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The Machine Gun Corps

The Machine Gun Corps was created on the 14th of October 1915, prior to this each infantry battalion has it's own Machine Gun Section which comprised of one officer and 12 men.

The memorial to the MGC is situated in Hyde Park, London.

Can you add to this factual information? Do you know the whereabouts of this unit on a particular day? Which battles they took part in? Or any other interesting snipts?

Those known to have served with The Machine Gun Corps during the Great War.

Select a story link or scroll down to browse those stories hosted on this site.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add,, or any recollections or photos of those listed, please get in touch.

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Did you know? We also have a section on World War Two. and a Timecapsule to preserve stories from other conflicts for future generations.


Pte Arthur Cyril Bloore

I am trying to find out where my grandfather went and what he did during his service years. I know he joined up 27/04/1915 he had a horse he called Jeanne (Ihave a photo of him on it) and that he was in the middle east. (SERVICE AREA 3)and that he was in the machine gun corps. I would like to know a little more about where he was sent, a bit of a timeline might be a better way to describe what I'm looking for.

Andrew Bloore


Sjt. Thomas Farrell

This is a picture of my grandad, Sgt Thomas Farrell (on the right). He was born in Bootle, Liverpool in 1886, a week after his dad was killed in an accident at the docks. The man in the middle is L/Cpl John William "Jack" Potts (d.26th September 1917) Thomas was a long-standing military man who joined the Loyal North Lancs Regiment around 1904 and went on to the Machine Gun Corps in Feb 1917 and the Tank Corps in 1918. He was a 2nd Lieut from 19th December 1917. He was wounded 3 times (September 1914, June 1915 and October 1918) and was still removing shrapnel from his back in the 1930s.

He spent some time in 'A' Ward at Red House Auxiliary Hospital, this photo was taken in September 1916, Tom is 1st left at the back. I don't know where this hospital was.

In this photo Grandad Thomas Farrell is on the right. Obviously taken when in hospital around 1916. I have no idea where the hospital was or who the other 3 people are.

This picture was found in the papers of Thomas Farrell but he doesn't appear to be one of the soldiers.

Update: It is possible that Red House Auxiliary Hospital was in Leatherhead.

Jackie Dunn


Pte. Thomas Bell Shepherd

My grandfather Thomas Bell Shepherd joined the 3rd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers c 1915, transferring to the 1st Platoon of the Machine Gun Corps where he fought in the Battle of the Somme. At some point he was wounded by shrapnel and spent time recovering at Frodsham Auxiliary Military Hospital, Cheshire, where he met local girl Minnie May Duncalf. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps at the beginning of 1918. He ended the war as a 2nd Lieutenant in the RAF. On February 1st 1919, he married Minnie May, my grandmother, in Aberdeen. He was at that time posted at Longside Airship Station, near Peterhead, Scotland. By 28th February 1919 he was transferred to the unemployed list.

Suzanne Parry


L/Cpl Francis John Hopkins

My father, Francis John Hopkins,was born in Kingston - on - Thames, on 29 December 1887. He enlisted with the Territorials (Berkshire Yeomanry)in 1912 and volunteered for service in August 1914 at the outbreak of WW1. After training he was drafted to Egypt as part of the 2nd Mounted Division and left Avonmouth,Bristol on 8 April 1915 on the SS Menominee arriving in Alexandria on 19 April 1915.Remained in Egypt awaiting orders to go to the Dardenelles.

Although training in the middle east had been as mounted troops, the decision was made in early August that the Yeomanry would fight dismounted. The Regiment (as it was now called) sailed from Alexandria aboard SS Lake Michigan; after transshipment at Mudros, they landed at A-Beach, East Suvla on 18 August. The Regiment were engaged in some bitter fighting against insurmountable odds and in early November 1915 it was decided to 'withdraw' and the Regiment finally embarked for Mudros and Egypt.

In December 1915 the Western Frontier Force was formed, a part of which was the Camel Corps to which my father transferred.

During the summer and autumn of 1916 the Berkshire Yeomanry were employed in patrolling and outpost duties in the Western Desert and Upper Egypt. They later moved east to the Suez Canal where the defences were extended into the Sinai Desert. My father writing in a letter home on 29 February 1916 (from Mersa Matruh) said 'inter alia' "I haven't seen any fighting here yet, although the Brigade has been in action several times, and I assure you I don't want to as I saw warfare with all its horrors on the Peninsular (Gallipoli), as I very often think of the three months I spent there as the most miserable one could possibly imagine..."

In January 1917 saw the British begin their advance towards Jerusalem. My father saw action in both battles for Gaza in March and April and again in the beginning of November following which the Turks were finally beaten off. A greatly reduced 6th Mounted Brigade withdrew from the front line on 30 November and returned to Egypt to re-group.

In January 1918, after being brought up to strength, the Berkshire Yeomanry resumed training and refitting. In April they were amalgamated with other units to form the 101st Machine Gun Corps. In May 1918 the Battalion was ordered to France because fighting on the Western Front had reached a critical stage. Within hours of leaving Alexandria on the night of 26 May the SS Leasowe was torpedoed (with a loss of +/- 199 lives). There was a three week delay whilst equipment was replaced. After re-embarkation on HMT Caledonia the regiment landed at Taranto, southern Italy on 21 June and entrained for France, arriving in time to take part in the final allied offensive which began on 8 August 1918.

