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Quarrying Companies Royal Engineers in World War I: a geologically constrained innovation to support British armies on the Western Front

By
Edward P. F. Rose
Edward P. F. Rose
Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK ted.rose@earth.oxon.org
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Published:
January 01, 2019

Abstract

Quarrying Companies were a new type of unit first raised within the Royal Engineers in World War I. Thirteen served in northern France, on the Western Front: two from late 1916 (198 and 199 Quarrying Companies) and 11 more from 1917 (320–329 and 348 Quarrying Companies). Recruited from Great Britain, Ireland and the Channel Island of Guernsey, each consisted of four officers and 264 soldiers; over 3000 men in total, assisted by c. 4000 less skilled labourers. They were used to support the British Expeditionary Force by providing ‘stone’, mostly from existing quarries near Marquise, NE of the port of Boulogne. There they excavated Devonian and Carboniferous ‘limestones’ in the Ferques Inlier, relatively strong rocks within a region of wide Mesozoic and Cenozoic outcrop. As the British Expeditionary Force expanded to a peak of five armies and c. 1.5 million troops, ‘stone’ was required for the enhancement or repair of the roads, railways and associated facilities that formed a crucial element of its infrastructure, essential for the efficient movement of soldiers and their copious supplies of food, stores and ammunition. The requirement ceased soon after the end of hostilities and all Quarrying Companies Royal Engineers were disbanded in 1919.

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Contents

Military Aspects of Geology: Fortification, Excavation and Terrain Evaluation
CONTAINS OPEN ACCESS

E.P.F. Rose
E.P.F. Rose
Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
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J. Ehlen
J. Ehlen
formerly US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, USA
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U. L. Lawrence
U. L. Lawrence
Capita Property & Infrastructure Ltd, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
473
ISBN electronic:
9781786204189
Publication date:
January 01, 2019

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