My Memories of 7 Field Squadron Royal Engineers
Welcome to my memories of 7 Field Squadron Royal Engineers, better known by many as 'Shiny 7'. The purpose of this site is to share my memories with anyone who is interested. I hope members of the Squadron during this era will be reminded of fond memories. Additionally, I hope members since this era, and indeed all visitors, will learn something about how life was in those days. Life today is much different from back then. People these days are so much better off and are likely to own several luxury items that had not even been thought of at that time. It is over 50 years since I joined the Squadron so some memories are now a bit vague, however, I still have some vivid memories and I have written many of them on my memories page, year by year. Visitors who read every site page will be reminded or learn why we were based in Germany. Unfortunately in the sixties there wasn’t so many cameras about, if only I had the digital camera I have today, which almost gets lost in my pocket, there would be countless of interesting photos to share. Nonetheless, former members can make this site more interesting by sending in some photos and memories they have, anything from that era will help to paint a big picture of those days. I am also very interested to hear comments from current serving members of the Squadron. Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you.
‘ONCE A SAPPER ALWAYS A SAPPER’
March 1965-November 1969
George Cowie BEM
7 Field Squadron Royal Engineers was based in Osnabruck as part of BAOR from November 1957 until January 1968. Most of my time with the Squadron was in Osnabruck. In January 1968 the Squadron moved to Deverell Barracks in Ripon, but was still part of 6 Infantry Brigade. The Squadron moved back to Germany in 1971 as part of 32 Engineer Regiment. You can read some of Osnabruck's history on the '7 Sqn Osnabruck' page. From 1885 till the end of WW1, 7 Field Company was known as the 'Black Horse', this was because they had only black horses.
The Squadron became known as ‘Shiny 7’ between WW1 and WW2. It is said that 7 Field Company RE won an all units ‘Turnout’ competition in BAOR, between 1920 and 1929. In later years it was also known as Shiny 7 because a high standard of turnout was demanded of the men, including, squadron block and vehicles.
In Osnabruck, the Squadron was based in Roberts Barracks, better known to the Germans as, Winklehausen Kaserne. It was named after Col Von Winklehausen, a WW1 Colonel. Before WW2 it was the home of Infantry Regiment 37, whom in 1939, served in France and in 1941 served in Russia, where they suffered severe casualties. The barracks were completed and opened in October 1935.
7 Field Company RE
7 Field Squadron RE
7 HQ & SP Squadron RE
Osnabruck Coat of Arms
2 Division flash. This flash was worn on our Combat Jacket sleeves
Photo with kind permission of Derek Stevenson 16 Fd Sqn Website
Looking through the main gate, the nearest block on LHS was part of 25 CER, 2nd left, Church Army. Opposite was the cookhouse and on the RHS the guardroom, which was contained in HQ block. In the 1960s, the road through the main gate on, An Der Nette Heide as seen above was more or less the centre of the camp, with 25 Corps Engrs occupying the left side of the road and 2 Div Engrs occupying the right side of the road.
Taxi cards from my scrap book. I used these taxi services many times, and you probably did too!!
Picture taken from the old block at Times Square
when the Sqn was independant. 1963/64
Brummie Crawford at Entrance to old block at Times Square
There was a British Week in 1966 to promote trade and friendship between the two countries. Roberts Barracks hosted some of the events
Typical Block Corridor
Beginning of City limits
This was the Regimental Cook House.
At the far end is the Guard Room and Main Gate
Leave Pass used for a trip to Amsterdam
I welcome your comments, stories and any photos you may have that will enhance this site. I look forward to hearing from you whether you're a former Shiny Sevener, present day member or anyone who would like to comment. Many thanks.
Ex Bar Frost Bardufoss Norway September 1965
1 Troop Demolition Training Germany 1960s
1 Troop's Stalwart 08 ER 63
On receipt of the FV432 the Squadron went to Petershagen on 'Floatation' training on the River Weser,1966
Above: Me exiting the River Weser at Wouldam Hard in 1966. Chris Ellis seen above the foatation screen was commanding and instructor on my FV432 course
Pre Ex 'Bar Frost' training running up the quarry slag heap 1965
Including the complete Squadron History
Have you read The "Shiny 7" History? Then start reading it now. They have served YOU proud!
