Blue Jackets and machine guns

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Blue Jackets and machine guns

Postby jf42 » 26 Jan 2017 21:01

In my ignorance, I am not entirely sure why it is that the machine guns that formed part of the naval contribution to the campaigns in Zululand and the Sudan, for instance, were manned by bluejackets and not Royal Marines. Have I got that right?
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Re: Blue Jackets and machine guns

Postby zerostate » 27 Jan 2017 01:17

Because the machine guns were dismounted from naval vessels (they were part of the ships' fixed armament), and they were manned by ratings on the ship, not RMA.

"Cookery is the art of preparing and softening food by the action of fire, so as to render it fit for digestion" - Instructions to Military Cooks in the Preperation of Dinners at the Instructional Kitchen, Aldershot, 1878.
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Re: Blue Jackets and machine guns

Postby jf42 » 27 Jan 2017 07:11

Thanks. I wondered if it was something of that nature.
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Re: Blue Jackets and machine guns

Postby mike snook » 27 Jan 2017 13:22

And because machine guns were deemed, doctrinally speaking as it were, to be an 'artillery' asset, whereas the very purpose of the Royal Marines (RMLI fm 1855) was to function as infantrymen. I am not clear on the size and distribution of the RMA (founded 1859), but they were not as I understand it to be found in that many ships' complements, in the same way that RMLI parties were. Where several ships contributed to a larger naval brigade ashore, the RMLI contingents seem usually to have been grouped together to function conventionally as companies of infantry or, in a big show, as a battalion of as many companies as the aggregated manpower would permit. Where the RMLI was not present in sufficient strength to function as described, they typically fulfilled the skirmisher function in support of musket/rifle armed bodies of ratings. A good example of the latter method is Peel's naval brigade ('the Shannons') in the Lucknow campaign. Interestingly, but of no real relevance to your question, a couple of hundred of Peel's men were not actually in the Royal Navy at all, but were merchant seamen from the ships anchored at Calcutta who volunteered to serve ashore with the brigade. If memory serves they started upcountry a couple of weeks after Peel had departed with the professionals, during which period they were given some rudimentary infantry training under Peel's first lieutenant and a couple of seconded infantry NCOs. At the front the sailors manned the 24-pdrs and operated as infantry companies, while the 50 odd RMLI did the skirmishing thing in front. Thus when machine-guns came along a couple of decades later it was natural that they be manned by ratings alongside the artillery pieces (doctrinally not tactically 'alongside' that is). Of course the RN was rather more keen on machine guns than the Army was. Wolseley felt that a machine gun (in the pre-Maxim age of course) could not do anything that a section (20-25) of riflemen could not. Hiram Maxim would change all that, and the Army's attitude with it.

As ever,

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Re: Blue Jackets and machine guns

Postby jf42 » 27 Jan 2017 15:30

Yes, I wondered if it rested on a technical division of that sort. Thanks, Mike.

Puts a new inter-service slant on the claim, "We have got the Gatling gun and they have not."
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Re: Blue Jackets and machine guns

Postby RobD » 27 Jan 2017 19:04

The topic of Anti-Torpedo Boat & Machine-Guns of the Victorian Era (1862-1900) is superbly covered and illustrated [incl. animation] here:
http://www.victorianshipmodels.com/antitorpedoboatguns/
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Re: Blue Jackets and machine guns

Postby mconrad » 28 Jan 2017 15:19

Whatever happens we have got
The Maxim gun and they have not.
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Re: Blue Jackets and machine guns

Postby mike snook » 28 Jan 2017 22:17

I suspect you'll find that jf is well up on his Belloc. He is making a quip about the fact that the Army failed to adopt the Gatling when the Navy did. The Army only fiddled a bit with Gatlings, while the Navy took it on board - (pardon the excruciating pun!) Both services adopted the Maxim of course.

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