18 Comments

  1. Probably a “posed” photograph. The trooper looks almost too clean and well-groomed to have been in the middle of a live action.

    Good detail, though.

  2. I’ve got Lewis drums, DP drums, and I’ve seen “double Lewis drums and DT drums”, and know how they work, but I’ve only seen Bren drums from the outside, in rare photos and your action shots. Can you do an expose on how they’re loaded and how they feed?
    Semper Fidelis,
    John McClain
    GySgt, USMC, ret.

  3. That looks like the dual AA mount for the Bren, taken off the pedestal. The LRDG and SAS used those on their vehicles early on, according to The Raiders; Desert Strike Force by Arthur Swinton (Ballantine, 1970). They were later replaced by the twin Vickers “K” aka VGO (Vickers Gas-Operated) on the same sort of setup, also with “pan” magazines.

    cheers

    eon

    • That is the AA mount. The Vickers K did use the same mount (or something similar) in the desert campaign, I believe, though the pan on the Vickers did not rotate at all. The issue with pan magazines is the angular moment of inertia. In the case of the Lewis gun, the entire magazine was rotated by an indexing claw (cutaway drawing from Roger Ford’s book on machine guns). The Bren’s 100 round pan seems to be driven by a spring, judging by the direction to wind something. I don’t know about the Degtyarovs, though…

    • Insofar as twin MG mounts on LRDG and SAS vehicles go, I don’t recall ever seeing anything but twin Vickers K’s, and then mostly on SAS Jeeps, although some LRDG units had them too. As much as I’ve looked, I can’t find any wartime photographs of LRDG or SAS vehicles with twin Brens, only single mounts with either the standard overhead box magazine of the 100-round drum. I even went back through my old copy of Arthur Swinson’s “The Raiders : Desert Strike Force” and found no mention of twin Bren’s either, short of re-reading the whole book word for word ( I am perfectly willing to concede that I may have missed something ).

      Am I missing something here? By the way, Tim Moreman and Rafaelle Ruggeri have written a pretty decent book called “Long-Range Desert Group Patrolman : The Western Desert, 1940-43” ( Osprey Books,2010 ). It has a lot of rare photographs generally not seen elsewhere, and a new soft-cover copy goes for $14.41 on Amazon.

      A couple of other good reference books in the same vein are Gavin Mortimer’s “The SAS In World War II : An Illustrated History” ( Osprey Publishing, 2011, $7.94 ) and Andrea Molinari’s “Desert Raiders : Axis And Allied Special Forces 1940-43” ( Osprey Battle Orders, 2007, $14.31 ). The former has a lot of rare and previously unpublished photographs, while the latter is notable for providing information on, and photographs / illustrations of, Free French and Italian Autosaharan operations and units in addition to the more well-known Commonwealth and German ones.

      • I think it was a one-line mention, i.e. “the Vickers K mount was the same one used for the Bren” or something like that. I may have misinterpreted it; the twin mount may only have been used for the K with the LRDG/SAS.

        Still, this photo pretty strongly indicates that somebody was using the twin mount with Brens bolted to it.

        This fellow, however, is sort of overdoing things. He’d be better off with a single Bren and an assistant. Like maybe the guy who took the picture.

        cheers

        eon

  4. OK, it’s clearly not an optimal idea (just like hanging out in the dessert sun without a shirt probably isn’t.)

    But – in the extremes of war, might it not work well enough long enough, for, say, the rest of a unit to withdraw? Or the guns cease working before more than 2 or 3 rounds were fired?

    (I’m doubting it would be waaaay better to put it on it’s mount…)

  5. Actually, I’m NOT doubting that it would be WAAAY better to put it on it’s mount.

    And I’m sure it would be way better to find my typos before hitting post since there doesn’t seem to be an edit function.

  6. I have both models of the Bren drums (Mk I & II). The principal difference is in the winders, the Mk I being a separate item and integral on the Mk II. To load the mags they were placed upside down on a wooden frame and they were wound against the springs while the rounds were inserted though the feed lips.

    my dad was in the NZ Army in the Pacific and then in Egypt towards the end of the war. He had never seen a Bren drum until he saw mine, even though he was in daily contact with them. He said they always used the standard magazine, even for AA work.

  7. In the book The Bren it describes how to load and mount a 100 rd drum. They were for AA use and as in the photo were mounted in pairs. The set up in the photo would be a nasty surprise for anyone on the wrong end. These drums were for sale by IMI . I do not know if they will work on the Mk2 semi auto versions of the BREN.

  8. I also took a look at the WarAlbum.ru web site from which this photograph was sourced. Potentially very interesting and informative if you understand Russian or are reasonably adept at interpreting the computerized translation with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Many of the comments from the Russian-speaking readers are probably equally informative.

  9. The rock looks blasted, and the low camera angle minimises any tell tale background.

    It could have been somewhere in the desert or Mediterranean region, or it could equally have been posed in a chalk quarry in south east England.

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