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Remembered Today:

A Sapper's Tale

LtColSki USMC0302

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Hello all,

I’m looking for an assist on an ongoing research project. I’m currently tracking the service of a Royal Engineer Sapper during the First World War. I have his medals (1915 Star Trio named to 522663 Sapper Frederick Powell, Royal Engineers) and an original certificate of thanks on the occasion of his “departure from the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and re-entry into civil life” listing the place as Adana, and signed by the officer commanding “Troops in Cilicia.”

I had a researcher look up his papers and I got lucky. He managed to turn up a few pages of records, some semi-burnt, to include two casualty sheets. The first sheet covered a wound sustained in 1915. The page did not indicate where the wound was actually taken but upon close examination I noticed a notation under the first casualty evacuation line which said “to Murdos.” I promptly “googled” Murdos and was intrigued to find that it was a small port on the Greek island of Lemnos which was apparently a rather sleepy little place until the British decided to use it a s staging point for the Gallipoli campaign. Upon further inspection of the records I determined that my man was in the 71st Engineer Co which was indeed involved in the Gallipoli campaign, having landed on Cape Helles in 1915. The records also showed him as having left England bound for duty with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. All together, I’d say the evidence is pretty conclusive that he was wounded on Cape Helles and evacuated through Murdros to England. Needless to say I was excited to find out that what I thought was an “ordinary” RE trio was actually a WIA from Gallipoli!

The story as pieced together, so far, runs thusly:

Powell enlisted in the territorial RE in 1913 and received service number 901. Sometime after August 1914, he ended up in the 71st Field Company, RE, with regimental number 522663, and embarked from England on 28 July 1915 for service with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. He is noted as having disembarked in Egypt 16 August 1915.

The 71st Field Company RE served in the Divisional Troops for the 13th (Western) Division. The entire13th Division landed at ANZAC Cove between 3-5 August 1915 and fought in the Battle of Hill 60, ANZAC, 27-28 August 1915. Soon after the battle they were withdrawn and put ashore at Suvla Bay. Sometime on 31 August 1915 Sapper Powell suffered a gun shot wound to the left foot and was evacuated to Mudros, a small Greek port on the Mediterranean island of Lemnos, where he remained in hospital (noted in the records as the 5th General Hospital).

He was invalided to England on 11 December 1915 aboard the hospital ship “HS Glengorm Castle”, the former Union-Castle ship German (renamed in August 1914) which had served as a troop ship during the Boer War, and was subsequently commissioned as a 423 bed hospital ship in September 1915.

On 27 September 1916 while in Maidenhead, he was charged with “conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, in that he did argue with an NCO on being given an order.” He was awarded 2 days C.B. (confinement to barracks).

On 21 March 1917, He was charged with overstaying his leave by about 8 hours and was awarded 3 says C.B.

Embarked 9 June1917 in Southampton aboard “HT Mona….”, and arrives in Marseilles 14 June 1917 where he boards “HT Sa…on”, and proceeds to Alexandria disembarking 20 June1917

On 12 August 1917 Sapper Powell joins the 486 EA Field Company RE as a “reinforcement joined unit from England via GBD.” 486 Field Company is part of 54th (East Anglian) Division which was stationed in Egypt and then Palestine after their withdrawal from Gallipoli in December 1915.

On 4 December 1917 he is admitted to the 27th General Hospital (annotation L.C.T. Neck)

On 20 December 1917 Joined GBD

On 20 January 1918 he rejoined the 486 Field Company, was readmitted to the hospital on 27 January 1918 eventually rejoining the unit on 3 February 1918. On 15 September 1918 he was again admitted to a hospital

June 1918: In the 60th Division then stationed in Egypt the 2/4th London Field Company RE becomes 521st London Field Company RE

25 March 1919: Receives certificate of thanks from Brigadier General Walter Leolie (sp?), officer commanding Troops in Cilicia.

28 May 1919 he was discharged from the regular forces.

Re-enlisted 11 April 1921 for 90 Days Emergency Service with the Royal Engineers (Defense Force) 3rd Field Company, Regimental number 1007. Stated he was living at 8 Granville Rd. in Luton.

Discharged 6 July 1921 under Paragraph 392 KR, character of service noted as “Good.” (Total service of 87 days)

In August 1923 he applied for a license to act as a conductor of stage carriages within the Metropolitan Police District of London. He gave his address as 16 Rockmount Road, Plumstead. He had produced an Army discharge showing service in the Royal Engineers, 521st Company, London Field No. TF/ 522663 from 8-12-1913 to 28-5-1919 when he was discharged to the Reserve.

Now the questions:

- Is anyone familiar with the acronym GBD as related to the reintegration of combat troops?

- Any thoughts on what “LCT Neck” may mean?

- Any idea on what these transport ship names might actually be? “HT Mona….” or “HT Sa…on”

- Can anyone confirm a BGen Walter Leolie serving with the EEF?

I would be happy with any amplifying information that can be supplied. I’m sure there are some RE experts out there who can flesh out the actions of the various companies in which Sapper Powell served.



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  • 4 months later...


I cant help with any info but just to say how good it must feel as you unwravell a mystery bit by bit. In all my research it is the finding rather than the result that gets me.



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Isn't it interesting to get such a full picture? Did a bit of 'googling' about the ship's names. There was a troop transport Mona's Queen, which was a paddler. She was employed between the Channel ports and France - found fame in ramming and sinking a U boat. Cannot see that she went as far as the Med, but maybe your chap was transported to, say Boulogne, and then railed to Marseilles. (Happened to my father at end of WW2). There was also a Mona - a special ship/Q ship, lost in the Med in July 1917. Doubt however that such a vessel woud have been used for troops.


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Could I suggest that Sapper Powell in fact went to Gallipolli with 54th East Anglian Divisional Engineers and was only attached to 71 Field Company whilst out there. He appears to have remained a territorial throught his service and was renumbered in 1917 in line with the rest of the TF. In fact 2/1st East Anglian Field Coy also embarked at Devonport on 28.7.15 and on 1 Feb 1917 was renamed 486 Field Coy which is why he was returned to that unit after being wounded.

Terry Reeves

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Arm, Ian and Terry,

Thanks for the replies and the information. You are so right Arm, the search is the most fun for me as well. I love "pulling the threads" on these guys and building a fuller picture. Ian, Mona's Queen may be the one. I'll pull the file as soon as I get the chance and recheck the paperwork to see if the cross-channel idea fits. Same, same with the unit Terry. I'll recheck and see what it was that made me think he was renumbered earlier. I'll certainly defer to your judgement and expertise though, as I am pretty inexperienced when it comes to territorial numbers and the RE as well, for that matter. Thanks again fellows. More to follow.

Best wishes,


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