The Lendrim Trophy
The Lendrim Trophy presented to 7 HQ & SP SQN RE by the Shiny Seven Association for inter department competions, as yet to be decided.
The trophy was donated by Chris Ellis
Quotes on Sappers
"The Sappers really need no tribute from me; their reward lies in the glory of their achievement. The more science intervenes in warfare, the more will be the need for engineers in field armies; in the late war there were never enough Sappers at any time. Their special tasks involved the upkeep and repair of communications; roads, bridges, railways, canals, mine sweeping. The Sappers rose to great heights in World War II and their contribution to victory was beyond all calculations."
- Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, 1945
"In the event that the situation had deteriorated and a break-in operation to Sarajevo....had become necessary then armoured engineers would have been the lead element. Once again we are reminded that there comes a time in war when Sappers have to go in front to open up the way.
'Follow the Sapper' is a timeless cry."
- Brigadier I.T.D. McGill's Report to the Corps, 1995
Having seen your chaps at work, I can unequivocally state theirs was consistently the most dangerous job undertaken during the war.
I well remember waiting, on a pitch black night, while a Bailey Bridge was speedily constructed to allow our tanks to move forward. The enemy, knowing something was going on, laid down sporadic mortar fire against which, unlike the tank crews the sappers had absolutely no protection.
Often seen are polls on what/who played the most important role during the war - too often lumping ground operations with those in the air and at sea. As to the first mentioned, the Royal Engineers certainly has my vote - remember the other vital tasks they performed!
Gerry ww2 Veteran (from ww2 forum)
BBC animated map of the Western Front 1914-1918
Line of Fire - The BEF retreat Mons to the river Marne.
7 Field Company RE can be seen manning the Marne Pontoon Bridge they built together with 9 Field Company RE (near the end of this excellent film)
The First World War:
The bridge that had to be built - at all costs
Amazon Bridge built under heavy enemy fire by the Royal Engineers of 4 BR DIV on the 12/13 May 1944. 225 Field Company - 7 Field Company - 59 Field Company.
Supported by: 18 Field Park Company RE - Detachment of 2 NF - Reserve - 578 Field Company RE
8 Fd Sqn RE in support of tank routes and mine clearance.
2 Division Engineers
From 1961 until April 1969 the squadron was part of 2 Div Engineers, which was made up of 7 Field Squadron, 16 Field Squadron
and 43 Field Park Squadron, whom shared the same half of Roberts Barracks. The other half was occupied by 25 Corps Engineer Regiment.
Hier sitzen die,
die hier immer sitzen
More photos of Roberts Barracks:
"C" Squadron 17/21st Lancers
crossed Amazon Bridge 0500 hrs 13 May 1944
This year,the centenary of the fourth year of the Great War,
we commemorate the1918 experiences of 7 Field Company RE
You can see where they were and what they did in 1918, on this page:
The tower of London poppy display has been a resounding success, pictures of the display has been shown all around the world, and was one of the most photographed spots in the world. Congratulations to Paul Cummins the creator of the event, he has given a new impetuous to remembrance of our fallen that should last for many years to come.
Cpl William James Lendrim, V.C. rose to be
Sergeant-Major William James Lendrim, V.C.
7 Field Company World War One Centenary Commemoration 1918 - 2018
See more at the bottom of this page on the 1917 - 2017 Centenary
End of City Limits
The Black Horse Trail 1918-2018
The Centenary Tribute to 7 Field Company RE
16 - 21 September 2018
The 30,000th Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate with the band of the Royal Engineers in attendance : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yV6Oo3Y_pf8
Photos added: 3 Troop page ( 23/1/2018)
Nostalgia page (23/1/2018)
Bridge Camp (23/1/2018)
Roberts barracks (23/1/2018)
Corporal William James Lendrim (1 January 1830 – 28 November 1891) rose to Serjeant-Major William James Lendrim, V.C.
