Maxim MG08 Heavy Machine Gun : Lance Corporal B S Gordon, 41 Battalion, AIF

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Bray Proyart Area, Bray-sur-Somme
Accession Number RELAWM00857.001
Collection type Technology
Object type Firearm
Place made Germany, Germany: Berlin
Date made 1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Maxim MG08 Machine Gun. Breech top cover stamped with the serial number, M.G.08, D.W.M. BERLIN 1917. The water jacket is badly damaged by shrapnel and on the underside in white paint is D1406. The Weapon is complete with its breech mechanism, feed block, optical sight bracket, muzzle compensator, fuzzee spring cover and front armoured plate. It is missing the right hand cleaning brush from the spade grip.

History / Summary

This machine gun is one of six captured by Lance Corporal Bernard Sidney Gordon during his single-handed attack on an enemy machine gun company on 26-27 August, 1918, for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Gordon was born in Launceston, Tasmania on 16 August 1891. He was working as a cooper’s machinist when, at the age of 24, he enlisted as a private with 41 Battalion on 27 September 1915 in Townsville, Queensland.

Gordon embarked from Sydney aboard HMAT Demosthenes in May 1916. After a period of training in England he proceeded to France, joining his unit on 5 January 1917. Gordon soon demonstrated his considerable courage and initiative while fighting on the Western Front. However, he was not always a model soldier when out of the line and was reprimanded on several occasions for being absent without leave and for behaviour ‘prejudicial to good order and military discipline’. Gordon was wounded in action in October and promoted to lance corporal in June 1918.

He was awarded the Military Medal for his conduct during action near Hamel in August. Less than three weeks later was the action at Fargny Wood for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. His citation reads 'For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on 26th-27th August, 1918, east of Bray. He led his section through heavy shell-fire to the objective which he consolidated. Single-handed he attacked an enemy machine-gun which was enfilading the company on his right, killed the man in the gun and captured the post, which contained one officer and ten men. He then cleaned up a trench, capturing twenty-nine prisoners and two machine-guns. In cleaning up further trenches he captured twenty-two prisoners, including one officer, and three machine-guns. Practically unaided, he captured, in the course of these operations, two officers, and sixty-one other ranks, together with six machine-guns, and displayed throughout a wonderful example of fearless initiative.'.

A few days later Gordon was again wounded in action during fighting in the Mont St. Quentin area, receiving shrapnel injuries to his face and hand. It was during his time recovering in hospital that he learnt he had been awarded the Victoria Cross. Gordon returned to Australia in January 1919 and was discharged in April. He settled in Queensland and took up dairy farming on a property near Beaudesert. During the Second World War Gordon served for a period with Queensland’s 31 Battalion (Kennedy Regiment) but did not leave Australia. He died in 1963, aged 72.