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I have a general question about the Maxim MG08 sleds that I am hoping someone can answer. According to reference books the slings that the crews wore could be used for transporting the sled. Yet in every photo I have ever seen the crews usually either carried the sled like a stretcher - one in front and back or two to a side, or dragged the sled by the front legs. Did the slings actually attach to the sleds and if so, where? Does anyone have a photo showing the sled actually being carried by the slings?

Thanks in advance,

Mark

Here is the typical sling:

[attachmentid=24353]

And the sled.

[attachmentid=24354]

So just where and how would the sling attach?

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Mark,

The dragging straps were not normally used for transporting the gun, they were used for dragging the gun into its final firing position which could be done by crawling if need be. First you release the spring locks on both legs and move them up and back where they catch on two springs to hold them in place. This can be done with the gun mounted. Then normally two men would each attach the hook on one end of the dragging straps to a ring on each side of the front of the mount. The mount is called a "sled" mount for a reason, so that it can be dragged along the ground without hanging up on stones etc. The men would then pull the gun using the leather covered rope handles at either end. If something has gone terribly wrong and there is only one man left, he can attach both hooks on his straps and pull from the center of the strap. At this time though he is probably trying to get out and keep the gun from being captured. Of course it is much easier to carry it like a stretcher if circumstances permit and there are wooden pieces inset into the inside edge of the end of the legs to serve as handles. MG units were also issued two wheel carts and horse drawn wagons for moving the guns, ammo and accessories. Here is a frontal shot of my MG08 at our last reenactment with the blank fire adapter on it. On the front cross bar on the sled there is a ring at each corner. One is hidden.

Dan Murphy

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Edited by Daniel Murphy
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Daniel

Thank you for the information. Looking at the straps it did not look fesible to carry the sled with them but that is what most of the references say they are for. It also seems like the straps were short lived as they do not seem to be worn too much as the war progressed.

Mark

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The dragging straps were designed for open warfare as the past wars had been. In open warfare it would be easy to drag the gun into position on a hill, etc. As trench warfare set in the dragging straps were not very useful, but were kept on and still worn as it was the distinguishing badge of a machine gunner. Would you drag a sled through a trench or carry it by the legs? Common sense dictates you would carry it. There is also no way someone would expose themselves to enemy fire by using the straps to emplace the gun on the parapet of a trench. As the war went on the leather straps were changed to linen and they were worn until the end of the war. Since machine gunners were prime targets of artillery, trench mortars and enemy machine guns, they suffered a disproportionate number of casualties. This could account for a shortage of the dragging straps later in the war. Many photos I have seen later in the war show only 2-3 men of the standard 8 man crew wearing the straps. As far as what the books say, books have been wrong before. It is twice as easy to carry it by the legs than to drag it (it is impossible to carry it with the straps since there is nowhere for the straps to attach on the rear of the mount). Take it from someone who has one. Here is another shot of mine (from the rear) at a living history event, next to it is my MP 18I and extra snail drums. Both photos courtesy of my unit commander Max Stiebritz.

Dan Murphy

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Dan,

Very nice weapons. The drag straps were also made from Papiergarn. I have such an example. I don't imagine that they would have held up very well under field conditions, but I am told that the papercloth did do a sufficient job, as it was surprisingly strong. It's just hard to imagine what would happen to it if it got soaking wet.

Chip

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Dan,

Years ago, a German collector friend of mine found four of these unissued papercloth MG-Trageriemen at the Stuttgart Flohmarkt. I was lucky enough to have something he wanted (an M71 Hirschf?nger), so I got a set, along with a like-new pair of issue boots (BA XII marked), some issue shirts and a few other things.

There is a good possibility that your black Drillich is Kriegsgefangenenkleid. Kraus mentions that prisoners wore black Drillich suits as a sign of their status. He also says that they were eventually made from papercloth. On the other hand, his description of regular army issue Drillich does not mention black, but does discuss the change from earlier natural flaxen color to Feldgrau cotton cloth. No mention is made of papercloth. For what it's worth.

Chip

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  • 2 years later...

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