What was a Divisional, Area or Home Service Employment Company of the Labour Corps?

The establishment and composition of an Employment Company was defined in Army Council Instruction 837 of 23 May 1917

Establishment of the Companies

Divisional and Area Employment Companies would be formed under orders of the Field Marshal Commander-in-Chief and would be numbered between 204 and 294.

Home Service Employment Companies would be formed by the home commands:

  • Scottish Command: Companies numbered 450 to 469;
  • Northern Command: 470 to 534;
  • Western Command: 535 to 574;
  • Eastern Command: 575 to 614;
  • Southern Command: 615 to 652;
  • Irish Command: 653 to 669;
  • Aldershot Command: 670 to 684;
  • London District: 685 up.

Depot Employment Companies would also be formed by the home commands. They would be quartered along with the Depot Labour Companies and would be tasked with providing drafts for overseas Employment Companies and maintaining the home Employment Companies at the required strength; to receive labour personnel returned from Employment Companies overseas and made surplus to requirements by Labour Corps units at home; to receive personnel transferred to the Labour Corps from other corps and recruits allotted to the Labour Corps.

  • Scottish Command: 359 Depot Employment Company;
  • Northern Command: 360 Depot Employment Company;
  • Western Command: 362 Depot Employment Company;
  • Eastern Command: 363 Depot Employment Company;
  • Southern Command: 364 Depot Employment Company;
  • Irish Command: 361 Depot Employment Company;
  • Aldershot Command: 365 Depot Employment Company;
  • London District: 366 Depot Employment Company.

A Labour Corps Base Depot was also formed in France.

What did the Employment Companies do?

The Officer Commanding each Employment Company was to maintain a list of men, categorised into the forms of employment for which they were best suited:

  • Batman
  • Cook
  • Storeman or Caretaker
  • Sanitary Duty
  • Orderly
  • Clerk
  • Tailor
  • Shoemaker
  • Policeman
  • Butcher
  • Regimental Institute
  • Salvage
  • Loader and Brakesman
  • Bath and Drying Room
  • Laundry
  • Traffic Control
  • Telephone Operator.

The companies took over this wide variety of work once they had been established.

The Divisional Employment Companies each came under command of the headquarters of a Division, while the Area Employment Companies came under orders of a Corps (sometimes Army or Lines of Communication) command.

Imperial War Museum photograph Q29181. Laundry, No. 1. Convalescent Camp, Boulogne, 6 October 1916. Such tasks became part of the wide variety of work taken over on the formation of the Employment Companies in 1917.

Composition of a Divisional, Area or Home Service Employment Company

Headquarters

  • 1 Major or Captain in command;
  • 1 Lieutenant or Second Lieutenant;
  • 1 Company Quartermaster Sergeant (also performing the duties of a Company Sergeant Major);
  • 1 Orderly Room Clerk;
  • 1 Batman.

Employment

  • 270 Non-Commissioned Officers and Privates
  • The number of NCOs would not exceed 1 Sergeant for every 60 Privates; 1 Corporal for every 30; 1 Lance-Corporal for every 24.
  • Up to 40 of the men in a Divisional Employment Company may be of medical category “A”; Area Employment Companies would have no man higher than B2.
  • Every endeavour would be made to ensure that Home Service Employment Companies only had men of the lowest possible categories, with those above being released to a Depot Employment Company for drafting overseas.

Movement of troops into and out of Employment Companies

Men placed in medical category “A” would be transferred to Reserve Infantry Battalions;

Men placed in medical categories B1, B2, C1 and C2 would be available for drafting overseas or posting to Employment Companies at home;

Men placed in medical categories B3 and C3 would be placed into a Home Service Employment Company. On being posted, they would relieve a man of the B2 category who would then be posted to a Depot Employment Company.

Men in the Employment Companies in France would be subject to inspection by Medical Boards and their categorisation either maintained or re-set accordingly. Instructions for their disposal would be issued in accordance with their medical classification.

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Labour Corps

Definitions of other types of units