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Remembered Today:

Terry_Reeves

Royal Engineers Special Brigade

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Sparky53

My Great Uncle Ian Robert Spark

Enlisted as a Pioneer in the Special Brigade, RE in Sept 1916

Served in France with the RE from Nov 16 to Mar 17

Commissioned as Surgeon Sub-Lieut, RNVR in Mar 17

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rogersdenham7

My grandfather, James Maylor, 130237, 1st Special Company, Royal Engineers was killed on 24th March 1918 during the opening of Operation Michael. He is buried in Peronne Road Cemetery, near Maricourt and commemmorated on the Oldham War Memorial. I have photos, if they would be wanted.

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SFayers

Hi Terry,

You may already have this chap, but just in case:

Corporal (later Serjeant) 46382 Robert Newton, 1st Special Company RE. He was from Selling in Kent. He entered France on 11th September 1915, and was gazetted for the Military Medal on 21st October 1918 (I haven't been able to find a citation for this as yet!). Having also been awarded the SWB I assume he was discharged after having been wounded.

cheers

Steve

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Tom Bastin

Terry

I found this thread through google and not sure if its still active but my Great Grandfather's brother Timothy Ashley (service number 147142)served as a corporal (acting sergeant) in the Royal Engineers K special company, 1 Corp Troops having at some point transferred from the Northamptonshire Regiment. Aged 29 he was killed on 23/05/2005 and is buried at Pernes cemetry in France. He is also commemorated on the war memorials in the Church and on the Memorial Hall at Yardley Hastings, Northants his birthplace and also on the war memorial in nearby Naseby where we believe he was living and working when he enlisted.

Any information you have on his unit would be very gratefully received.

Thanks

Tom

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Sybil
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

I believe that the following soldier was in 186 Company and/or D Company, Special Brigade.

Regt No. 223036

Spr Bertram George EMM or "EMMS"

Campaign Medals: "Victory" and "British"

Home address, Wilton,Wiltshire

Born about 1982.

Little else known I'm afraid. Thanks, Nancy

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Jarvis

Terry, there is one definite 'special' on my local roll(s) of honour - Barnard Castle.

HIGGINBOTHAM, GORDON

Initials: G G M

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Pioneer

Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers

Unit Text: No. 1 Special Coy.

Age: 19

Date of Death: 22/08/1917

Service No: 156555

Additional information: Son of Captain Ernest Higginbotham and Ada M. Higginbotham, of "Alma Dene," 4, Vere Terrace, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: II. B. 34.

Cemetery: RAMSCAPPELLE ROAD MILITARY CEMETERY

I also have several other RE attached Tunneling and Light Railway Coys. I presume these are not specials but not had too much time to research them. I also have two RE with unidentified battn's. Perhaps you could

check them of against your own research then at least I will know what they are or aren't.

MURRAY

Initials: G A

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: 2nd Corporal

Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers

Age: 31

Date of Death: 11/08/1921

Service No: WR/290212

Additional information:

Son of W. and C. Murray; husband of Annie Murray, of 8, Ednam Terrace, Barnard Castle.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: North-East of cottage.

Cemetery: BARNARD CASTLE (ST. MARY) CHURCH CEMETERY

TAYLOR

Initials: S

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Sapper

Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers

Date of Death: 13/09/1917

Service No: 266950

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: South of Chapel.

Cemetery:

BARNARD CASTLE (ST. MARY) CHURCH CEMETERY

Hope this is of some use to you.

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A.A.Savery

Hi Terry,

Your revived thread grabbed my attention because of the mystery that still surounds my grandfathers actual work during his last couple of years as a soldier.

Whether he was in the Specials I don’t know, but I thought it worth a shot and so I am giving you all the information that I have concerning his transfer to the Royal Engineers and the work that he was doing around that time.

Taylor

Initials: W

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Sapper

Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers

Service No: 359531

On his Statement of Services it appears to say that his unit was the 4th field company.

From what I and others have been able to decipher from his war records, he probably made the switch from 9th Black Watch battalion to the Royal Engineers on the 7th of March 1918.

Here is the original thread with medal card and Statement of Services.

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...f=2&t=65319

Due to the wound he incurred in the Spring of 1916, it seems likely that he was no longer able to carry out duties in the trenches and therfore was already unoficially active working as R.E. even before his three year contract had expired.

In his letters from 1915 he reported on several occasions that whilst in reserve or after hospitalisation for minor ailments, he was helping with roads and digging trenches.

