Jump to content

Remembered Today:

RE Tunnelers.


Duncan
 Share

Recommended Posts

Is there anyway of telling who of the Royal Engineers were tunnelers from a service number? Also, what's the difference between a 'Pioneer' and a 'Sapper'?

Thank you.

Duncan.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Ian Bowbrick

Sappers were more highly skilled than Pioneers - others will probably have the details of the courses and skills that they had to undetake and acquire.

Ian

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duncan

My own research leads me to believe that there was no distinctive number block system that would identify tunnellers.

With regard to to your second question, broadly speaking men with the rank of Sapper had completed a course in Field Works. The rank of Pioneer was a wartime only rank. The rapid expansion of the Corps in WW1, and its many specialisations, meant that not all men needed to to trained in field works . For instance, the basic rank in RE Special Brigade, from Jan 1916, was Pioneer. These men were involved in chemical wafare and many were transferred into the RE from other regiments and corps. Equally, the expansion of the RE Signal Service required different skills than men who served in Field Companies. Many of these signallers held the rank of pioneer. This does not mean to say that they were neccessarily less qualified, just that they had different types of skills than the traditional pre-war sapper.

However, like much to do with WW1, things were not always that straight forward. Most tunnelling company men did hold the rank of sapper, and certainly in the early days of tunnelling on the Western Front, most did not attend a field works course , but were drafted straight in because of their mining knowledge. I can't say whether or not later drafts to these units received field work training once the training system had become more organised. It may be, as far as tunneling companies are concerned, that the rank of sapper was given because this had been a traditional sappering skill , however , this is only a guess.

Terry Reeves

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many thanks for the info.

I found the following on a Silver War Badge Roll, '124100 Pnr. W.H. Faulkner, Tun. Dep. Company, Royal Engineers'. Is it safe to assume this indicates that he was a tunneller?

Thanks,

Duncan.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duncan

Personally I wouldn't assume anything unless you see it in black and white. He may have been a tunneller of course, but equally he could have been posted there, say as an administrative number from elsewhere, odd-jobbing it whilst awaiting discharge.

Terry Reeves

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The personnel of the first Tunnelling Company comprising of 20 "Clay Kickers" were digging sewers under Manchester on the 17th February 1915 and on the 21st February were working undetground at Givenchy, between those dates they were kitted out at Chatham and travelled to France how that for qick movement.

John

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...