After the First World War the British Army was equipped with the Vickers and Lewis Machine guns. The Vickers was a heavy design and utilised a tripod and water cooling making it unsuitable for a section weapon.
The Lewis was lighter but was prone to stoppages and required replacement, which was sought in the 1930s.
The Czechoslovakian company of Brno Zb series of light machine guns was assessed and adapted for the standard .303 ammunition and introduced a curved top loading magazine.
Officially adopted by the army the first examples were issued in 1937 and the Bren Gun took its name from Brno, the Czechoslovakian city where it was designed, and Enfield, the location of the British Royal Small Arms Factory.
For airborne forces, like the rest of the army, the Bren provided fire support and each section of 10 men were based around the gun. Each man carried 2 additional magazines to provide the Bren with a constant source of ammunition. Each magazine could hold 30 rounds but was generally loaded with 27 or 28 to reduce the risk of stoppages.
It was operated by a 2 man team with one man carrying the weapon and acting as gunner with the other carrying additional ammunition and spare barrel and acting as loader.
The Bren Weighed approx 20 pounds, had a range of 600 yards with incredible accuracy and capable of firing up to 500 rounds per minute. The barrel could be changed in seconds. It was normally fired from the prone position using the attached bipod.
The Bren could be carried inside gliders, parachute resupply containers and also dropped inside a specially designed valise attached to a paratrooper and provided much needed firepower for lightly equipped airborne forces.
A number of marks were used in the war and post war it was modified to operate with NATO standard 7.62mm ammunition and continued in use until the 1990s, having seen service in all theatres airborne forces operated in from Bruneval to the streets of Belfast, the deserts of the Middle East and the jungles of the Far East, the Bren proved to be a remarkable weapon.
Effective firing range: 600 yd (550 m)
Maximum firing range: 1,850 yd (1,690 m)
Rate of fire: 500–520 rounds/min
Barrel length: 25 in (635 mm)