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Terry_Reeves

Royal Engineers Special Brigade

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Terry_Reeves

Over the past few years I have been compiling a roll of men who served in the RE Special Brigade and Special Companies. This formation was responsible for Britains chemical warfare effort.

I am now able to identify some 2-3000 of these men but would like to hear from any forum member who has information about any individual whom they believe served in the Brigade.

In particular, I would be interested in number and rank, any snippets of personal information, and in the case of those men who were killed, the location of any town or village war memorial that they may have been commemorated on.

If I can help anybody with identifying men whom they believe were in the Specials I will be pleased to do so.

Terry Reeves

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Rob HAmilton

Terry

Here are a details of a few men I believe to have served in the Special Companys of the Royal Engineers. They are all men who appear on memorials in the Calderdale area

Name: Louis Ackroyd

Regiment/Corps: 189th Field Company, Royal Engineers

Age: 24

Rank: Corporal 106514

Date Died: 3rd October 1915

Cemetery/Memorial: Mazingarbe Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Details: He was the son of Mrs. M. J. Ackroyd, of 12, Rydal Terrace, Jeremy Lane, Heckmondwike, Yorks. Enlisted in July 1915 in the Chemist Corps and was sent to France after only 2 weeks where he was killed by a shell splinter. He was the Science Master at Rastrick Grammar School 1914-15 and had a BSc.

Memorials: Rastrick & Brighouse

Name: Horace Beevers

Regiment/Corps: 1st Special Company, Royal Engineers

Age: 31

Rank: Pioneer 214474

Date Died:23rd August 1917

Cemetery/Memorial: Ramscappelle Road Military Cemetery, Nieuwpoort,

Details: Lived in Newcastle where he was the director of Newcastle Hippodrome. Until 1912 he was a cooper in Brighouse for Airey & Blackburn. He was also a well known violinist. Killed by shellfire while sleeping. He is commemorated in Brighouse Cemetery

Memorial: Brighouse

Name: William George Stannard

Regiment: 1st Special Co, Royal Engineers

Age: 29

Rank: Pioneer 192832

Date Died: 10th July 1918

Cemetery: Le Vertannoy British Military Cemetery, Hinges, Pas de Calais

Details: He lived at 5 Raw Hill, Rastrick and was a member of the Foresters Friendly Society. He enlisted in August 1914 and was gassed and wounded in 1917. Killed by a shell fragment at night. He worked as a silkdresser for Wood Bros & Co, Thornhill Briggs.

Memorials: Rastrick & Brighouse.

My research is ongoing so I may come across others. I'll let you know when I do.

Regards

Rob

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Terry_Reeves

Rob

Many thanks for the details. 189 Coy was one of the first to be formed. Cpl Ackroyd was amongst those who responded to a War Office letter asking for men with experience in chemistry to enlist. You may be interested to know that Cpl WJ Crosbie who died of wounds just 4 weeks later, also member of 189 Coy would have been known to him as would Sgt John Hay, formerly of the 3rd HLI who survived the war.

Beevers and Stannard were employed in operating the 4" Stokes Mortars that the brigade was equipped with. Beevers was probably serving in another branch of the RE before joining the SB and Stannard may have been transferred from the RA.

Once again, many thanks.

Terry Reeves

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John_Hartley

Terry - I know I've already sent you info on my man Callan, but I hadn't realised, until I saw Rob's post, that there were RE Field Coys that were "specials". Are there any others, apart from 189? I've a few RE on my memorials so can check - they might have been mates of Callan's.

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Terry_Reeves

John

The four original companys, formed in 1915, were 186-189. However they were simply known as 186 Company ect. They did however follow the normal RE number sequence for field companys to try and disguise their purpose. Any mention of "special" would of course have alerted the Germans to the fact that something unusual was going on.

The designation "Special Companys" came into use in early 1916 when the unit was was expanded into a brigade size formation. The companys were then alphabetically arranged, A-Q, in 4 battalions with the exception of "I" which was not used because of its likeness to the figure "one."

