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Northumberland Fusiliers
Royal Northumberland Fusiliers

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

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The Great War

The Northumberland 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 9th Brigade, attached to the 3rd Division. It's MG Section was transferred on by 08 February 1916 to form the 9th 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 84th Brigade, attached to the 28th Division. It's MG Section was likely to have been transferred into the 84th MG Coy. which was formed on 18 May 1916.

As a unit of the 28th 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.

The Division assembled and mobilized at Hursley, Pitt Hill, and Magdalen Hill Camps (around Winchester) during December, 1914, and January, 1915. The 12 infantry battalions, of which it was composed, came from India (10 from nine different stations), Singapore (1), and Egypt (1); the 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: in August, 1914, III. was in India and XXXI. was at Sheffield, whilst CXLVI. was only formed at Winchester. The field companies, signal company, field ambulances, and train, were territorial force units.

The 28th Division embarked at Southampton on the 15th-18th January, 1915, disembarked at Le Havre between the 16th-19th January, and concentrated between Bailleul and Hazebrouck by the 22nd January.

The 28th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium until the middle of October, 1915. It embarked for Egypt in October and November, and, on arrival, it encamped in the neighbourhood of Alexandria. On the 17th November, order were received for the division to embark for Salonika as soon as possiblle. Embarkation began on the 20th November, but it was not until the 4th January, 1916, that all the units had completed disembarkation at Salonika. (The XXXI. and CXLVI. Brigades, R.F.A., proceeded direct from Marseille to Salonika, sailing on the 17th November; these two brigades arrived: XXXI. on 27th November, and CXLVI. on the 2nd December.)

1915
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 28/4; 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].
27 to 05 OctoberBattle of Loos [I. Corps, First Army].
At noon on the 19th October, the division was ordered to be ready to entrain in 48 hours for an unknown destination. On 21st October, the division beganto entrain for Marseille, and on 24th October the first units sailed from that port. Units began to reach Alexandria on 29th October, and the division (less XXXI. and CXLVI. Bdes., R.F.A.) reached Egypt by 22nd November.

The 28th Division was then sent from Alexandria at Salonika on the 4th January, 1916.

8th

The 8th Battalion started the Great War as a member of the 34th Brigade, 11th (Northern) Infantry Division.

As a unit of the 11th (Northern) Infantry Division, its MG Section will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
1914
This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

A proclamation was issued on the 11th August, 1914 asking for an immediate addition of 100,000 men to the Regular Army (see Appendix). Army Order No. 324 of the 21st August (amended by Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September) authorized the addition of six divisions (9th to 14th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation formed the First New Army, and late in August, 1914 the 11th (Northern) Division began to assemble around Grantham.

On the 22nd August when the G.O.C. reached Grantham he found that only the A.-A.&Q.-M.-G. of thedivision had arrived. On the 27th the first batch of 1,000 infantry (with a small proportion of regular officers and non-commissioned-officers, from depot staffs) reached Grantham. Other parties followed and by the 21st September the strength of the infantry had risen to 13,000. At first the infantry of the 11th Division consisted entirely of north country battalions; later on, however, when the 6/East Yorkshire became the pioneer battalion its place was taken by a Wessex battalion - 5/Dorsetshire.

At first there was the usual shortage of clothing, equipment, and arms, leading to some discomfort and to considerable delay in training for war. Nevertherless, on the 18th October Field-Marshal Earl Kitchener visited Grantham and inspected the infantry in Belton Park. Until the following April the Division remained scattered: infantry at Grantham, artillery at Leeds, Sheffield, Norwich, and Weedon; engineers at Newark; field ambulances at Sheffield; train at Lichfield. Then on the 4th April the 11th Division began to move to its concentration area at Witley and Frensham, and final training was carried out and divisional operations undertaken.