Corporal Lendrim was the first non-Officer Royal Engineer soldier (at that time he would have been a corporal in the 7th Company Royal Sappers and Miners) to be awarded the V.C. He was awarded it for several acts of bravery in the trenches around Sebastopol.
On the 14th of February 1855, Lendrim was leading a party of 150 French Chasseurs. They were engaged in building No. 9 Battery ‘left attack,’ an eight gun battery, situated close to a chosen advance point. The battery was protected by large gabions that were being repeatedly attacked and may of the gabions were capsized. Repairing the damage to the gabions, under fire, was very dangerous. Lendrim accepted this undertaking - leading his men under fire from gabion to gabion, ensuring all were repaired. The officer in charge was in no doubt that Lendrim's actions had saved the battery.
On the 11th April a 21 gun battery was under heavy attack from Russian artillery, resulting in a large number of casualties. A live shell hit the magazine roof, setting on fire sandbags that were very close to a 68 pounder gun. Lendrim immediately volunteered to extinguish the fire, leapt on to the roof, under fire, removed the burning sandbags and made good the breach.
On the 20th April, Corporal Lendrim was one of four volunteers that charged a Russian rifle pit directly, quickly clearing it and destroying the screen which the Russians had erected to conceal their advance rifle-pits, before occupying the rifle-pit. This was done in efforts to consolidate British and French gains of the 'right attack' and became the third action that contributed to his V.C.
The original Amazon Bridge painting by Terence Cuneo is in the Officer's mess at Brompton Barracks. Prints of the painting are available from the sapper shop
Taff Lewis, Merv Davies and Brummie Crawford on break during rehearsals for the Queen's visit to Sennelager May 1965
HM the Queen reviews her troops at Sennelager May 1965
7 and 9 Field Companies built this pontoon bridge over the River Marne at La Ferte sous Jouarre 9-10 September 1914, in support of the Allied counter - attack, which saw the end
of the long BEF retreat from Mons.
7 Field Company are seen here manning the bridge 10 September 1914
A Tribute to Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb, KCB, CMG, DSO, OBE, MC.
General J.B.Glubb KCB. CMG. DSO. OBE. MC started his army career with 7 Field Company RE, joining the Company 28 November 1915 as a second Lieutenant in command of No 1 Section. While serving with the Company he was wounded three times and was twice evacuated to England, once through illness and once through a serious injury to the jaw. The fast turnover of men in wartime saw him quickly become senior section commander and often had to fill in as second in command and O.C of the Company. He enjoyed his time in the Company and when he was declared fit to return to France after his injury, he got his father, who was C.E. II Corps, to arrange that he return to 7 Coy where he remained with the Company until he was posted out to attend a course in February 1919. While he served in the Company he kept a diary, which is used alongside 7 Coy's war diary on this website expanding on the information given, making the events during those times very informative. He left the Company with the rank of Captain and rose to the rank of Lt General. His army career spanned from 1915 to 1956. General Glubb died 17 March 1986 aged 88. For more information click on the link.
2nd Lt J.B. Glubb aged 18
Lt Gen J.B.Glubb KCB. CMG. DSO. OBE. MC
Gen Glubb retired. In this photo you can see the scar from his jaw wound
General J.B. Glubb wrote a book based on his WW1 diary, ''Into Battle'', he concluded with this message:
1977: Many of the officers, NCO’s and men of the 7th Company wrote to me after I returned to England and some continued to do so for many years. Corporal Rennie, who was much older than I was, died many years ago. Sergeant Adams, who was with me in Sanctuary Wood in 1915, kept in touch until he died three years ago. The last of them was driver Clemmit, who became post-master at Appleton-le-Moors in Yorkshire. He kept bees on the moors and every year at Christmas he used to send me a present of honey in the comb, and continued to do so until he died in 1975, nearly sixty years since we had been together in France. Such were the comradeships of the Great War.
