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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Pioneer with 2 Signal Coy. R.E.


ianmccallum
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Help Please !! My man was an ex HLI reservist recalled on 3 August 1914. Went to France as Pte. with 2 HLI on 14 August 1914. Killed 15 May 1915 as a Pioneer with 2 Sig Coy, R.E. He is commemorated on Le Touret Memorial. I'd love to get some background infomation on him. Particularly, opinions on how he managed to transfer at such a time. What was the role of a pioneer in a signal company, just digging in wire???, and who were 2 Signal Coy R.E. attached to when he was killed. Any information would be gratefully received.

Ian McCallum

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In the British Army of World War I, the term 'pioneer' had three very different meanings.

In ordinary infantry battalions, a 'pioneer' was an infantryman who was able to do simple engineering work. Each battalion had a dozen or so such men, organized, under the supervision of a pioneer sergeant, into a pioneer section. As far as I know, no formal qualifications were required for such an assignment.

In pioneer battalions, all private soldiers (save a few specialists) were 'pioneers'. Ideally, these pioneers were men whose civilian occupations had prepared them to do engineering work of a sort that did not require mastery of a traditional trade such as carpentry or bricklaying.

In the Royal Engineers, a 'pioneer' was a soldier who had been allowed to enlist without having passed the usual trades test. The rank was created in the years just before World War I when qualified tradesmen willing to enlist in the Royal Engineers were in short supply and number of signals units was increasing. The idea behind this reform was that there was little sense in requiring a man to be a steam-fitter or blacksmith before he could learn how to operate a wireless set, climb a telephone pole, or handle dispatches.

The 2nd Divisional Signal Company was assigned to the 2nd Division. On 15 May 1915, the 2nd Division was involved in the battle of Festubert.

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In the British Army of World War I, the term 'pioneer' had three very different meanings.

In ordinary infantry battalions, a 'pioneer' was an infantryman who was able to do simple engineering work. Each battalion had a dozen or so such men, organized, under the supervision of a pioneer sergeant, into a pioneer section. As far as I know, no formal qualifications were required for such an assignment.

In pioneer battalions, all private soldiers (save a few specialists) were 'pioneers'. Ideally, these pioneers were men whose civilian occupations had prepared them to do engineering work of a sort that did not require mastery of a traditional trade such as carpentry or bricklaying.

In the Royal Engineers, a 'pioneer' was a soldier who had been allowed to enlist without having passed the usual trades test. The rank was created in the years just before World War I when qualified tradesmen willing to enlist in the Royal Engineers were in short supply and number of signals units was increasing. The idea behind this reform was that there was little sense in requiring a man to be a steam-fitter or blacksmith before he could learn how to operate a wireless set, climb a telephone pole, or handle dispatches.

The 2nd Divisional Signal Company was assigned to the 2nd Division. On 15 May 1915, the 2nd Division was involved in the battle of Festubert.

Great reply. Thank you for your time.

Ian

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