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Yorks and Lancaster Regiment

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


The Great War

The Yorks and Lancaster Regiment 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 83rd Brigade, attached to the 28th Division. It's MG Section was likely to have been transferred into the 83rd MG Coy. which was formed on 25 January 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.

2nd

The 2nd Battalion was part of the 16th Brigade, attached to the 6th Division. Its MG Section was transferred in February 1916 to form the 16th Bde. MG Coy..

As a unit of the 6th Infantry Division, its MG Section will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
1914
19 and 20 SeptemberBATTLE OF THE AISNE [I. Corps].
20 SeptemberActions on the Aisne Heights.
13 October to 02 NovemberBattle of Armentieres [III. Corps].
1915
09 AugustHooge [VI. Corps, Second Army].

6th

The 6th Battalion started the Great War as a member of the 32nd 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 in March 1916 to form the 32nd Bde. MG Coy..

7th

The 7th Battalion started the Great War as a member of the 50th 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].

Having originally started in the 50th Brigade, it became the 17th (Northern) Division Pioneer Battalion in March 1915 and was replaced in the 50th Brigade by the 6th Bn, Dorsetshire Regiment.

It's MG Section will have been disbanded on the attachment of 50th, 51st and 52nd MG Companies, which took place on 12 February 1916, Machine Gunners may have been absorbed by the MG Companies, or trained on the Lewis Gun, which now equipped the Infantry Battalion.

8th

The 8th Battalion started the Great War as a member of the 70th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division.

As a unit of the 23rd 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.

Army Order No. 288 of the 13th September 1914 authorised the addition of the divisions (21st to 26th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army (See Appendix I). This augmentation formed the Third New Army, and during September 1914 the 23rd Division began to assemble near Frensham (in the Aldershot area).

Many difficulties had to be overcome in the early days. At first there was a great shortage of officers; and no trained clerks joined with divisional headquarters, consequently orders had to be issued verbally to adjutants until clerks, typewriters, and stationery could be collected. Trained cooks also were non-existent and the messing of the troops was undertaken by a catering firm. The civilian clothing, in which the men joined, was in rags by the time that emergency blue clothing was issued in the middle of October, and 20,000 suits of underclothing and pairs of boots had to be purchased in Yorkshire. During October 100 old Lee-Metford rifles were issued to each battalion for drill, in November 8 L.M.E. service rifles and 400 sets of old buff equipment arrived for each battalion, and in December old pattern water-bottles and white haversacks were received.

In November 1914 the divisional artillery began to form at Mytchett Camp. At first each brigade was commanded by a second-lieutenant, and it was fortunate that at this time the commands were merely nominal. The first armament received was the 90m/m. French guns. The 18-pdrs and 4.5" howitzers were not issued to the Division until the middle of 1915.

At the beginning of December 1914 the weather broke and the Division was moved into Aldershot, with part of the artillery at Ewshott. On the 22nd January 1915, in heavy rain, the Division was inspected on the Queen's Parade by Field-Marshall Earl Kitchener, accompanied by the French Minister of War (M. Millerand); on this occasion the troops paraded in blue serge uniforms and civilian greatcoats, and the infantry had D.P. rifles. On the 10th February the battalion allowance of wire and sandbags was doubled, and stress was laid on the troops being taught to entrench and to construct obstacles at night. At the end of this month the Division moved to the Shorncliffe area., and here the Division remained until the end of May when it moved to Bordon and Bramshott. The final intensive preparation then began. On the 16th August the Division was inspected on Hankley Common by H.M. the King, and the order to embark for France was received on the 20th. On the 21st the first advanced party left, on the 23rd the Division began entraining, on the 26th the first units arrived in the concentration area, and on the 29th August the Division completed concentration around Tilques (north-west of St. Omer). The 23rd Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium until November 1917, when it entrained for the Italian Front, on which it served for the remainder of the Great War.

The 24th Brigade transfered to the 8th Division on 18 October 1915.

As a unit of the 8th Infantry Division, its MG Section did not take part in any formal battles or engagements.

Its MG Section was transferred in January 1916 to form the 70th Bde. MG Coy..

9th

The 9th Battalion started the Great War as a member of the 70th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division.

As a unit of the 23rd 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.

Army Order No. 288 of the 13th September 1914 authorised the addition of the divisions (21st to 26th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army (See Appendix I). This augmentation formed the Third New Army, and during September 1914 the 23rd Division began to assemble near Frensham (in the Aldershot area).

Many difficulties had to be overcome in the early days. At first there was a great shortage of officers; and no trained clerks joined with divisional headquarters, consequently orders had to be issued verbally to adjutants until clerks, typewriters, and stationery could be collected. Trained cooks also were non-existent and the messing of the troops was undertaken by a catering firm. The civilian clothing, in which the men joined, was in rags by the time that emergency blue clothing was issued in the middle of October, and 20,000 suits of underclothing and pairs of boots had to be purchased in Yorkshire. During October 100 old Lee-Metford rifles were issued to each battalion for drill, in November 8 L.M.E. service rifles and 400 sets of old buff equipment arrived for each battalion, and in December old pattern water-bottles and white haversacks were received.

In November 1914 the divisional artillery began to form at Mytchett Camp. At first each brigade was commanded by a second-lieutenant, and it was fortunate that at this time the commands were merely nominal. The first armament received was the 90m/m. French guns. The 18-pdrs and 4.5" howitzers were not issued to the Division until the middle of 1915.

At the beginning of December 1914 the weather broke and the Division was moved into Aldershot, with part of the artillery at Ewshott. On the 22nd January 1915, in heavy rain, the Division was inspected on the Queen's Parade by Field-Marshall Earl Kitchener, accompanied by the French Minister of War (M. Millerand); on this occasion the troops paraded in blue serge uniforms and civilian greatcoats, and the infantry had D.P. rifles. On the 10th February the battalion allowance of wire and sandbags was doubled, and stress was laid on the troops being taught to entrench and to construct obstacles at night. At the end of this month the Division moved to the Shorncliffe area., and here the Division remained until the end of May when it moved to Bordon and Bramshott. The final intensive preparation then began. On the 16th August the Division was inspected on Hankley Common by H.M. the King, and the order to embark for France was received on the 20th. On the 21st the first advanced party left, on the 23rd the Division began entraining, on the 26th the first units arrived in the concentration area, and on the 29th August the Division completed concentration around Tilques (north-west of St. Omer). The 23rd Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium until November 1917, when it entrained for the Italian Front, on which it served for the remainder of the Great War.

The 24th Brigade transfered to the 8th Division on 18 October 1915.

As a unit of the 8th Infantry Division, its MG Section did not take part in any formal battles or engagements.

Its MG Section was transferred in January 1916 to form the 70th Bde. MG Coy..


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.

2nd

The 2nd Battalion was 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 assets reverted to individual Battalions as part of the Support Company as a Machine Gun Platoon.


Sources

  • Becke, 1934
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