1st London Field Company Royal Engineers

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A Great War era cap badge of the Royal Engineers with the crown & cypher of George V

The 1st London Field Company, Royal Engineers (Territorial Force) was a Territorial engineer unit of the British Army active during World War I. On formation in 1908 it was part of 56th (1st London) Division. The company was based in Bethnal Green in London.

World War I[edit]

On 23 December 1914 the company transferred to 6th Division in France, and served the rest of the war with them. It formed a second-line formation, the 2/1st London Field Company, which replaced it in the 56th Division.

On 9 August 1915 the 6th Division attacked and recaptured the chateau at Hooge. Number 4 Section of the company joined in the attack alongside the 2nd Battalion Durham Light Infantry, and the company suffered its highest casualties in a single day.[1] The work of the company in fortifying the newly captured position with barbed wire received special mention in the report by GHQ.[2] Sapper Berry received the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions in the attack.[1]

Renaming and the German spring offensive[edit]

In 1917 the company was renamed 509th Field Company RE. By February 1918 the 6th Division was manning the Lagnicourt Sector and was there on 22 March when the Germans launched their Spring Offensive which drove the division back and caused 3,900 casualties out of its 5000 infantry. The divisional history records that 'The field companies suffered heavily, and rendered good service as infantry'. The company war diary for March 1918 stops after the 20th.

In November 1918 its commanding officer was Major H. G. Bambridge, M.C., R.E.(S.).

Last survivor[edit]

In August 2002 William Burnett, probably the last surviving member of the company, was awarded the French Legion of Honour.[3]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b War Diary of 509th Field Company, Public Record Office, London.
  2. ^ http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/20115 A Short History of the 6th Division
  3. ^ http://www.ambafrance-au.org/spip.php?article425 Award of Legion of Honour to William Burnett

Becke, A.F. (1945). History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions: Territorial Force & Mounted Divisions Pt. 2A. London HMSO.