not fitted with recoil intensifier, flash hider or flash shield, corroded and overpainted with green paint, part of serial number and most other inscriptions illegible, has unusual grips with no provision for oilers, safety catch and trigger are probably replacements
The standard German machine-gun of the First World War, the MG08 was a water-cooled weapon employing the Maxim system of operation (see FIR 8095).
The German Army was well equipped with machine-guns and accorded its machine-gunners an elite status. Sophisticated optical sights for the guns were issued as standard. However, the actual design of the MG08 was inferior to that of the British Vickers Gun (see FIR 8032), being heavier and more difficult to repair in the field. It was also fired from a heavy four-legged "sledge" mount. This mount frequently proved difficult to use in the trenches and a wide variety of extemporized "trench mounts" were produced. These mounts put MG08 gunners at a disadvantage, as they precluded the use barrage, indirect or overhead fire.
This particular gun was captured by the 21st Battalion London Regiment (1st Surrey Rifles) at Cuinchy in May 1915. This battalion held the line at Cuinchy during the early part of the British offensive around Festubert (further to the North) and later, on 25 May, took part in the final phase of the battle, attacking from nearby Givenchy. The corrosion, missing parts and coat of gloss paint indicate that the gun probably spent some time on open display as a war trophy.
1. stamped on top cover
2. stamped on brass plaque affixed to water jacket
1. M.G. 08
2. THIS GUN WAS CAPTURED BY B. COY 21ST LONDON REGT AT CUINCHY, MAY 1915