The McCrudden light machine rifle was invented by ex-Australian serviceman John McCrudden following his discharge from the First Australian Imperial Force in 1917. It is believed there are only two surviving examples of this interesting weapon, the other being held in the Pattern Room in Leeds, England. A McCrudden Light Machine Rifle Mk1 is on extended loan from the Power House Museum exhibition.
McCrudden's first hand-built prototype was believed to have been manufactured at an engineering workshop in Randwick, Sydney. McCrudden and his guns traveled from Sydney to Jervis Bay for an audience with Commodore J S Dumaresq and Lt Cmdr Burgh. He was received favorably and recommendations were made that he should take the gun to England for assessment by the British War Office, Dumaresq forwarding a favorable report in light of the Navy’s pending trials to select a weapon to replace the Lewis Gun. Following Dumaresq’s advice McCrudden took his designs to England where he had additional weapons made by Kingsway Manufacturing Company Ltd in London.
According to a press report in the Daily Telegraph of August 6, 1921 McCrudden alleged that his gun was foolproof, with only seven moving parts and had the advantage of having a variable rate of fire adjustable to ‘fire one or 800 rounds per minute as easily as one can operate a throttle’. In addition the gun could also be easily converted to water cooling for sustained fire.
Both the Mk I and the later Mk II suffered chronic misfeeds due to the internal design of the gun and the location of the magazine at the side of the gun. Had McCrudden relocated the magazine to the top he may well have had a successful design. If his designs had been adopted, like that of Evelyn Owen’s machine carbine, his name may have become a household word and passed into the lexicon of firearms and Australian history.