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Inland Water Transport Royal Engineers


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MerchantOldSalt

Gam

It was common for Merchant Seamen to transfer from the Merchant Service and from the Army into the Inland Water Transport Section of the Royal Engineers. 

 

The IWT was trying to man an ever increasing number of marine craft from barges to tugs, and has been mentioned, Train Ferries.  IWT craft were used in most theatres of war and quite obviously the Merchant Service provided a ready trained pool of men as well as the many lightermen, boatmen, keelmen and fishermen who joined this service. The British Merchant Service was the largest in the world at that time and despite many sinkings, resulting in considerable loss of seafarers lives, there was still a huge number of trained seamen available for employment elsewhere.  The IWT craft were basically merchant ships albeit crewed by men now in army uniform.

 

In order to recruit personnel adverts were placed in newspapers around the UK and the Merchant Service Guild were approached by the War Office to assist in this recruitment the importance of the IWT's contribution to logisitics having been well recognised by the War Office and the realisation that the seamen would be better serving in the IWT than in the many army regiments in which they were employed.  One of the more famous recruits was Lewis Raphael Rickinson, Marine Engineer in the Merchant Service, who was Chief Engineer of Shackleton's ship "Endurance" on the 1914 Polar Expedition to Antarctica, having returned from the ordeal of many months on Elephant Island waiting for rescue, and suffered a heart attack to boot, he enlisted as a Captain on the General List and became Chief Engineer of one of the three (subsequently four) War Department Cross Channel Train Ferries before transferring to the RN.

 

Hope that helps, I can't find a service record for Straker at this point but will have a dig around.

 

Tony

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Just recently found this interesting photo on a local history site. These "accommodation" barges moored on the Forth and Clyde Canal at Craigmarloch (close to Kilsyth). The men appear to be Royal Engineers. Wondering if they were part of an IWT training establishment. The chap on the left appears to be older and wearing medal ribbons  - probably a pre war veteran.

23376574_10155383065517982_8508802633028342003_n.jpg

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MerchantOldSalt

I can only find WR 509582 L/Cpl A R Straker in charge of the guard at Le Ruth Camp Watten on 23/24 Oct 1918 when he had to deal with an abusive Sapper Brett at 0130, handed over to him by the Le Ruth Bridge Guard from the Royal Fusiliers. 

 

Le Ruth was a large camp close to Zeneghem Base near Calais which was an "inland port" and railhead for the barges of the Inland Water Transport using the canals of Belgium and France, so it would appear that Straker was employed on, or in connection with, these barges rather than on the cross channel service.  Many other Merchant Seamen were similarly employed.

 

TH

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MerchantOldSalt
9 minutes ago, david murdoch said:

Just recently found this interesting photo on a local history site. These "accommodation" barges moored on the Forth and Clyde Canal at Craigmarloch (close to Kilsyth). The men appear to be Royal Engineers. Wondering if they were part of an IWT training establishment. The chap on the left appears to be older and wearing medal ribbons  - probably a pre war veteran.

23376574_10155383065517982_8508802633028342003_n.jpg

Good picture DM, thanks, there was certainly an IWT, or perhaps more accurately for UK an IW&D , presence in Scotland both at Glasgow and on the Forth Canal and these would appear to be accommodation barges.  Interestingly there appears to be a Royal Navy Petty Officer in the doorway of the second barge.  Terry R will no doubt be able to give you more information.

 

TH 

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  • 1 year later...

Here is John Bozman, merchant navy and joined the Royal Engineers. His armband has lettering both sides of the anchor.
Steve

IWT.jpg

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It looks like W&R....’something’.  Could it be water and rail?  Very interesting thread, thank you.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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5 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

It looks like W&R....’something’.  Could it be water and rail?  Very interesting thread, thank you.

 

If you read it right across, it could be W & (obscured)?, RE.

 

As you say, possibly Waterways and Railways, Royal Engineers

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1 hour ago, IPT said:

 

If you read it right across, it could be W & (obscured)?, RE.

 

As you say, possibly Waterways and Railways, Royal Engineers

 

Thank you, very interesting.  Both those roles were RE before and during WW1, but later passed across to the (R)ASC, so it makes sense.  The RE were the progenitors of more subsequently separate corps than any other part of the British Army.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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On a tangent, Wilfrid Nunn's Tigris Gunboats: the forgotten war in Iraq is excellent on IWT involvement in Mesopotamia.

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MerchantOldSalt

As he was a Merchant Seaman I suspect the letters might be I W & D  with RE underneath,  Inland Waterways and Docks in Britain and IWT Inland Water Transport abroad.

 

Excellent picture 

 

Tony

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  • 8 months later...

