Remembering the ‘Emma Gees’

The air was filled with sharp cracks followed immediately by the thud of each round slamming into the berm at more than twice the speed of sound. Within seconds, the range bottom was obscured by clouds of sand as the cacophony reverberated around Bisley, Surrey.

The range was host to a special event – the largest shoot of Vickers Machine Guns in Britain since at least 2002 and the first organised by civilian groups.

The Vickers MG Collection & Research Association was marking the centenary of the disbandment of the Machine Gun Corps.

For three minutes, 16 Vickers guns poured 16,000 rounds of .303 downrange. Steam spewed from every valve, smoke poured from the muzzles and water boiled out through the water assembly plugs. “I put money on them not hitting a thing,” quipped a range safety officer as he peered downrange in awe at the demonstration, staged to remember those nicknamed the ‘Emma Gees’ (M-Gs – machine gunners) who had served in the corps.

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