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203rd (Cambs) Field Company Royal Engineers

Compiled and Copyright © Cliff Brown - 2001

No. 3 Section, 203rd (Cambs) Field Company, Royal Engineers

From an old postcard - click the image for a better image

Extract from Cambridge Independent Press - Friday 17 March 1916

A Short History of the Field Company


Jan 1915

Cambs & Isle of Ely Terriotorial Force Association asked War Office for permission to raise a Field Coy. Col T W Harding took temporary command.

March 1915

Formed 15-3-15. First man to enlist was Mr H J Crane, of Histon, No 84210. Based at Drill Hall, East Rd, Cambridge. Major W N D Caple, RE, took command.

April 1915

Moved to Wisbech.

July 1915

Moved to join 35th (Bantam) Division at Fearby Camp, near Ripon, Yorks.

Sept 1915

Complete training at Chiseldon Camp, six miles from Swindon. 203rd in 104th Brigade. Major Caple replaced by Major K W Pye. Capt H A Douglas joined as 2ic.

Nov 1915

Division to Perham Down Camp, Tidworth.


Jan 1916

Coy into four sections of 1 officer, 1 sgt & about 40 OR, plus HQ section of 2 officers, CSM, CQMS, mounted men & specialists. Officers: Major K W Pye, oc; Capt H A Douglas, 2ic; Lt G V Colchester (No 1 section), F Summers (No 2), J W Lloyd-Davies (No 3), W S Laidlaw (No 4). Proceeded overseas 28-1-16 from Southampton and arrived at 4pm 29-1-16. On 30-1-16 took train to St Omer.

Feb 1916

On 4-2-16 marched with brigade to Recquinham. 18-2-16, division moved forward to Widdebrouck, then to Riez du Vinage, 12 miles from Givenchy front line. 20-2-16, No 1 + 2 sections went to Gorre, with first work at Cuinchy on draining trenches. After two weeks moved to Lacouture, worked at night in front line.

March 1916

21-3-16 Division to Neuve Chapelle & Armentieres.

April 1916

First casualties - Major K W Pye and Lt W S Laidlaw wounded; Laidlaw sent to England. Lt G Meadows arrived to take charge of No 4 section. 15-4-16: Division to Lacouture.

May 1916

1-5-16, first other rank casualty - Spr Alf Whybrow, No 1 sect, shot in head by sniper while working in front line. Sent to England, recovered and discharged unfit.

June 1916

17-6-16, leave the sector. 11 day stay near Bethune. 28-6-16, to Ostraville, near St Pol.

July 1916

2-7-16, to Bouquemacson, near Doullens. Division to take part in Battle of the Somme. Then to Bus-les-Artois & then outskirts of Mailly-Maillet. 9-7-16, to Harponville, then Albert. 10/11-7-16 - casualties to No 1 section in front line at La Boiselle. 13-7-16: Left Albert for Morlancourt, five days. 18-7-16, moved between to Bray and Maricourt.

21-7-16, Carnoy Valley, several casualties between 24 & 26-7-16. Working at night around Maltz Horn Farm & Arrowhead Copse. 31-7-16: To Vaux.

Aug 1916

Amiens until 10-8-16 & back to Vaux. 15-8-16, Happy Valley & then to ÔThe CitadelÕ near Carnoy. Employed building dugouts around Fricourt, Mametz & Trones Wood. Lt R K Uhthoff joined and took command of No 1 section. 21-8-16: Moved to Heilly, then train to Candas, near Doullens, then Le Souich, then Habarcq.

Sept 1916

4-9-16, No 1 + 3 sections to Arras, No 2 + 4 sections + HQ to Louez, near Arras. Working in I Sector (Iron St, Ibex Ave, etc). Spent period 4-9-16 to 4-12-16 in the same sector. First casualties in No 3 section.

Dec 1916

4-12-16, relieved to Magnicourt. 8-12-16, to Arras for work on dugouts for three weeks. 27-12-16, relieved.


Jan 1917

converting barns into billets until Feb 1917.

Feb 1917

2-2-17, moved to Barly, then St Vaast en Chausie. Lt F Summers goes to CRE staff. 17-2-17, to Wiencourt camp, then Caix, draining trenches.

March 1917

29-3-17, started to follow German retirement.

April 1917

26-4-17, Vermand. Capt H S Semple MC joined. Work on dugouts.

May 1917

3-5-17, to Holnon Wood. 19-5-17, relieved, to Poeuily, near Peronne. No 1 + 4 worked at Heudecourt & Villers Guislain, building forward observation posts.

June 1917

14-6-17, Major K W Pye & Lt M P Jones left for India. Major Semple MC became oc. Lt F L Gee took over No 3. Lt J W Lloyd-Davies MC, temporarily left to be adjutant to CRE.