On the 31st May H.M. the King inspected the 11th Division on Hankley Common, and on the 12th June orders were received that the Division was to be ready to leave at short notice for the Dardanelles. On the 20th June embarkation began at Liverpool, and the bulk of the Division sailed in the Aquitania and the Empress of Britain. On the 10th July the Aquitania with divisional headquarters and the 32nd Infantry Brigade reached Mudros. On the 23rd all headquarters and troops at Mudros left Lemnos and moved to Imbros, and the 11th Division completed concentration at Imbros on the 28th July.

At 8.30pm on the 6th August the Division left Imbros for Suvla Bay; the troops embarked in torpedo boat destroyers and motor lighters (about 500 in each vessel) each man carrying on him 220 rounds of ammunition and 2 days' iron rations. At 11.30pm the flotilla anchored off Suvla, and shortly after m/n. 6th/7th August disembarkation began near Lala Baba.

During the Great War the 11th (Northern) Division served in Gallipoli and in Egypt, and on the Western Front (in France and Belgium), and was engaged in the following operations:

1915
BATTLES OF SUVLA
06 to 15 AugustThe Landing at Suvla [IX Corps].
07 AugustCapture of Karakol Dagh (34th Bde.) [IX Corps].
21 AugustBattle of Scimitar Hill [IX Corps].
21 AugustAttack on "W" Hills [IX Corps].
Night, 19/20 DecemberEvacuation of Suvla [IX Corps].
On the last night every gun, trench mortar, cart, and animal was withdrawn, and the 11th Division suffered no casualties to its personnel during the final evacuation of Suvla. On leaving Suvla the Division concentrated at Imbros.

Its MG Section was transferred on 01 March 1916 to form the 34th Bde. MG Coy..

8th

The 8th Battalion started the Great War as a member of the 34th Brigade, 11th (Northern) Infantry Division.

As a unit of the 11th (Northern) Infantry Division, its MG Section will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
1914
This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

A proclamation was issued on the 11th August, 1914 asking for an immediate addition of 100,000 men to the Regular Army (see Appendix). Army Order No. 324 of the 21st August (amended by Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September) authorized the addition of six divisions (9th to 14th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation formed the First New Army, and late in August, 1914 the 11th (Northern) Division began to assemble around Grantham.

On the 22nd August when the G.O.C. reached Grantham he found that only the A.-A.&Q.-M.-G. of thedivision had arrived. On the 27th the first batch of 1,000 infantry (with a small proportion of regular officers and non-commissioned-officers, from depot staffs) reached Grantham. Other parties followed and by the 21st September the strength of the infantry had risen to 13,000. At first the infantry of the 11th Division consisted entirely of north country battalions; later on, however, when the 6/East Yorkshire became the pioneer battalion its place was taken by a Wessex battalion - 5/Dorsetshire.

At first there was the usual shortage of clothing, equipment, and arms, leading to some discomfort and to considerable delay in training for war. Nevertherless, on the 18th October Field-Marshal Earl Kitchener visited Grantham and inspected the infantry in Belton Park. Until the following April the Division remained scattered: infantry at Grantham, artillery at Leeds, Sheffield, Norwich, and Weedon; engineers at Newark; field ambulances at Sheffield; train at Lichfield. Then on the 4th April the 11th Division began to move to its concentration area at Witley and Frensham, and final training was carried out and divisional operations undertaken.

On the 31st May H.M. the King inspected the 11th Division on Hankley Common, and on the 12th June orders were received that the Division was to be ready to leave at short notice for the Dardanelles. On the 20th June embarkation began at Liverpool, and the bulk of the Division sailed in the Aquitania and the Empress of Britain. On the 10th July the Aquitania with divisional headquarters and the 32nd Infantry Brigade reached Mudros. On the 23rd all headquarters and troops at Mudros left Lemnos and moved to Imbros, and the 11th Division completed concentration at Imbros on the 28th July.

At 8.30pm on the 6th August the Division left Imbros for Suvla Bay; the troops embarked in torpedo boat destroyers and motor lighters (about 500 in each vessel) each man carrying on him 220 rounds of ammunition and 2 days' iron rations. At 11.30pm the flotilla anchored off Suvla, and shortly after m/n. 6th/7th August disembarkation began near Lala Baba.

