Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Bren still a classic

Discussion in 'Small Arms and Edged Weapons' started by Carronade, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    2,494
    Likes Received:
    433
    I saw a photo in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan turning in weapons as part of a peace agreement, mostly AKs of course, but the guy closest to the camera had a Bren over his shoulder!
     
  2. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,640
    Likes Received:
    152
    Ah yes....what the PPSH 41 was to the Soviets, or the MP 41 to the Germans, or the M-1 Carbine was to the U.S. Marines, so this faithful old weapon was to the British and Commonwealth soldier. The "Bren" is still alive and kicking on the modern battlefield!

    I have had the opportunity to let loose a few rounds with a modern 'Bren'. You have to crouch down, and lean into the weapon to counter the kick. The gun will pull up and to the right, so accurate fire means you must compensate.

    It's a lively weapon, and they tell me it's wonderfully reliable, too, and can operate in the mud without causing a 'stoppage'.

    I'm syre it's that sort of rugged reliability that has seen it's service life endure way beyond the period it was designed for. A true "ahead of it's time" piece of machinery.

    Australian troops loved the Bren for Jungle fighting, although many in the Army might have preferred the lighter "Owen". The Bren's only drawback is that very fact. It's a little heavy. It's rate of fire is probably better suited to jungle fighting than out in the open, and yet the Bren excels at both as a support weapon.
     
  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,317
    Likes Received:
    2,037
    Location:
    Alabama
    I've never fired a Bren, but I have a BAR, so I cannot really compare the the two.

    However, over the years reading about the Bren here and elsewhere, I have warmed up to it considerably. I would like fire one if I could find someone who owns one.

    Edit:
    I reread my post and the wording could be confusing. I do not own a BAR. I have fired one.

    Carry on.
     
  4. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2007
    Messages:
    1,079
    Likes Received:
    73
    I have read that the first Bren gun's where not very well liked because they where too accurate, They wanted a suppressing weapon and too much accuracy can be a bit bad in that kind of role.
     
  5. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    5,625
    Likes Received:
    1,000
    That makes absolutely no sense. I understand it, and I know where you got it from; but, the thinking is flawed.
     
  6. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,478
    Likes Received:
    1,385
    Location:
    London, England.
    Out of my collection, the Bren is without doubt the best home defence weapon. If they start to come up the stairs, I'll simply drop the Bren ( in its case ) on their heads......;)

    Back to the topic, I don't really think that the Bren was developed with suppression in mind ( unlike the much faster-firing MG34/42 series ). It was highly accurate, very portable and reliable. It's fair to say that I can't recall reading any WWII memoir by a British infantryman which criticizes the Bren, from the BEF right through to the fighting at Arnhem. It also had an effect on morale : I've read more than one battle account which refers to the 'steady hammering sound of a Bren' which had a steadying effect on nerves in tight situations.
     
  7. harolds

    harolds Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,642
    Likes Received:
    266
    I too have never read anything critical of the Bren, except perhaps its weight. Then, of course, there was the Sten, which had a somewhat different repuation!
     
  8. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2007
    Messages:
    1,079
    Likes Received:
    73
    I think the accuracy and suppression fire things came more from the Aussie side of things, especially in the Pacific. The Digger's often would have them hip mounted spraying into grass and tree's ahead as they moved forward, In t hat sort of role too much accuracy would not be of much use which would explain the reasoning for it.
     
  9. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2008
    Messages:
    7,350
    Likes Received:
    693
    Didn't come here for a laugh...but got one.
     
  10. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Messages:
    9,683
    Likes Received:
    953
    Any records of any success of its anti air use? seen enough pics of it mounted and posed...
     
  11. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,478
    Likes Received:
    1,385
    Location:
    London, England.
    In all my reading, I've never come across a truly confirmed 'kill'. Certainly range, but also rate-of-fire and ammunition capacity would mitigate against success ( although there's always the chance of a lucky shot ). There were certainly many claims, especially during the Battle of Britain, which made good newspaper copy but have later been disproved.

    However, what seems almost certain is that Brens were used with considerable effect against low-flying Ju 52s during the battle of Crete. Firing from dug-in positions on hillsides, they were firing at very close range directly into the fuselages of these very slow-moving aircraft and, if they didn't actually shoot any aircraft down, certainly caused havoc among the 'human cargo' of Fallschirmjager.

    IIRC, this is described in Beevor's book on the battle.
     
  12. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2007
    Messages:
    1,079
    Likes Received:
    73
    I have in passing come across kills claimed by Bren guns but as to if they where the only ones in the engagement or not is not stated but a constant factor in the claims is that the aircraft where always flying low be it for dropping paratroopers or strafing runs.
     
