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11 Field Coy 1946-1957

11 FIELD Coy
1946-1957

In the summer of 1946, llth Fd Coy was part of RE 5th Division when the Chief Engineer BAOR gave orders that as far as possible every formation of Royal Engineers should build a timber pile or heavy trestle bridge. The largest of these was at Artlenburg which, upon its completion on 16 Sep, was 1,530ft long with thirty spans.

Another major task was the clearance of the River Weser where it ran through the Ruhr between Wesel and Detteln. On this stretch, the wreckage of about 130 bridges blocked the River, and these had to be cut away above and below the surface of the water using demolitions, a hazardous operation due to the Ruhr area being highly populated and industrial. The AVREs of llth Fd Coy were used to great effect in dragging ashore large chunks of dismantled bridge that had been cut away by the divers of 55th and 276th Fd Coy.

In jul 1947, 11A Fd Coy was disbanded. On 1st Jan 1950, 11 Field Squadron was formed in 24 Field Engineer Regiment in Hong Kong, part of 40 Division, by re-titling 50 Field Squadron.

The Sqn's first major task under its new nomenclature was to assist with the thickening of the wire fence separating the New Territories from communist China. Minefields were laid out, and emergency gun emplacements and command posts were prepared. The construction of a dam at Tai Lam was set in hand, and the laying of twelve miles of pipeline begun, to reduce the Army's dependency on the limited civilian water supply system. The first phase of camp construction was nearing completion when, at the end of August, a typhoon struck the colony, doing considerable damage and setting all work back many weeks.

It gradually came to be appreciated that an invasion of Hong Kong was unlikely and one more the garrison was reduced. The first engineer unit to leave was 11 Fd Sqn which, reorganized as Independent, left for Austria in Mar 1951. There had been repeated appeals for a Sapper field unit to recce and prepare a proper
demolition plan in the face of the worsening international situation. The Sqn was located at Zeitweg and at once got down to operational planning. In 1952, the Sqn built the Radkersberg International Bridge, connecting Austria with Yugoslavia over the River Mur.

The bridge was formally opened by the Austrian Federal Chancellor on 6 Sep with a guard of honour provided by the Sqn.

In November, 11 Indep Fd Sqn took part in Allied manoeuvres with the French and United States forces in the Salzburg area. In miserable weather, the Sqn acquitted itself admirably and learnt many useful lessons. On return to Zeltweg the Sqn had hardly time to turn round before finding itself involved in the BTA winter manoeuvres, whereupon it drew rare praise from the GOC at the final conference.

In Jul 1953, 11 Sqn went to bridging camp at Betfor near Trieste on the River Timavo, which came as a welcome break from the administrative duties of the last year, having been the only combat unit in Zeltweg. On return in Sep, it was told it would leave for the UK in Dec. The Sqn travelled by a special MED-LOC train, arriving at Brompton Barracks, Chatham on 16 Dec.

Only a year after arriving back in the UK, in Dec 1954, the Sqn was moved to Sungei Besi, Malaya, and from Feb to Aug 1955 was part of 50 Field Engineer Regiment, where they established a reputation with the RAF for being insatiable beer drinkers. Major tasks undertaken in 1956 included completion of an airstrip programme at Fort Chabai, relieving 410 Plant Troop to enable them to move up and support the Gurkha squadrons.

Following Independence in 1957, the status and organization of the British and Commonwealth forces in Malaya changed. 11 Indep Fd Sqn originally made up one third of the divisional engineers for 17 Gurkha Division but was latterly, with 410 Plant Troop, assigned to 28 Commonwealth Brigade. The Sqn was involved in a long-running mine clearance task; specifically, the disposal of a Japanese bomb and mine storage dump in Penang. Two men of 11 Indep Fd Sqn were killed on this task in 1957 and it was not until a specialist BD team was sent out from the UK in 1967 that the job was completed.

The first ten miles of the Kedah Roads Project was begun by 11 Indep Fd Sqn and 410 Plant Troop in Jul 1957. The Project was carried out under Emergency conditions in Malayan jungles, and involved the upgrade to Class 24 of more than fifty miles of road. The whole network was not completed until Sep 1959,
when the roads were ceremonially opened by the Sultan of Kedah.

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