* * NEWS * *
Some items from Emma Gee
The magazine is the life blood of the MGC/OCA and articles are welcome from any interested parties.
WE MEET AGAIN
USA Member Robert Segal had a visit to the UK planned this summer (July 2007) and asked if I would be attending the big Gun Fair in Kent. Unfortunately, summer is busy for me and I was unable to get away from Wales, so I had to say no.
(I want to go to this event sometime, something always crops up to clash with it.)
It had been a few years since Robert was last in London and we met up to go on a whistle stop tour of the Somme so it was disappointing to have to say no.
Robert emailed his schedule ‘just in case’.
This turned out to be fortuitous since I had to take Sinéad to London and it transpired that we would be passing Heathrow en route on the same date Robert was spending a night at Heathrow. I gave him a call and he invited us to join him for dinner.
Traffic was a nightmare and for a while, I thought we would be arriving so late that Robert would have given up and gone to bed.
Eventually, later than expected but not too late, we made it to the hotel where I was delighted to see Robert again and introduce Sinéad to him.
Robert was not alone, he was with his friends and colleagues, Dolf Goldsmith, Dan Shea.
Some of you may know these names, for those who do not, we were in illustrious company.
Dolf Goldsmith is the world authority on the Vickers gun and has written the definitive book on the subject. Dolf attended Exercise Parting Shot but sadly for me, I didn’t get to meet him. We have corresponded since and he has joined our association and is a solid supporter of our cause. Meeting Dolf was great, a man with many stories to tell and I will be the envy of many gun enthusiasts.
Dan Shea is another very interesting person, is Editor in Chief of The Small Arms Revue.
Also with us for part of the evening was Dr Phil Dater owner of the famous company Gemtech, manufacturers of gun silencers.
Robert, as well as being an avid supporter of the MGC/OCA, is one of the worlds great gun Collectors and very knowledgeable too. He is also a Sub Editor of The Small Arms Revue and he had thoughtfully brought along a copy of the latest edition for me to read.
(I was honoured to be asked to write about the funeral of our last Veteran, dear Albert ‘Smiler’ Marshall for the Small Arms Revue last year.)
Sinéad was fascinated to be with a group of men whose common interest was guns and who are, to we Brits, Right Wing. The conversation was surreal for her on occasions and she has continued to quote several of the things Robert said. Her favourite being:
‘An armed society is a polite society. Thugs think twice about messing with people…. That little old lady could be packing heat.’
Sinéad will spend a year in the States in 2008 and Robert suggested that she choose a University in Chicago so that he will be near enough to go and bail her out when she gets into trouble!
(MGC/OCA North American Area Rep Roy Grundy agrees but for different reasons, he says Mid America is where she will meet ‘real’ Americans.)
Conversation flowed over dinner and it was wonderful to chat to Robert again, but such a shame that, due to our late arrival, the evening was short and all too soon we had to take our leave.
Who knows when, but I hope we will meet again soon.
SAY IT WITH FLOWERS
Though no Veterans remain, three widows of Veterans remain involved with the OCA. I rang to check how they are and wish them a Merry Christmas, Phyllis Lippiatt, wife of former OCA Honorary Secretary, Mrs Nancy Arnold and Rose Thatcher.
On your behalf, I also sent a basket of plants and flowers to each to reach them for Christmas.
Having found that Mrs Emily Crutchley, widow of author C E Crutchley (The Machine Gunner 1914-1918)is alive and well aged 99, I also sent her flowers. (Mrs Crutchley will be 100 on 13th May, contact me for her address in due course.)
You will recall Mr Crutchley generously donated all fees from his book to the OCA and the re-issue last year meant we gained £1,000. I received some free copies which I gave to those who give their time freely to the OCA. I also sent three to Mrs Cruthley and daughter, Mrs Burgess.
What a generous man, husband and father.
FIELD MARSHALL EARL HAIG OF BEMERSYDE
By Joe Cozens
Barry Hooper’s excellent article on conscientious objectors in the 2004 edition of Emma Gee turned my thoughts to another excellent article by him, in the Winter 2003 edition entitled ‘Shot at Dawn’.
Of the 306 British servicemen executed for various crimes, a number were put to death for spurious offences and, at the conclusion of this article, I will cite examples of three young men who were condemned for various offences.
It seems to me that the judgement of the British High Command, in general, and Haig in particular, was fatally flawed and that whatever mitigating circumstances there might have been, it cut no ice with these men who were miles away from the front line.
Recently, I spent a few days on the Somme and took the opportunity to visit Montrevil where Haig set up his headquarters in a large chateau. In the main square there is a large statue of Haig, on his charger Miss Ypres. Montrevil is about 40/50 miles behind the front line and, reading his memoirs, it seems he spent a long time living the life of Reilly. Each evening he would dress for dinner in his mess kit, being waited on by his personal valet, and dining on the finest food with fine wine choosing it from a menu, as always, printed in French.