The Battalion saw their first action at the Battle of the Scarpe on 29 August. The fighting was in complete contrast to that in Palestine - the dash across the desert on horseback and/or camel was now replaced by slow deliberate assault across muddy fields and shellholes. On 16 September the battalion moved to Belgium and was involved in numerous actions up until the last one on 31 October 1918. At some point about this time my father was made a Lance Corporal and was later posted to the Labour Corps (Reg No. 618560) and was finally discharged from the army on 12 March 1919

Henry John Hopkins


Pte. Joseph Mingham

I am trying to find info on my granddad, Joe Mingham. He served with the Kings Own and the Machine Gun Corps and was on the Somme at some point and was injured by flying shrapnel in his kidney area. I believe he was also temporarily in action with the Staffords. I always remember him saying one of their officers sent two men to a nearby farm house to shoot some local French woman who was signalling to 'jerry'. I also seem to remember him saying he was in Burma. My granddad died in 1977 in Morecambe, it seems his wounds finally caught up with him.

Joe Hathaway


2nd Lt. Thomas Richmond Rowell

My grandfather, Thomas Richmond Rowell, was in the first attack at Thiepval on the 1st of July 1916, aged 19. He was wounded twice by a german machine gun and spent some hours in no-man's land. Fortunately his mother had given him a bottle of iodine which he poured over his wounds. The surgeon later told him this certainly saved his legs and probably his life. He made a full recovery and died in 1974. This information came from my mother and although true I cannot verify all the facts as he would never speak to me about it, although I do have his picture as an officer in the Lancashire Fusiliers.

After the war he joined the colonial civil service in Hong Kong and became Director of Education but was sent on leave shortly before the surrender of Hong Kong and evacuated to Australia. He left there in 1942 in the last rubber boat to leave Malaya before It's surrender. Bound for Britain the ship was torpedoed off Halifax but being full of rubber it took a long time to sink and everyone was picked up. My mother worked as acipher clerk at Bletchley Park. I can follow his life after the war but information on his service record is sketchy. Can anyone help please?

Editors Note: Thomas Richmond Rowell is listed as having served as a Private in the Liverpool Regiment then commissioned into the Machine Gun Corps.

Roger Lewis


John Bertram Willson

My relation John Willson was with the KRRC from 1911 to 1914 then he joined the Machine Gun Corps from 1914-1919, he was on the reservist list until 1931.

Terry Willson


Pte. Charlie George Melrose Sampson (d.11th Jul 1917)

Charlie Sampson died of wounds on the 11th of July 1917 and was buried at Kandahar Farm Cemetery, close to the dressing station. He was 31 years old.


Pte. Willis Hirwen Frith (d.8th Jun 1917)

Willis Frith was studying at the University of Nottingham before he enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters in August 1916 and transferred to the 207th Machine Gun Coy when it was founded. He was killed in action at the Battle of Messines and has no known grave, he was 20 years old.


Sjt. Michael Mallon (d.26th Sep 1917)

Michael Mallon enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment in Whitehaven and transferred to the Machine Gun Corps, he was killed in action and is remembered on the Tyne Cot memorial.


J. Newcombe (d.9th Nov1918)

My grandfather, J Newcombe, was in the 32nd Company, Machine Gun Corps and was killed in Maubeuge on 9th November 1918. I plan to visit his grave, for which I have the details in September, but would love to know what the initial J stood for. My mother was only three months old, and therefore did not mention him by name, and she has since died.

Annette Kent


Cpl. J. W. Timms

I am trying to find out what happened to the man names J W Timms, who had engraved his name in the attic in our French Farm House in La Somme. We believe he is from 119th MG Company

Heidi Gould


Sgt. G H Parker

I am trying to find out what happened to the many men who had engraved names in the attic in our French Farm House in La Somme. We believe Sgt G H Parker is from 119th MG Company.

Heidi Gould


V G Langford

I am trying to find out what happened to the many men who had engraved names in the attic in our French Farm House in La Somme. We believe V G Langford is from 119th MG Company

H Gould


Pte. James Henry Hartley (d.20th Apr 1918)

The Machine Gun Corps in Kentucky - The Story of James Henry Hartley

Earlier this year, I visited Cave Hill National Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky, located within the much larger and quite beautiful Cave Hill Cemetery. It is the largest cemetery in Kentucky's largest city. The remains of notables are buried there, including 19th Century baseball great Pete Browning and Colonel Harlan Sanders.

I was there to visit the grave of Great War Medal of Honor Winner, Sergeant Willie Sandlin of Devil's Jump Branch, Hell for Certain Creek, Leslie County, Kentucky. Sergeant Sandlin was buried at the Hurricane Creek Cemetery, Leslie County, upon his death in 1949 but, when his widow moved to Louisville to be near a daughter, she took his body with her. I learned that day that he is not buried there, but in Louisville's other National Cemetery, Zachary Taylor National Cemetery. Zachary Taylor National Cemetery and Camp Taylor, Kentucky were named after Mexican War hero and President of the United States, Kentuckian Zachary Taylor.

