Sunday, July 3, 2011

Machine-gun tactics in World War I

In 1914 a German Army battalion had six Maxim MG Modell 1908 machine guns; in contrast, a British battalion had only two Vickers Mark 1s, or Maxims. However, from the outset of the fighting, the Germans tactically concentrated these already co¬ordinated battalion teams into batteries and thus gave the appearance, and effect, of having even more machine guns than was actually the case. They gave this impression at Loos, where German machine-gun crews opened fire at 1,400m/1,530yd on the advancing British infantry on the afternoon of 26 September 1915. They inflicted 8,000 casualties (50 per cent) on just two British New Army Divisions (21st and 24th). One German single machine-gun crew is said to have fired 12,500 rounds.

In 1917-18 the British and Germans made a change from the defensive to a more offensive role for the machine gun. The British Machine Gun Corps undertook highly co-ordinated offensive and defensive tactics, including barrages. The infantry then concentrated on the deployment, with much success, of the lighter Lewis machine quns at the platoon level

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