BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY ARMY (FIRST WORLD WAR), PART ELEVEN
Until 1914, British foot soldiers still carried swords, and the cavalry kept the cavalry sword throughout the campaign. The other soldiers’ weapon was the revolver, the trio most common being the Smith and Wesson hand ejector, Webley MKV or VI, and the Colt New Service.
All other British Expeditionary Army ranks carried a .303 Lee – Enfield rifle fitted with a straightforwardly loaded ten-round magazine and issued with a 17-inch bayonet. These rifles enabled a high fire rate with reasonable accuracy, such that prewar British men were trained to strike a target 15 times per sixty seconds at a range of three hundred yards. The devastating accuracy and efficiency of the British Expeditionary Army infantry commanded the Germans to erroneously assume that there were about twenty-eight machine guns in each division.
When the British Expeditionary Army arrived in France, each infantry division and cavalry unit was well-equipped with a couple of Maxim or Vickers machine guns. Section of the reason for only assigning a couple of firearms per division was the cost of manufacture and the need for a 10-week intensive training course for a Vickers gunner. During 1916, the earlier to manufacture and more versatile Lewis guns started to be given on the planned scale of sixteen per squadron, one for each subdivision. Simultaneously, the Vickers guns and their trained operators were sent to the Machine Gun Corps; one firm was attached to each infantry unit.
And individual bravery awards, all members of the British Expeditionary Army qualified for up to three war medals. The 1914 Star, the 1914–15 Star, the British Campaign Medal, and the Triumph Medal.
The 1914 Star was awarded to men and officers of the British Army who served in Belgium or France between Wednesday, August 5, 1914, and midnight Sunday/Monday, November 22/23, 1914. The ex-date is the day after Britain announces a battle against the Central Powers, and the closing date marks the 1st Battle of Ypres’s end.
The 1914 to 1915 Star was awarded to men and officers of the British and Imperial Army who served in any theatre of the Battle between Wednesday, August 5, 1914, and Friday, December 31, 1915 (other than people who had already nominated for the 1914 Star.)
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