30 August 2011

Royal Engineers 1881-1914


This post will look at numbering in the Corps of Engineers, regular enlistments only, between 1881 and 1914. With such a huge corps, any study of numbering such as this can only provide a brief snapshot. Nevertheless, this may prove of some assistance in helping to narrow down enlistment dates for numbers covered within this vast range.

The Corps of Royal Engineers was formed in 1856 from the Royal Engineers and the Royal Sappers and Miners. Typical terms of enlistment for the regiment changed over the years.

The information on this post has been compiled as a result of examining service records in WO 97 (online with Findmypast) and WO 363 and WO 364 (online with Ancestry). Note that Findmypast has also indexed WO 363/4 (and uncovered an additional half a million names).
 
Establishment information from Scarlet into Khaki by Lt-Col James Moncrieff Grierson (Greenhill Books 1988).

16995 joined on 2nd May 1881
17483 joined on 13th June 1882
17625 joined on 4th October 1883
18971 joined on 27th May 1884
19753 joined on 9th April 1885
20829 joined on 3rd March 1886
22091 joined on 19th September 1887
23152 joined on 25th September 1888
23596 joined on 1st February 1889
24832 joined on 12th May 1890
26081 joined on 12th September 1891
26307 joined on 22nd January 1892
27354 joined on 7th February 1893
28032 joined on 23rd February 1894
28773 joined on 1st January 1895
29999 joined on 25th February 1896


A new number series commences:
1 joined on 31st March 1896
3 joined on 7th April 1896
4 joined on 8th April 1896
601 joined on 8th January 1897
800 joined on 6th May 1897
1007 joined on 30th June 1897
1641 joined on 17th February 1898

Peace-time Establishment in 1899

1. One Pontoon or Bridging battalion consisting of two companies comprised of a total of 199 officers and men and 64 saddlehorses and draught horses.
2. One Telegraph battalion consisting of two sections: one at Aldershot traiuned exclusivley for service in the field, the other in the south of England employed for telegraphic service in the country.
3. One Mounted Detachment Field Depot quartered at Aldershot to train drivers for the field companies. Comprised of 115 officers and men and 33 horses.
4. Two Field Parks comprised in total of 33 NCOs and men and 21 horses.
5. One Balloon section at Aldershot comprised of two officers and 40 NCOs and men.
6. Eight Field Companies (Nos, 7, 11, 12, 17, 23, 26, 37, 38. Four Field Companies were on the higher Establishment and four on the lower. Of the higher companies, two were at Aldershot, one at Chatham and one at the Curragh Camp in Ireland. Of the lower companies, two were at Aldershot, and one each at Shornecliffe and the Curragh. Higher establishment companies each consisted of three officers, 182 NCOs and men and 26 horses. Lower establishment companies each consisted of three officers, 95 men and 21 horses.
7. Eighteen Fortress Companies (Nos 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 15, 18, 20, 24, 25, 29, 31, 32, 36, 41, 42 and 43). Each company consisted of three officers and 92 or 93 NCOs and men.
8. Two Railway Companies: one at the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich, one near Chatham, each consisting of two officers and 65 men.
9. Twelve Submarine Mining Companies (Nos 4, 21, 22, 27, 28, 30, 33, 34, 35, 39, 40 and M). Companies 4, 30 and M were stationed at Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham respectively and comprised 510 NCOs and men in total. These three companies were known as the "central companies", training recruits for the submarine mining companies and operating electric search lights in the naval ports. The other nine companies were stationed at different fortified naval ports and comprised between 44 and 65 men. Each submarine company was commanded by three officers.
10. One Coast battalion organised into 11 sections and comprised of 14 officers and 190 men stationed at those ports which only had militia or volunteer submarine mining sections.
11. Four Survey Companies (Nos 13, 14, 16 and 19) comprised of 24 officers and 454 NCOs and men.
12. Eight Depot Companies (A, B, C, D, E, F, G and N) garrisoned at Chatham and comprising 20 officers and 818 NCOs and men.

War-time establishment in 1899

In times of war, a field company of engineers (197 officers and men) was added to every Division of infantry. A mounted detachment (116 officers and men) was added to every cavalry division. In addition, to every army corps, as Corps Engineers, was added a field company (197 officers and men), a pontoon company (200 officers and men), a staff and four sections of the telegraph battalion (226 officers and men), a field park (43 officers and men), a railway company (147 officers and men) and a balloon section (48 officers and men).