Within Cave Hill National Cemetery, there is a headstone which is considerably larger than the headstones which surround it. It's about 4 feet tall and 2½ feet wide, weighs at least 400 pounds, and is made of marble. On both sides at the top corners are carved Union Jacks. It reads: Private James Henry Hartley, Machine Gun Corps, British Military Mission. Died at Camp Zachary Taylor April 20th, 1918 - If I should die think only this of me that there's some corner of a foreign field that is forever England. These are the words at the grave on the Island of Skylos, Greece, where the famous English poet, Rupert Brooke, died while preparing for action at Gallipoli. They are from his poem, The Soldier. The reverse reads: Erected by the Officers of the United States Army Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky May 30th 1918. James Henry Hartley's Commonwealth of Kentucky Death Certificate reveals that he died at Camp Taylor Base Hospital, that he was a married, white male, born in September of 1880, and that his occupation was soldier. He was born in England and his wife's maiden name was Elizabeth Ellen Hartley of R.F.D. 11, Box 8, Darwin, England. It states that he died of lobar pneumonia of eight days duration with a secondary contributing cause of emphysema of six months duration. This leads me to believe that he had been exposed to gas on the Western Front. He was buried April 25, 1918. There was no obituary in the Louisville or Camp Taylor papers. There were no obituaries at all in the camp paper.

Private Hartley had been a member of The King's (Liverpool Regiment) No. 31922. He was No. 3389 of the Machine Gun Corps and, since the numbers began at 3000, he was an early member of that Regiment indeed. His brother, Lawrence, formerly of the Prince of Wales' Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) was number 3390. He survived the war. Pictured with this article is Boy David, the Memorial to the Machine Gun Corps in Hyde Park, London. Beneath David are the words "Saul has slain his thousands but David his tens of thousands." This memorial has a commemoration panel which reads: The Machine Gun Corps, which his Majesty King George V was Colonel-Chief, was formed by Royal Warrant dated the 14th day of October, 1915.

The Corps served in France Flanders Russia Egypt Palestine Mesopotamia Salonica India Afghanistan and East Africa.

The last unit of the Corps to be disbanded was the Depot at Shorncliffe on the 15th day of July, 1922. The total number who served in the Corps were some 11,500 officers and 159,000 other ranks, of whom 1,120 officers and 12,671 other ranks were killed, and 2,881 officers and 45,377 other ranks were wounded, missing or prisoners of war.

At the outbreak of war in August 1914, the tactical use of machine guns was unappreciated by the British Military. Consequently, the Army went to war with its infantry battalions and cavalry regiments each having a machine gun section of only two guns each. This was added to in November by the forming of the Motor Machine Gun Service, administered by the Royal Artillery, consisting of motorcycle mounted machine gun batteries. A machine gun school was also opened in France.

A year of warfare on the Western Front proved that to be fully effective, machine guns must be used in larger units and crewed by specially trained men. To fulfil this need, the formation of the Machine Gun Corps was authorized in October 1915 with infantry, cavalry, motor and early 1916 a heavy branch. A depot and training center was established at Belton Park in Grantham, Lincolnshire and a base depot at Camiers in France.

The Infantry Branch was by far the largest and initially formed by the battalion machine gun sections transferring to the M.G.C., and grouping into Brigade Machine Gun Companies. New companies were raised at Grunthal. In 1917 a fourth company was added to each division. A further change in February and March 1918 saw the four companies of each division form battalions. The Cavalry Branch consisted of Brigade Machine Gun Squadrons.

The Motors Branch after absorbing the M.M.G.S. formed several types of units, i.e., motorcycle batteries, light armored motor batteries (LAMB) and light car patrols. As well as motorcycles, other vehicles used included Rolls Royce and Model T Ford cars.

The Heavy Section was formed in March 1916, becoming the heavy branch in November of that year. Men or this branch crewed the first tanks in action at Flers, during the Battle of the Somme in September 1916. In July 1917 the heavy branch separated from the M.G.C. to become the Tank Corps.

In its short history, the M.G.C. gained an enviable record as a front line fighting force, seeing action in all the main theaters of war. At the end of hostilities, the M.G.C. was again reorganized in a smaller form as many of its soldiers returned to civilian life. However, the Corps continued to see active service in the post war campaigns of Russia, India and Afghanistan until being disbanded in 1922 as a cost cutting measure.

Some 170,500 officers and men served in the M.G.C. with 62,049 becoming casualties, including 12,498 being killed. Seven men of the Machine Gun Corps earned the Victoria Cross. Captain Kermit Roosevelt, Military Cross, son of President Theodore Roosevelt, was at one time attached to the 14th Light Armored Motor Battery.

Hartley's Service

Private Hartley's records were destroyed by World War II German bombing, as were the records of most British Great War soldiers, including his brothers. We do know that he was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal. We know from Soldiers Died in the Great War, that he was born in Rawtenstall, Lancashire, and enlisted at Darwen. He served in France and Flanders. The conditions of award of the British War Medal were that the soldier enter the theater of war on duty as a member of the British, Dominion, Colonial or Indian forces. The Victory Medal was authorized in 1919 to commemorate the victory of the Allies over the Central Powers. It was granted to those who actually served on the establishment of the unit within a theater of war between 1914 and 1919.