July 1917

6-7-17, to Ronssoy, near Epehy. Preparing for 35th Div attack on Gillemont Farm. 19-8-17, No 2+ 4 sections in No ManÕs Land at night building wire entanglements. 26-8-17, Germans retook lost ground. No 3 section spent three nights erecting wire.

Sept 1917

5-9-17, 8.30pm during shelling of Ronssoy, Major H S Semple, Lt G S Blake, F L Gee leaving mess room at ruined house when shell hit Semple breaking both legs, blew Blake and Gee to pieces, & Capt R Uhthoff wounded, but Lt C C Duchesne untouched. Two batmen wounded. Back to Villers Faucon. Capt Lloyd-Davies became commanding officer, promoted Major. Following officers arrived - Capt A J G Denny, 2ic; Lt E Mallinson, No 2; Lt G Langham, No 3; Lt L Holden, reserve officer. Lt C C Duchesne & Lt W S Laidlaw completed the strength. 28-9-17, division to Peronne.

Oct 1917

12/13-10-17, train to Belgium, to Esquelbeck, near Proven. 15-10-17, to Elverdinghe, five miles from Ypres. Four days later, No 1 + 2 sections sent up to consolidate area captured by 35th Div at Ney Farm. Next day No 1 section took charge of RE dump three miles away. 23-10-17: Remainder of coy to Rugby Camp.

Nov 1917

5-11-17, coy moved forward to Canal Bank at Boesinghe. 15-11-17, forward to Caledonia Fort, near St Julien. 23-11-17, another tragedy to officers mess at 8pm. Germans shelled a crossroads & shell fell short and killed Lt W S Laidlaw and wounded Lt J Langham. Reinforcements - Lt M G Tate & C Legg. Worked on building pill boxes.

Dec 1917

12-12-17, on Canal Bank. Major J W Lloyd-Davies, appointed Acting-CRE; Capt A Denny, 2ic, took command. 25-12-17, to Caledonian Fort for one week.


Jan 1918

3-1-18, to Watau. 8-1-18, moved forward to Cane Trench (near Caledonian Fort). Capt M L Cobb MC arrived. Worked on improving front line posts.

March 1918

21-3-18, transfered to Maricourt, Somme. By 26-3-18 division was at Happy Valley, Bray. 27-3-18, to Bresle. Germans shelled area.

April 1918

3-4-18, to Frechencourt for three days. 6-4-18, to Contay. 8-4-18, to Warloy, 35th Div near Aveluy Wood. 23-4-18, to valley behind Senlis, strengthening reserve system in Engelbelmer line.

May 1918

1-5-18, relieved, to Toutencourt. Lt J B Richardson joined. 4-5-18, worked on reserve line until 10-5-18. 22-5-18, to area of Aveluy Wood, coy near Warloy.

June 1918

British to attack Aveluy Wood on 1-6-18, No 2 & 3 sections assist infantry. 7-6-18, Germans shell valley, one dropped among No 2 section killing five sleeping men, including three holders of MM.

16-6-18, Maj J W Lloyd-Davies MC, oc, invalided with flu. Coy stayed in area one month. Relieved to near Doullens, then train to St Omer and moved to Watou.

July/Aug 1918

5-7-18, division took over line near Westoutre. MonthÕs work on front line defences. Light casualties. 9-8-18, relieved, coy to Cassel until 26-8-18. Moved to Zillebeke Lake sector for general trench work.

Sept 1918

27-9-18, moved forward to Zillebeke Lake to assist attack. Cleared roads for artillery, advanced nine miles. 30-9-18, to Ypres-Menin Road near Gheluveld.

October 1918

Advance continued. Coy continued to repair roads and also involved in bridging River Lys. 20-10-18, into Wevelghem. 24-10-18, to Sweveghem, near River Scheldt. 27-10-18, coy advanced behind infantry and then into billets at Belcestraat.

November 1918

Rehearsing bridge building. 8-11-18, bridge parties moved up to Waermarde, bridging and returned to Ingoyhem. Work continued on 10/11-11-18. 13-11-18, to Renaix. 18-11-18, division back to Berchem & Harlebeke, three miles from Courtrai, for nine days. 28-11-18, to Menin, Ypres, then Steenvoorde.

December 1918

2-12-18, to Volkerinckhove, near St Omer, to area allotted to 35th Div. OC was Capt R C Stonner. 21-12-18, demobilisation commenced.


April 1919

16-4-19, coy reduced to cadre of two officers & 55 OR. 21-4-19, to St Omer & Dunkirk.

May 1919

3-5-19, embarked for Southampton, arrived 4-5-19. Cadre to Ripon, disbanding area for 35th Div. 8-5-19, remainder of coy demobbed.

June 1919

Last man demobbed was CQMS W G Shipp on 4-6-19, leaving oc Capt R C Stonner to complete disbandment of coy.

Last updated 22 March, 2022

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