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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Royal Engineers 42nd Army Troops Coy


SwanseaWW1

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Hello all,

I’m trying to get my head around the structure of the Royal Engineers to try and find out what a sapper did and where he was prior to his death on 1 July 1916 at the 2nd Casualty Clearing Station Bailleul.

 

He was with the 42nd Army Troops Coy, who were in France at this stage, and the problem is that I can’t find our much about the activities of the ‘Army Troops’  - let alone where the 42nd Coy was based.

 

The Long Long Trail says that the Signal Companies were technically known as Army Troops. But surviving records (i.e. from the burnt documents) also show the sapper (John Mansfield) in the earlier South Africa Campaign, and as regular with the Royal Engineers until 1912, working as a horseman, bricklayer and pontonier – and in my limited understanding,  I’m unable to connect with signalling.

 

If anyone is able to point me in the right direction (and to where the war diaries might be in the National Archives structure) I’d be grateful

 

Thanks

 Liz

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Hello Liz

 

Forget about Signals - it's a red herring here.

 

Prior to the war, there were two main types of company RE - field companies, of which there were two (later three) with each division, and fortress companies, which were provided with heavier equipment for larger scale operations. These were later renamed "Army Troops Companies" and were held as assets at Army, or occasionally Corps, level.

 

The diary of 42 AT Company is in the National Archives in this file, and it should be available for download for £3.50.

          WO 95/546 42 Army Troop Company Royal Engineers 1914 Sept. - 1919 June  

 

You may have to put /1 after the 546 as there are other diaries in the same file. If you have access to Ancestry you will probably need to put 546/1 into the search box, omitting the WO95/.

 

There is a book about another AT Company: "With the Rank and Pay of a Sapper- a history of the Nuneaton 216th (Army Troops) Company, Royal Engineers"' published 11 Nov 1997, by Professor James Sambrook . It is based on the diaries of the author's father, who served with the unit, and if you can find a copy in your local library, or at a reasonable price, it will give you a good idea of the kind of duties these units performed.

 

Ron

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Liz

 

42 Company was a regular army unit. It was originally known as 42 Fortress Company and on the outbreak of war and was based at Gosport having been employed on  coastal defence. In August 1918 it was converted to an Army Troops Company. The company disembarked at St Nazaire on the 7th  September 1914. The work of these types of units was quite varied and they could move from army to army, more often than not attached to various corps.

 

As has been pointed out, the unit war diary gives the day to day give the day to day doings of the unit.

 

The diary numbers are:

 

WO95/5461/1  -  1st Sept 1914 - 31 August 1917

 

WO95/546/2    -  1st Sept 1917 -  30 June 1919.

 

TR

Edited by Terry_Reeves
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Ron/Terry

 

I’d never have found this in the National Archives in a month of Sundays without your help – thank you.  

 

I do subscribe to Ancestry – for the primary purpose of accessing war diaries - but I simply can’t find these diaries via a search - I've tried searching under 42nd company, 42 company, Army Troop Company,  W095/5461/1, 1095/5461, 546/1 .... and all other combinations - nothing. Neither can I find it via the menu as it seems to me that all of Ancestry diaries for the Royal Engineers are divisional troops & not unattached units.

(If anyone can find an Ancestry link that would be great.)

 

Thanks also for the book suggestion  Ron, I’ll check my library if not, look for an online copy for sale.

 

Liz

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Liz

 

I don't think that Ancestry have copies of the War Diaries of units above divisional level - YET. I expect that they will get them in due course but there may be a long wait!

 

Ron

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