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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Royal Engineer 1st Division (I think, Can you advise)


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Hi all, I hope you can help with some expert advice. I don't really understand military designations so i'm a bit vague on what i'm looking at. I have my Great Grandads records which show he enlisted early on and went straight into the SOuth Glamorgan RE (he was a mason by trade so is the a usual move?)

If anyone could explain what i'm looking at and where i can find out what his troop/division did i would be forever greatful.

James Traylor

Born Hereford


Church of England

Quoted 3 years prior service with Herefordshire Rifle Volunteers

Aged 32y 2m when enlisting on 15 October 1914 in South Wales Borderers at Brecon Private 2690

Transferred to 2/1st East Glamorgan Works Coy Royal Engineers 10 February 1915 Sapper 1172

Transferred to 1/1st East Glamorgan Works Coy Royal Engineers 6 October 1915

Attached 1st Lowland Field Coy RE 14 January 1916

Transferred to 121st Fed? Coy RE 10 April 1918

Fuerher transfer illegible dated 3 November 1918

Served in France from 8 October 1915 to 20 April 1917

Discharged no longer physically fit for war service 9 September 1919

Subject was wounded 16 October 1918 eventually renumbered Sapper 454417

Waht does the 2/1st and 1/1st mean and was in normal to be "attached" to another company. Would this have been because he had a skill they needed. ANy light that you can shed on this or where the companies served would be fantastic. He seemed to get around a bit was this usual?

If he left France in 1917 but was injured in October 1918 (the war had just finished hadn't it) then where was he with the 121st?

I'm new to this and its the first time i've looked at any military records so i'm hoping the experts can educate me a little. Hope i haven't asked too much :rolleyes:

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Yes, moving around in the RE was quite usual. If researching the RE wasn't enough of a nightmare already!

Fortunately you have a decent amount of info to work with...

A mason would be a pretty useful trade in the Royal Engineers. That's not to say the Army didn't like fitting square pegs in round holes!

His original enlistment in the Herefordshire Volunteers would have been to a Volunteer/Militia/Part-time unit where he would have trained at weekends and attended an annual camp. These Volunteer Battalions were converted into the Territorial Force in 1908. The fact that he lists his service as in the Volunteers would suggest he served his years prior to that date (or at least commencing before 1908).

The South Wales Borderers enlistment would also be to a Territorial Infantry battalion Presumably he was then transferred for his skills to the RE.

The East Glamorgan Works Company RE was also a Territorial unit. Territorial units were originally home service only units but split into two at the start of the war. The part of the unit to serve overseas became the 1/1st and the still home service part became the 2/1st, and acted as a Reserve unit to the 1/1st to provide Drafts of men as replacements.

The Glamorgan Fortress Company consisted of HQ and No 1 Works Company at Cardiff, No 2 Works Company at Barry and No 3 Electric Light Company at Cardiff, part of Western Coastal Defences. The unit later became 556 Army Troops Company RE.

The Company served overseas from January 1915 to June 1919. The National Archives holds a war diary for this unit in file WO 95/330 "556 (Glamorgan) Army Troop Company Royal Engineers 1915 Jan. - 1919 June." This can be reviewed at the N.A.

The 1st Lowland Field Company to which he was later attached was renamed 409th Field Company TF in February 1917. The unit served with 1st Division from December 1914.


WO 95/1253 409 Field Company Royal Engineers 1914 Dec. - 1917 Jan.

WO 95/1254 409 Field Company Royal Engineers 1917 Feb. - 1919 Sept.

The renumbering to 454417 would have occured in early 1917, and this number fall within the range allocated to the Glamorgan Fortress Company.

The 121st Field Company (if that is the correct translation) served with 36th (Ulster Division) from November 1914.


WO 95/2497 121 Field Company Royal Engineers 1915 Oct. - 1919 Feb.

This unit was a Regular Army unit and not a TF one.

If he served with this company then we would expect further service in France, which is not shown, but since he was wounded in October 1918 perhaps he did go back overseas. I wonder if the cut-off of service in France at 20-4-1917 is him being wounded a first time, and thus changing units completely.

Hope this helps,


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Wow thats great. Thank you.

If your not into Military history then ther whole army, division, company thing can be a little overwhelming. I've looked up some bits and if i read it correctly then 121st which he was with when he was injured where moving through Courtrai at the time. This is Belgium so would this be why he was no longer classed as France?

I don't know much about that period but i did find the diary of a soldier in 122nd RE who i think was in the same area. It makes grim reading of trying to build bridges and rafts under fire.

I assume this is the sort of thing he would have been expected to do? All info greatfully received. :rolleyes:

I must say it is nice having people that are willing to help and that understand the area much better then i do.

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