Since his records have not survived, we do not know with particularity in what actions Hartley served. We do know however that he was a member of the 46th Machine Gun Company and that company joined the 15th (Scottish) Division February 12, 1916. It was moved to another division March 17, 1918, but we must assume that before then Hartley came to the United States.

In the spring of 1916, the 15th Division suffered a German gas attack near Hulluch, 27-29 April. During the Battle of the Somme, it participated in the Battles of Pozieres and Flers-Courcelette and captured Martinpuich. It participated in the Battle of le Transloy, including the attack on the Butte de Warlencourt, which is owned by the WFA. During the Arras fighting, it participated in the first and second battles of the Scarpe. It participated during third Ypres or Passchendaele, at the very beginning in the Battle of Pilckem Ridge and the battles of Langemark during the second phase of Passchendaele.

Other units composing the 15th Division were the 1/9 Royal Scots, 1/4 Suffolks, 7th King's Own Scottish Borderers, 8th King's Own Scottish Borderers, 10th Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), 4/5 Black Watch, 9th Black Watch, 10/11 Highland Light Infantry, 12th Highland Light Infantry, 1/4 Seaforth Highlanders and the 46th Trench Mortar Battery. It is interesting that the Highland Light Infantry was composed largely of Glaswegians, and Glasgow is certainly not in the Highlands!

In my attempt to find our more about Private Hartley, I was given considerable assistance by Andrew Fitton of the Lancashire and Cheshire Branch of the Western Front Association. Andrew has written the following account of his attempt to discover more about Hartley's life.

Andy's Account

I first saw Paul's request for information regarding James Hartley in the summer, on the WFA website forum. As he was born in a town not far from me, I volunteered to see if there was any information available. The search has carried on for five months or so and has taken me to several towns in the area.

I will describe where the towns concerned are. Rawtenstall, the town where he was born lies about 15 miles north of Manchester. Darwen is about 8 miles west of Rawtenstall, across the moors which are a common sight in the area, and where he enlisted. Darwen lies a mile south of the City of Blackburn, indeed they are so close they now form one large administrative area. The local government is run from Blackburn. Bacup is about 5 miles east of Rawtenstall. All are in the county of Lancashire and were a large recruiting ground for the Lancashire Regiments during WWI.

Being an amateur historian, not an expert, I thought I would conduct my search for information using the methods I have picked up over the last couple of years. These methods have almost always worked in the past and there was no doubt they would work in the case of Hartley. How wrong can one be!

Taking the information from Soldiers Died and the C.W.G.C. website, the first visit was to the War Memorial at Rawtenstall. Unfortunately were no names on the memorial due to the large number of dead. In such instances, books of remembrance are compiled. A good friend from the area has the same Great War interest as me. He was contacted and recommended a visit to Bacup library as they hold files on local casualties, also a scan through the local paper for 1918 may find an obituary or an article regarding his death. After an evening of reading the paper and talking to members of the local Historical Society, I was informed that Rawtenstall had its own newspaper and filmed copies were held at the library in that town. Off I went.....

The same search was carried out at Rawtenstall with the same result, nothing, not a sausage.

Looking through the Rawtenstall telephone directory, I found one person with the surname Nerney. This was the family name taken by his widow when she remarried after the war. A phone call found me talking to a very nice but confused elderly lady. While I was trying to explain the story of his dying in WWI, she could only remember a relative who died in Africa in WWII. I sent her a letter asking her to contact me if she or her family had any information that would be helpful. No reply to date.

My next course of action was to contact the local paper in Rawtenstall, "The Rossendale Free Press". An interview was arranged with a reporter and an article appeared in the paper the next week. Same negative response, very disappointing.

I then turned my attention to Darwen, the town where he enlisted. What if he moved there after getting married? My wife Wendy was pleasantly surprised one evening when I asked if she would like go out for a meal rather than cooking. When I told her we had a little detour to make to look at a war memorial in Darwen I was rumbled (Lancashire speak for found out! PFG ). We went over to Darwen and found another memorial with no names on it. While we were in the town, I booked myself in at the library to take a look at the local paper, this I had to do a few days later due to work commitments. The meal on the way home was a delight...

An entire afternoon was spent at the Darwen library, again searching the local paper, and also trying to locate the memorial book for the Great War. Nobody in the library knew where it was, or indeed if it still existed. I called at the local town hall which closed in 1974 after local government reorganization and it was empty. A sign told people to contact Blackburn Town Hall for help. A phone call to the local paper did not help as they did not know where the memorial book was held. Just before I left the library, I noticed a book in which a man from Blackburn had compiled all the names of men from the Blackburn area who had died in the Great War and were mentioned in the local press. In the book was a James Hartley! Was this our man?

Blackburn Library was visited a few days later and a search through the papers found that this James Hartley was an officer in the East Lancashire Regiment and his address at the time of death was in Rochdale, the town I live in, 15 miles from Rawtenstall. This is not the man we were looking for. The wasted trip was compensated by a visit to the East Lancashire Regiment's chapel in Blackburn Cathedral. To see the battle honors on the standards was a very humbling experience indeed.