In one interesting letter from October 1917 he wrote of having to go back to the works to dispose of a plant which was similar to that which the London Fire Brigade had used. They themselves had used it to pump water into the trenches.

Other information that I have is that he worked as an electrician prior to joining up in 1914.

I would be very interested to hear of any comments that you may have.

Thanks,

Tony

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DesK161

Hi Terry,

Have details of an officer, Captain William Elliker originally a bank clerk from Derby who enlisted and was then commissioned into the Royal Fusiliers before service with the Special Bde. He is mentioned in “GAS!” The Story of the Special Brigade by Maj-Gen C.H Foulkes. He died from influenza in Feb 1919. Be happy to swap further info with you.

Des

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Jon Shattock

Terry,

I have a 1915 trio to 106182 Cpl Maurice L Wilson RE. He entered France on 17th July 1915. I'm hoping he was one on the original Special Brigade members. Are you able to confirm this and/or provide any further information on him?

Cheers,

Jon

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SKBob

Hi Terry

Other GWF members pointed me to this thread as I had posted similar asking for any info on Special F Company RE.

My man is on the small memorial to those who fell, situated in the public foyer of Great Yarmouth Norfolk (Royal Mail) Sorting Office. As yet I have not been able to establish what his job was - it doesn't appear to have been as a Postman as he isn't shown in staff books of the period as other Postmen are. Anyway he is :-

Frederick Arthur James Beck, Born Ormsby Norfolk, Enlisted Great Yarmouth Norfolk, Pioneer 128685 F Special Company Royal Engineers, formerly 22819 Norrfolk Regiment, Died of wounds 4/11/17, Buried Coxyde Military Cemetery.

If you can give me any info about F Company and /or what they were up to prior to and on 4th November 1917 I would be interested.

Regards Bob

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Tony Lund

Holmfirth’s Corporal Thorp Brook was with the gas company, and was awarded the Military Medal for his actions in November 1917, I would be interested in any information about this incident. Here is all the information I have on this man:

Thorp Brook enlisted with Tom Horsfall at Huddersfield on January 11th 1915, with B Company, 9th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment.

Tom Horsfall was hit while part of a working party of twenty men, including Thorp Brook, who were digging in No Man’s Land on Saturday August 7th 1915 and he died due to loss of blood from severe wounds in both legs, though he remained conscious to the end. Private Thorp Brook remained with him, holding his head in his arms until he could be brought in.

Thorp Brook was withdrawn from the trenches for a while for training with hand grenades. He wrote home saying:

“Our work is that of throwing hand grenades and bombs, and there is rather more risk attached to the game than ordinary rifle firing. There is much more sport and interest to be had in it, and always a sporting chance at whatever game you are at. Whatever you are doing in warfare, the job has its dangers. While we were in the trenches things were of a very lively character. The battalion we were with had been in the same trenches a fortnight, and they said they had not experienced anything like it. We did not catch the actual fire, but a regiment [this part excluded by censor] I was watching the shells drop in their trenches, and I saw one poor fellow blown up in the air right above the trees, something like ten or twelve yards. The dangerous part of the trenches, unless you get shelled or attacked, is going into them and coming out. Stray bullets are flying about in all directions and snipers are apt to be about. Bullets seem to be whistling all around you. The distance of the German trench from the one we were in was about 180 yards.

“I am writing this letter just behind one of the hottest parts of the whole line. During the night the cannonading of both the German guns and our own has been most extraordinary. We were quite close to some of our guns and the thunder from them was more than I can describe to you. Many of the German shells went crawling over us, and, thank goodness they did. I have seen one of the German aeroplanes brought down by one of our airmen. It is a daily occurrence to see then shelled. Many of our local lads are not far from where we are, but I have not come in contact with them yet.

“I have not had my trousers off yet since I came out here, only just to get a bath as best I could. At night we just take our boots off and lie down, throwing our overcoats over us. When I get back home, after what I have gone through and expect to go through, home life and civilian life will feel like heaven when compared with the conditions here, which might be termed as hell. However, through all the difficulties we have to encounter, we are not in the least downhearted. And why should we be down in spirits? We might as well be happy amongst it as otherwise. We know, at least believe, we are on the winning side, and that ere long we shall help to bring glory to our country by securing a complete victory over our enemy, the kultured Germans.

“I am sorry to know that local lads have suffered the loss of their lives in this awful struggle. It is a consolation to those to whom they belong to know that they died fighting for their country and for the homes therein, and also because we know we are fighting for the right, and we must help a right cause on to victory.”