HM Queen Elizabeth and HRH Prince Philip view British troops Sennelager 26 May 1965
Field Engineering Training Ground. Cove 1960s
70th Anniversary of
Cassino Battles - 2014
7 Field Squadron RE, Cassino Weekend 11-15 May 1984, the 40th anniversary of the Rapido Bridge Build.
Above from L-R, Arthur Bevin, Joe Gilleard, Harold Harnett, Fred Aspinal, Tommy Riordan and Vic Lovell
Lt Gen J.B.Glubb KCB. CMG. DSO. OBE. MC
Grave visited 17. 3. 2016 on the 30th anniversary of his death
Lady Rosemary and Lt General John Bagot Glubb are buried side by side in St Dunstan's churchyard Mayfield, East Sussex
100 years ago to the day 17 March 1916 - Lt Glubb was No 1 Section Commander working on Johnston St CT trench opposite Hill 60 in the Ypres Salient. At this time they were being heavily shelled
7 Field Squadron RE, Cassino Weekend 11-15 May 1984, the 40th anniversary of the Rapido Bridge Build. 1 Troop with ''The Seven'' Amazon Bridge Veterans on the MGB
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Where Have All the Flowers Gone? (Marlene Dietrich)
The 7th Company marched to Sains-en-Amienois (4 mile) on the 30th and to Saleux (6 mile) on the 31st entrained for Rue, whence it marched on the 1st April to billets at Ponches, near Crecy, and remained there four days.
Videos of the North Road.
In April 1944, 7 Field Company worked on the Allies re-supply route known as the North Road. Here are four videos of the North Road in 4 stages showing how it is today.
The North Road Stage 1
The North Road Stage 2
The North Road Stage 3
The North Road Stage 4
The Amazon Bridge site and river gap
The Amazon Bridge Gap
Joe Gilleard interviewed on Amazon Bridge Site 2004
Sgt J. Stamper and Spr J. Gilleard by RSME at Chatham 1987
The Amazon Bridge 70th Anniversary and Construction Story
7 Field Company ferrying men and stores across the River Ronco 2nd November 1944
The Br 4th Division Sappers in Mignano preparing for ''Operation Honker'' 1944.
The 4th Division sappers behind Monte Trocchio April-May 1944
7 Field Company's final preparation of the approaches to Congo and Blackwater bridge sites April-May 1944
Operation 'Honker' Part 1 of 2. The 4th Division break through the Gustav Line 11th/12th May 1944
Operation 'Honker' Part 2 of 2. The construction of Amazon bridge
45th Anniversary of the Battle of Cassino Part 1 of 4 - Amazon Bridge Site
45th Anniversary commemorations of the Battle of Cassino Part 2 of 4 The Cemeteries
45th Anniversary commemorations of the Battle of Cassino Part 3 of 4 The Veterans March through Cassino
Battle of Britain Bunker and Exhibition Centre Uxbridge
Centre de Poitiers - 7 Field Company's location on the front line trenches May 1918
Centre de Poitiers (updated 25 August 2017)
The Marne Pontoon Bridge Centenary Commemoration September 2014
7 Field Company's location at Becourt, France, August 1916 - 9 February 1917
7 Field Company's History 1917. Part One January - 14 June.
7 Field Company's History 1917. Part two 14 June - 31 December
Fere-en-Tardenois Railway Station
7 Field Company Video Library
Marlene Dietrich - Sag Mir Wo Die Blumen Sind
Comments and feedback most welcome. email: email@example.com
7 Field Company began 1918 at Ypres-Passchendaele. It was to be an eventful year, with the 50th Division to whom the Company served, fought in three of the five 1918 German spring offensives in which only one of them was planned.
Move to east of Amiens (23 February to 20 March 1918) By Capt H.A. Baker MC
The 50th Division was relieved on the Passchendaele sector by the 23 Division on the 23rd February, and moved to the Wizernes area south of St. Omer where it formed part of G.H.Q. Reserve. Two sections of the 7th Company were detached on 1st March for work on the 5th Army Musketry School at Nortbecourt. On the 10th March the Division moved to the area about Moreuil on the River Avre, 12 miles south west of Amiens. The 7th Company entrained at St. Omer at noon, detrained at Moreuil at 1. Am on the 11th and marched to Fresnoy-en-Chausee, where it remained till the 16th, when it moved by bus to Monchy Lagache (24 mile) for work under the C.R.E. XIX Corps Troops, with working parties of Italians on the ‘’Green Line’’ defences in the neighbourhood of Tetry. This was the most retired reserve line in the 5th Army area and was only partially excavated and wired. The Company was so employed until the 21st of March when the 50th Division was moved hurriedly up to occupy these defences which formed part of the Perrone Bridgehead.
