Authorised by Army Council Instruction 1209 of 1916, the Middlesex Regiment formed two labour battalions, numbered 30th and 31st (Works) Battalions, manned by recruits who were naturalised British citizens but of enemy alien parentage. The men mainly came from German backgrounds and were for the most part not of low medical grade (such as was the case with the units of the Labour Corps). The two units remained in England as part of the regiment and were never transferred to the Labour Corps.
The Infantry Labour Companies are formed
In addition to the two battalions, the regiment raised eight Infantry Labour Companies from these men. As far as can be determined the two battalions acted as a depot for the ILCs. Very little is known of the activities of these units, except that they came under authority of the GHQ Labour Directorate and proceeded to France as follows:
1 (Alien) Infantry Labour Company – 6 March 1917
2 Infantry Labour Company – 2 April 1917
3 Infantry Labour Company – 14 March 1917
4 Infantry Labour Company – 26 March 1917
5 Infantry Labour Company – April 1917?
6 Infantry Labour Company – April 1917?
7 Infantry Labour Company – July 1917?
8 Infantry Labour Company – 24 December 1917
Some men of enemy alien parentage were transferred into these units from others, where they had already been serving, and in some cases protests were made at the loss to the original unit of a good, experienced man. This was recognised by the issue of Army Council Instruction 1613 of August 1916, which allowed the original units to retain such men if needed.
2 ILC was reported by Third Army to have moved to Agnex-les-Duisans on 4 May 1917.
It is known that 4 ILC was working in Nieppe Forest in June 1917.
4 ILC reported by Third Army to have arrived at Bailleul for work on an aerodrome 28 October 1917.
3 ILC joined XXII Corps at Bollezeeele from Second Army on 31 May 1918 (XXII Corps adjutant’s diary).
6 ILC joined XXII Corps at Molliens-Vidame on 27 June 1918; it left for Fourth Army on 29 June (XXII Corps adjutant’s diary).
It is known that 8ILC was working in the Arras area in September 1918.
In all the eight ILCs numbered some 4000 men.