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Remembered Today:

No.1 Railway Company Royal Engineers


SteveE
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Going through some service records I've come across a number of men being transferred on attachment from 110th Railway Company to No.1 Railway Company at the beginning of December 1914. This is a unit I've not come across before and was wondering if anybody could throw some light on the subject?

Many thanks in advance.

Steve

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Steve

The History of the Corps of R.E. says that No. 1 Railway Company, R.E., was formed from the 8th Railway Company.

The 8th was a regular R.E. Company having already served in South Africa during the Boer War.

The 8th arrived in France on 15 August 1914 but because of the French they were not allowed from doing any work on the French railways until September. They were the only R.E. Rai;way company in France at the time.

On 17 Sept the French Government telegraphed the British saying they would allow British railway units to work on their lines. As a result the R.E. began to recruit railway units in Britain.

As far as I can se the book does not indicate when the 8th Company was rechristened No. 1 Railway Company, R.E.

Ivor

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Ivor

Many thanks, that's very useful. Nothing I've got shows anything between the initial entries into theatre of the 8th and 10th Railway Companies and the formation of the 109th Railway Company so that information about a 'new' Railway Company is news to me.

The men concerned had attested in October 1914 for the 110th Railway Company but were instead sent overseas on attachment to the 1st Railway Company. I'm guessing that they were attached as all of them were subsequently transferred to other companies from the 110th which leads to my next question. The 1st Railway Company doesn't show in the list of units in theatre as of 11th November 1918 so does the history indicate what happened to it?

Regards

Steve

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Steve

Interestingly although on one page it says the 8th Railway Construction Company was rechristened as No. 1 Railway Company on another page it shows the 8th Railway Construction Company in France on 11/11/18 but does not show No. 1 Company!

Looks like this is one either for an R.E. expert or the R.E. Museum R.E. Museum

Ivor

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Ivor

It looks like details might be a bit difficult to come by, I've already sent a request to the museum but don't expect a response for a couple of months at the earliest, thanks for the link anyway.

In the meantime does anybody have an Orbat for the Royal Engineers for 1915 or 1916 that may show the existance of this Company?

Steve

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Sorry to go off topic, but you lads obviously have some knowledge of the Royal Engineer's railway companies during this time.

I've been researching some family history and on accessing the absent voter lists for my home town, found that my great grandfather was a cpl in the Royal Engineers during the Great War. This was also stated on my grandmothers birth certificate dated 1916.

Alongside his rank and service number the unit designation was given as ROTRE ? I can't find any mention of a unit with those intials and I was wondering if it is a typo and could be possibly ROCRE, Railway Operating Companies RE, if such a unit exists ?

I'm only presuming this because on my grandmothers birth certificate alongside Cpl/RE is railway guard, which was his civilian profession, before and after the war in Leeds.

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jotsmee

I assume in that context ROTRE would be Railway Operating Troops, Royal Engineers. These were the men assigned to the Railway Operating Division of the RE which, as the title suggests, operated the railways in theatre.

Out of interest what was your GGrandfather's name and service number?

Regards

Steve

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Thanks for the reply. This from the absent voters list;

Herbert Edward Holland - 105922 - 2/cpl.

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Herbert Edward Holland - 105922 - 2/cpl.

jotsmee

Do you have his Medal Index Card? if not here it is......

post-1432-1248447449.jpg

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jotsmee

Do you have his Medal Index Card? if not here it is......

Cheers mate! You're a star.

I have'nt got this yet, as I'm only in the early stages of my search. I'm going to have to start looking into the records that are available on service history/postings etc. Its supposed to be a general search of family history but I find the history of reletives who served during the world wars the most interesting.

Once again, thanks for your time searching that out for me, this seems like a helpful forum.

Cheers,

Mick.

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  • 1 month later...
The History of the Corps of R.E. says that No. 1 Railway Company, R.E., was formed from the 8th Railway Company.

<snip>

it shows the 8th Railway Construction Company in France on 11/11/18 but does not show No. 1 Company!

Found a statement in the Official History "Transportation on the Western Front" that makes interesting reading..

"Under the title of "No. 1 Railway Company" the 8th (Railway) Co., R.E., embarked with the Expeditionary Force and landed at Havre on August 15th"

Seems to suggest that No. 1 Railway Company and 8th (Railway) Company were actually one and the same and would explain why only the 8th is listed later in the war.

Steve

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Steve

No 1 Company and No 8 Company were one and the same. There were two regular railway units in the UK at the start of the war, both at Longmoor and both railway construction units. These are shown in all official documents as No 8 and and No 10 Companies. However, the war diaries for both of these units are entitled by their authors as No 1 Railway Company (8th Company) and No 2 Railway Company (10th Company). In the case of the former, the diary is entitled No1 Company up until December 1914, when it changes to 8 Company.

