The Beginning 1806-1914

The Beginning

11 Field Company, Corps of Royal Military Artificers (RMA), was formed in 1793 for active service in Nova Scotia, Canada, and a detachment was also sent to the West Indies. It was based in Halifax, whose coat of arms features the Golden Crested Kingfisher that has lately been adopted as the Squadron emblem.

In 1811, records show that the Coy was raised at Portsmouth as 3rd Company of 3rd Battalion. In 1813, the RMA was renamed the Royal Sappers and Miners, and m April that year the Coy was disbanded. A new Company was formed at Woolwich as the 3rd Company of 3rd Battalion and in June moved to Canada.

In January 1820 the unit was re-titled 11 Company. It moved to Woolwich in
Aug 1823 and to Chatham in Nov 1826.

November 1829 saw the Coy move to Portsmouth, and the following April to Gibraltar. In Nov 1833 11 Coy was absorbed into 8 Coy and disbanded, only to be formed as a Service Company at Woolwich in
Jun 1841.

The Coy moved to Gibraltar in Jun 1842, and returned to Woolwich in Nov 1848. Between then and Apr 1852 the Coy was in Chatham for a period, but again returned to Woolwich. August 1852 saw the Coy in Aldemey, then back in Woolwich the following year, before taking part in operations in Turkey and
the Crimean campaign from 1854-6.

In the Crimea, 11 Coy were employed in constructing piers for the landing of stores, and in preparing the most suitable buildings to be used as hospitals. Additionally, they were engaged in throwing up that portion of the lines which was apportioned for construction to the British, the remainder being carried out by
the French.

During the Crimean War, 11 Coy adopted a small dog, which was found on the dead body of his master, a Russian officer, after the battle of Alma in 1854. 'Snob', who earned his name from his preference for the Officers' Mess, was brought back to England complete with campaign medal, and lived out his days
in Chatham. His stuffed skin is on display in the RE Museum.

Having returned to Chatham in 1856,11 Coy embarked to India in Oct 1857 via Southampton, Malta, and Alexandria, and were involved in suppressing the Indian Mutiny. In Alexandria, the men were dressed in civilian clothes, and travelled as ordinary passengers to Cairo, and thence in vans across the desert to
Suez, where vessels were ready to take them down the Red Sea. 11 Coy, under Capt C.E Cumberland, landed at Bombay.

Records show that in 1858 11 Coy became a Fortress Company, but details are sketchy for the next thirty or so years. It is apparent that 11 Coy was in Mauritius in Sep 1860, the Cape of Good Hope in Aug 1863, Chatham in May 1866, and Dover in July.

May 1869 saw 11 Coy in Aldershot, Gibraltar the following April, Bermuda in
Jan 1875, Malta in Jan 1878, and Chatham in Jan 1881. In 1884 the Coy was redesigned as a Field Company.

In Sep 1884 the Coy moved to Egypt where they were kept extremely busy. The 4th Section of the Coy repaired whalers used by the brigade to travel the rapid waters of the Nile, from Owli Island to Birti. Repair work by the Section was continuous, and records show that the brigade did not suffer an hour's delay owing to the damage done to the boats.

Changes continued to be made to the structure of the Corps, and in 1885 11 Coy was redesigned as a Fortress Company. Two years later they reverted to being a Field Company.

From May-Jul 1885, a Section of the Coy was despatched to Sudan as part of the force sent to relieve General Gordon, besieged by Mahdist Dervishes in Khartoum.

The successful employment of Field Companies to date had led to the suggestion that a mounted detachment of the RE should be organized to accompany Cavalry, and, in the Sudan campaign, a detachment of 11 Fd Coy, consisting of Lt Sandbach and 27 men, was formed for service with mounted Infantry outside Suakin.

This proved successful, and a unit was formed later called a Field Troop; this was organized Jike a Field Company but with a lighter equipment. The first of these units served in the South African War under the command of Capt A.G.Hunter-Weston, and was so successful that three more troops were formed dur-
ing the campaign. For the next three years.

Oct 1893 saw the Coy in Curragh, and in Chatham in Oct 1896. The Coy moved back to Aldershot in Aug 1898, and to Tidworth injun 1899.

11 Coy returned to South Africa from 1899-1901 during the War, with the First Infantry Division in the siege of Kimberley. Here, they repaired railways damaged by the Boers before they retreated, assisted in bringing naval guns into action at Graspan, and took an active part in the fighting at Rosmead Bridge before building a temporary bridge to replace the one destroyed by the Boers. Elements of the Coy were involved in the siege of Mafeking, before the unit returned to its base in Shincliffe.

The majority of 1902-14 was spent in Aldershot with 2 Division, except for a period as a Fortress Company in Egypt in 1912. Time was spent bridging and doing Field Works at the Curragh Camp, including building tension bridges, made of rope.

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