MG08 Machine Gun used by the Imperial German Navy at Gallipoli


Photos © Gilles Sigro


  The Maxim Machine Gun revolutionised modern warfare. Invented by Hiram Maxim in 1884, it was the first reliable, mass produced machine gun in the world. By 1914 all the world's major armies either had Maxim guns or imitations of them. The German version was known as the "Maschinengewehr 1908" or MG08, it was almost identical in design to Maxim's invention. Tens of thousands of MG08s were used by the German forces in the First World War on all fronts. The gun photographed on this page as a very interesting history.

This MG08 was aboard either the SMS Goeben or SMS Breslau when they sailed into the Mediterranean Sea before the First World War. When war broke out both ships made for Istanbul where they placed themselves under Ottoman naval command. Soon after and indeed largely due to the ships' involvement, the Ottoman Empire was dragged into the war on the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Britain and France launched an invasion of the Dardanelles straights (although the British contingent was largely made up of Australian and New Zealand troops and the French contingent was partially Senegalese) at Gallipoli. To assist the defending Ottoman army the German ships sent machine guns and their crews to the frontline. This machine gun was captured at the Second Battle of Krithia on 6th May 1915 by British sailors from HMS Hood, serving as part of the British 2nd Naval Brigade. They then presented it to their overall commanding officer, the departing French commander, General Albert d'Amade.

The gun remained in d'Amade's chateau until after his death in 1941. The new owners of the chateau handed it in to the French Gendarmerie, who in turn tried to give it to the "Musée de l'Infanterie" at Montpellier but they turned it down. Finally it was given to its present owner, a gunsmith named Gilles Sigro, who has been kind enough to show us close up photographs of this most interesting historical piece. Please respect his generosity in sharing these images with us by not reproducing them without prior permission.

Recommended External Links-
Gilles Sigro's website, Armurerie Toulouse 
The full history of this gun on Gilles' site, Un Souvenir du Croseur de Bataille Part1 and Part 2
The Pursuit of the Goeben and Breslau at Wikipedia
The German Landing Parties at Gallipoli discussed on the Axis History Forum
Photos from the SMS Goeben at the Gentlemen's Military Interest Club

The left side of the gun. The top plate of the gun's breech with the marking "8mm Masch.-Gew. 1908.", showing it to be a 1908 model machine gun taking 8mm rounds (although the exact calibre was 7.92mm). Note part of the breech is marked number 817. A view down the receiving end of the barrel. Note the small plate stating it is barrel number 820. The two differing serial numbers on the gun would imply that it was probably made up of parts of two damaged guns to make one working gun.
  Markings showing the gun to have been made at the German Weapons and Munitions Factory, Berlin in 1910.  




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