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**.
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