11 indep fd sqn reverted back to 11 Fd Sqn 1970
HISTORY OF 11 FIELD SQUADRON ROYAL ENGINEERS (1787 - 1980)
This is from Chris Smith.
In 1787 the Corps of Royal Military Artificers was authorised and six service companies were raised for work on fortifying the home ports. The officers came from the newly named Corp of Royal Engineers. Six more companies were raised in 1793 for active service in Canada and the West Indies. One of these companies served in Nova Scotia with a detachment in the West Indies, and in 1806 was numbered 11th Field Company. It was based in Halifax whose coat of arms includes the tiny golden-crested kingfisher which was, in time, adopted as the Squadron emblem (known affectionately by the soldiers as the “budgie”) As a result of the increased importance of military fieldworks carried out by the Royal Military Artificers, they were renamed Royal Sappers and Miners in 1813. In 1854 11th Field Company took part in the Crimean campaign, remaining there for two years before moving to India in 1857. The previous year saw the Royal Sappers and Miners integrated with the officers of the Royal Engineers, henceforward becoming known as the Corps of Royal Engineers. The Company was involved in the later stages of the Indian Mutiny until it became a Fortress Company in India from 1858 onwards. It reverted to being called a Field Company again in 1887. Meanwhile the Company moved to Egypt in 1885 and were dispatched to the Sudan as part of the force sent to try and relieve General Gordon besieged by Mahdist dervishes in Khartoum. In 1899, 11th Field Company embarked for service in South Africa as part of 1st Division. Under the command of Lord Methuen they took part in the relief of Kimberley and then remained in Western Transvaal as railway troops for the next three years. (A troop Commander during this period was Lieutenant CB Thompson who later became Lord Thompson, Secretary of State for Air, and was killed in the airship R101 disaster in October 1930) Elements of 11th Field Company were involved in the siege of Mafeking before the Company returned to England in 1901 and was based at Shornecliffe. It was in 1914 that the Company was sent to France as part of 2nd Division and became involved in the infamous retreat from Mons when they marched 256 miles. On the subsequent advance they built pontoon and trestle bridges over the Rivers Marne and Aisne. That same year they acted as infantry during the first battle of Ypres. Still with 2nd Division, in 1928 the Company were to be found in Aldershot but reduced to 4 officers and 132 men and formed into two half companies each commanded by a Lieutenant. The unit MT consisted of one motor cycle, the remaining transport being horse drawn wagons and limbers. The sappers had also designed hand-drawn rool carts. The officers usually owned their own chargers. By 1932 the Company had been reduced further to cadre strength. In 1939, 11th Field Company was mobilised at Aldershot and sent to France as part of 2nd Division in the British Expeditionary Force.
The Company was withdrawn from France in 1940 and trained for the Middle East where they took part in the Western Desert campaign the following year. During the latter stages of World War II the Company moved to North West Europe as part of 44 Division and later became a unit in 30 Corps before being disbanded in 1947. In 1948, 50 Field Squadron, part of 32nd Assault Engineers and based at Perham Down, moved to Honk Kong as 50 Independent Field Squadron. They were based at Castle Peak for a short while as they moved to Sek Kong in the new territories soon after to be renamed 11 Field Squadron, part of 40 Division. The unit was officially designated as 11th Field Squadron on 1 January 1950. In 1951 the Squadron changed its name yet again, becoming an Independent Field Squadron and moving to Klagenfurt in Austria before returning to Chatham two years later. In 1954 the Squadron moved to Malaya and, during the Emergency in 1960, was based at Butterworth, Province Wellesley, becoming the Field Squadron of 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade. The accommodation was in atap partially-open-sided huts within a coconut plantation. A Field Troup of Royal Australian Engineers joined the Squadron and became 2 Troop. During 1960 to 1962 the Squadron carried out many Engineer tasks on behalf of the Malay government, some in support of operations against the Communist Terrorists in Malaya. One notable improvised road project was from Grik to Kuala Rui in Upper Perak where re-supply was by air drop courtesy of 55 Company Air Despatch, also based at Butterworth in a camp adjoining the Squadron. In 1962 the Squadron moved to Terendak Camp, about 13 miles from Malacca town. This camp was purpose built, the size and facilities of a large town, containing the units of 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade. Between July and November that same year, the squadron were in North Borneo at Kota Belud, about 50 miles from Jesselton (now named Kota Kinabalu) on the Tempasuk River bridge project. The squadron was housed at “Paradise Camp” accommodation being tents. All other buildings were GGI huts. The camp had to be built before erection of the bridge could commence. In 1963 the Squadron was involved in exercises and operations in Sarawak before moving to Thailand for Operation Crown, the construction of an airfield and roads for the Thai Government. After 15 years continuous service in the Far East, the Squadron left Malaysia on 14 January 1970. The colours were carried to Ripon by a small cadre lead by Cpl Dave Kelly. The rest of the Squadron’s property being passed on a caretaker basis to 73 Field Squadron who were in Sharjah at the time. On 1 January 1970, 11 Field Squadron was formed from 73 Field Squadron as part of 38 Engineer Regiment in Ripon. The priority one role was support to the RAF Harrier Force in Germany, although in 1971 the Squadron was back in Hong Kong for a 4 month tour.