During the Great War the 11th (Northern) Division served in Gallipoli and in Egypt, and on the Western Front (in France and Belgium), and was engaged in the following operations:

1915
BATTLES OF SUVLA
06 to 15 AugustThe Landing at Suvla [IX Corps].
07 AugustCapture of Karakol Dagh (34th Bde.) [IX Corps].
21 AugustBattle of Scimitar Hill [IX Corps].
21 AugustAttack on "W" Hills [IX Corps].
Night, 19/20 DecemberEvacuation of Suvla [IX Corps].
On the last night every gun, trench mortar, cart, and animal was withdrawn, and the 11th Division suffered no casualties to its personnel during the final evacuation of Suvla. On leaving Suvla the Division concentrated at Imbros.

Its MG Section was transferred on 01 March 1916 to form the 34th Bde. MG Coy..

9th

The 9th 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

Royal Northumberland Fusiliers

This remained until the formation of Divisional Machine Gun Battalions in 1936 where guns were brigaded once again. The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers were one of those Infantry Regiments converted to this new role.

During the Second World War, the Battalions of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers were distributed as follows:

1st

Already in the Western Desert at the outbreak of war, the 1st Battalion, one of the few machine-gun battalions remaining in the British Army, fought continuously in North Africa from the time of Italy's entry into the lists against us, until the final curshing defeat inflicted on the Germans and Italians in Tunisia three years later.

Under Wavell, against odds of 10 to 1, it took part in the routing of the vaunted Italian Army at the vitories of Sidi Barrani, Bardia, Tobruk and Benghazi. Under Wavel it helped to cover the withdrawal made necessary by the honouring of out promise of aid to stricken Greece, until it was left under the command of the 9th Australian Division to bear a notable part in the immortal defence of Tobruk, culminating in the "Battle of the Break-out" eight months later, during which battle Capt. Jackman won a posthumous V.C.

Under the ill-starred Auchinlech, the Battalion fought the Battle of Egpyt until, with the advent of Generals Alexander and Montgomery, and of adequate reinforcements of men, material and up-to-date equipment, it swept forward again with the 8th Army over some 1,500 miles, through the major battles of El Alamein, Agheila and Mareth, to junction with the 1st Army in Tunisia, and to final and spectacular victory in the Cape Bon peninsula. This battalion is now fighting in Italy (July, 1944).

At the outbreak of War, the 1st Bn, was attached from Command Troops, Middle East Forces, to the 7th Infantry Division. It was based in the Western Desert as part of British Troops in Egypt.

As of 31 January, 1940, it was still in Egypt, attached to 6th Infantry Division.

On 30 June, 1940, it was located in The Delta, Egypt, attached to the New Zealand Division.

As of 31 January, 1941, it was part of the Corps Troops of 13 Corps, located in the Western Desert and Libya.

On 06 August, 1941, it was a unit as part of the TOBRUK Fortress.

It was under the command of General Headquarters Middle East Forces (GHQ MEF) on 14 June, 1942.

For the Battle of Alamein, on 23 October, 1942, X Company was attached to 2 Armd Bde, 1 Armd Div, X Corps, and Z Company was attached to Hammerforce, 1 Armd Div - a unit comprised of units of 8 Armd Div formed 18 October under Commander Royal Artillery (CRA) 8 Armd Div. W Company was attached to 133 Lorried Infantry Brigade, 10 Armd Div, and Y Company was reformed. The Bn HQ was part of 8 Armd Div.

