While all the combatant nations engaged in World War I fielded machine guns during the conflict, the British Army’s Vickers was arguably the best medium machine gun of the war, while their Lewis gun—an American design but perfected by the English—was the most effective light machine gun.
Modified to shoot the standard British Army infantry and machine gun .303 caliber ammunition (or 7.7x56mm), the gun—now designated the Zb 30, with a 30 round curved magazine—caught the attention of the Small Arms Committee.
During World War II, the Bren gun became the backbone of the British infantry.
Every infantry section of ten men (equivalent to an American rifle squad) and its combat tactics were built around the Bren light machine gun, with the section’s riflemen tasked with augmenting the firepower of the Bren.
By war’s end Bren guns were in plentiful numbers with all British combat divisions: 1,262, 1,376, and 966 in infantry, armored, and airborne, respectively.
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