7 Field Company were at Semousies on the 11 November 1918
Arrows mark order of march: A, B, C, D, E, F.
The Spring Offensive 1918
Gen Ludendorff: “ We must strike at the earliest moment before the Americans can throw strong forces into the scale. We must beat the British.”
The 1918 Spring Offensive or Kaiserschlacht (Kaiser's Battle), also known as the Ludendorff Offensive, was a series of German attacks along the Western Front during the First World War, beginning on 21 March 1918, which marked the deepest advances by either side since 1914. The Germans had realised that their only remaining chance of victory was to defeat the Allies before the overwhelming human and matériel resources of the United States could be fully deployed. They also had the temporary advantage in numbers afforded by the nearly 50 divisions freed by the Russian surrender (the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk).
There were five German offensives, codenamed Michael, Georgette, Blücher-Yorck, Gneisenau and Marne-Reims. Michael was the main attack, which was intended to break through the Allied lines, outflank the British forces which held the front from the Somme River to the English Channel and defeat the British Army. Once this was achieved, it was hoped that the French would seek armistice terms. The other offensives were subsidiary to Michael and were designed to divert Allied forces from the main offensive on the Somme.
The Somme Retreat 21st to 31st March 1918
The great German attack (Op Michael) commenced at dawn on the 21st March, as had been expected for some days. It progressed rapidly on the thinly held front of the 5th Army. The 50th Division, forming part of the G.H.Q. reserve, was pushed up to the neighbourhood Beaumetz and, during the night of 21st/22nd proceeded to occupy the incomplete ‘’Brown Line'', The 7th Company was affiliated to 149th Brigade temporarily (H.Q. Tertry) with orders to keep two sections in reserve at C.R.E.s disposal. Nos 2 and 3 Sections went up to assist the infantry in improving their defences in the Brown Line north-east of Coulaincourt. The enemy could already be seen advancing in the distance, but the work was completed by 5.pm, and the half Company withdrew to Coulaincourt, where they received orders from the infantry commander on the spot to hold the village against a threatened attack by the enemy. At 6.15 pm the enemy infantry attacked from the north east and the east. At 6.25. the troops holding the line on the right and in the north of the village were forced back and the half-company was obliged to retire in conformity. As the Company left the village, enemy snipers entered and caused several casualties, including 2nd Lieut H.A.Benson, Serjt J. Farrer M.M., and four sappers. On arriving at Tertry they were reformed under the O.C. Major Baker and by order of the B.G. commanding 149th Bde, dug and held a series of posts on the bank of the River Omignon, covering the east of Tertry.
The next 9 days would see the Company taking part in a series of retreats and counter-attacks in an infantry roll in addition to constructing defensive posts for the brigade.
The sapper tasks included:
Improving communications in the neighbourhood of Fay and Estrees and and bridging trenches to facilitate passage of transport and gun limbers.
Vauvillers construction of a chain of defensive posts running north and south to the east of the Framerville- Vauvillers-Rosieres road. Sixteen platoon posts were built with the assistance of a labour battalion and occupied at once by retiring infantry.
During this part of the retreat, in spite of much marching, working and fighting with little sleep, the Company morale was exceptionally high and a very fine spirit was shown by all ranks in the face of much hardship.The Company, when falling in to march off on one occasion at short notice, was compared by a staff officer to a company of guards.