On the way home Rawtenstall library was visited again. After a chat with a man in the library, I was directed to the local cemetery because, as the man told me, "If he's from 'round here, his name will be on the memorial." What memorial? I had to take a look. In the cemetery is indeed a memorial. It is quite unique. It was started in 1915 and was one of England's first. As men became casualties, their names were added. I was pleased but a little annoyed that the library staff, who work only half a mile away, did not know of this stone. A slow search of the names produced the same result, no Hartley.

Along with the search, several friends and a relative helped me with some other details, many of which applied to him after his death. My brother (in Australia) found him on the recently released 1901 census. At this date, he was living on Hope Street, Rawtenstall with his two brothers and mother. His occupation was a quarryman, and his mother's birthplace was Musk, Ireland. Also, the certificate of his 38 year old widow's marriage to James Nerney , 58, (of Prospect View, Rawtenstall) in 1920 was found. When the then Imperial War Graves Commission (as C.W.G.C. was known then) were given his details, his widow was by this time married to Nerney, hence her address in Rawtenstall. The fact he was not on the "unofficial" war memorial, coupled with the fact that he was not mentioned in the local press of 1918, probably means he did not live in that town.

James Nerney was also caught up in the tragedy of the war. James, Jr. died in 1917 while serving with the East Lancashire Regiment and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.


As the deadline for completion of this article was nearly upon us, Wendy and I decided on a last chance tour of all the local towns and villages to see if there was any reference to James Hartley on any of the smaller war memorials, lunch in a pub, of course!

We made an early start on a dismal Saturday morning and duly did a tour, starting south of Rawtenstall and working our way through towns with such names as Ramsbottom, Holcombe Brook and Belthorn, all old towns with their own beautifully kept memorials. However, by mid-afternoon it was becoming obvious his name was not going to be found and, with the light fading, we went back to the Darwen Library. This visit found us talking to a different librarian who really knew her stuff. Right next to where I had sat on the previous visits, was a shelf full of information on Darwen's war effort in WWI and WWII. One of the books listed all the Darwen men who died in WWI and were mentioned in the local press. In there was a J. Hartley of Pilkington Street. A quick search in the 1912 electoral register showed this man to be John Hartley who was a shopkeeper, not our man.

I was busy reading when Wendy came over casually with a book compiled by the library listing all the men of Blackburn who died in WWI. There he was! J. H. Hartley!

We found out the original Book of Remembrance was held at Blackburn Town Hall, but we would have to wait a little longer as the town hall only opens Monday to Friday. I made a little detour while at work on Monday, November 18, 2002 and called at the town hall to take a look at the book. His name was there. Paul's fear of his name not being recorded anywhere in England was put to rest . A man who died so far from home was remembered back home.

From the few facts gathered, I will try and put together his story before he went to America.

He was born in 1880. He lived on Hope Street, Rawtenstall in 1901 with his mother and two brothers. He found work in one of the many quarries that littered the hills in this area. His mother's birthplace was in Musk, Ireland and I would take a guess, that as Musk is on the west coast of Ireland, he was probably Catholic. He probably married Elizabeth Ellen Kelshaw before the war. They must have made a home somewhere in the Blackburn area, but Elizabeth moved back to Rawtenstall after his death and married again. This would explain her surname of Nerney and the Rawtenstall address on the C.W.G.C. website. He joined the Liverpool Regiment and trained as a machine gunner before being transferred to the newly formed M.G.C..

It is safe to say though that, after seeing heavy combat, this 38 year old soldier, upon learning he was being assigned to train American soldiers in the United States, believed that he would unquestionably survive the war. He was wrong. I had feared that no one had cared enough to have him memorialized. I was wrong.

It's been quite a pleasant search and I've learned a few new ideas for researching WWI casualties. I'll use some of them on my search into my Grandfather, Harry Wellens, 7/Kings Shopshire Light Infantry, Military Medal and Order of St. George (Russia), died of wounds September 5, 1916, age 34. He is buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery. I started researching him five years ago..... but that's another story.

Roberta Bennett


Capt. George Archibald Rosser MID.

George Rosser was commissioned into the Hampshire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant on the 18the of Sept 1909, he was promoted to Lieutenant on the 1st of Novemeber 1911, and to Captain on the 13th of April 1915.

At the Gallipoli Landing, Lt Rosser served on board the 'River Clyde' in command of the machine guns. The action that took place on V beach has been well documented, but what is not well know, is that 'only the machine guns in the bow of the River Clyde ably controlled by Lt G.A. Rosser of the 2nd Hants and Commander Josiah Wedwood, M.P,, of the R.N.R, the moral effect of the naval guns, and possibly the barrier of wire prevented the Turks from counter-attacking and annihilation the party at the water's edge' - an Extract from the "History of the 29th Division" by Captain Stan Dillon.

Promoted to Captain and Adjutant, Rosser was present at the Battle of Krithia on the 28th April 1915, the second battle on 8th of May 1915 and the third battle on 4th of June 1915, during which, he was wounded. Captain Rosser later served in command of the 133rd Coy. Machine Gun Corps, serving in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

After the war Captain Rosser transferred to an armoured car unit of the Royal Tank Corps and served in Malabar, in command of No 8 Armoured Car Coy, later transferring to No 9 Armoured Car Unit, then serving in the Waziristan Campaign. Rosser ended his army career as Lt Colonel of the 1st (Light) Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment.