For a short while there was also 4A battalion which was formed to support the 5th New Army. In addition there was also "Z" Company, originally formed to operate flame throwers under Capt (later Major) WH Livens. A further addition was the formation of the 4" Stokes Mortar Companys, which formed the 5th Battalion of the Brigade. These companys were numbered, 1-4.

Hope this helps

Terry Reeves

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Mark Hone

Dear Terry,

Can I include a mention for 2nd Lieutenant Robert Taylor Hardman,1st Coy 5th (Mortar) Battalion, Special Brigade? This former pupil of Bury Grammar School Lancashire was killed in the opening moments of the attack on 1st July 1916 trying to reach the mortar position in front of the trenches at Martinsart. 1st Coy were supposed to be providing a smoke screen to cover the attack. He was 27, and is commemorated on Thiepval.

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Jim_Grundy

Terry

Albert Norton Croft, of 4th Special Company, Royal Engineers, who was killed on 18th August 1917, is commemorated on the memorial at Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. He was killed when German shelling of their position exploded some British gas shells; he was unable to fit his gas mask in time and died of gas poisoning.

I have some other (brief) biographical details and a photograph of his grave in Philosophe British Cemetery at Mazingarbe - if you are interested, let me know and I'll pass them on.

Cheers,

Jim

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Terry_Reeves

Mark

Many thanks. Can you confirm the 2Lt Hardman is commemorated at Bury Grammar School?

Jim

Thanks also. I would be interested in his details when you get the opportunity.

Merry Christamas to you both

Terry Reeves

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Greenwoodman

Season's Greetings Terry

Researched this chap just recently for a colleague of my wife's.

Henry McGuire 206620 Pioneer 3rd Special Coy., R.E. Died 14 Oct 17 aged 24. Son of Henry McGuire, and his wife Eliza Holden, of Wallasey. Previously served at Suvla Bay in the 1st/4th Bn. Cheshire Regt (45290). Buried GUEMAPPE BRITISH CEMETERY, WANCOURT, Pas de Calais, France. Invalided to England with dysentry. Newspaper reports that on recovery, although time-expired (linking nicely with another thread) joined RE. Killed by shellfire. Born & resident Liscard Cheshire, enlisted Chester. Have a photo of this chap in "Gallipoli dress", but back in UK with his family.

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Terry_Reeves

Greenwoodman

Many thanks for the information. Could I be cheeky and ask for a scan of the photo if that is possible.

Once again thanks and a Merr Christmas to you.

Terry Reeves

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John_Hartley

Terry

Thanks for the additonal info. I've checked my list and I've only got William Callan that fits the bill.

regards

John B)

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Mark Hone

Dear Terry,

Yes, I can confirm that 2nd Lt Hardman is one of 97 Bury Grammar School pupils commemorated on the school's Great War memorial. In fact he is commemorated on two-the original in what is now our Girls' School and the magnificent replacement in the Boys' School Hall unveiled a few years ago, both (together with our Second World, South African and Afghan war memorials) were recorded by me for the National Inventory of War Memorials. BGS had less than 200 pupils on roll before 1914, and was even smaller than this pre-1908. The headmaster died during the war, the legend being that he was shattered by the deaths of so many of his former pupils. Hardman is one of 11 of our pupils commemorated at Thiepval. We most recently paid tribute to them in 1999 when our CCF bugler, at that time Jim Brady, sounded the Last Post under the arch and the names of the boys commemorated there were read out.

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Terry_Reeves

Mark

Many thanks.

Terry Reeves

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Andrew Marshall

Terry

113202 Coporal Leslie Wilfrid Lund

188th Special Brigade R.E.

KIA 25/09/15

Born, Derby

Enlisted Gravesend

Died age 24

Son of Mr. E. T. and Mrs. M. S. Lund, of "Sunnycroft", 32, Parrock Avenue, Gravesend

From the Gravesend Reporter 30/10/15 p.5

entitled

Teachers at the Front

(this is an address by the Mayor)

"He also included the name of Mr Leslie Lund, of Church Street School, and went on to say that they all took pleasure and pride at the knowledge that so many of their teachers were doing their "little bit" in the defence of their country and all that is meant by that expression (applause).

