Volunteer Engineers


In 1886 there were fifteen Volunteer Battalions of the Royal Engineers , including the Aberdeenshire, the Cheshire, the 1st and 2nd Gloucestershire, the Hampshire, the Lanarkshire, the 1st and 2nd Lancashire, the 1st London, the 1st Middlesex, the Newcastle-on-Tyne, the Northamptonshire, the Tower Hamlets, the 1st and 2nd Yorkshire. In each of four of these battalions, the 1st Gloucestershire, 1st Lanarkshire, 1st Lancashire, and Newcastle-on-Tyne, one company was trained in the duties of submarine miners, for the defence of the Severn, the Clyde, the Mersey, and the
Tyne respectively.


During the period from 1886 to 1894 the auxiliary forces of the Royal Engineers were strengthened by the addition of five volunteer battalions, the 2nd Cheshire, for work in connection with military railways, the Devon and Somerset, the 1st Durham, the 1st Flint, and 1st Sussex. Four additional
Militia Submarine Mining Divisions were raised for service at Falmouth, the Needles, and on the Medway and Humber, while the number of Volunteer Submarine Mining Divisions was reduced from nine to seven, as their place was taken by the Militia at Falmouth and on the Humber.


In 1897 a new volunteer corps was organized to assist in the submarine mining service, especially with regard to the working of the electric lights. This was the Corps of Electrical Engineers, of which the officers were men of science and leading members of the electrical profession, who were prepared to assist in these important military duties; the rank and file were practical electricians or students of electrical engineering.


In 1899, prior to the commencement of the South African War, there were twenty Volunteer Battalions. Early in 1900, sections from the following Volunteer Engineer Battalions were sent to South Africa; the Aberdeenshire, the 1st Cheshire, the Devon and Somerset, the Durham, the 1st and 2nd Gloucestershire, the Hampshire, the Lanarkshire, the 1st London, the Middlesex, the Newcastle-on-Tyne, the Sussex, the Tower Hamlets (East London), and the 1st and 2nd Yorkshire. Of the Volunteers, two sections were allocated to the field, and five to the fortress companies. In 1901 additional sections were provided by the following Royal Engineer Volunteer Corps ; the Aberdeenshire, 1st Cheshire, Durham, Devon and Somerset, and Gloucestershire, Hampshire, 1st London, Lanarkshire, 1st and and Lancashire, 1st Middlesex, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Northampton, Sussex, Tower Hamlets, and 1st and and Yorkshire, while the and Cheshire (Railway Battalion) sent two sections. The total number of troops provided by the Royal Engineer Auxiliary Forces during the progress of the war was-Militia, 11 officers and 350 other ranks ; Volunteers, 52 officers and I,I 51 other ranks.


In consequence of the abolition of the submarine mining service in 1906, the Royal Engineers Submarine Mining Militia Divisions at home and at Bermuda were disbanded in 1907, but the Malta Division was retained for electric light work. Six of the seven Volunteer Submarine Mining Divisions were converted into Electrical Engineers, while the seventh, the Tay Division, was disbanded, as the use of electric searchlights in connection with the defence of the Tay had been given up. The Corps of Electrical Engineers was converted into the London Division of the Electrical Engineer Volunteers.


In 1908 extensive changes were made in the organization of the Auxiiiary Forces of the Royal Engineers, in consequence of the abolition of the Militia and Volunteers, and the formation of the Special Reserve and Territorial Force for home defence. The two Militia regiments, the Royal Monmouthshire and Royal Anglesey, were converted into Royal Engineers Special Reserve, while the Volunteer County Battalions were transferred to the Territorial Force, and reorganized under the heads of Divisional Engineers, Engineers for service with Army Troops, and Fortress Engineers.


The uniform of the Volunteer Engineers was faced with white piping instead of the red of the Royal Engineers.



1st. Hampshire Volunteer Royal Engineers


The 1st Hants Engineer Volunteers were formed at Portsmouth in April 1891 with 481 men volunteering for service, however the War Office had only authorised the formation of two companies totalling 100 men. The majority of the rank and file were workers from the Portsmouth dockyard. The two officers commissioned were Major F.W. Roberts and Captain T.F. Pearse with Sergeant Instructor Pearce R.E. The old drill shed used by the 3rd Hants R.V. was rented and renovated for their use complete with "cosy club room and refreshment bar" for the use of corps members only with another room for the officers and one more as an armoury. Forty tons of gravel were laid to form a parade ground. An application was made for a corps of cadets from Weymouth College to be attached to the Portsmouth corps. In September 1892 the corps numbered 321 of whom 290 paraded on Governor's Green Portsmouth under Major Roberts. Field works which they had comnstructed on Southsea Common were inspected by Colonel Durnforde C.R.E..


In 1896 the 1st Hampshire took first place at special course of instruction in fortress engineering at Chatham. Of the Nine NCOs in the team from Portsmouth, six passed a "very superior" examination whilst the other three passed "very satisfactory" placing them first in all England for the third time in the five years since they were formed.


Major Maude was in command in 1898.


A Company from the 1st Hampshires served in Africa during the Boer War.



1st Hampshire Volunteers (Engineers) Engineer Volunteers ar raft drill 1898 Engineer Volunteers ar raft drill 1898

1st Hampshire Volunteers (Engineers)

Engineer Volunteers ar raft drill 1898

Engineer Volunteers ar raft drill 1898