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Remembered Today:

Inland Water Transport Royal Engineers


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Terry_Reeves

I have a particular interest in the IWT and have gathered a lot of information about them. Recently I purchased a booklet about Richborough military port from where a cross channel barge service was operated.

The author states that the "crews wore naval badges of rank on khaki uniforms with (the) army General Service cap badge."

I must admit I have some doubts about this as all my research shows that IWT troops all wore standard army uniform and insignia and were in the RE. The author does not give a source for his information, nor any illustration. However, stranger things have happened and I am happy to be proved wrong.

Can anyone verify this please?

TR

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Lancashire Fusilier

Can anyone verify this please?

TR

TR,

I agree with you, as the photographic evidence I have seen, shows troops operating Inland Waterways barges as wearing standard Royal Engineer's uniforms.

The Royal Engineers manned the C.C.C. ( Canal Control Committee ) who were responsible for operating the British Inland Waterways during WW1.

Attached are two IWM photographs of REs manning CCC Inland Waterways barges.

Regards,

LF

post-63666-0-20801100-1433630665_thumb.j

post-63666-0-26911600-1433630671_thumb.j

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Terry & LF

Agree that IWT wore normal RE uniforms and insignia, sometimes with the addition of a white brassard with a blue anchor enclosed in a blue oval as in the attached photo taken by an Amiens photographer - afraid the the oval outline round the anchor doesn't show very well, even in the origianal.

Mike

post-97-0-08289500-1433671235_thumb.jpg

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Terry_Reeves

LF thanks for the photo which I think may have been taken in Scotland.

Mike, thanks for your photo, I suspect that is where the idea of the "naval" badge has come from.

TR

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Being a bit thick here. Cross channel is not inland?

Possibly a unit of the army service Corp that had some water transportation from the RE. Until recently the Royal logistics had "sailors" but army men. Perhaps forefathers of these.

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Terry_Reeves

Scaleyback

The IWT, which later included docks, was formed originally to operate on the waterways of France and Belgium. It quickly expanded to cover other areas:

Richborough Military Port in Kent ,which had at its height in 1917 some 20,000 men accommodated there. The port was responsible for the cross-channel barge service, the roll on - roll off train ferry serviceand shipbuilding and repair. The barge service also brought back from the western front considerable amounts of salvage to Richborough.

The operation in France and Belgium consisted of delivering of engineer stores and ammunition and also the technical control of the hospital barges for the RAMC. In addition they were responsible for the construction of barges in the theatre of war and the maintenance of the waterways which they operated on.

Outside of Europe , they had a substantial presence in Mesopotamia on the rivers Tigris and Euphrates and also at Basra which was not just the administrative base, but also had ship repair and construction facilities. A UK reserve depot was formed at Yorkhill Riding School, Glasgow and officers destined for Mesopotamia were formed into crews at this location to sail new vessels to the middle east.

Other areas that that involved the IWT were East Africa - port coastal work; Salonika and Egypt, again port and coastal work.

The ASC had almost nothing to do with this although they did operate some launches in Egypt.

The IWT is oft ignored, but was a vital part of the transport infrastructure. I hope that this is of some help.

TR

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I fully understand the roll of the IWT. But inner and then cross channel had me confused.

Just don't rule the ASC being confused in there that's all I'm saying.

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Very interesting thread that reminds us of the diversity of Army service during WW1 and that some lucky men saw little of trench warfare, even if their work was backbreaking. I imagine a mix of older men with canal experience along with others perhaps of a lower medical grading.

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Lancashire Fusilier

what is the significance of B wd arrow T in the picture in post 2

My understanding is that it stood for Battalion ^ Transport.

Regards,

LF

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Terry_Reeves

It stands for Board of Trade under whom the Canal Control Committee operated. I have had a look at some of the records at TNA pertaining to this, and they all refer to the operation of the canals by civilian companies. The IWT really had very little to do with canals in the UK during the war, however they did operate on the Caledonian Canal. The broad arrow stamp indicates that barge was under government control or government property.

TR

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Lancashire Fusilier

It stands for Board of Trade under whom the Canal Control Committee operated. I have had a look at some of the records at TNA pertaining to this, and they all refer to the operation of the canals by civilian companies. The IWT really had very little to do with canals in the UK during the war, however they did operate on the Caledonian Canal. It was along this waterway that sea mines for were transported for storage US Navy Base 18 located at Inverness for their minelaying work in the North Sea. I think it is is possible that the IWT were involved with this, The broad arrow stamp indicates that barge was under government control or government property.

TR

TR,

Many thanks for the follow up info, and when I looked again at the C.C.C. information it referred to the ' Transport Battalion ' not the other way around, which of course would have been ' T B '.

Regards,

LF

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These Army Orders may be of interest. I've never seen an example of the insignia described, I assume they look something like this:

IWT.jpg

A.O. 347/1916.-121/3/127.