I'm currently researching the career of a cousin, Captain Lionel HADDELSEY (1894-1942), who served with the IWT as a lieutenant during WWI. Lionel was a merchant navy officer who joined the IWT in May 1917. I know that he commanded a flat-bottomed paddle steamer on the Tigris and that he was mentioned in despatches. He also served in the Persian Gulf. He was killed in 1942, when his ship, the Iron Chieftain, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. I assume, but don't know, that Lionel would have received training at the IWT establishment in Yorkhill, and would be very grateful for any additional information regarding this facility. Many thanks. 

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Have you seen his Service file at National Archives under  reference  WO 339/109866 ?

 

I note he has two medal cards, one for GenList/RE saying he entered Mespot 9/4/17, and one for Mercantile Marine.

 

The history of the IWT in Mespot is available here on Archive.org . Yorkhill does not appear as a word but the Glasgow Depot does get mentioned.

Do you know the name of his paddle-steamer ?  ( and did he get involved with the sailing of such from UK to Mespot - I see he was first indentured 1909?)

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962
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  • 2 months later...

Hello all,

 

Slightly late to the discussion, however I'm currently researching my Fathers side and came across this. My Great Grandfather William Murray, whom I cannot find anything about in record sites, wearing what I initially took as a bizarre uniform. However, after reading the thread I believe he is a member of the Inland Water Transport unit. I've attached a couple of photos for your interest. 
 

 

542B7406-A030-4C03-835E-98D40D2CDEBD.jpeg

2F17E091-F539-46A5-8F19-F27FFC1119B5.jpeg

Edited by Spook1940
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What a cracking photo, yes he’s definitely IWT.  There is a very similar uniform in the photo here: https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/279889-unusual-armynavy-uniform/?tab=comments#comment-2870312

 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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49 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

What would be his rank ?


Two bars on his strap indicate a Lieutenant, Charlie, just the same as the officer in the link I’ve posted.

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1 minute ago, FROGSMILE said:

Two bars on his strap indicate a Lieutenant, Charlie, just the same as the officer in the link I’ve posted.

Thanks for that and the link

charlie

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Note the rank insignia. He is 2Lt, commissioned General List and was a marine engineer.

 

TR

 

 

Edited by Terry_Reeves
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MerchantOldSalt

I believe William Murray was also an engineer as between the two rows of interlocking gold lace there appears to be a coloured insertion which overlaps the edge of the epaulette. In the IWT this can only be purple indicating an engineer.  Is a date and place of birth available?

 

Tony

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TR,

Back in 2015, green-acorn referred to your “opus” on the IWT.

Is there any chance of you publishing your research in some form or another?

I am sure it would be of great interest to many on the forum.

 

Sniper 

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  • 6 months later...

Here is a photo of my GG father Samuel Frederick Goodier who was in the inland Waterway and Railway section of the Royal Engineers.

 

He was born in Barnton Cheshire but died in Liverpool 1920 as a result of WWI

 

Kirkdale Cemetery Burial

5504    GOODIER.    (C.13.1532)

War grave. WR/501492 Sapper / S. F. GOODIER / Royal Engineers / 22nd January 1920

Samuel Frederick Goodier WWI War Grave 2019.jpg

Samuel Frederick Goodier.jpg

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pottertea,

 

Thanks for that. It seems sad that Terry Reeve hasn’t put his research in the public domain, but that’s his choice.

 

So many fascinating subjects in all sorts of obscure corners of the war. There will never be enough time....

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25 minutes ago, Sniper said:

pottertea,

 

Thanks for that. It seems sad that Terry Reeve hasn’t put his research in the public domain, but that’s his choice.

 

 

Perhaps you would like to explain your comment and add your real name.

 

TR

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TR,

I meant no disrespect.

Clearly, you have undertaken a great deal of research into a rather obscure but fascinating subject.

I, for one, would very much like to read about what you found.

 

Apologies, if it came across anything other than genuine interest.

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  • 2 months later...

I have looked at the RE IWT previously because of my interest in the Northern Barrage and its use of the Caledonian Canal.  One member of of the RE IWT is buried in Corpach (I have tried hard to find anyone related to him but no luck).  Another died at Laggan Locks, I was able to find relatives and give them details of where he died.

 

I think they operate the canal locks, the USN seemed to use lighters for moving the mines through the canal (there are some photographs on the National Archive).

 

I am a Remote Volunteer for the IWM WMR and occasionally notice a member of the RE IWM on a memorial .  But just transcribing St Ives Wesleyan Church Roll Of Honour and seeing several RE IWT, only a handful but more than I would usually expect.  Wondering why?

 

 

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