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South Wales Borderers

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The Great War

The South Wales Borderers 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 dispositions of Battalions were distributed as follows:

1st

The 1st Battalion was part of the 3rd Brigade, attached to the 1st Division. It's MG Section was transferred on 26 January 1916 to form the 3rd Bde. MG Coy..

As a unit of the 1st Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
On the outbreak of War the 1st Division was quartered at Aldershot, and it mobilized there. The division crossed to France between the 11th and 15th August, concentrated around le Nouvion, and began to move forward on the 21st August.
1914
23 and 24 AugustBattle of Mons [I Corps]
24 August to 5 SeptemberRETREAT FROM MONS [I Corps]
27 AugustEtreux (1st Guards Bde)
6 to 9 SeptemberBattle of the Marne [I Corps]
13 to 26 SeptemberBATTLE OF THE AISNE [I Corps]
13 SeptemberPassage of the Aisne
20 SeptemberActions on the Aisne Heights
26 SeptemberAction of Chivy
19 October to 15 NovemberBATTLE OF YPRES [I Corps]
21 to 24 OctoberBattle of Langemark [I Corps]
29 to 31 OctoberBattle of Gheluvelt [I Corps]
11 NovemberBattle of Nonne Bosschen [I Corps]
20 to 21 DecemberDefence of Givenchy
1915
25 JanuaryGivenchy
29 JanuaryCuinchy
9 MayBATTLE OF AUBERS RIDGE [I Corps, First Army]
Attack at Rue du Bois
25 September to 1 OctoberBattle of Loos [IV Corps, First Army]
5 to 8 October
13 OctoberHohenzollern Redoubt [IV Corps, First Army]

2nd

The 2nd Battalion was part of the 87th Brigade, attached to the 29th Division. It's MG Section was likely to have been transferred into the 87th MG Coy. which was was formed on the 16 February 1916, at Suez.

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 JanuaryEvacuation 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.

4th

The 4th Battalion was part of the 40th Brigade, attached to the 13th (Western) Division.

As a unit of the 13th (Western) Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
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 13th (Western) Division began to assemble.

The infantry brigades first assembled on Salisbury Plain. In September and October the 40th Brigade moved to Chisledon and Cirencester; and in January 1915 the 39th Brigade moved to Basingstoke. By the end of February the 13th Division concentrated for its final intensive training at Blackdown, near Farnborough; equipment and arms were now practically complete and the artillery and enginees had joined the division. Divisional field manoevres were undertaken.

On the 7th June, 1915 the Division received orders to prepare to move to the Mediterranean theatre of war. The motor bicycles and all mechanical transport (except 4 motor cars) were withdrawn; and, except in the artillery, engineers, and signal company, first reinforcements were not to proceed with the Division. On the 10th June embarkation orders were received and the first transports sailed on the 13th. Immediately before embarkation a third machine gun was issued to each infantry battalion). On the 16th June a message to the 13th Division was received from H.M. the King, and on the 18th Divisional Headquarters sailed from Avonmouth. Alexandria was reached on the 28th and headquarters landed at Mudros on the 4th July. Between the 6th and 16th July the infantry of the Division crossed to Helles and relieved the 29th Division on the left of the line. The infantry returned to Mudros at the end of the month, and between 3rd to 5th August the 13th Division landed at Anzac. Thereafter, and for the remainder of the Great War, the 13th (Western) Division served in Gallipoli, Egypt, and Mesopotamia, and was engaged in the following operations:

