565th Army Troops Company, Royal Engineers [formerly 1st Wiltshire Fortress Company (TF) Swindon]

565th Army Troops Company, Royal Engineers [formerly 1st Wiltshire Fortress Company (TF) Swindon]

The 1st Wiltshire Fortress Company of the Royal Engineers was a Territorial Force unit whose officers and men were recruited almost entirely from the Great Western Railway Works at Swindon. At the outbreak of war they were taking part in their annual training at Fort Purbrook, Portsmouth and were immediately mobilised and sent to Weymouth to work on strengthening the defences around Portland. More soldiers joined the Company from among the Swindon railwaymen who enlisted at the outbreak of the war and a few were also recruited from the Weymouth area. With the aid of a large number of Infantry units, the works at Portland were completed in November and early in 1915 the Company was dispatched to France, where it was renumbered as 565th Army Troops Company, RE, and remained until the end of the War. The officers of the unit in 1914/15 were Major Frederick George Wright, Captain Cyril Spencer Wilson, Lieutenants John Dawson, Septimus Edward Tyrwhitt, David Williams and George Ernest Crisford Knapp, all engineers from the Railway Works. Henry C Rodda was the Company Sergeant Major, and was later commissioned as Lieutenant in the same Company. Wilson, Dawson and Rodda were each awarded the Military Cross for exemplary action during the war in France. In 1917, the men of 565 AT Coy RE (ex Wiltshire Fortress) received new service numbers, starting at 520001, a useful way of identifying them among the hundreds of thousands of RE men. The Company's darkest day was 18 September 1918, when a lieutenant and seven sappers were killed and 22 wounded (two of the wounded died the following day), in a German attack on the construction of a 300 foot long vehicle ramp down the face of a retaining wall of the Canal du Nord at Ruyualcourt. There is a good account of the Company's role during WW1 in Chapter 7 of Sandra Gittin's book "The Great Western Railway in the First World War".

Created by: Bryan5462

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