Army Tramways Companies of the Royal Engineers


The following information is extracted from a document contained with the war diary of the British Third Army Chief Engineer (WO95/383), which drew upon GHQ order RE/G/11101 of 6 March 1917.


The duties of the Army Tramway Company, which was a unit of the Royal Engineers, would be the construction, maintenance and operation of the trench tramways system, in advance [that is, more forward of] the light railways operated by the Director General of Transport.


Trench railway at “Oxford Circus” on the outskirts of Arras, April 1917. IWM image Q5094. The image shows a typical 2-foot guage trench tramway.

Four such companies were allotted to Third Army, and an officer and a small staff was attached to the Chief Engineer for the administration of those companies. Other companies were attached to the other British Armies in France and Flanders.

On 21 February 1918 orders were received that the Trench Tramway Companies would be absorbed into new Foreway Companies RE.


Captain, in command 1
Subalterns 2
Company Quartermaster Sgt 1
Sergeants 6
Corporals 7 of which 1 would be for pay duties
2nd Corporals 6
Sappers 23 including six Lance Corporals and one Clerk
Pioneers 60 including four Lance Corporals
Staff-Sergeants RE 2 for Military Foreman of Works, 1 for Engineering Ledger Keeper and Storeman
Attached infantry Privates 3 to be employed as officers batmen
Transport for use by Trench Tramway Cmpany
Riding horses 3
Bicycles 10


The Corps of Royal Engineers