208 Machine Gun Company: Photographs from Henry Williamson's archive

 

 

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208 Machine Gun Company

 

Photographs from Henry Williamson's archive

 

 

 

One of HW's photograph albums in the Literary Archive contains several photographs of the officers and men of 208 Machine Gun Company, taken while in France.

 

 

LL 1917 McClare  McConnell

Identified on the reverse by HW as McLane and McConnel

(2nd Lieut. A. P. McClane and 2nd Lieut. McConnel, or McConnell)

 

 

LL 1917 2Lt Horseley
Second Lieutenant William F. Horsley

 

 

LL 1917 2Lt CF Wright

Second Lieutenant C. F. Wright

On the reverse HW has written 'Bright of No. 7. It was a true story.'

 

 

Regarding HW's caption above, in 1957 he wrote, as a note added into his 1917 Army Correspondence Book in red ink: '. . . Wright, a farmer and stout fellow, whose manner was a bit gauche . . . was a good officer. This was after a newspaper scandal, in which Wright's farmer brothers, in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, tarred and feathered one of their wive's lovers, at night, and left him to die, for all they cared, in a field. I met 2/Lt Wright again in Norfolk in 1937, and I must say, he was a grim, rather abrupt little man.'

 

 

LL 208MGC Beaumont Hamel March1917

HW on the left with Lieutenant Tremlett, DSO, with the wreckage of a British plane at Beaumont Hamel

in March 1917. Note the thigh waders worn by HW, indicative of the atrocious conditions.

On Wednesday, 23 May 1917, HW wrote in his diary:

'Poor old Tremlett killed last night. Awarded the D.S.O. same morning.'

 

 

LL 208MGC Gomiecourt April1917

On the reverse HW has written: 'British plane crashed Gomiecourt April 1917. I am on left.'

The plane is a B.E.2c, identifiable both by its serial number and distinctive rudder. The B.E.2c was

a two-seat reconnaissance or artillery-observation biplane, with a maximum speed of 72 mph

at 10,000 ft. Obsolescent as a front-line aeroplane by this date, it would have been relatively easy

prey for German fighters, which were so superior at this period of the war that April 1917 became

known as Bloody April, due to the number of British planes that were shot down.

 

 

 

Officers and men of 208 Machine Gun Company; the guns are Vickers .303 inch machine guns, with a rate of fire of between 450 and 600 bullets a minute (for further information see the Machine Gun Corps Old Comrades' Association website):

 

 

LL 208MGCa

 

 

LL 208MGC April1917
On the left and right are Second Lieutenants McClane and McConnel; middle figure unknown

 

 

 

The following four photographs are on a single page in HW's album, titled '208 M.G. Coy. May '17 at ERVILLERS':

 

 

LL 208MGC Ervillers1 April1917

 

 

LL 208MGC Ervillers2 April1917

 

 

LL 208MGC Ervillers3 April1917

 

 

LL 208MGC Ervillers4 April1917

 

 

 

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