Anthony Conroy


Sergeant Roland Cavendish "Bob" Gamble

My Grandfather lived in Leeds and was serving an apprenticeship as a printer when he joined the army. His employer very kindly kept open his job until his return. He died in 1978.

Victoria Thompson


2nd Lt. Leslie William Hawkins

Leslie Hawkins was my Grandpa. He enlisted in the Second County of London Yeomanry in December 1915. He transferred to the Machine Gun Corps in August 1917, then Kings Own Royal Lancs. Then after a discharge, he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant of the 6th Battalion in the Sherwood Foresters in March 1918. He saw action at Bellenglise, Sambre-Oise Canal and Cambria. He survived, resigned his commission in 1922.

Apparently he rarely talked about the horrors. He died at 80, but sadly being too young to know, I never got a chance to talk to him, recognise what he had done or really appreciated his experience in his presence. Clearly an extraordinary man but also in my memory, good to be around. Gone but never forgotten.

Brian Neil


Pte. Joseph Brunton McNally MM.

Joseph McNally was born in the Walker area of Newcastle-upon-Tyne enlisted as No 5/1334 in 1/5th Nortumberland Fusiliers

On the outbreak of War in August 1914 the Regiment consisted of the

    1st Battalion at Portsmouth in the 9th Brigade,
  • 3rd Division,
  • the 2nd Battalion at Sabathu, India,
  • the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, which mobilised to train recruits, and
  • four Territorial Force Battalions,
  • The 4th at Hexham,
  • 5th at Walker, Newcastle-upon- Tyne,
  • 6th at St George’s Drill Hall, Northumberland Road, and
  • 7th at Alnwick.
By November 1918 the Regiment had raised a further 44 Battalions, earned 67 Battle Honours, won five Victoria Crosses and sustained an estimated 16,000 casualties

Joseph served in the 1/5th Battalion The Northumberland Fusiliers, on the outbreak of War was at Walker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne part of the Northumberland Brigade, Northumbrian Division, (later called the 149th Brigade, 50th Division) . On Tyne defences until April 1915 and then sent to France.

The 50th (Northumbrian) Division

The Northumbrian Division, a pre-war Territorial Force formation, was drawn from Northumberland, Durham, North Riding and East Riding of Yorkshire. The Divisional HQ was at Richmond Castle. Brigade HQs at Newcastle, Malton and Durham, and titled Northumberland , York & Durham and Yorkshire Brigades. The Infantry came from Alnwick, Newcastle (2), Hexham, Stockton, North-Allerton, Scarborough, Hull, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham and Bishop Auckland.

    The Artillery Brigades, No I Northumberland concentrated at Newcastle,
  • No II at Hull,(a battery at Scarborough),
  • No III at Seaham Harbour (batteries at Durham and West Hartlepool),
  • No IV Howitzer Brigade at South Shields (a battery at Heburn) and the
  • Heavy Battery from Middlesborough.

The Field Companies their HQ and No 1 Signal Company were at Newcastle. The Field Ambulances were at Newcastle, Darlington and Hull. The Divisional Transport and Supply Column companies were at Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and Hull. On the 3 August, units returned from their annual training camps. On 4 August orders to mobilise were received, the Division became part of the Central Force, Home Defence; it garrisoned the Tyne Defences and trained for war.

Early April 1915 the division was informed it would be sent to France, embarkation orders were issued 5 April. 16 April units began to entrain for the ports of Southampton and Folkestone. After crossing to France the 50th Division completed its concentration in the vicinity of Steenvoorde on 23 April 1915. The next day, units of the division were under fire.

The 50th (Northumbrian) Division was engaged in the following actions in France and Belgium.


Battles of Ypres

4 April/3 May Battle of St Julien (V Corps, Second Army until 28/4 then Plumer’s Force “The St George’s Gazette”, the Regimental Magazine of the Northumberland Fusiliers, reported that Joseph was wounded in action in April 1915. There are no further details recorded. Thus we do not known when (or if) Joseph returned to his Battalion on recovery, or indeed if he was required to leave the Battalion.

11/13 May Battle of Frezenberg Ridge (V Corps, Second Army)

24/25 May Battle of Bellewaarde Ridge (V Corps, Second Army)

16 June Bellewaarde (149 Bde) (V corps, Second Army)


149th Brigade Machine Gun Company formed in the 149th Infantry Brigade from the machine gun sections of the 1/4th, 1/5th, 1/6th and 1/7th Battalions Northumberland Fusiliers on 6 February 1916. Joseph was a founder member of this unit. He transferred, willingly into the Machine Gun Corps and allotted the number 23981. The following incomplete list is of men with similar numbers who therefore transferred at the same time:

    23962 Pte Walker J NF 1645 Disch 050918
  • 23963 Lcpl Irwin J NF 1751 Kia 031016 149 Co, 50 Division
  • 23964 Pte Robinson J NF 1035 Dismb 150119
  • 23965 Cpl Gordon FH NF 1744 Dismb 110319
  • 23967 Pte Callender G NF 19 Battalion, A Co
  • 23968 Pte Simpson S NF 50 Battalion
  • 23969 Pte Turnbull J NF 1942 Demob 250219
  • 23970 Pte Lowrey W NF 558 Dismb 030219
  • 23973 Pte Robson J NF 2733 Dow 190916 150 Co, 50 Division
  • 23980 Pte Nesbitt C NF 2616 Dismb ??0119 5 Battalion
  • 23981 Pte McNally J MM NF 1334 Dismb 110319
  • 23982 Pte Bly J NF 1371 Disch 14??18
  • 23983 Pte Fox A NF 1890 Demob 090319
  • 23984 Pte Oldham A NF 2357 Demob 100219
  • 23985 Sgt Gascoigne J MM NF 2373 Died 030118 218 Co, 18 Division
  • 23986 Pte Bell WJ NF 2471 Dismb 190219
  • 23987 Lcpl Douglas J MM NF 2988 Dismb 150319 50 Battalion
  • 23988 Lcpl Plumb C NF 2994 Dow 271016
  • 23989 Pte Young A NF 3172 Dismb 150419 50 Battalion
  • 23890 Cpl Wilding JH NF 2495

Battles of The Somme:

15/22 September Battle of Flers-Courcelette (III Corps, Fourth Army)

25/28 September Battle of Morval (III Corps, Fourth Army)

1/3 October Battle of the Transloy Ridges (III Corps, Fourth Army)

In mid May 1917 the 245th Machine Gun Company disembarked in France from Grantham and joined the Division on 30 May 1917.

1917 Battles of Arrass:

11/14 April First Battle of the Scarpe (XVIII Corps until 11/4 - VII Corps, Third Army

13/15 April Capture of Wancourt Ridge (VII corps)

23/24 April Second Battle of the Scarpe (VII Corps, Third Army)

Battles of Ypres:

26 October/9 November Second Battle of Passchendaele (XIV Corps until 29/10 XIX Corps Fifth Army

50th Battalion Machine Gun Corps formed February 1918, with the unification of 149th, 150th, 151st and 245th Machine Gun Companies, which then became “A” to “D” Companies, of the battalion.


Battles of The Somme:

21/23 March Battle of St Quentin (Fifth Army Reserve til 21/3 - XIX Corps, Fifth Army)

23 March Actions at the Somme Crossings (XIX Corps,)

26/27 March Battle of Rosieres (XIX Corps, Fifth Army)

Battles of The Lys

9/11 April Battle of Estaires (XV Corps, First Army)

12 April Battle of Hazebrouck (XV Corps, First Army)

Friday 26 April the Division entrained for the Aisne. 28 April detrained joining IX Corps, under the Sixth French Army. Monday 6 May moved into the line taking over the Beauriex Sector from the French.

27 May/6 June Battle of Aisne (IX Corps, Sixth French Army until 29/5 Fifth French Army)

Between 3 and 5 July the Division returned to the British Zone, by 14 July it was in the Dieppe area, where it reorganised. (Due to the heavy casualties sustained whilst under French command. For example, 21 officers of the 50th Battalion were captured during this action).

The Advance to Victory:

Battle of The Hindenburg Line

1 October Battle of the St Quentin Canal (XIII Corps, Fourth Army)

3/5 October Battle of the Beaurevoir Line (XIII Corps, Fourth Army)

8 October Battle of Cambrai (XIII Corps, Fourth Army

11/12 October Pursuit to the Selle (XIII Corps, Fourth Army)

The Final Advance in Picardy

17/18 October Battle of the Selle (XIII Corps, Fourth Army)

The London Gazette published the award of a Military Medal to 23981 Pte J McNally on 21 October. No citation was published at that time.

4 November Battle of the Sambre (XIII corps, Fourth Army)

After crossing the Sambre the division remained in the line until it was relieved on 10 November. By this date it had fought its way forward to Solre le Chateau. 11 November in billets between Flourcies and Monceau. On 2 December HM the King accompanied by Major General Jackson visited le Catelet where the division had crossed the St Quentin Canal in October. On 3 December His Majesty visited the division in its billeting area. In the middle of the month the division moved back to billets in the le Quesnoy area.

Demobilisation started in December and continued steadily until units were reduced to cadre and ceased to exist in France.

Joseph was transferred to the Army “Z” reserve on 11 March 1919, a veteran of the Corps. A VETERAN OF THE CORPS

Tom Vart


Pte. George Francis Currie

My grandmother told me that my grandfather(above George Currie) had a beautiful set of teeth until he was gassed during WW1, and he lost all his teeth thereafter.

Maureen Richardson


Henry Ivor Heybyrne

My Father, Henry Heybyrne served in WW1 in the 33rd Machine Gun Corps. His brother's also served.
  • Harry Heybyrne RAMC. Killed while visiting brother Henry in Hospital by "Drop Short"Edward Ernest Heybyrne RAMC
  • Arthur Heybyrne Royal Navy.HMS Talbot
  • 'Eddie' Heybyrne RFC
  • Francis Heybyrne RfC
I remember my father showing me a great deep dent in his back. A scar from shrapnel wound. And scar of spent bullet which went through his cheek and out his mouth. He considered himself lucky on both counts. I believe he served in France at some famous battles, but I should dearly love to hear of his and his brothers' service records.



