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Royal Engineers


DavoT
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Hi all,

while researching a chap from a SWB Roll page, 3 others on the sheet are listed as being discharged from 3rd Prov. Co. Can someone shed any light as to what this unit might be? Thanks in advance for any replies.

Cheers,

David

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Hello David

I would agree with squirrel. Any unit with "Provisional" in its name is likely to have been a late-war Territorial Force unit formed for home defence. Ten Provisional Brigades were formed, each of four infantry battalions, an artillery battery RFA, a field company RE, a field ambulance RAMC and a brigade train ASC.

Three of these brigades were expanded to form 71, 72 and 73 (Home Service) Divisions, the rest being re-named "Mixed Brigades" numbered 221 to 227. They all served only in the UK and so, I am afraid, you are unlikely to find any War Diaries for them.

Ron

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Hello Squirrel and Ron,

thanks for that. The 3 chaps in question had all served overseas and were aged 42, 46 and 43 respectively. The first one was also noted as having a sickness as cause of discharge. They enlisted in 1915 and were discharged in 1916.

Cheers,

David

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Interesting interpretations. But, would "3rd Prov Bn" not be a more appropriate designation for a Provisional Brigade soldier? Rarely was "co" or "Company" used on military records. However, I believe that Provost Company (or, perhaps, "Prov Co") is the term used to describe a unit of the Military Police. Antony.

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Interesting interpretations. But, would "3rd Prov Bn" not be a more appropriate designation for a Provisional Brigade soldier? Rarely was "co" or "Company" used on military records. However, I believe that Provost Company (or, perhaps, "Prov Co") is the term used to describe a unit of the Military Police. Antony.

Definitely "Provisional Company" as the attached image will show....

Steve

post-1432-1254386631.jpg

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Hello Antony

The term "Provost" was not in use for British Army military police units in the Great War. Regimental police were under an NCO of theeir own unit called the provost sergeant, but the MPs were MPs. They were normally organised in small detachments with the HQs of divisions, brigades etc, athough there was a Traffic Control Company with each Army.

I have assumed that "Prov Co" referred to the RE Field Company, which was an independent unit and not part of a battalion. But there were "Supplementary Companies" of infantry, and the Royal Defence Corps was organised in companies although it fulfilled basically an infantry role.

Ron

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Any unit with "Provisional" in its name is likely to have been a late-war Territorial Force unit formed for home defence. Ten Provisional Brigades were formed, each of four infantry battalions, an artillery battery RFA, a field company RE, a field ambulance RAMC and a brigade train ASC.

Ron

Although I'm not going to dispute what you've said here I'm not convinced that, in this instance, 3rd Provisional Company is a late war Territorial Force unit. In 1915 and 1916 3rd Provisional Company was basically an RE depot or holding unit in the UK from which men were either discharged or posted to other units.

Regards

Steve

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Ron and SteveE: thank you for adding to my knowledge. Most interesting. I had never heard of Provisional Companies of RE. On the other hand, I was under the impression that a Provost Marshall and unit of MPs (MFP or MMP) operated at each Brigade level and would, therefore, have been called a Provost Company. Yours, A.

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I have a man who was in the 3rd Provisional Company I think. He was in it before being moved up to a standard RE company. I always though that they were something formed at a depot for shifting men into new companies that had not yet been named.

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I have some details on a man who served in the 3rd Provisional Company/Battalion (the designation seems to be interchangeable).

From what I can gather a Provisional Company/Battalion, existed more on paper than in reality. The individual whose papers I have was transferred to it from an RE Depot and then released into semi-civilian life to undertake munitions work (in his case, it was ship-building). I have concluded that they were administrative units, rather like some of the Labour Corps Agricultural Companies i.e. there wasn't a concentrated body of men in one location, but rather there were a lot of men scattered far and wide who needed an "umbrella" or parent unit and so were lumped together as a "Provisional Company" for administration purposes, even though they did not serve under what would be regarded as a normal military regime.

Andy.

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There are war diaries for some of the Provisional Companies, although No 3 is not amongst them. Most of the diaries are blank, giving just the unit title and the date of formation if I remember rightly. A couple of them give the location of their headquarters but that is about your lot I'm afraid.

TR

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