No 1 Company arrived in France on 15.8.14. as a complete unit. No 2 Company did not arrive in France until 28.11.14 as a complete unit, although a detachment of 1 Officer an 20 or's were attached to 7 Siege Battery to lay rails for a 9.2 inch gun on a travelling carriage. They were sent to France with the RGA on 14.10.1914 only to be sent home again with the battery on 21.10.14 but were then sent back out again on 28.11.14 with the main body of the company. On arrival, the company is noted in the War Diary as No 2 Company, but immediately changes to 10 Company.

Now I 'm going to confuse you a bit more. The Railway Companies that were actually numbered 1 to 7 were Broad Gauge Operating Companies. What I think has happened is that 8 and 10 companies, because they were the only two regular units at the start of the war , were simply referred to as No 1 and No2 Railway Companies, which is quite factual, but when war came they had to start using their normal allocated unit designations, hence the dual references in the war diaries.

TR

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The Railway Companies that were actually numbered 1 to 7 were Broad Gauge Operating Companies.

Was broad gauge soley used for the large railway guns or was it also used for transport ?

Also where did they get the running gear from, I thought that by then every one was geared up for the standard gauge.

Grant

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Terry

Many thanks for such a thorough and comprehensive explanation. It not only confirms my suspicions (No.1 and 8th being the same unit) but adds additional information that I was unaware of (the 10th being referred to as No.2 Company).

Your explanation concerning No.1 to 7 Broad Gauge Operating Companies seems logical, especially as No.9 and No.11 to 15 were also BGOCs, the 8th and 10th fit nicely into the scheme. As a matter of interest were the 8th and 10th the first two companies to France, hence No.1 & 2? Do you happen to know when the first of the BGOCs went abroad?

Thanks again for your help.

Steve

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Steve

I can't help with the dates for the BGO coys. As you will have realised there are many gaps with the dating of many of these types of units. 8 and 10 companies were the first two in France. 109 company appears to have been the next one out, from 20.12.14. What appears to be an inordinate jump in numbers is explained by the fact that the Corps attempted to number all their companies successively where possible, irrespective of the type of unit (although there are a number of exceptions to this.) 108 Company for instance, was a Field Company raised in October 1915.

TR

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I can't help with the dates for the BGO coys. As you will have realised there are many gaps with the dating of many of these types of units. 8 and 10 companies were the first two in France. 109 company appears to have been the next one out, from 20.12.14.

No problem, it was really an afterthought as I've been looking through service records for the construction companies men to see if I can improve on the list on the LLT which has some 'holes' on the where raised/embarkation dates etc. I believe I can fill some of them but realised with them what a hugely difficult task it is to identify when the later units were formed/went abroad and similarly for the other railway units.

109th Company were the next complete unit out (24th December 1914) after the 8th and 10th but a detachment of the 110th Company were sent out 4th/5th December to help with the telegraph, it's these that I believe were attached to No.1 Railway Company becoming No.1 Railway Telegraph Detachment and which really started this thread.

Regards

Steve

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I'm trying to find out some imformation on a 55070 Sjt William Gregory,his M.I.C lists him as RTE, which i think is Railways Transports Establishment? and the qualifying date is 11/11/14, from his service record he attested 5 days earlier 6/11/14,is this strange,and could he have been part of No.1 Railway Company?

Thanks.

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Rup

He wasn't a member of No 1 Company I'm afraid, he was part of the Railway Transport Establishment. This was the organisation that made the railways run ie organised the British railway traffic within the BEF. Men with similar numbers all enlisted around 6 November 1914 and landed in France on 11.11.14 all of whom were posted to the RTE. Transportation clerks (like your man) and checkers were amongst the group and all were pre-war railwaymen. Quite a number of RE units which required specialised skills or qualifications were made up of men who received little or no military training, particularly in the early part of the war.

TR

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Rup

He wasn't a member of No 1 Company I'm afraid, he was part of the Railway Transport Establishment. This was the organisation that made the railways run ie organised the British railway traffic within the BEF. Men with similar numbers all enlisted around 6 November 1914 and landed in France on 11.11.14 all of whom were posted to the RTE. Transportation clerks (like your man) and checkers were amongst the group and all were pre-war railwaymen. Quite a number of RE units which required specialised skills or qualifications were made up of men who received little or no military training, particularly in the early part of the war.

TR

Thanks Terry for explaining this,i guess if they were doing similar work to what they were use to they were left alone to get on with things and military training took a back seat then.

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