Death notice under KIA section in Gravesend Reporter 09/10/15 p.1

Lund - Killed in action in France, on September 25th aged 24 years. Corporal Leslie Wilfred Lund R.E., Officer of H.M. Customs and Excise, fourth and dearly loved son of Mr and Mrs Edwin T Lund, and grandson of the late Rev. William Lund, Dunnington, Yorks.

Commemorated on the following memorials:

Denton War Memorial - at present situated on top of brick wall in Lower Range Road, Denton, Gravesend, Kent.

Gravesend Roll of Honour - unveiled 1917 and situated in the now closed Magistrates Court entrance High Street, Gravesend, Kent.

Gravesend War Memorial - Memorial Gardens, Clarence Place, Gravesend, Kent.

Gravesend Boys Grammer School War Memorial - Main Hall in the school building, Church Walk, Milton Road, Gravesend, Kent.

Gravesham Borough Council Book of Remembrance - Main foyer, Civic Centre, Woodville Halls, Windmill Street, Gravesend, Kent.

Milton-next-Gravesend War Memorial - St Peter & St Paul's Churchyard, Milton Road East, Gravesend, Kent.

Regards

Andrew

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Terry_Reeves

Andrew

Many thanks for taking the time and trouble to post the information on Cpl Lund.

If I can help yourself or indeed any other forum member in this subject area, I will be more than happy to do so.

Terry Reeves

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Andrew Marshall

Terry

A quick search of Soldiers Died with 188th in the supplement field gives the following results

112208 Cpl Francis Henry Allen KIA 25.09.15

143038 Cpl Anthony Capstick KIA 21/12/15

Then Lund

106309 Cpl Wilton Manuel KIA 25/09/15

106534 Cpl Charles O'Donnell DOW 03/10/15

As you can see three of them KIA on the same day and one other dying of wounds a few days after - all one unit?

From my memory was the 188th a Gas unit?

Regards

Andrew

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songshed

Terry,

Hi would you be able to help me find out about.

Name: CRESWELL, JOHN

Initials: J

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Pioneer

Regiment: Royal Engineers

Unit Text: "K" Coy. 3rd Bn. Special Bde.

Age: 24

Date of Death: 08/10/1916

Service No: 130251

Additional information: Son of Andrew and Elizabeth Creswell, of 33, Windmill Terrace, Londonderry.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: A. 9.

Cemetery: POND FARM CEMETERY

Many Thanks Robert Starrett

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Terry_Reeves

Robert

I can tell you Pioneer Creswell joined the Special Brigade in 1916 and, from his number, was almost certainly transferred from an Infantry unit. K Special Company was a cylinder company and he would have belonged to any one of sections 55 to 60. To find any more personal information, you will need to check to see if his service documents are available service at the National Archive. The unit way diary may help shed some light on the circumstances of his death, and the location.

There are also some group photgraphs of K Company amongst the papers of CH Foulkes, Special Brigade commander, at the Liddle Hart Centre for Military Archives, Kings College, London. The link is here:

Kings College

Terry Reeves

PS. Just checked Soldiers Died in the Great War which gives the following information:

Born Templemore, Enlisted Londonerry, formerly 26763 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

PPS. For those who may be interested, I do have information on virtually all Special Brigade Officers.

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Borden Battery

Here is a book by Dr. Tim Cook [now with the Canadian War Museum] that is a very good reference book on the use of gas during the Great War. Emphasis is on the CEF, however, reading it will provide a sound understanding on the role and use of the special units.

No Place to Run - The Canadian Corps and Gas Warfare in the First World War

Tim Cook, UBC Press (1999)

- documents poison gas by and on the CEF - will become a classic reference text

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songshed
Robert

I can tell you Pioneer Creswell joined the Special Brigade in 1916 and, from his number,  was almost certainly transferred from an Infantry unit.  K Special Company was a cylinder company and he would have belonged to any one of sections 55 to 60.  To find any more personal information, you will need to check to see if his service documents are available service at the National Archive. The unit way diary may help shed some light on the circumstances of his death, and the location.

