In 1944, British Troops Use Their Machine Guns as Artillery
Vickers Guns could lay down a rapid-fire barrage
by MATTHEW MOSS
The two photographs in this story depict the British Army’s Vickers machine guns in action in late 1944. In both images, soldiers are using the Vickers Guns in the “barrage fire” role, shooting at a high angle in order to lob rounds a great distance — like small-caliber, fast-firing artillery.
In the image at top, a Vickers Gun crew lays down barrage-fire during the Battle of Overloon in The Netherlands in October 1944. Note the empty belts and thousands of spent cases surrounding the crew.
In the image at below, a battery of four guns from the 2nd Middlesex Regiment fires in support of troops crossing the Maas-Schelde Canal at Lille-St. Hubert, Belgium, on Sept. 20, 1944.
Both photographs show the guns with dial sights. These helped gunners to aim at ranges up to 4,500 yards.
The British perfected the technique of indirect, plunging fire during World War I. The 100th Machine Gun Company’s barrage at High Wood during the Battle of the Somme on Aug. 24, 1916 is a classic example.
The company fired a staggering 1,000,000 rounds in just 12 hours. That’s 10 rounds every three seconds for each of the company’s seven operational guns.
Originally published at www.historicalfirearms.info.