19th c. ROYAL ENGINEERS: typical # of men in one company?

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19th c. ROYAL ENGINEERS: typical # of men in one company?

Postby walkerkid » 22 Apr 2016 05:51

Hello community,

My grandfather (WALKER) was in the Royal Engineers, serving in Gibraltar from 1896-1899 and in the Boer War from November 1899 to February 1903. He was in the 20th Company Royal Engineers. I can't find any information on the typical number of soldiers would be in a typical company of Royal Engineers.

Earlier, my g-grandfather (NETTLETON) was in the 18th Company, Royal Engineers, serving in Gibraltar. from 1870-1886. How many men would have been in HIS company (based on the typical company size of that time)?

I just can't picture how many men they each served with. Was it 50? 100? or 1000?

It's relatively easy to find the typical number of men in a regular army battalion, regiment, etc. What I am searching for is the number of men in a Royal Engineers' company (for both the 1870's-1880's and the Boer War era), which I believe is a wholly different beast.

Thank you kindly,

walkerkid
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Re: 19th c. ROYAL ENGINEERS: typical # of men in one company

Postby zerostate » 22 Apr 2016 15:50

You are correct, engineer units were a very different beast.
As your chaps were at Gibraltar they were in the RE fortress company there (although at different times and different numbered companies).
Other RE units were field companies – there were two establishments for these, higher and lower, with both existing at the same time. The higher had approximately 190 men all ranks, the lower around 100. Submarine mining companies had about 70 men. There were also telegraph companies and bridging troops, field parks, survey companies etc.
As a fortress company could in wartime be converted to a field company or park, the numbers you are looking for are around 100-200 men. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but as far as I know the establishment varied with the size of fortress, so I would expect the higher end of that window for Gibraltar.

Chris

"Cookery is the art of preparing and softening food by the action of fire, so as to render it fit for digestion" - Instructions to Military Cooks in the Preperation of Dinners at the Instructional Kitchen, Aldershot, 1878.
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Re: 19th c. ROYAL ENGINEERS: typical # of men in one company

Postby walkerkid » 23 Apr 2016 21:52

Many thanks, Chris, for your informative reply. I have a better handle on picturing the numbers involved now!
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