Thorp Brook was promoted to Corporal and transferred to the Royal Engineers around September 1915, and was wounded when he was hit on the head by a piece of shrapnel in October 1915.

In November 1918, Thorp Brook was awarded the Military Medal for his actions the previous year in getting a fatally wounded sergeant out of shellfire, and later the same night undertaking dangerous work preparing for a gas attack at Cambrai. According to the local paper he was serving with E Special Company, Royal Engineers.

He finished the war a Sergeant (143011), Royal Engineers.

He was demobilised in January 1919 and returned to his pre-war work at Gledhill & Brook, grocers, Holmfirth. He was the second of their employees to be awarded a Military Medal.

Tony.

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smith.mr

My grandfather, Frank Riley Smith was in the Royal Engineers. His number was 500686. He survived the war. Can anyone help with details of his unit and his/their history please?

Many thanks, Mike Smith

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Sybil
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

Dear Terry According to the Librarian at the Royal Engineers Library Gillingham the following would have been one of the "Gas" soldiers:

223038 Spr Bertram George EMM or EMMS. D Company 321 Party, Brompton Barracks,Chatham.

The above information comes from a bible (army issue?) and an address is added - 241 Victoria Road, Gillingham, Kent (no longer standing)

We have no other information except that his home address was Wilton Wilts. he was a steam engine driver and married on 02/10/1915.

Is there any way his No. could reveal whether he was a Regular or when and in what regt. he first joined up? I understand the "specials" were volunteers.

Any information would be so helpful.

Nancy

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Sybil
Dear Terry According to the Librarian at the Royal Engineers Library Gillingham the following would have been one of the "Gas" soldiers:

223038 Spr Bertram George EMM or EMMS. D Company 321 Party, Brompton Barracks,Chatham.

The above information comes from a bible (army issue?) and an address is added - 241 Victoria Road, Gillingham, Kent (no longer standing)

We have no other information except that his home address was Wilton Wilts. he was a steam engine driver and married on 02/10/1915.

Is there any way his No. could reveal whether he was a Regular or when and in what regt. he first joined up? I understand the "specials" were volunteers.

Any information would be so helpful.

Nancy

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Black Jock

Hi, Terry, I have a chap.

Irvine, David. Pioneer, 192595.

No3 Spec. Coy. 5 Bn. Special Brigade RE.

Formerly 10394 RFA.

Born Monifieth, Angus

Address, 65 Hospital Wynd, Dundee

Dundee Peoples Journal, May 16 1925 War Memorial Supplement.

Would this man be in a Stokes Mortar Coy given that he was formerly RFA?

Tom

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SFayers
Hi, Terry, I have a chap.

Irvine, David. Pioneer, 192595.

No3 Spec. Coy. 5 Bn. Special Brigade RE.

Formerly 10394 RFA.

Born Monifieth, Angus

Address, 65 Hospital Wynd, Dundee

Dundee Peoples Journal, May 16 1925 War Memorial Supplement.

Would this man be in a Stokes Mortar Coy given that he was formerly RFA?

Tom

Hi Tom,

Given your man was in No. 3 Company he would certainly have operated Stokes Mortars. Nos. 1 - 4 Special Companies, constituting the 5th Battalion of the Special Brigade were designated as mortar companies.

This thread may be of interest to you: http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...c=64847&hl=.

Cheers

Steve

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Nick Thornicroft

Terry

Another one is Pioneer Harry Lionel St. John (129813), 5th Bn., Special Brigade, RE. Born: Ceylon; enlisted: Westminster; residence: Thornbury, Glos. Died of wounds July 2nd 1916, buried at La Neuville British Cemetery (I.A.29), to the SW of Albert. War Diary for 2/7/16 indicates the men were ordered to ".....completely fill Fricourt village with smoke for 30 minutes. [This was] cancelled at the last moment as Fricourt village was found to be evacuated. 1 O.R. died of wounds". I cannot prove conclusively the O.R. is Pioneer St. John, as the 5th Bn., S.B., had units positioned along the entire Somme Front, but it is an educated guess, as the position is fairly close to where he died. No photo, unfortunately.

Nick

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Paul Atkin

Hi Terry,

My Great Granddads brother:

Benjamin Rhodes born 1884 Parwich,Derbyshire

enlisted Bargoed,Glamorgan

Pioneer

192803

5th Battn. Spec.Bde. RE

Killed in Action 18th August 1916

Buried at Serre Road Cemetery No.2

I don't know which company he was in but am I right to assume that he'd have been in a Stokes Mortar Company because he was in the 5th Battn?

