The Lewis light machine gun was a deadly innovation on the battlefields of the Great War from 1916 onwards. It is a distinctive weapon as it has a very thick tubular jacket over the barrel. The jacket protects a series of ribs projecting from the barrel to disperse the heat generated when the weapon is fired rapidly. Ammunition for the Lewis gun is contained in a distinctive disc-shaped magazine mounted on top of the weapon. This Lewis gunner is holding spare magazines between his feet.
The Lewis gun revolutionised infantry tactics during the Great War. On the Western Front it became an integral part of every infantry platoon. Capable of automatic fire, this light, portable weapon even inspired experimental units and tactics.