The following table shows its further movements.
DateDetail
01 September, 1943An MG Bn stationed in Egypt
19 September, 1943Bn arrived Damascus, Syria, from Egypt and passed to udner command 10 Indian Infantry Division (10 Inf Ind Div) from GHQ MEF
30 October, 1943Arrived Kabrit, Eygpt, for training with 20 Indian Infantry Brigade (20 Ind Inf Bde), 10 Ind Inf Div
19 November, 1943Returned to Syria (Sidon) with Bde rejoining 10 Ind Inf Div and remained under command until 31 August, 1945
01 March, 1944In Palestine
16 March, 1944Arrived Quassassin, Egypt
23 March, 1944Embarked at Port Said en route Italy
28 March, 1944Disembarked Taranto, Italy
30 March, 1944Bn reorganised as a Support Battalion
21 April, 1944Arrived Ortona
06 June, 1944Arrived in Iserna area
01 July, 1944Perugia area
06 July, 1944Umbertide area
19 July, 1944Reorganised as a MG Bn
01 August, 1944Monterchi - Anghiari area
09 August, 1944Colignola
22 August, 1944Viovi Arezzo
29 August, 1944Subbiano area
11 September, 1944Chitighano area
21 September, 1944Senigallia
28 September, 1944Coriano
01 October, 1944Morciano area
05 October, 1944San Marino area
16 October, 1944San Paulo area
02 November, 1944Rontaghano
14 November, 1944Cesena
27 November, 1944Forlimpopoli
29 December, 1944Faenza
10 February, 1945Castel de rio
17 April, 1945Massa Lomdardo
19 April, 1945Florentina
20 April, 1945Mezzolara
24 April, 1945Altedo
01 May, 1945Vigarano
23 May, 1945Castagnavizza
16 June, 1945Ranziano
08 August, 1945Gorizia
No further change

2nd

The 2nd Battalion was organised as a Divisional MG Battalion but attached to General Headquarters, British Expeditionary Force, available to Divisions as required. It took part in the Campaign in France and Belgium, May 1940.

This battalion was the first battalion of the Regiment to go abroad with the expeditionary force. It went to France on 1st October, 1939, in the 4th Division, and was originally employed, like the rest of the B.E.F., in erecting defences on the Belgian Frontier, with companies moving down in turn for a spell in the Maginot Line.

On 11th May, 1940, after several false alarms, it moved with the 3rd Division into Belgium, and was responsible for an area 25 miles square, including Brussels, against airborne attack. When the Belgian Army surrendered, and a general withdrawal was ordered, it again came under the command of the 4th Division, which had by now moved up.

It fought several delaying actions whilst with this Division, until late in May, when it was suddenly taken out of the line at Tourcoing-Menin and rushed off to Ypres, to estend the left flank of the B.E.F. and to take over from the Division Legere Mechanique (French Army) now reduced to fourteen tanks. It held this line on its own for about twenty-four hours until the 50th Division (mostly D.L.I.) came up and filled in the gaps.

It fought with the Division until the evacuation from Dunkirk on 1st June, 1940. During this period the total casualties were about 120 all ranks, and about 20 awards were gained by N.C.Os. and men.

The 2nd Battalion remained with the 4th Division in the U.K. and did extensive training until May, 1943, when it went to the 1st Army in North Africa, and then to Italy, where it is now (June, 1944).

The 2nd Bn 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.

Between 11 November, 1941 and 20 May, 1942, the 2nd Bn was the Divisional MG Battalion to the 4th Infantry Division. In June, 1942, the Division was reorganised as a Mixed Division. The Bn became the Divisional Support Battalion to the 4th Division between 10 March, 1944, until 06 June, 1944, when it became a Divisional MG Battalion again. It remained this way until the end of the War.

The 4th Infantry Division was a Regular Infantry Division in the United Kingdom in September, 1939. Whilst the 2nd Bn was part of it, it was in the following theatres and battles:
DatesTheatreBattles
11 November, 1941, to 20 May, 1942United Kingdom
10 March, 1944, to 12 December, 1944Italy
  • Cassino II (11 to 18 May, 1944)
  • Trasimene Line (20 to 30 June, 1944)
  • Arezzo (04 to 17 July, 1944)
  • Advance to Florence (17 July to 10 August, 1944)
  • Rimini Line (14 to 21 September, 1944)
  • 13 December, 1944, to 31 August, 1945Greece

    Between 11 and 15 January, 1945, the Bn was attached to 'Prestonforce' in Greece, with the bulk of the force made up of 2nd Gibralter Brigade.

