Quarrying Companies Royal Engineers in World War I: a geologically constrained innovation to support British armies on the Western Front
Published:January 01, 2019
Edward P. F. Rose, 2019. "Quarrying Companies Royal Engineers in World War I: a geologically constrained innovation to support British armies on the Western Front", Military Aspects of Geology: Fortification, Excavation and Terrain Evaluation, E.P.F. Rose, J. Ehlen, U. L. Lawrence
Download citation file:
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.
Figures & Tables
Military Aspects of Geology: Fortification, Excavation and Terrain Evaluation
This book complements the Geological Society’s Special Publication 362: Military Aspects of Hydrogeology. Generated under the auspices of the Society’s History of Geology and Engineering Groups, it contains papers from authors in the UK, USA, Germany and Austria. Substantial papers describe some innovative engineering activities, influenced by geology, undertaken by the armed forces of the opposing nations in World War I. These activities were reactivated and developed in World War II. Examples include trenching from World War I, tunnelling and quarrying from both wars, and the use of geologists to aid German coastal fortification and Allied aerial photographic interpretation in World War II. The extensive introduction and other chapters reveal that ‘military geology’ has a longer history. These chapters relate to pre-twentieth century coastal fortification in the UK and the USA; conflict in the American Civil War; long-term ‘going’ assessments for German forces; tunnel repair after wartime route denial in Hong Kong; and tunnel detection after recent insurgent improvisation in Iraq.