Machine-gunners, 1918

The machine-gun played a key role in a conflict dominated by trench warfare. The extensive use of barbed wire together with strong points manned by machine gunners meant that any attack was costly. An infantryman with his rifle could fire 15 rounds a minute for a brief period while the standard Vickers Machine-Gun of the British Army could fire up to 550 rounds every minute to a maximum range of 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometres). The German Maxim Model 08 had a similar performance. Alongside the increasing power and accuracy of modern artillery an industrialised battlefield was created forcing soldiers to ‘dig in’ to survive. From an album of 24 official photographs, Western Front, August to December 1918.