At dawn on the 27th a composite battalion was formed near Wiencourt, under command of the C.R.E. consisting of the 7th Company RE, 447th Company RE and 350 infantry details of the 151st Brigade and other formations. As these details belonged to many regiments and contained no formed units and only junior officers, they hastily organised into eight platoons and two companies, one company being placed under the O.C. 7 Field Company and one company under the O.C. 447 Field Company. The Composite Battalion was deployed in an infantry roll. On the 29th reinforcements arrived and the German advance petered out. On the 30th the 50th Division was withdrawn. The Company concentrated at Castel before moving to Boves. The Company entrained at Saleux at 6 am on the 1st of April for Rue, detrained at Rue at 12 noon and marched to Ponches where the Company was billeted.
The Company’s casualties during the nine days (21st to 29th March) amounted to 21, namely 4 O.R.s killed, 2 officers and 15 O.R.s wounded.The latter included 3 section Serjeants A. Farrer M.M., F. Wadkinson, P.Cheale M.M. A./Capt H.A.Baker M.C. severely wounded on the 27th, had served with the Company since the autumn 1915. He was succeeded by A./Capt W.F. Baldwin D.C.M., Croix de Guerre, who had joined the Company in January 1916. Lieut F.J. Slattery became A./Captain.
After only one week of transit and training, the 50th Division was back in action, fighting in the second spring offensive, ''Operation Georgette'', having first transferred from the IV Army to the 1st Army on the 3rd of April.
The 50th Division in the third German spring offensive ''Operation Blücher-Yorck''
During the previous six weeks the 50th Division had carried out two retirements in the face of greatly superior numbers. On each occasion it had fought a series of delaying actions, which had reduced its infantry strength to that of a single brigade or less, the other combatant arms being almost equally reduced.
It was now dispatched south to what was then considered to be a quiet part of the front-- The Chemin des Dames sector, north of the Aisne - where it formed part of the British IX Corps acting under French Command.
The Division was again brought up to full strength. The last but one great German attack took place on this sector and to the east of it on the 27th May when the Division again suffered great losses and experienced a third period of retreat.
In this fighting the 7th Company was to lose nearly 70 percent of its strength, in killed, wounded and missing.
Detraining at Fere-en-Tardenois on the 27 April the Company marched to Coulognes (6 mile) about 20 miles south-east of Soissons, where a week was spent refitting,etc
On the 5th May it marched to Muscourt (16 mile) and on the 6th to Centre des Poitiers (6 mile), immediately north of the River Aisne between Craonelle and Pontavert, taking over the work and dugouts of the 11/63 French Engineer Company. The new sector included the eastern (Croanne plateau) end of the famous Chemin des Dames position and about 1.½ miles of low-lying front bordering on the plateau. It was much wooded in rear of the front or outpost system and, owing to its length, could only be lightly held.Re-adjustments required the wooded nature of the country to be defended, and the entire absence of any efficient gas-proofing of dugouts left plenty of work to be done. The rapid gas-proofing of all dugouts was considered to be of first importance. The 7th Company was employed on gas-proofing the whole divisional sector as well as constructing ‘’pillboxes’’ for machine-guns. No 2 Section was employed on construction of a rifle range in the neighbourhood of Div.H.Q. At Beaurieux.
Refitting and training (1st July to 30 September)
The refitting and training of the 50th Division took place near Dieppe, the 7th Company being quartered from 23 July to 16 September at Martin-Eglise where it was brought up to strength, carried out extensive training and worked on divisional camps (hutting, water supply, etc). The training included certain engineer tactical schemes for field companies and the pioneer battalion carried out under the C.R.E, (A.Lieut Colonel P.Hall, M.C., appointed 30 July vice Major J.A.McQueen, D.S.O., M.C. (invalided). On the 2nd July A./Major J. McGill M.C. on appointment as O.C.
Several former NCOs and men rejoined on recovery of wounds and sickness. On the 23rd July, Lt J.B. Glubb, M.C. rejoined on recovery from his severe wound of the previous August. Lieuts T.D.Barratt, W.M. Winstanley, 2nd-Lieut H.G. Stewart joined on the 8th August, 2nd Lieut Seels on the 17th August. On the 16th September the Company proceeded with the reconstituted Division to the 3rd Army area, detraining at Bouquemaison and marching to billets at Brevillers near Agincourt and thence on the 27th to Esbart and on the 29th Epehy. From the 1st October it took part in the advance of the British Armies.