L/Cpl. Frank Owers (d.5th Apr 1918)

Frank Owers was a great uncle of mine. He joined the East Yorkshire Reigment. Later he transferred to the Machine Gun Corps Infantry and was killed in action 5.4.1918 aged 20. His parents Owen and Ann Awers lived at 1 Wilbeforce Terrace, Campbell St, Anlaby Road, Hull. It is such a shame that he died so young and so close to the end of the war.

C Carter


Pte. Albert Weeden

Albert Weeden's war records, like many others were were destroyed by enemy action during WWII. He is known to have joined the East Lancashire Regiment and believed did so long before the commencement of WWI. This is based on him receiving service number 6210 and his brother, John b.1889, received the service number 9310 on joining the same regiment on 29-01-1907. A third brother also joined the regiment, he was Thomas b.1886, who received service number 10029.

Albert was not allowed to speak of his service due to a domineering wife but it is known he served at the Somme and in Poona, India. Sometime during his service he transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and received a service number 176623.

He was awarded the "1914-1915 Star" "British War Medal 1915-1920" and the "Victory Medal". All three bear his name, his 6210 service number and the name East Lancashire Regiment. His medal role shows the word "Disembodied 24-04-1919" but his Machine Gun Corps service sheet states "Discharged SR 14-08-1920". Does SR mean special reserve ? I could not find out what happened between 24-04-1919 and 14-08-1920.

Have photographs of the man, one is where he is "dressed up" and was wearing a kilt. Another shows him in "whites" with a Naval badge of rank on his arm. First thoughts were of "dressing up" again but the uniform appears to be a perfect fit and as he was a very small man I think it doubtful he would have found another "loaned" uniform to fit.

Chris Lordan


Pte. Joseph Mingham

My grandad, Joseph Mingham started the war in the Kings Own Lancashire Regiment. Later he transferred to the Manchester Regt which I believe was, or was going to be, converted totally to operate as a machine gun unit. He told me he spent some time attached to the 'Staffords'. I'm sure he also mentioned time served in Burma?

He didn't talk a great deal about his time in the war. A few things I do remember though were that rats were always present and they helped provide 'fresh' rations! The blokes tied string around their trousers at the ankles and thighs to prevent the rats having access to their private parts. They would cover their legs with a tin of dubbin on each leg to help prevent rot/trench foot. You had to be extremely careful if you were going to enter German trenches and shelters. He said that 'jerry' was very good at 'booby-trapping' and at engineering. Their bunkers were much more comfortable and deeper than ours and often had pianos down there. In the photo my grandad is seated at the front. He was the No1 on the Vickers in 'The Suicide Club'.

Joe Hathaway


Pte. James Joesph Holmes (d.12th Oct 1918)

Born and enlisted in York, James Holmes also served in the Army Service Corps service number T4/159786. Killed in action on 12th October 1918 with the 33rd Machine Gun Corps, aged 30 at Le Cateau. He is commemorated on Vis-en-Artois Memorial, Panel 10. He is commemorated St Cuthbert's Church War Memorial, Peasholme Green, York. Also on the official North Eastern Railway War Memorial, Station Road York. His name appeared in the Yorkshire Herald on 10th December 1918 in a list of men from St Cuthbert's parish who died during the war.

Roger Holmes


Pte. James Trull

I have been researching the history of my great grandfather's family during WW1. My great grandfather James survived the Great War and spent his working life at R.A.Lister's in Dursley Glos. (my hometown) where he joined the factory fire service and served in the Dursley fire brigade (I'm led to believe this was common practice for ex WW1 servicemen) I know nothing so far about his army service because I have been researching his 4 brothers who also served in WW1 but were all unfortunately killed in France and Flanders. I have heard rumours that James was removed from active service because of the deaths of his brothers. James died in 1968, 5 years before I was born and my Dad says he never talked of his brothers or his time in France and Flanders.

Jon Eeley


L/Cpl. William Musgrove (d.5th Jul 1918)

William Musgrove volunteered in December 1914 and joined Royal Lancashire Regiment in Liverpool. He was a serving police officer in Liverpool Constabulary. He transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and died on the 5th of July 1918 at Clipstone Camp, Notts, after contracting influenza and is buried at St Alban's Churchyard, Forest Town, Mansfield, Notts.

Colin Musgrove


Pte. William John Lathlane (d.11th Jan 1917)

Pte William John Lathlane Photo taken by E.G.Brewis at Newcastle upon Tyne October 1914 showing William John Lathlane wearing the Blue Kitchener uniform given to new recruits at the outbreak of war.

This photograph of Esther & William was taken at the Pleasure Gardens Studio possibly when William was home on leave November 1916

A locket owned by the family of Esther Isabell Lathlane showing her late husband William John Lathlane killed in action 11th January 1917.

William has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, he was 27 years old.

Simon Richard Lathlane


Spr. Bertram Maggs

Bert Maggs in the 3rd Glosters

My Grandfather Bert Maggs served with the Royal Engineers, then with the 3rd Glosters and transferred to The Machine Gun Corps in 1917.

Bertram Maggs in the MGC 1917.jpg

My Grandfather is in the back row first right.

Peter Maggs


Pte. Mathew Bryce Leitch

Photo of my dad Mathew Bryce Leitch taken on leave before demob

My Dad, Matthew Leitch served with the Machine Gun Corps

Alan Leitch

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