Norman Reginald McMahon DSO


Norman McMahon was born in London on 24th Jan 1866, the son of Sir Thomas Westropp McMahon and Sir Thomas's 2nd wife Frances. Known as the Musketry Maniac, Norman McMahon, commanded the 4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers at Nimy where his men put down a rapid rate of fire that decimated the German 84th Infantry Regiment. Soon after Mons he was promoted to Brigadier-General and was to be put in command of the 10th Infantry Brigade. But he was killed in action on 11th Nov 1914 during the first battle of Ypres.

The standard of fifteen aimed shots per minute is credited to Major Norman Reginald McMahon, Chief Instructor of the British Small Arms School at Hythe from 1905 to 1914. Some attribute the creation of this standard to McMahon's Boer War experience, while others point to McMahon's early advocacy of machinegun usage. In either case, the standard was formalized in the Musketry Regulations of 1909 and earned McMahon the nickname "Musketry Maniac." To support the standard, 15-shot exercises were conducted. These eventually became known as the "Mad Minute." By 1912, failure in the exercise could be sufficient for a discharge due to "inefficiency." By 1914, it was reportedly not uncommon for many troopers to exceed twenty hits per minute.

With the British entry in the First World War, McMahon, now a Lt. Colonel, took command of 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. His unit took part in the Battle of Mons on 23 August 1914, attempting to hold a pair of bridges at Nimy. During the battle, German forces first mistook the accurate, rapid fire of British troops as the work of machineguns. (The first two Victoria Crosses of the war were awarded as result of the Nimy bridge action, but ironically, to a pair of machinegunners. The 4th Battalion's defense of the bridges didn't fail until after the unit's machineguns were permanently knocked out of action.)


Regimental Details | Commanding Officers




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by Stephen Luscombe