Advancements in weapons technology mean that the infantry now have more weapons at their deposal than ever before. These include the trusty Gewehr 98, the mobile MG08/15 light machine and the latest evolution in firepower, the submachine gun.
Capable of firing up to 500 rounds a minute, in the right hands this weapon can be devastating. Literally sweep a trench clear of the enemy and paving the way to victory via superior firepower and tactics.
The French Army saw the usefulness of armoured cars as part of the offensive in the grand manoeuvres to exploit the offensive’s success. The formation of mechanised squadrons who would support the mounted troops was first considered as part of the general theorising for breaking the deadlock of trench warfare. This combination of horse and petrol was seen as the return of the armour to the cavalry who had lost its decisive battle weight in modern warfare. The French command and government then decided to initiate the production of armoured cars, ordering from Renault, Peugeot, Archer, Dion-Bouton, Gasnier, Delaunay-Belleville and White TBC cars. A number of different armoured car designs were tried, but by 1918 the most common was the White TBC or White AM 1915/18. The White AM 1915/18 mounted a French armoured body on a American White truck chassis.
Eventually the French formed 17 armoured car groups. Some are attached directly to the Corps d’Armes (Army Corps) or Armées (Armies), but the 7th, 8th and 9th Cavalry Divisions each has one group in 1915, and two each by 1916.
Includes one Lebel pistol team, six Berthier rifle teams, two VB rifle grenade teams and one Chauchat MG team.
French cavalry formations that retained their horse mounts were allocated armoured cars to provide additional firepower and speed for the exploitation phase of the battle. Once the infantry and tanks had broken through the enemy defences, the cavalry and armoured car would rush through the gap to get into the enemy’s rear areas, disrupting their reinforcements and communications.
The French have a long and proud cavalry tradition with a great variety of regiments and roles. The colonial troops provide even more exotic types like the Spahi and Chasseurs d’Afrique regiments. However, by 1918 their uniforms and tactics are very similar.
French cavalry heavy machine-gun teams were mounted on horses for speed when the formations were on the move. To bring their Hotchkiss heavy machine-guns into action they dismounted, sending their horses to the rear, and provided supporting fire from the ground.
Major Raymond Brutinel, a successful French businessman who had immigrated to Canada before the outbreak of the war, organised and raised a mobile machine-gun unit with private funds. He organised armoured trucks to be built by the American Auto Car company. Each Autocar had an open topped armoured box with an angled front plate and drop sides. The machine guns were pedestal mounted and capable of firing over the sides of the vehicle. The machine-guns could also be dismounted for ground use.
It is the Austin armoured cars of the 17th Tank Battalion that provide the speed required by the Tank Corps in offensive operations. At Amiens, in August 1918, 12 Austin armoured cars succeeded in getting behind the German lines and causing chaos before returning safely to their own lines.
Includes one Webley Pistol team, eight SMLE rifle Teams and one Hotchkiss MG team.
A Cavalry Squadron is lightly equipped with just its trench mortars and machine-guns that can be transported on horse-back, providing fire support. However, they would fight in close cooperation with the infantry and often be supported by the armoured cars or tanks of the Tank Corps.
Unlike the infantry who used the Lewis, the Cavalry had adopted the Hotckiss light machinegun, a more compact design.
For heavier firepower the cavalry had their own machine-gun section armed with a pair of Vickers heavy machine-guns. Along with the trench mortars, the Vickers are called up when the cavalry encounter anything that impedes their progress.
The Ordnance Quick Firing 18 pounder (84mm) gun is our standard field piece and the backbone of the Royal Artillery. It fires a heavier shell than the French 75mm or German 77mm, and is accurate, reliable, and has good range. Combined with the well-trained crews of the Royal Artillery, the 18 pounder can out-shoot any foe.
Mobile for its size, the 18 pdr was often used by forward detachments. The Royal Artillery are learning to operate in small units attached to the front line infantry to help deal with German tanks or offer direct fire to knock out enemy gun emplacements.
Includes one Webley Pistol Team (Formation HQ), five SMLE Rifle Teams, two Hales Rifle Grenade Teams, two Lewis MG Teams and one Sniper Team.
After three long years of war, the British infantry are worn, but their courage has not dimmed. They can look to their officers to provide an example. The company’s major will draw his revolver and lead the men forward, as he has always done, to glorious victory.
Jerry has thrown everything at us – machine gun bullets at the Somme, shells at Verdun, and their vile poison gas at Ypres – but ‘Tommy’ has held firm. The traditional qualities of British infantry-courage, discipline and marksmanship-have stood them in good stead along with their trusty ‘303’ Enfield rifle.
Now, with Lewis light machine-guns, bombers, rifle grenades, and hard won experience, we are pushing the enemy back along the front. Our new recruits make up in dash what they may lack in experience. When the whistle blows, they will be ready to charge through the mud to the green fields beyond.
If there is one weapon that the British infantryman trusts more than his 303, it is the Vickers machine gun. The modern Vickers is a symbol of British industry. Sturdy, with a tripod for accuracy and water-cooled for sustained fire, it is supremely reliable.
An example of this reliability took place in August 1916. When, during a twelve hour span ten Vickers machine-gun of the British 100th Company of the Machine Gun Corps fired continuously without a single failure or stoppage. Over a millions rounds were fired with the guns consuming one hundred replacement barrels and every drop of water in the immediate area.
The Vickers dominates the battlefield, warding off German attacks, and providing a tremendous base of fire for our men to advance under.
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