    Between 03 July, 1943, and 10 March, 1944, the 2nd Bn was the Divisional Support Battalion to the 46th Infantry Division. Whilst the 2nd Bn was part of it, it was in the following theatres and battles:
    DatesTheatreBattles
    03 July, 1943, to 10 March, 1944Italy
  • Salerno (09 to 18 September, 1943)
  • Capture of Naples (22 September to 01 October, 1943)
  • Volturno Crossing (12 to 15 October, 1943)
  • Monte Camino (05 November to 09 December, 1943)
  • 4th

    The 4th Battalion reorganized as a motor-cycle battalion in 1938, went to France with the 50th (Northumbrian) Division, with whom it earned a high reputation. Later it served with the 4th Division. In the last desperate days of the German break-through it took a prominent part in the counter-attack from the River Scarpe carried out by the 5th and 50th Divisions, finally being evacuated from Dunkirk.

    Again reorganizing as the Reconnaissance Battalion of the 50th Division, it went to North Africa, and suffered such severe casualties during the grim days leading up to the Battle of Knightsbridge and the defence of Egypt that the remnants were drafted to continue the campaign with the 1st Battalion, while a small cadre was sent home to form the nucleus of a new 4th Battalion raised as the Support Battalion of the 15th (Scottish) Division. Nine months after this rebirth the Battalion was split up between three famous armoured divisions. Now its three independent M.G. Companies (Bn. H.Q. having been placed in abeyance) are fighting in Normandy (July, 1944).

    1st Independent Machine Gun Company

    This company was the Independent MG Company to the Guards Armoured Division.

    The Guards Armoured Division was created on 17th June 1941 in Great Britain. It took part in the following battles:

  • Bourguebus Ridge (18th - 23rd July 1944)
  • Mont Pincon (30th July - 9th August 1944)
  • Nederijn (17th - 27th September 1944)
  • Rhineland (8th February - 10th March 1945)

    2nd Independent Machine Gun Company

    This company was the Independent MG Company to the 11th Armoured Division.

    11th Armoured Division

    The 11th Armoured Division was formed on 9th March 1941 in Great Britain and saw action at the following battles:

  • River Odon (2nd July - 12th July 1944)
  • Borguebus Ridge (18th - 23rd July 1944)
  • Nederijn (17th - 27th September 1944)
  • Rhineland (8th February - 10th March 1945)

    3rd Independent Machine Gun Company

    This company was the Independent MG Company to the 7th Armoured Division.

    7th Armoured with Inf AoS

    The 7th Armoured Division was formed on 16 February 1940 in Egypt and saw action at the following battles:

  • Sidi-Barrani (1940)
  • Bardia (1941)
  • Tobruk (1941)
  • Beda Fomm (1941)
  • Gazala (1942)
  • Alam el Alfa (1942)
  • El Alamein (1942)
  • Tunisia (1943)
  • Sicily (1943)
  • Naples (1943)
  • Volturno (1943)
  • Borguebus Ridge (18th - 23rd July 1944)
  • Nederijn (17th - 27th September 1944)
  • Rhine Crossing (23rd March - 1st April 1945)

    5th

    In 1938 the 5th Battalion was converted to a Searchlight Battalion, and as such has been in continuous active service in the United Kingdom.

    6th

    In 1938 the 6th Battalon was converted to a Mixed Tank Battalion. It now forms part of an armoured division.

    7th

    The 7th Battalion was organised as a Divisional MG Battalion but attached to General Headquarters, British Expeditionary Force, available to Divisions as required. It took part in the Campaign in France and Belgium, May 1940.

    Going to France in 1940 as the M.G. Battalion of the 51st (Highland) Division, it fought with that gallant division, isolated from the remainder of the British Army until overwhelmed at St. Valerie.