  13. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,640
    Likes Received:
    152
    In "Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall", Spike Milligan cracks jokes about this early media 'coverage', of plucky gunners armed only with a 'Bren' bringing down low flying Nazi aircraft. Milligan fantasizes bagging a Heinkel bomber armed only with a brick. I'm sure that, during the Battle of Britian, it must have seemed all that one could do to 'assist' "The Few" by setting up your best weapon on a high vantage point, and posting a guard thereof to "have a crack at Jerry."

    Martin's readings failing to find even one example of a confirmed 'kill' shows just how effective these detachments were. Lots of bored soldiers, scratching their nuts and looking up.

    Ironically, Milligan's unit go out to a crashed German aircraft, to codorn the site off. They end up 'salvaging' one of the aircraft's defensive machine gun's, setting it up outside "Leather Suitcase's" office. On guard duty one night, Milligan is castigated by 'Leather Suitcase' for uncovering "The Mighty Spandau", "You'll give away our position." A jettisoned bomb lands close by at that very moment, with the Major hissing at Milligan, "See what you've done?", and slamming his window shut. "He must have been worth a division to the Germans....", quipped Milligan.....
     
  14. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,478
    Likes Received:
    1,385
    Location:
    London, England.
    I found the part in Beevor's 'Crete', on pp.136-137. Australian infantrymen dug-in on 'the two Charlies' ( two rocky peaks overlooking the west end of Heraklion ) opened fire on the slow-moving Ju52s. They were firing almost horizontally with all weapons as the tri-motors flew past. The white faces of the crew members were clearly visible : 'They were so close, it felt as if you could almost touch them' was a common remark after the battle.
    However, it's fair to say that the only confirmed Ju52 losses were credited to 40-mm Bofors guns.
     
  15. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,564
    Likes Received:
    426
    Location:
    London UK
    There was a problem with the Bren Gun that is unlikely to be experienced in peacetime or by a private owner. The spring in the magazine could deform if kept under compression leading to stoppages. Army Training Notes in late 1939 includes order not to fill magazines with more than 20 rounds if not being fired immediately and to nver load more than 28 rounds in the 30 round magazine. Lionel Wigram in his 1943 report on the Infantry in Sicily recommends that Brens are sited in pairs because of this.
     
  16. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    36
    Hello, has anyone got any really good data on the Bren LMG? I have been searching for the numbers built and month/year each model was made, here is what I have so far;
    Year of introduction.

    [SIZE=12pt]August 1938 (Mk.1) [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=12pt]June 1941 (Mk.2) [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=12pt]July 1944 (Mk.3)[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=12pt]???????? (Mk.4)[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]Numbers built.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]345.000 (Mk.1)[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=12pt]????? (Mk.2) [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=12pt]57.000 (Mk.3) [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=12pt]???? (Mk.4).[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]As you can see there are a few gaps, so are my totals correct? And can anyone help me fill in the gaps.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]Yan.[/SIZE]
     
  17. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Messages:
    6,135
    Likes Received:
    1,721
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    On AA Brens:
    http://www.spyflight.co.uk/iafvraf.htm

     
    Poppy likes this.
  18. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Messages:
    1,381
    Likes Received:
    153
    Yan, David Boyd has yearly production figures on the Bren article on his site www.wwiiequipment.com


    There is a good chance it was one of THESE - http://ofbindia.gov.in/products/data/weapons/wsc/16.htm - still made nearby in India!
     
  19. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    36
    Thanks Guys some great info there, it’s a petty David never gave what mark of Bren and just the year with a total.

    I also tried to get the number of Vickers .303 Machine Guns that were made from 1912 to 1945, I get it to 58.940 but this could be way too high.

    Yan.
     
  20. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Messages:
    1,381
    Likes Received:
    153
    Yan, I wouldn't automatically doubt the figure; don't forget - at various "high points" we were manufacturing to equip the British Army....and the Canadians, and the Australians, and the New Zealanders, and the Indians.... ;)

    In relation to using the Bren as an AA gun...don't forget the MkI could use a 100-round pan magazine ;) This item was MUCH sturdier than the Lewis Gun's 97-round magazine for AA use - and consequently more expensive to manufacture, the stated reason why it was deleted after the MkI. But it could still be used in later marks - it was just awkward, the spares' kit came with an extra sight wishbone that had to be fitted to let you use the pan magazine. On the MkI, it's radial sight could simply be adjusted for the pan mag.
     

Share This Page