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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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