Machine Gunner 1914-1918: Personal Experiences of the Machine Gun Corps, C. E. Crutchley

Machine Gunner 1914-1918: Personal Experiences of the Machine Gun Corps, C. E. Crutchley

The Machine Gun Corps was one of the more short-lived units of the British Army. It was formed in October 1915, after it became clear that the machine gun was an increasingly vital weapon, and was disbanded in 1922. During its brief period of active combat the Corps played a great part in improving the combat effectiveness of the British Army. Its records haven't survived intact, and in the 1960s and 1970s an attempt was made to gather stories from the surviving members of the Corps in an attempt to record their achievements. This book was first published in 1973 and again in 2005.

This isn't a history of the Machine Gun Corps, but instead a collection of personal recollections provided by serving members of the corps. These cover the entire period of the Western Front, from the earliest use of the machine gun at the start of the war, through the long period of static warfare and on to the final victorious advance. Elsewhere the role of the machine gun in the war against the Ottoman Empire is covered, with accounts from the defensive battles on the Suez Canal, the disaster at Gallipoli and the long and eventually victorious campaign in Mesopotamia. This last campaign includes an interesting account of life as a machine gunner in an armoured car.

In most cases the emphasis is more on the personal memories of life on the front line than on the specific features that made the Machine Gun Corps special. There are some exceptions, most notably several accounts of a machine gun barrage, where machine guns were fired continuously in support of an attack - an exhausting effort that used up vast amounts of ammunition and gallons of water to keep the guns cool, but also proved to be very effective.

The accounts collected here are very varied, covering a wide range of combat experiences (from bitter nights trapped between the lines to the periods of open warfare) and attitudes (one memorable contributor, writing in 1917, was quite willing to admit to a less than dedicated attitude to many duties!).

Chapters
1 - A 1913 Terrier Machine-Gunner Remembers
2 - The Defence of the Suez Canal
3 - Gallipoli
4 - On the Western Front
5 - With 33rd Battalion Machine Gun Corps
6 - The Final German Offensive
7 - The Final Act on the Western Front
8 - The Mesopotamia Campaign

Author: C. E. Crutchley
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 240
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2013 edition of 1973 original


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