Royal Anglesey Royal Engineers

This unusual element of the Corps of Royal Engineers had originally been a unit of the Militia but became a unit of the Special Reserve when it was formed in 1908. It shared with the similar Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers the distinction of twice having the word “royal” in its full title. The name sometimes appears as “RARE (SR)” in documents of the Great War era.

Note: the Royal Anglesey Royal Engineers is sometimes shown with references that imply it was a unit of the Territorial Force. An example is Second Lieutenant Francis Verschoyle’s entry in the “Bond of Sacrifice”. All such references are in error.

From the “Manchester Evening News” of Friday 2 January 1914 (which, note, was after the recruiting events described!). Despite its Anglesey location and roots, the RARE(SR) appears to have recruited across a wide area of the Wales and England. Recruitment was also going on in Birmingham in 1914. (Clipping thanks to British Newspaper Archive).

Depot

Beaumaris, Anglesey. The RARE had long since used Kingsbridge Camp, Llanfais, and militia activity can be traced there as far back as 1683.

Units

Details given are accurate but this section is an incomplete work in progress

  • 1st Siege Company
    • Existed before the war. Was sent after mobilisation for duties at Belfast.
    • 4 November 1914 landed at Le Havre in France from the ship “Blackwell”, reported as 6 officers and 215 men
    • Company remained in France throughout rest of the war. Locations and details in its war diary, which unfortunately does not exist before 30 September 1915, on which date it was at Riez Bailleul
    • Final cadre proceeded to England on 25 June 1919.
  • 2nd Siege Company
    • Formed at the depot 1 September 1914 as 2 Siege (Holyhead) Company
    • 19 November 1914 arrived Brompton Barracks, Chatham
    • 13 December 1914 departed from Southampton, landed next day at Le Havre in France
    • 26 December 1914 arrived at Saint-Omer and marched out to Tatinghem
    • Company remained in France throughout rest of the war. Locations and details in its war diary.
  • 3rd Railway Company
    • Existed as unnumbered Railway Company before the war with establishment set at 5 officers and 145 men
    • Left depot for Railway Troops Depot at Longmoor, Hampshire, late August 1914
    • 10 November 1914 departed from Longmoor in Hampshire and embarked at Southampton, landed next day at Le Havre in France from the ship “Manchester Importer” (Le Havre Base reported its departure on 15 November)
    • 16 November 1914 arrived at Saint-Omer and marched out to Campagne-lès-Wardrecques
    • 30 June 1915 company diary ends with company being at Audruicq
  • 4th Siege Company
    • Formed at the depot in November and December 1915, but majority of men were from Sunderland and other parts of the North East of England
    • 26-27 May 1916 moved by train to Southampton, landed at Le Havre in France 28 May
    • 31 May 1915 arrived at Rouen
    • Company remained in France throughout rest of the war. Locations and details in its war diary
    • Company was given the honour of proceeding into Germany as part of the Army of Occupation. Its war diary ends at Euskirchen on 20 June 1919, on which date the company was finally disbanded.
  • 5th Siege Company
    • Formed at the depot in November 1914 with men mainly from Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Sunderland
    • Amongst other work while in training, company erected huts at Kingsbridge Camp
    • 15 August 1915 at depot and renamed as 5 (Fortress) Company
    • 23 August 1915 left from Bangor Station for Devonport
    • 24 August 1915 sailed in “Empress of Britain”, coaled at Malta on 31 August, arrived at Mudros 3 September
    • 9 September 1915 sailed on “Queen Louise” and disembarked next day at “A” Beach, Suvla Bay, Gallipoli
    • 15-16 December 1915 half company evacuated to Mudros West; remainder on 17-18 December
    • … company later served in Egypt, Palestine and France; later as 5 Field Company
  • Reserve Battalion
    • Details as yet not found except that it was located at Beaumaris and organised into lettered depot companies.

Sources

  • War diaries (National Archives WO95 series) 403, 485, 3150, 4052, 4279, 4443, 4675
  • “Work of the RE in the European War, 1914-19: the organisation and expansion of the corps, 1914-18”.
From “The Sunderland Echo and Shipping Gazette” of Monday 12 November 1934, reporting on a recent old comrades runion. The strong link between RARE(SR) and the town of Sunderland was maintained. (British Newspaper Archive)

Links

Corps of Royal Engineers

The Special Reserve