Tuesday, August 19, 2008

[Image] The German MG34 Machine Gun

25th July, 1942. Tel el Eisa, Egypt.

A Digger and his captured MG34.

This unidentified soldier of the 9th Division proudly poses with a captured German MG34 Machine Gun. The Maschinengewehr 34 was accepted into service in the German army in 1934 and during the Western Desert campaign featured heavily in action with the Afrika Korps.

This particular gun is being used in a set up that was not originally intended. The MG34 was designed to be able to be used as both a light and medium machine gun. When deployed in LMG mode it was meant to use the barrel mounted bipod, as the one pictured does, and a 50 or 75 round drum magazine. In MMG mode it was meant to use linked 50 round belts, and one of two heavy tripods.

In practice, the Afrika Korps favoured the light weight and maneuverability of the bipod with the sustained firepower of the linked belt fed ammo, with as many as 250 bullets being able to be linked together at once. This Digger uses the MG34 in the exact same unofficial configuration as that favoured by the Afrika Korps in the field, leading one to think that this gun was set up this way when captured.

The MG34 was used extensively during the Siege of Tobruk and it was one such weapon that NX15705 Cpl Jack Edmondson V.C. of the 2/17th Infantry Battalion was mortally wounded by whilst capturing it during the Easter Battle. This action ultimately led to his death from wounds and the posthumous awarding of the Victoria Cross.

image E014847 Imperial War Museum.

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