Nos. 7 & 8 Army Troop Companies in World War 1
from Low & Everett’s history of the Regiment

Formed 25th January, 1917.
Embarked 9th June, 1917, for B.E.F.

These were war-time Companies. They were small Companies commanded by a Captain. Establishment was 3 officers and approximately 100 other ranks (No. 7 embarked with 3 officers and 133 other ranks). They were equipped with horsed transport. On arrival in France in June, 1917, they were sent to Deauville for work on the large hospital base which was then under construction, necessary because of the sinking of hospital ships by enemy U-boats.


On embarkation the Coy. was commanded by Captain H. E. Moore, who had been brought home from No. 1 Siege Coy for the purpose. On 23rd October, 1917, Moore was promoted Major and posted back to No. 1 Coy. to command. Huth was cross-posted from No. 6 to relieve him.

On 10th December, 1917, the Coy. was moved to III Army for work under C.R.E. III Army Troops. It detrained at Albert and reached Varennes by march route. During January/February and the first part of March, 1918, the Coy. was employed erecting ammunition sheds at various places—Bapaume, le Transloy, Dainville, etc. in the Army Area.

The German attack of March, 1918 was now about to break. The Coy. spent March 24th constructing trenches etc. in Logeast Wood. At 9 p.m. the same night they were turned out and stood-to under arms all night. Next day, March 25th they were withdrawn about 5 miles to put the village of Hebuterne in a state of defence and they spent the night digging trenches. At 12 noon next day, the 26th, shell fire became heavy and for a while they were withdrawn to find what cover they could, but very soon they were sent to man some trenches against a strong enemy patrol which was moving to capture the village, and the Coy. gallantly held on until about 3 p.m. when they were relieved by infantry. During this action, 2nd Lt. A. T. T. Lindsay was killed and seven other ranks wounded. The Coy. had now spent 3 days and two nights working, marching and fighting and they were then withdrawn and put to work on rear defences. This point on the British Front was in effect the north hinge of the “bulge” which the German attack on the Somme produced. Captain Huth was in hospital for a week at the end of April and during this time 2nd Lt. Hoffert was the only officer left with the Coy. and he was severely wounded on June 6th.

On August 8th, 1918 the Allied attack began “the Hundred Days” which finished the war. Until August 20th, when work on rear defences was stopped, the Coy. had been on 3rd Army rear lines, Puchevillers, Souastre, Coigneux. In early September the Coy. was under C.E. IV Corps in the Gommecourt area, chiefly on water supply and butting for the winter.

In October, 1918, the Coy. had followed up the advance of our troops, and the 18th found them in the vicinity of the Sheldt Canal engaged on water supply and the construction of “canvas bridges.” The War Diary is unfortunately not very informative about this. These may have been dummy bridges to draw some of the enemy fire away from the cork float assault foot bridges which were just coming into use for the crossing of the Canal. After the crossing of the Canal, a detachment under Sgt. Williams was employed on bridge maintenance.

The Armistice found the Coy. at Cambrai where it was for a while employed on the maintenance of R.E. installations, including a soda water factory and a laundry!

The Coy. was disbanded in France in June, 1919. It had 4 fatal casualties.

Note: Capt. Huth originally belonged to the submarine Miners (Militia) Harwich Div. When submarine mining ceased to be R.E. responsibility, the militia units were disbanded. Huth joined the R.M.R.E. but resigned before 1914. He rejoined after the outbreak of war.

2nd Lt. Lindsay was the third son of Lt.-Col. H. E. Morgan Lindsay. His two elder brothers, both regular gunners, were killed, one commanding his battery and the other in a flying accident.

On embarkation the Coy. was commanded by Captain R. F. C. Elmslie who had been wounded early in 1915 while serving with No. 4 Coy. The subalterns were L. H. Heald and E. Cooke-Yaborough.

From June, 1917 on landing in France until 30th October, 1917, the Coy. was employed at Trouville on similar work to No. 7. It was then moved to the Italian theatre of war to Arquata Scrivia.

It is difficult to piece together the doings of the Coy. after arrival in Italy as the War Diary is scrappy in the extreme. Elmslie recalls that No. 8 was actually the first sapper unit to arrive in Italy. On arrival it was immediately split, and more than half the Coy. was sent to the front under Heald, who had E. Cooke-Yarborough with him. Elmslie remained behind at Arquata Scrivia with the remainder of the Coy., consisting chiefly of tradesmen and men who were not medically fit. He was made up to Coy. strength by collecting “stray” officers and various rank and file and became a nameless works Coy. Heald’s half Coy. became in effect a Field Coy. and Elmslie states he lost track of them.

It is by no means clear to which half Coy. the entries in the War Diary refer, quite possibly to both.

The Diary states that in June, 1918, Lt. Heald transferred to the 528 (Durham) Fd. Coy. and that Lt. J. Nelson from the same Coy. joined in his place. In July 1918, Nelson was evacuated to hospital and Captain C. E. J. Luck was posted to command the Coy.

Meanwhile on the 23rd June, 1918, Elmslie left for Cremona; on 3rd August, 1918 he is recorded as rejoining to command. What happened to Luck is not mentioned. February, 1919 is the last entry in the Diary, at which date Elmslie was still the Coy. Commander. Presumably the Coy. was disbanded soon after this.

One thing is clear, that this unfortunate Coy. became “nobody’s own” and lost its identity.

Elmslie who has no notes to help him, says that the “Works” half Coy. remained at Arquata Scrivia until the end of the war. Just before this he left for Constantinople (Istanbul) whence he was sent to Anatolia in charge of water supply (D.O.R.E.). There he remained for several months and then went to Salonika to take over the large R.E. Base Store Depot until it was disposed of to a civilian concern.

The Coy. suffered 2 fatal casualties. It was probably disbanded in Italy early in 1919.