There are also some group photgraphs of K Company amongst the papers of CH Foulkes, Special Brigade commander, at the Liddle Hart Centre for Military Archives, Kings College, London. The link is here: 

Kings College

Terry Reeves

PS. Just checked Soldiers Died in the Great War which gives the following information:

Born Templemore, Enlisted Londonerry, formerly 26763 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

PPS. For those who may be interested, I do have information on virtually all Special Brigade Officers.

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Paul Johnson

Terry,

This man is on my local War Memorial.

134873 Sapper Arthur CHAMBERLAIN. “Z” Special Company. Royal Engineers

Killed In Action on the 3rd April 1917 aged 25

Arthur was the son of Eli & Julia Chamberlain of 125 High Street, Stevenage. He was serving in “Z” company of the Royal Engineers which was specialising in the use of Gas & Flame Projectors. On the 3rd April 1917 the company were in a position near Arras and it is believed that Arthur was killed by shellfire. The unit records show that during an assault with gas shells some of the deadly poison drifted back towards the British lines but there is insufficient evidence to show that this was the cause of his death. Arthur is buried in the St.Nicholas British Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France. (1.A.1.) Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

A Photo Is Also Attached.

Hope This Helps.

Regards

PAUL JOHNSON :ph34r:

post-1368-1115931706.jpg

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songshed
Robert

I can tell you Pioneer Creswell joined the Special Brigade in 1916 and, from his number,  was almost certainly transferred from an Infantry unit.  K Special Company was a cylinder company and he would have belonged to any one of sections 55 to 60.  To find any more personal information, you will need to check to see if his service documents are available service at the National Archive. The unit way diary may help shed some light on the circumstances of his death, and the location.

There are also some group photgraphs of K Company amongst the papers of CH Foulkes, Special Brigade commander, at the Liddle Hart Centre for Military Archives, Kings College, London. The link is here: 

Kings College

Terry Reeves

PS. Just checked Soldiers Died in the Great War which gives the following information:

Born Templemore, Enlisted Londonerry, formerly 26763 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

PPS. For those who may be interested, I do have information on virtually all Special Brigade Officers.

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songshed

Hi Terry could you help, When you say that K Company was a cylinder company

could you please explain what the unit did. Also army death notice states that Pioneer Creswell died at Armentiers although Pond Farm CWGC where he is buried

is in Wulverghem near Messines Belgium.

Many Thanks,

Robert Starrett

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HarryBettsMCDCM

49291 Serjeant Bertie Baker,MSM{Gallantry} from Peterborough,as a young man Bertie Ran away from his Butchery Apprenticeship @ Market Deeping to enlist into the Royal Engineers,only to be hauled back by the Police;however he did manage to enlist @ a later date & served in the latter stages of the Boer War in South Africa,in 1902,earning the Queen's South Africa Medal.

After the SA War he joined the Peterborough Constabulary

He was apparently recalled from the Reserve & served with the Special Brigade RE & was among the very few individuals who was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal For Gallantry in the Performance of Military Duty {Not in the Face of the Enemy}.

Though the citation for his award was not gazetted I was most fortunate when I purchased his lone MSM[anyone got his 1914~15 Star Trio or QSA??,I would love to locate them] to trace his Son,Reg,who still lived in the area,who had a battered typewritten slip of notification for his Medal,which was for saving the lives of a number of Chinese Coolie Labourers who were gassed when an accident occurred aboard Rail Carriages where Cylinders were being stored & the Valves were damaged,Bertie entered the Carriage on numerous occasions to help the Labourers out armed only with a Handerkerchief to protect himself,before succombing to the gas,rendering him unconscious.

Bertie survived the incident & the war,going on to re~join the Peterborough Constabulary & later running the Town Snooker & Billiard Hall,His Sons all going on to serve in the local Northamptonshire Regt.TA as Bandsmen. I have an excellent group photo of him & others of his RE Company?;which I will post later.

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Joe Walsh

My grandad was a RE he was in the second battalion I dont know if he was in a speacial brigade or company but anyway his name is CSM William R Till (112081)

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