, and it was soon found that 20 per cent of the recruits, who had been accepted in the rush, were unfit for military service and had to be replaced, also very few of the recruits had ever ridden of had any previous experience with horses. At the outset the only available artillery materiel was a few limbers and wagons, together with some ancient and obsolete guns and two old French 90-mm. guns, dating from the war of 1870 - pieces which were more suitable for museums than for a training centre. Even so the guns were without sights, and naturally no dial sights, directors, range tables, or telephones were available. But ingenuity, assisted by the local carpenters, provided rough and ready imitations of the missing stores, and allowed the recruits to be given some training during the early months. The first horses for the artillery arrived in February 1915, the 18-pdrs. were issues in April, and the first howitzers reached Swanage in the middle of May.

During this time the artillery had been in empty houses in Swanage and the infantry brigades had shifted their quarters more than once. Originally the three infantry brigades were around Wareham; but in October 1914 the brigades were at Wareham (50th), West Lulworth (51st), and Bovington Camp, Wool (52nd). In December the 51st moved to Wool, and the 52nd to Wimborne. In March 1915 the 51st returned to West Lulworth, and the 52nd moved back to Wool. These stations were maintained until May. Between the 27th May and the 1st June the Division marched to Winchester, Romsey, Hursley, Pitt Corner, and Flowerdown, and final intensive training for the field was undertaken.

On the 5th July the Division was informed that it would be retained in England for some time and be employed on Home Defence. At midnight this arrangement was cancelled and the 17th Division was ordered to embark for France between the 12th and 15th July. On the 6th the advanced party left, and on the same day the Division completed its mobilization - but the three field ambulances only joined the Division at Southampton during embarkation. On the 12th July embarkation began. By the 17th the Division concentrated to the southward of St. Omer, and on the 19th July it moved forward and came under V Corps, Second Army. For the remainder of the Great War the 17th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:-

1915
09 AugustHooge [V Corps, Second Army].

It's MG Section will have been disbanded on the attachment of 52nd MG Company, which took place on 12 February 1916, Machine Gunners may have been absorbed by the 52nd MG Company, or trained on the Lewis Gun, which now equipped the Infantry Battalion.


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 when the majority of Battalions had their Machine Gun assets centralised into those Battalions.

1st

The 1st Battalion was part of the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade, and a 'Chindits' Battalion, where it was formed into Columns each having an MG Section of two guns, the Battalion's MG Platoon being spread across the Columns and supplemented with additional guns and machine gunners where required.


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 assest reverted to individual Battalions as part of the Support Company as a Machine Gun Platoon.


Sources

  • Becke, 1934
  • Redding, 2011
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