Later in 1971 the Squadron undertook its first operational tour in Northern Ireland as part of 8 Airportable Brigade. Following this tour the Squadron was split three ways with a troop on the Europa Road project in Gibraltar, a troop in Belize and a third troop and Squadron Headquarters supporting Harrier exercises in BAOR. It was during the Squadrons second tour of duty in Northern Ireland that the Squadron Commander, Major Richard Jarman RE, was killed by an IRA booby trap during a search operation on the border on 21 July 1973. The Squadron was based at Castledillon in County Armagh and supporting 3 Infantry Brigade in the rural areas. The following year the Squadron returned to Ulster again to stand by for assistance to the civil powers during the Ulster workers’ council power strike. The Squadron has had a number of nicknames in the past from the “Uprights” (circa 1900) to “Legs Eleven” (World War II). The emblem of the Golden Crested Kingfisher achieved fame during the 1973 Northern Ireland tour where the Brigade codeword for an unsuccessful search operation was “Duff Budgie” In January 1975, a hundred years after General Gordon, 11 Field Squadron was sent to Southern Sudan to assist the civil administration in recovering from seventeen years of civil war and rebuild Mundri Bridge. In 1977 saw the Squadron in both Salalah and Belize. On return to UK the Fireman’s’ strike meant a busy period when fire engines were manned in Leeds, Huddersfield and Halifax. The Squadron returned to Northern Ireland in 1978 to build the CQBR at Ballykinler. This tour added several honours to the Squadron role with Captain Collett receiving an MBE and Staff Sergeant Smith and Sergeant Peck receiving BEMs. One year later another successful Op Descant tour at Castledillon, Forkhill and Crossmaglen meant 3 MID’s and 5 GOC’s Commendations being awarded to Squadron personnel. February 1979 was an exchange month, when 13 Pioneer Battalion came across from the USA to take the Squadron’s place in Ripon, whilst the Legs Eleven had an enjoyable month in Ripon, California.
From Major Steve Barton, USA Retired - As a participant in that exchange on the American side I suggest that the sentence should say "February 1979 was an exchange month, when B Company, 13 Engineer Battalion came across from the USA to take the Squadron’s place in Ripon, whilst the Legs Eleven had an enjoyable month in Monterey, California." I was a Second Lieutenant and Platoon Leader in B Company and had a thoroughly enjoyable, albeit cold and snowy (!), month in Ripon and environs. The 13th Engr Bn was part of the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, California. Fort Ord is now closed, but beautiful Monterey is still next door. Ripon, California may well have been a place that 11 Squadron visited, but it is in the central valley 120 miles from the Army post and the California coast. Thanks for the memories and all the best,
-In 1980, 11 Field Squadron went on another Harrier exercise in Germany, a commando exercise in Norway and finally the budgie turned crow for five weeks as HMP Frankland was taken over duringPrison Officers strike. Luckily the Regiment got out on good behaviour, two days before Christmas.