The following instructions regarding the uniform to be worn by temporary deck and engineer officers commissioned as General Service, Inland Water Transport, are issued for the guidance of all concerned:-
Uniform and field kit.- As laid down for an Infantry officer with the following modifications:-
Buttons.- Universal.
Cap and collar badges.- The Royal Arms.
Cap.- Service dress, but with soft top.
Shoulder straps and badges of rank.- The ordinary shoulder straps on all jackets will be replaced by detachable shoulder straps of blue cloth, 5¼ inches long and 2½ inches wide, triangular top with small button and the letters "I.W.T." in 5/8 letters of gold embroidery, the top of the letters to be 1 inch from the centre of the button. Army badges of rank will not be worn but rank will be indicated as below:
Lieutenant.- Two rows of lace-waved lines horizontally across the shoulder strap, each consisting of a stripe of two waved lines of ¼-inch gold braid intersecting each other so as to form bands ½-wide; the blue cloth to show between the curves.
Second Lieutenant.- One row. do. do.
(An Engineer officer is distinguished from a deck officer by purple cloth in conjunction with the gold lace-waved lines.)
The sleeves of the Service dress jacket will have plain pointed cuffs, 5½ inches deep at the point and 2½ inches at the back.

A.O. /85/1918.-121/I.W.I. /224.

UNIFORM FOR TEMPORARY DECK AND ENGINEER OFFICES, INLAND WATER TRANSPORT.
The following instructions regarding the uniform to be worn by temporary deck and engineer officers commissioned as General Service, Inland Water Transport, are issued for the guidance of all concerned:-
Uniform and field kit.- As laid down for an Infantry officer with the following modifications:-
Buttons.- Universal.
Cap and collar badges.- The Royal Arms.
Cap.- Service dress, but with soft top.
Shoulder straps and badges of rank.- The ordinary shoulder straps on all jackets will be replaced by detachable shoulder straps of blue cloth, 5¼ inches long and 2½ inches wide, triangular top with small button. Army badges of rank in metal or embroidery will be worn on the shoulder strap, with the letters "I.W.T." in 3-8 inch characters in gilt metal below the badges of rank. Engineer officers add a narrow strip of purple cloth below the letters "I.W.T.".
The sleeves of the Service dress jacket will have plain pointed cuffs, 5½ inches deep at the point and 2½ inches at the back.
Army Order 347 of 1916 is cancelled.

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Terry_Reeves

Rolfi

Many thanks for that. Many of the sea-going officers in the IWT were commissioned in the General List, a lot of them going to Mesopotamia, and a surprising number getting court martialled and thrown out for drunkeness incidentally.

TR

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Fascinating stuff, thank you everyone for throwing some light on this lesser known aspect of the military and economic war effort.

The IWT shoulder title introduced in 1918 must be extraordinarily rare!

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Terry,

As another who has an interest in the IWT I recall in a previous thread that RN Midshipmen were seconded to the IWE for cross channel work. Presumably this occurred due to the RN wanting some control of the work and because Midshipmen were trained in navigation.

Very much looking forward to your opus on the IWT given my Great Grandfathers involvement with Richborough and the IWT.

Cheers,

Hendo

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A reference to the IWT in Mesopotamia which is copied from the FIBIS Fibiwiki page Mesopotamia Campaign (http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/Mesopotamia_Campaign#External_links)

  • Grandpa’s Journal Harry James Goulter Pearman was with the Army Audit Staff in Mesopotamia. Most of the entries are for 1921. It is difficult for some/all browsers to navigate navigate this site.[3] The following entries contain items relating to issues of fraud by members of the IWT (Inland Water Transport), including the court martial of an officer. 18 April 1921, 26 April 1921, 16 May 1921, 27 May 1921, 27 June 1921, 4 July 1921, 9 July 1921. ((footnote 3) The dates of the entries are in the top LH corner of the Home webpage. The entries from the journal are in the format http:// www.mespot.co.uk/journal/ab.cd.ef.shtml (joined into one), where, for a particular entry, ab is the year, cd is the month, ef is the first mentioned day in the month (all two digits). For archive.org diary entries, scroll down to URLs containing the word journal.)

Cheers

Maureen

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  • 11 months later...

Would like to know if any one as a picture of this man his full name is Maurice Carrier with the following service numbers 265309,27210,13/289 and 506116. If no pics could you point me in the direction of search able pictures

Thanks post-99543-0-61361400-1463329531_thumb.j

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  • 1 year later...
George Macdonald

I’ve a question guys

was it common for a merchant seaman to leave and join the engineers IWT

why I’m asking is I think I’m researching aseaman who done this.

archibald Reginald straker all I can find is his medal card for the MN and says BWM 

issued army.

and there’s a person with the same name except middle name is R

joined the engineers then sub unit IWT.

was this common

any opinions please .

thanks 

Gam

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Fot general background information, there is an online article

Cheers

Maureen

 

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