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Remembered Today:

Coastal Battalion, RE


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Lists of Royal Engineer field and fortress companies in 1914 often include two "Coastal Battalion" companies. Some also refer to detachments of the Coastal Battalion.

Can anyone tell me what the Coastal Battalion was? My first suspicion would be that it deal with submarine mines. However, responsibility for submarine mines had already been passed to the Royal Navy by 1914, no?

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charlesmessenger

I think that you are right about the Coast Bn RE being originally responsible for submarine mining. This task was handed over to the Royal Navy in 1904. Thereafter some companies and sections of the Coast Bn appear to have formed electric light (searchlight) units. This was primarily to counter the threat of destroyer attacks by night.

Charles M

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Here is what the Kitchener report on the organisation of Royal Engineers of 1912 says about the coast defence work of the Royal Engineers.

"In connection with coast defences, the duties of Royal Engineers are very similar to those already stated regarding the defence of fortresses, with the addition of working of defence electric lights employed with coast batteries."

The report can be found in the PRO (WO 32/11378)

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"Work of RE in the European war, Miscellaneaous, says:

COAST BATTALION COMPANIES. Two of these exisred in 1914 (the 16th and 49th Companies) split up into sections for Coast defence work in the Northern and Scottish Commands). On the reorganisation of the Coast Defences in 1918, they became Fortress Works Companies in the Tyne and Forth garrisons respectively"

This book also mentions Coast Defence units (11 of these, allied to Territorial Force, many for electric light duty), many of whom went abroad, and 2 Coast Works Companies (formed at the Humber in 1916, 168 and 169 Coast Works Companies, disbanded Nov 1917.

If you want full info the RE Corps Library at Brompton are usually very helpful, hope this is of use to you. Mebu.

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