2631 joined on 2nd January 1899
4319 joined on 6th February 1900
7679 joined on 6th February 1901
9788 joined on 3rd January 1902
12142 joined on 8th January 1903
13806 joined on 17th May 1904
15623 joined on 22nd March 1906
16173 joined on 16th February 1907
17948 joined on 24th September 1908
18313 joined on 12th January 1909
19801 joined on 25th January 1910
21130 joined on 2nd February 1911
22616 joined on 2nd March 1912
24416 joined on 12th April 1913
25895 joined on 15th January 1914

For a good summary of the Royal Engineers during the First World War, see The Royal Engineers on The Long, Long Trail website.

Also see my post on a range of Royal Engineers numbers: Royal Engineers 108**.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

20 comments:

Roger Blinko said...

paul,
Wondering about this man
British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
Name: Thomas Blenco
Rank: Sapper
Regiment or Corps: Royal Engineers
Regimental Number: 44138
How does he fit into this or the 108 numbering scheme

Cheers
Roger

Paul Nixon said...

Helo Roger, late August or early September 1914 would be my guess.

Paul

Roger Blinko said...

Paul
Thanks
You refer often to a database of numbering schemes as that been publised online?
Roger

Paul Nixon said...

No Roger, it's my own database, compiled over many years.

Paul

Bryan Pready said...

Thanks for this Paul, very helpful. My grandfather, Jason Pready, joined RE some time before WW1. His service no. was 16622, so I guess he joined up some time between February 1907 and September 1908.

Simon Fielding said...

Great blog Paul - a real resource.

Any suggestions on an RE number of
160836?

Paul Nixon said...

Simon

Francis H Gleed? Looks like Feb 1916 to me.

Paul

Markk said...

Hi All
My great grandfather is listed on Seaford war memorial as sapper 69 David Street Earl. I cannot find any service record and the service number 69 appears too short. Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks Mark

Paul Nixon said...

David Earl died at home in 1915. It is a valid number and I could tell you more about him but please note that this would be a research project. See the RESEARCH tab on this blog. There is no service record for this man.

Anonymous said...

Markk - I will post details of your great-grandfather on the Seaford Museum Facebook page on the 100th anniversary of his death.
Kevin Gordon
Seaford Museum

Lyndsey Oneill said...

I'm looking to find the burial site of my great grandfather James Gibney, he died we think in 1940. He served as a royal engineer 53538 and was injured his medal card said he was an army pensioner and we are told he received a full military burial, he was from Liverpool. My grandad is dying and wishes to be placed with him but as he was 10 when he died he doesn't know the location of the grave. Please help x

Paul Nixon said...

Can you please drop me a line to paulcanixon@yahoo.co.uk

Bryan Pready said...

Paul,
I'm trying to determine if the Sapper J H Cave s/n 471182 who died 1/7/1916 is the same man who had the medal card Spr John H Cave s/n (T)1747.

Unable to find a medal card for 471182 who was in 1st Durham Fortress Coy. Might he have had a previous Territorial No.? He was only 17 when he died so was unlikely to have enlisted pre-war.

I have found census records for the family, from which I know that 471182's first names were "John Henry".

I'd be grateful for any help you can provide on this.
Thanks,
Bryan

Paul Nixon said...

Please see the research tab, Bryan.

Unknown said...

hi im trying to find some information on a trunk i bought , it really dosnt tell me much , would love to know the history behind it , the name is E.KING.R.E , rms/hms trent , passenger to Perth via Southampton , would be really grateful thank you

Paul Nixon said...

Sorry I cannot help with this. There is simply not enough information to be able to provide any further identification. My guess would be he was an officer. Perhaps try the RE regimental museum at Chatham.

Pat Atkins said...

Hi Paul, I was hoping you could give me an idea of enlistment date for 30445 Spr Percy Atkins. I note an Aug/Sept 1914 date suggested for a man with the number 44138, but have got no further than "earlier than this, probably".

Many thanks, this blog is a great undertaking.

Cheers, Pat

Paul Nixon said...

It could be deduced, Pat, but I'd need to research this. Please drop me a line if interested: paulcanixon@yahoo.co.uk

Paul

Steven Grainger said...

Dear Paul,

I wondered if you could (approx) date an RE service no 48964. My great uncle , Lance Corporal William Lucas, died 14.10.17 with 102 Field Company. Main service not in the burnt records.

Many Thanks,

Steve Grainger

Paul Nixon said...

RE L/Cpl Lucas
Please have a look at the RESEARCH tab, Steve, and drop me a line.