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Machine Gun Corp, WW1

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SylviaInCanada Report 8 Feb 2023 03:38

Does anyone else have a relation who served in the MGC?

My grandfather was attested in December 1915, then mobilized for basic training with the Manchester Regiment in August1916. After completing his basic training he was transferred to the MGC in October 1916, his record is then blank between October 17 1916 until July 27 1917 when he shipped from Bombay, India, to Basrah, Mesopotamia (now Iraq).

At the time of mobilization he was 31 years old, married and had 3 children, one born on December 28 1915.

His record is more or less complete from arrival in Basra to demobilization.

It is the MGC that I find curious! It seems to be the mystery unit of the British Army.

I have found tracing his exact service in the Machine Gun Corp to be almost impossible ……… it was a new division set up in 1915 which took the men who achieved the best marks in shooting from every regiment in the British Army, trained them to ride motorcycles, and then they were shipped to the most dangerous areas of fighting. The Machine Gun Corp was disbanded entirely in the early 1920s.

It is very hard to understand how a huge organization which had well over 100,000 serving soldiers, plus officers, should have left very few tangible records. There are suggestions that the records may well have been deliberately destroyed in a mysterious fire at the last Headquarters of the Corps in 1920. Nothing was left, not even the partly written history of the Corps.

Has anyone learnt any more about this mysterious unit?????

One of the things I would love to find out is where my grandfather was during those roughly 9 months that are missing from his record. There is no damage to the record, so it seems to have been a deliberate omission. I was lucky in that his record is undamaged.


ArgyllGran Report 8 Feb 2023 09:18

Huge numbers of WW1 records were destroyed - not only those of the MGC.

Which branch of the MGC was he with?
There seem to have been Infantry, Motor, Heavy and Cavalry branches.

History here - including history of the various different branches:

The timelines of the movements of the various branches on that link may help you find what might fit in with your grandfather's movements.

You say he was transferred to the MGC in October 1916. Doesn't it give the name of the place where he joined them?


PatinCyprus Report 8 Feb 2023 11:03

MGC is a corps, my grandfather was in the South Staffs Regiment then trained in the MGC. He went back to the South Staffs after training.

Corpsmen are embedded in whichever regiment required them, they don't stay together, their job is to aid the regiment they are posted to. Your grandfather may have gone back to his regiment like my grandfather.


SylviaInCanada Report 9 Feb 2023 00:56

ArgylleGran ......... his records are complete, as I said there is no damage, just a few lines blank on a page.

!'ve pored over that longlongtrail site several times. Have found some information, but also found that Grandfather's records say that he was in units and/or battalions that are not referenced in there. What is in there that I can reference back to him is also action in Mesopotamia. Nothing fits those missing months.

Pat ....... that is interesting. But why would that not be mentioned in my grandfather's records?? As I posted just above, there are no missing pages, his seems to be one of the few complete records.

The records even contain letters from him pleading to be demobilized early because his wife is not good with money and a letter from his pre-war employer saying grandfather would be welcomed back!


ArgyllGran Report 13 Feb 2023 11:22

Just guessing -

Possibly inadequate admin at the time ???

A chaotic time, with thousands of men being moved around or killed, requiring records to be updated.

I assume that individual personnel records were held centrally (London ?), and updated from info telegraphed from the man's unit. (Could be wrong about that.)
Perhaps not all info was sent ???