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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

The arrival of PWPs


Tom Tulloch-Marshall
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I've got an RE Field Company war diary reference to "a few RE and PWP having arrived"

Anybody got any ideas as to what PWPs might be :huh:

thanks - Tom

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prisoners working parties?

Pioneer working parties perhaps. The British army only used prisoners as work gangs for a very short time in 1917 and in small numbers - this being illegal

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Chris - my initial thoughs were that one of those "P"s had to stand for prisoners as well .... but turns out not.

Centurian - your suggestion transpires to be close - very close - but the final answer probably couldnt be guessed at.

I'd only copied these diaries in order to pass them on, and hadnt intended to spend any time reading them - but I've now trawled through them and finally a bunch of references come together and made sense, - an infantry officer arrives at the RE Coy and is posted to the "PWP" - then three officers and 114 Infantry OR's are "permanently attached for work" - then several months later a note shows 80 more Infantry ORs arriving for the "permanent working party"

A month after that reference to "permanent working party" the diarist notes the Coy taking part in "offensive action" (Sept 1917) by clearing a road NE of Ypres. He records -

Casualties

RE 5 OR killed 16 wounded 1 wounded at duty 1 missing

PWP 2 OR killed 8 wounded 1 missing

(missing - how ???)

Anyway - permanent working party ! - I wonder if it ever appears in any other war diary ?!

thanks again - Tom

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Casualties

RE 5 OR killed 16 wounded 1 wounded at duty 1 missing

PWP 2 OR killed 8 wounded 1 missing

(missing - how ???)

If working in an area where shelling is taking place I could imagine that someone could be killed and no body found so when the roll is called they are technically missing not KIA.

What is the difference between wounded and wounded at duty?

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Centurian - wounded at duty (probably more properly - wounded, at duty) means that the man was wounded but remained at duty - ie probably very slightly wounded and any treatment carried out on the spot. It is quite common to see wounded at duty against officers names in war diaries.

With "missing" - yes, I suppose shell fire - but if the men were working on clearing a road, as a group , then surely someone couldnt just "dissapear" ?

regards - Tom

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Group of men clearing road, Germans lay down a rapid stonk of medium artillery fire, everybody dives for what cover they can, when they can reassemble old Harry's lying there having bought it, Bill and Jim are wounded and there's no sign of Fred (who's body has been blasted into a shell hole and buried by the earth thrown up by the next shell) - or something similar.

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