Paul

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DesK161

Are you still out there Terry?

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Stan Cornford

Terry,

I am interested in meteorologists who served in the Royal Engineers special units and what their roles were. I had always thought that they would advise on likely wind direction and strength and other things such as the likely dispersal of gas clouds. But recently, I've discovered the extent to which we, and the Germans, went over to the use of shells and, in our case, Livens projectiles, to put the gas directly among members of the opposing army, so maybe they were rather ineffective at forecasting the spread of gas and were employed more directly in its release?

The IWM web site has a photo of a Sergeant MARTIN operaing a cylinder in a trench. The National Maritime Museum has an astronomer Edgar George MARTIN who is said to have served in a Special Company of the RE. [One MARTIN, E. G. was 'KinA 9/5/15': the astronomer cannot have been him as he worked at Greenwich until well after the Second World War.]

Othe meteorologists I know of in this connection were:

Corporal Henry William Lyon ABSOLOM 242458

Corporal William CARTER 358530

Corporal Arthur COTTON 303729

Ernest GOLD (DSO) (whom I knew very slightly late in his life. He finished WW1 as Lt. Col.)

CSMjr 107496 R. Pyser (Mentioned in Despatches, Meritorious Service Medal)

2nd Lt Ralph Sidney READ

.

Anything you can tell me of the exact units and activities of these and other met. men in the Great War would be of interest to a number of people.

Many thanks for running this thread. Using it I've just discovered that a treasure house exists in the Foulkes Papers in the Liddell Hart Centre at King's College, London

Stan Cornford

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Terry_Reeves

Stan

The man in the IWM photograph is Sgt Martin Sydney Fox, who was later commissioned. He survived the war and became a schoolmaster.

All officers and many of the senior NCOs in the Brigade, were given elementary instruction in meteorology. I havn't come across the men you mention but if you give me a couple of days, I may be able to find some information on Lt Read. Lt Colonel Gold I think, became chief meteorologist for the BEF.

Terry Reeves

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n cherry

Gold was the top weather man at the BEF and was advising Haig, certainly up till Third Ypres.

Some years ago when looking for items on the Special Brigade visited the RE Museum Library (appointment needed) and they had the Special Brigade OCA newsletters which may be of help if anyone is near Chatham!

Which I'm not!

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PBI Friday

Hello Terry,

This is such a fascinating thread! I don't know much about the roles of the Special Brigades but I do have some information that you might find interesting.

While doing research on some Lancashire Fusiliers (my main focus of interest) I was able to find out a little bit about this chap, 9-3427 Cecil Wilson, through his MIC, CWGC and Soldiers Died entries.

Wilson must have transferred out of the Lancs Fusiliers and into the Royal Engineers at some stage, as he is listed also as a Sapper on the PRO MIC reference serving as number 129532. He is listed with the same number, but the rank of 'Pioneer', on the CWGC and is shown as having died on 26/12/1916 while serving with 3rd Special Brigade Royal Engineers. He is buried at Trois Abres Cemetery (Formed from Cheshire Cemetery) in Steenwerck France.

The MIC shows that he landed in Egypt 24/7/1915 as a Lance Corporal, but was 'reduced for misconduct', it is also noted in the remarks section of the card that he 'Died 26/12/1916'.

Soldiers Died shows him as being Born in Paisley Renfrewshire, having enlisted in Manchester and having died in France and Flanders.

That's as far as my limited research resources take me. I would be interested to know more about Wilson if anyone knows anything. I found it intriguing that his rank reduction was noted on the MIC and always wondered what it might have been for... I suspect it wasn't for juggling gas cannisters, but who knows ;) .

David.

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alanh

Terry

Have the following on DTI's War memorial:

209658 Pioneer Sigil T A Abdul Ali Royal Engineers Special Brigade

Killed 1 October 1917 by enemy aircraft whilst in hospital, buried Louguenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. As he is not listed by the Board of Trade as serving until 1917, I presume he was a conscript.

Alan

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SiegeGunner

Just to amplify Abdul-Ali, he was with the SB Depot, so presumably based at Helfaut. St Omer was a fair distance behind the lines, so his death as a result of enemy aircraft action while in hospital is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps if his story were posted on 'War in the Air', someone would know what was going on in that sector on 1.10.17?

Mick

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