1915
BATTLES OF SUVLA
06 to 10 AugustBattle of Sari Bair [Godley's Force].
07 AugustRussell's Top (8/Ches. and 8/R.W.F.).
27 and 28 AugustHill 60, Anzac (4/S.W.B.) [Cox's Force].
After the evacuation of Suvla the 13th Division concentrated at Mudros, and between 27 and 31 December Divisional Headquarters and the infantry of the Division (less 38th Inf. Bde.) moved from Mudros to Helles and took over the Left Section of VIII Corps Front Line.
1916
07 JanuaryLast Turkish Attacks at Helles [VIII Corps].
Night, 08/09 JanuaryEvacuation of Helles [VIII Corps].
After leaving Helles the 13th Division went to Mudros until 18 January 1916' on this day the Division began to embark for Egypt, and by 31 January 1916 the whole Division concentrated at Port Said. The Division then held posts on the Suez Canal. On 08 February 1916 orders were received for the 13th Division to move to Mesopotamia, and on 12 February 1916 the Suez Canal posts were handed over to the Ayrshire Yeomanry and Lanarkshire Yeomanry. On the same day the first troops of 13th Division left Port Said by rail for Suez, embarked at Suez on the 13th, sailed on the 14th, and disembarked at Basra on the 27th February. On the 2nd March the Division began to move by river up the Tigris, on the 13th March divisional headquarters reached Shaikh Saad, and by the 27th March the whole Division had arrived at Shaikh Saad (less 7/Glouc., of 39th Bde. segregated for fever at Basra; 7/Glouc. rejoined 13th Division on 19 April 1916). On 02 April 1916, 13th Division took over a portion of Tigris Corps Front and became engaged in the third attempt to relieve Kut al Imara. From this time until the end of the Great War the 13th Division served in Mesopotamia and was engaged in the following operations:
THIRD ATTEMPT TO RELIEVE KUT AL IMARA
05 AprilCapture of Hanna and Fallahiya [Tigris Corps].
09 AprilSecond Attack on Sanniyat [Tigris Corps].
17 and 18 AprilBait 'Isa [Tigris Corps].
22 AprilThird Attack on Sanniyat [Tigris Corps].

It's MG Section was amalgamated with those of the other Battalions in the Brigade to form a Provisional Brigade MG Company on 23 May 1916. This was then amalgamated into the 40th MG Coy. which was formed on 24 October 1916 at Amara.

5th

The 5th Battalion began the War as part of the 58th Brigade, attached to the 19th (Western) Division. On 29 December 1914, it provisionally became the Pioneer Battalion of the Division, which was formally approved on the 10 January 1915. It was replaced in the Brigade by the 6th Bn, Wiltshire Regiment.

As a unit of the 19th (Western) Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
FORMATION, BATTLES, AND ENGAGEMENTS
This New Army Division has no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

Army Order No. 285 of the 11th September 1914 authorized the further addition of six divisions (15th to 20th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation formed the Second New Army, and during September 1914 the 19th (Western) Division began to assemble near Bulford.

At first the infantry brigades were camped at Tidworth, Ludgershall, and Grately. In December, the brigades went into comfortable billets at Andover and Whitchurch, Basingstoke, and Weston-Super-Mare. The early discomforts and difficulties were similar to those which were experienced by all the divisions of the New Armies, consequently a few D.P. rifles were received with enthusiasm.

By March 1915 the Division was clothed in khaki and a great advance had been made in training. During March the Division concentrated around Tidworth to begin its final preparation for the field, and regimental training was completed by mid-May. On the 7th June the 19th Division first operated together as a complete division, and between the 12th and 18th June the 19th Division Artillery carried out its first gun-practice. On Wednesday, the 23rd June, the 19th Division was inspected by H.M. The King; and, at the end of the parade, His Majesty said to the General-Officer-Commanding: "Your Division is as good as anything I have seen in the New Army."

On the 11th July the advanced party of the 19th Division left for France, on the 16th the Division began to move, and by the 21st July it had crossed to France and completed its concentration near St. Omer. For the remainder of the Great War the 19th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:-

1915
25 September to 02 OctoberBattle of Loos [Indian Corps, First Army].
25 SeptemberAction of Pietre

It's MG Section was likely to have been sent to Grantham for retraining and subsequently transferred into the 56th Bde. MG Coy. which disembarked at le Havre on 09 February 1816 and joined the Division on 14 February 1916.


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.


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

    Sources

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