Lewis Gun organisation in World War One

New for March 2021 are two figures depicting a Number One and Number Two gunner of a Lewis Gun team.

  • TW32BE53 – Private, 28th Bn Canadian Expeditionary Force – Mons 1918
  • TW32BE54 – Private, 28th Bn Canadian Expeditionary Force – Mons 1918
TW32BE53 and TW32BE54 from Tommy’s War featuring a Lewis Gun Number One and Two gunners.

The British (and during the First World War, also Empire) army consisted of Regiments (eg; Royal Warwickshire Regiment) which were then broken-down into Battalions (eg 1st Bn Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 2nd Bn Royal Warwickshire Regiment – 3rd, 4th, 5th etc).

In 1914 each Battalion had two machine gun teams (initially armed with Maxim machine guns, later Vickers machine guns). In 1915 Battalions started to receive the Lewis Gun (4 per Battalion), but by July 1918 each infantry and cavalry Battalion had 36 Lewis gun teams.

A Lewis Gun team was made-up of 6 to 8 men. The first two were trained at the machine gun school (formed in 1914 in France), the remaining members of the team trained within their Battalion (probably by the Number One and Two) and carried the ammunition and were armed with SMLE rifles, their role was to support the two gunners and take-over if necessary.

Figures TW32B053 and TW32BE54 showing the Lewis Gunner Number One (left) and Number Two (right). Note that the Number Two carries a leather bag containing the cleaning kit and accessories to ensure the gun remained in good order.
TW32BE53 and TW32BE54 from Tommy’s War showing two members of a Lewis Gun Team, note the equipment worn by the Number Two.

Within Tommy’s War there are two Lewis Gunners, so they are well represented. But the reason for release of these figures is to show the equipment worn by the Number Two gunner and to highlight the last soldier of the British Army killed in action on the Western Front (Private George Price of the 28th Bn Canadian Expeditionary Force, who was a Lewis Gunner.

While the figures depicted in figures TW32BE53 and TW32BE54 are indicated as Canadians the uniform is completely consistent with any British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African regiment (excluding Highlanders) for the 1917-18 period.

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The Lewis Gun Love Affair by Graeme Barber