Use of machine Guns in WW 1 - Shooting Sports Forum

Guns Guns Guns Miscellaneous firearms forum

Like Tree6Likes
  • 4 Post By Doug Bowser
  • 1 Post By Ben Dover
  • 1 Post By Aklawok
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-13-2017, 09:36   #1
Full Member
Join Date: May 2013
Location: McComb, MS
Posts: 29
Use of machine Guns in WW 1



As the 100 year Anniversary of US involvement in World War 1 is here, I remember the stories my Father told me about his service in France. He was a First Sergeant in the 3rd Ohio Machinegun Battalion. His Unit was part of the 42nd Infantry Division. It was called the “Rainbow” Division. The Division was comprised of National Guard Units from all over the Country. Units like the 14th Alabama, 3rd Ohio Machinegun Battalion and the 69th New York all fought together, side by side in defense of our Country.

In the early days, machine guns were not part of the Infantry Squad. They were used the same as Artillery Units. The machine guns were also used for barrage fire, when artillery was not available for short range attacks or when both front lines were too close and it made explosive shells dangerous to both sides.

My Dad told me they were behind the lines, getting some rest and their Officers came up and told them they would have “Archie” Duty. The French supplied the heavy Machineguns and the British supplied the anti-aircraft mounts for the guns. “Archie” was a slang term for anti-aircraft gunnery, coined by the British. Dad said they used the French Hotchkiss 11mm. The normal caliber for the Model 1914 Hotchkiss was the 8mm Lebel. The 11mm version used a rimmed cartridge called the 11mm Gras. It was the first cartridge used by the French in their Infantry Rifles in the 1870’s. The only differences in the modern 11mm cartridge was, it had a jacketed bullet and was loaded with smokeless powder. The larger caliber allowed the French to develop effective incendiary and explosive rounds for anti-aircraft and anti-balloon use. It was a Hotchkiss design and used trays or strips of ammunition to feed the guns. The loader would hook the fresh strip under the last cartridge in the strip before it entered the gun. It sounds like a difficult process but it was more reliable than the cloth belts our machine guns used. This gun was also used in a limited amount by the United States. It was called the Benet-Mercie, after the gun‘s designers.

The “Archie” Duty was protecting an ammunition train from German airplanes. The Germans would attack trains and strafe them with tracer and incendiary rounds. Dad’s job was to mount his anti-aircraft mounted machinegun on the top of a freight car and try to keep the German planes at bay. When they left the train yard there were 3 men assigned to each gun, a gunner, loader and ammunition carrier. It wasn’t very long before they were called to action. German airplanes spotted the train and the attack was on. The 11mm French bullets were incendiary explosive and he said they made short work of two of the German planes. Unfortunately the German pilots set the car in front of the car my Father was protecting on fire and the train stopped suddenly. When the train stopped, my Father and his two comrades jumped off the train and ran from the potential explosion. As they ran away, the car blew up and they were hit with debris. My Dad was slightly injured by shrapnel and was taken to the aid station.

At the aid station, they removed several small pieces of German steel and he spent 3 or 4 days recuperating. An incident happened later that would be a sharp reminder to my Father, of the train explosion. Thirty-eight years after he was wounded, a piece of German steel worked it’s way out of my Father’s back. We were living in New York at the time and he went to the Veteran’s Hospital for treatment. The piece of steel they removed was 1-1/2” long and about as thick as a 14 gauge wire. Dad had no more problems with this wound. As a matter of fact, he went to work after 3 days of recovery.

My Father finally told us of his experiences in France. It seemed as though the terror of warfare was tempered by time. He was sixty five when the steel worked it’s way out of his back and it seemed at that time he opened up and told us of his days in France. Before this happened, he never mentioned it.

We must be thankful for the sacrifices our Veterans have made for us. Without them, we would have nothing.

Doug Bowser

French Hotchkiss Machinegun in 8mm Lebel Caliber
Attached Thumbnails
Use of machine Guns in WW 1-hotchkiss_1914_1.jpg  
Doug Bowser is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-04-2018, 07:53   #2
Keeper of the records
Ben Dover's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: high up in the Rockies
Posts: 501
In trench warfare, the German army built there infantry squad around the Maxim machine gun.

This worked quite well and two decades later the Germans built their infantry squads around the MG42.
Marlin 45 carbine likes this.
Mors ultima ratio
Ben Dover is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2019, 17:25   #3
Sniper 173D Abn Brigade
Herd Sniper's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Central Illinois
Posts: 101
Different armies developed different tactical ideas over the years and formed their military tactics around those tactical ideas. In WW2, the German Army formed their combat squads around their machineguns. The U.S. Army formed its tactics around the basic rifleman. The American Army wanted its individual soldiers to feel like they were the most important part of our fighting forces because they were. Another thing that differed between the two armies was that American soldiers were allowed to use their own initiative and, unlike the Germans, were not tied to a micro-managing higher command structure.

Many years ago a group of soldiers I was with got to talk to a WW2 German veteran who was then a NATO General. He was on a tour of Ft. Benning at the time. The General said, "With the Allies it was you Americans who drove us nuts. With the British, French and Russians when they probed our lines we knew where they were going to attack us. You people just wandered all over behind our lines like you owned them and we never had any idea of when and where you would attack us. We never knew if you were disorganized, being disruptive or sneaky."

From what I've been told, modern day tactics have gotten away from the machinegun as the primary weapon around which squads are formed. Now they use the anti-tank weapons for their primary weapons to form around for their teams. As I was once told, if it means the Company Commander and the First Sergeant dragging a TOW down the road, then that's what will be happening.
Herd Sniper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2019, 01:55   #4
Full Member
Aklawok's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Nome alaska
Posts: 292
First, I must say that ww1 was responsible for the birth of mechanized warfare. Automatic weapons were available to both sides in significant numbers to be effective combat tools, but the tactics were in infancy. Mg.s were primary defensive weapons notorious for repelling large scale infantry attacks, and what became " no man's land" and the stalemate of trench warfare all so common.
I would like to here of infantry offensives using mg.s there are very little known.( don't even get me started on the chouchat!)
What is is that automatic weapons were first used offensively when adapted to armour and tanks and used on small scale effectively late in the war.
Marlin 45 carbine likes this.
Aklawok is offline   Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Bloomburg wants to ban machine guns and assault weapons like that... subscriber News and Political Forum 11 01-14-2013 13:36
Top 5 best machine guns....Your choice NorthernSoutherner General Chit Chat 0 10-11-2010 21:43
You and I Can't Buy the Guns Mexican Cartels Own iismet News and Political Forum 22 03-20-2009 14:23
Cartels in Mexico get guns from US Camera man General Chit Chat 2 01-27-2009 12:41
Drugs, Guns, & Commerce..A Short History Lesson. treedawg General Chit Chat 0 01-25-2006 20:22

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 21:27.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
All information is copyright by unless already under copyright.