Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade


Spotted this the other day on one of the "new releases" blogs I follow (not TMP) and was immediately intrigued... 

http://www.1stcorps.co.uk/buy-online/p/ww1v16-canadian-armoured-car/
I have to say that when I first saw it I thought it was so fantastical it was probably a fictional vehicle for use in some pseudo historical fantasy period ...  back of beyond/VBCW, Victoria on Mars etc etc., but an enjoyable lunchtime's research has now resulted in me having a whole lot more information than I had previously about the role of the Canadian army in the First World War with regard to machine gun tactics and usage...  you got to love military history, it never fails to fascinate (me, anyway)... 

So what we are seeing is a (splendid!) model of one of eight Armoured Autocar's that served in WWI with 'The Canadian Automobile Machine Gun Brigade' , which was also known as Brutinel's Brigade or the Brutinel Brigade after it's originator and founder Brigadier-General Raymond Brutinel (picture following)

Picture courtesy Project Gutenberg (The Story of the Great War, Volume VIII (of VIII), by various)
I had no idea before doing this research that because of them, Canada has the honour of fielding the first fully mechanized unit of any of the countries involved in WWI (so probably the first ever), as the unit these vehicles were in was established on August 24, 1914 (in Ottawa - other sources quote 9th September).

From what I have read the armoured sides you see are actually the lids of the ammunition lockers folded up (and each of these could carry 12,000 rounds of .303) - the plate was bullet proof to just under 100 yards, but you can see how exposed the crew would have been... on a clear road they could reach 40 MPH - must have been a 'firm' ride!
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3395367).

In addition to the eight autocars (whch originally mounted two Colt Model 1914 [clicky] machine guns {other sources say Model 1895} in 1916 they were replaced with the Vickers MG [clicky]) the brigade also had 6 unarmoured support vehicles, 4 "roadsters" for the Brigade's officers, and an ambulance. By 1918, the force had grown to two brigades, plus the Canadian Cyclist battalion, one section of medium trench-mortars mounted on lorries (totalling 80 machine guns and about 300 cyclist infantry plus medics/support staff).


(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3395368)


The unit played a significant part in halting the major German offensive of March 1918 and because of the concentrated numbers of machine guns in such a comparatively small unit had a decisive effect when they were deployed....

I would wholeheartedly recommend a reading of the following - it's fascinating...

Canada’s First Armoured Unit: Raymond Brutinel and the Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigades of the First World War

Further references:


http://steel-chariots.22web.org/autocar.htm
http://silverhawkauthor.com/canadian-intelligence-corps-c-int-c-history-insignia_327.html
http://www.lermuseum.org/en/chronology/first-world-war-1914-18/1914/formation-of-the-canadian-automobile-machine-gun-brigade-no-1-sept-1914/

http://regimentalrogue.com/emmagees/emmagees1.htm

8 comments:

  1. Great bit of history and what a well done model,

    Ian

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    1. Ian - it was the model that kicked this off so definitely agree... WWI is not a period I would choose to wargame, but I might be tempted if I could include a unit of those!

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  2. Interesting. I am familiar with the unit - being a bit of a Canadian Great War History enthusiast. It's neat that someone's made a model of one! So thank's for bringing that to my attention. I may have to break down and buy one (or two..).

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    1. Hi Tim - thought it might be of interest to you.... was an interest research session - Canada at the time was way ahead on machine gun theory and practice.... that brigade had more machine guns than an infantry division!

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  3. Excellent post sir, and beautiful model!

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    1. Cheers Phil, there's some talented people about..

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  4. Thanks for sharing this Steve. I wouldn't have believed such a thing was actually used.

    I have to admit that I have pretty much ignored WW1 as a potential period for gaming but the centenary has thrown up so much intriguing stuff I can feel a new project coming on. I have to get one of these tin cans on wheels.

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    1. Prince Lupus, agreed.. either these or Rolls Royce armoured cars in the Middle East.. ☺

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