yeovil at waR

lewis light machine gun

Weapons of the Home Guard


The Lewis light machine gun was developed by American Colonel Isaac Lewis, based on original designs by an American inventor called Samuel McClean. The gun was manufactured at Liège, Belgium and adopted by the Belgian army in 1913. In 1914 production began in England and America and the gun was adopted by the British Army in 1915 as a lighter and more portable alternative to the Vickers. It was also easier and cheaper to manufacture. It remained in service in Britain until replaced by the Bren gun in 1939.

Ammunition was .303" and held in a 47-round or 97-round radial drum and the gas-operated gun, firing from an open breech, was air cooled and employed longitudinal aluminium vanes along the barrel which, in theory, cold air was drawn along from the breech end. The barrel was cased in a protective steel cylinder. The gun went through several modifications and marks.
Due to a severe shortage of Bren guns following the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from France, the Mark IV, a modified Mark III aircraft pattern, was issued in quantity to the Home Guard in 1940 for use in the ground role. The Lewis gun was declared obsolete in August 1946.

The Lewis gun weighed 28 pounds (13kg) and was 50½" (1.28m) long with a 26½" (670mm) barrel. It had a rate of fire of 500 to 600 rounds per minute and a muzzle velocity of 2,440 feet per second (740m/s) giving it an effective range of 880 yards (800m) and a maximum range of 3,500 yards (3,200m). It was issued with either a bipod or a field mount.


Adapted from my e-book "A Photographic Guide to the Taunton Stop Line"





Courtesy of Rob Baker

This photograph of the Yeovil Home Guard shows two Home Guard weapons, a Lewis Gun in the foreground and a 2-pounder Anti-Tank Gun.