    Re-raised later in 1940 the Battalion is now a highly trained Divisional M.G. Battalion and is now fighting in Normandy (July, 1944).

    During the 1940, they were using Drill Purpose guns as they had not been fully equipped with service weapons.

    Despite DP guns not being suitable for field service, it appears that, in times of desparation, they were pressed into service. Longden (2009) recounts Jim Charters, a former miner and territorial in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers supporting the 51st (Highland) Infantry Division:

    "We weren't prepared for war. It was a hopeless position, we were short of every damn thing. We took those "drill only" guns to France. It wasn't a good start."

    Between 12 October, 1940 and 14 December, 1940, the Bn was part of 206th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home) serving in the United Kingdom as part of Scottish Command. It is unclear whether the establishment at this time was a MG Battalion or not.

    Between 18 November, 1941 and 01 October, 1942, the 7th Bn was the Divisional MG Battalion to the 59th Infantry Division. The Bn became the Divisional Support Battalion to the 59th Division between 01 October, 1943, until 27 February, 1944, when it became a Divisional MG Battalion again. It remained this way until 24 August, 1944, when it left the Division.

    The 59th Infantry Division was formed in June 1940 as a Second line Territorial Army Infantry Division. During the time the 7th Bn was part of it, the 59th Infantry Division was in the following theatres and battles.
    DatesTheatreBattles
    11 November, 1941, to 01 October, 1942United Kingdom
    01 October, 1943, to 21 June, 1944United Kingdom
    21 June, 1944, to 27 June, 1944At Sea
    27 June, 1944, to 24 August, 1944North West Europe
  • Caen (04 to 18 July, 1944)
  • Mont Pincon (30 July to 09 August, 1944)
  • 7th Bn, R.N.F. - Northern Ireland, 1942 7th Bn, R.N.F. - Holland, 1944 7th Bn, R.N.F. - Germany, 1945

    8th

    Raised in 1938 as a "duplicate" of the 4th Battalion, the 8th Battalion went to France in 1940 as part of the 23rd Division under General Herbert. Semi-trained and ill-equipped, it helped to garrison Arras and was amongst the last troops to leave that town in the face of German pressure. Evacuated from Dunkirk it was reorganized as the Reconnaissance Battalion of the 3rd Division early in 1941. In that capacity it is now fighting in Normandy (July, 1944).

    9th

    The 9th Battalion was organised as a Divisional MG Battalion but attached to General Headquarters, British Expeditionary Force, available to Divisions as required. It took part in the Campaign in France and Belgium, May 1940.

    Raised in 1938 as a "duplicate" of the 7th Battalion, the 9th Battalion, semi-trained and ill-equipped, distinguished itself in the Battle of France by holding Steenbecque for forty-eight hours against German infantry and tanks, earning a special letter of congratulation from the General commanding the sector. It continued to fight gallantly in the withdrawal of 23rd Division under General Herbert until evacuated from Dunkirk.

    In February, 1942, rushed out with 18th Division in the hope of saving Singapore, the Battalion arrived only in time to swell the numbers involved in the disaster. On the voyage out it distinguished itself in defence of its French troopship during an overwhelming dive-bombing attack. The ship's company susequently erected in the ship a plaque commemorating this action of the Battalion.

    From the 2nd October, 1939, to 29 June, 1940, the 9th Bn was under the command of 23rd (Northumberland) Division, for labour duties and training, in the United Kingdom, and served in FRance between 22 April, 1940, and 31 May, 1940.

    9th Bn, R.N.F. - Wales, 1941 9th Bn, R.N.F. - Wales, 1941


    Post-Second World War

    After the Second World War, the MG assets reverted to MG Platoons within support companies of Infantry Battalions.


    Sources

  • Bainbridge, 1942a
  • Barney, 1946
  • Becke, 1934
  • Bouchery, 1999
  • Joslen, 1960
  • Laing, 1945a
  • Longden, 2009
  • Palmer, 1944a
  • Taylor, 1941a
  • Taylor, 1941b
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