Contrast this with our fighting men, living in squalid conditions in the trenches and surviving on bully beef and biscuits and all the time facing possible death.
Sadly, governments of all political persuasions have, in recent years, refused to recommend a blanket, or individual pardon for these men.
Recently, I was moved by three separate ‘In Memoriam’ notices in the Daily Telegraph and will quote them in full and let readers draw their own conclusions on the individual cases.
Their Names Liveth Forevermore.
Burden Pt Herbert Francis, 1st Northumberland Fusiliers. Enlisted at age 16. Shot at dawn for desertion ages 17 ¼. 21st July 1915. Tried and condemned by officer from his own Battalion. WW2 under ager salutes courage of the WW1 boy soldier.
Byers J R, Scots Fusiliers, 1st Kitchener volunteer to be shot at dawn. A 16 year old boy, February 6th 1915. Pray for pardon.
Downey Pt P, 19 years old. Gallipoli Veteran shot at dawn 27th December 1915 for disobedience. On fatigues, he refused to wear a hat. On Christmas Day, 2 days before his execution, he worshipped the prince of peace in his condemned cell.
The most terrible indictment of Haig is the ages of these boys, and in my personal opinion, at the war’s end, instead of granting him a £100,000 fortune and bestowing on him an Earldom, he should have been charged with being a war criminal.
Incidentally, there is a Shot at Dawn’ campaign on 0191 262 4753.
The men have all been pardoned since this article was written.
MACHINE GUN CORPS SONG
Sent in By Alan
You’ve heard of Julius Caesar and of great
You’ve never heard the way we beat the lads at GHQ
There’s still a martial story that was never read before
And that’s the tale of how we got a real machine Gun Corps
THIS gallant Corps was organised with civil war and strife
Such troubles as we had you never heard in all your life
For if we asked for men or guns they simply said ‘We fut
T’was just as f wed mounted gun and left
the shutter shut
But down in the shell holes spit the little
Clogged with mud and undermanned, the terror of the Nuns
One day they’ll get the job they want of finishing the war
But GHQ will NEVER, NEVER let then, be a Corps
Then GHQ devised a scheme and said what should
To organise the MG Corps with fairness to the Hun
They knew we had a lot of guns and to appease his hate
Suggested ‘that Divisional guns should be reduced by eight
They told us we were Infantry and really mustn’t fight
In Batteries with Barrages, it really wasn’t right
They’d give us clubs or bayonets to fix upon the gun
They said ‘We can’t do more for you in fairness to the Hun’
But down in the shell holes etc
Then up spake Colonel Georgius* the MGs pride
(He was a most unruly lad, the Corpses oldest boy)
tell you straight, says he, that’s not the way to win the war
You want a lot more guns and men, you want an MG Corps
You must fight your guns in Batteries from a Grand Divisional Pool
Give them fifty bob protractors too, made at the Small Arms School
With these and other blessings of a Centralised Control
We’ll drive the Hun across the Rhine and leave him up the pole
But down in the shell holes etc
So off he went to GHQ to reason With the Staff
He argued first, then flattered them and then went onto chaff
But neither method helped at all, the Staff refused to see
Their notions had got crystallised 10,000 BC
He tried again and many times but it was all no use
The Chestertieldian Staff were near descending to abuse
And posted up all round Montreuil George very plainly saw
Machine Guns shall be infantry; they SHALL NOT be a Corps
But down in the shell holes etc
One day there was a rumour spread- you couldn’t
call it news
The bravest lads at GHQ were shaking in their shoes
T’was said there might be changes made
before it was too late
Unless SOMEONE woke up to the fact and brought things up to date
They wrote at once to Georgius-they wouldn’t let him speak
They said we’ve had a GREAT IDEA- t’wiII start this very week
Its obvious that Centralised Control all through your corps-
Why couldn't YOU have mentioned it-will win the Blooming war.
And down in the shell holes spit the little
Cogged with mud and undermanned, the terror of the Huns
At last we've got the job we want of finishing the war
We're going to have Battalions and a real Machine Gun Corps.
Copy found in the 'Lindsay Papers' held in the Royal Tank Regiment's
Mitchell Library. In the Royal Armoured Corps Tank Museum at Bovington
*George Mackintosh Lindsay, Rifle Brigade- Capt,
School of Musketry, Hythe and HG BEF MG School, Maj GS02 MGC Training
Centre, Grantham, Bde Maj 99 Infantry Bde, Brevet Lt Col & Chief
Instructor HT BEF MG School, Deputy Inspector MG Units 1st
Army, CO 41 Bn MGS, Col Commanding MGC Foreign Service Group,
Shorncliffe, then transferred to Tank Corps.
NOTE: The History Group
has found the music to the MGC March and this has been arranged and recorded along with the bugle call.