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SapperPhoto

tracing the 3rd Field Survey Company (RE) - "Artillery's Astro

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SapperPhoto

Hello all,

I’m trying to discover the movements of the 3rd Field Survey Company, Royal Engineers, who were attached to the Third Army. My grandfather, BERNARD GORDON, served with them. In answer to an earlier post someone kindly suggested that I read 'Artillery's Astrologers - A History of British Survey and Mapping on the Western Front 1914 - 1918' by Peter Chasseaud.

Unfortunately the book is apparently out of print and not available in any Sussex Library. If anyone has access to a copy, or would be kind enough to research the index for me to find out where 3rd Field Survey served in France and Belgium, I should be very grateful. My husband and I are visiting the battlefields in early May and whilst we can trace many of the footsteps of his relatives, I should like the opportunity to trace mine too!

Best wishes,

Jill

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battiscombe

The 550 page book includes over 120 pages with references to 3rds FSCoy and its later manifestations - each company was allotted to an Army [in this case third Army] when formed in Feb 1916 [from the original Topographical sections.]. so this covers a large area . They have a chapter devoted to them in the Camrai battles of 1917.. and Arras earlier in the year and look to be on Somme front 1915-16 and then Arras in 1916

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SapperPhoto

Thank you very much for this very helpful information. It gives me a very good starting point.

Many thanks,

Jill

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battiscombe

as these were generally real specialists might I ask if he came from the Ordnance Survey.. or indeed worked with them later? [although i see mention of at least one man who had been a piano tuner...] .... O.G.S. Crawford [later a major figure in Ordnance Survey and British archaeology] was one of many skilled men with 3rd Topo section, later 3rd FS Company in Maps and Printing section.. they seem to have been based in Arras for some time.

In mid 1917 moved to Albert when 3rd Army HQ moved there, installed in the hospital there... with 'advanced maps' at Marquaix, E of Peronne .. but they had all sorts of observation groups doing all sorts of remarkable things [sections identified by a letter] along the front line ..

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SapperPhoto

My grandfather, BERNARD GORDON, was a photographer in Portslade and Hove before the War and on the birth certificates of some of his children (some born during the War) describes himself as "Sapper RE Master Photographer". He seems to have continued for a short time after the War as a photographer but then ran a wireless shop. I also have some early colour films he took, mainly of family occasions but also some with animation and what appears to be a car journey to various parts of Britain. These date from the 1930s and use a colour process that was only available for a short number of years. He was also very artistic and had been professionally trained. As far as I know there was no later involvement with Ordnance Survey but presumably he was recruited for some of the skills I've mentioned. Thank you for all the information you are turning up! I assume there is no direct mention of Bernard or any way of identifying which section he was with?

Many thanks and best wishes,

Jill


Oh, PS - that's why I've chosen SapperPhoto as my username!

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nigelfe

The survey companies/battalions did not operate as a as a single unit in one place. Different elements had different roles and skills and operated in different places.

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SapperPhoto

Thank you, that's helpful to know. Jill

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