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 the1917 experiences of 7 Field Company RE
You can see where they were and what they did in 1917, 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 1917 - 2017
See more at the bottom of this page on the 1917 - 2017 Centenary
End of City Limits
The Black Horse Trail 2017 provisional dates 11-15 September
11 September arrive Albert, France.
12 September - High Wood - Albert - River Somme - Chipilly - Morcourt - March route to Arras - Wancourt - Coy's two battle sites Arras - Drive to Belgium to Hotel.
13 September - Elverdinge - Boesinghe - Bard dump - Passchendaele
14 September - Messines - Coy battlefield sites - pm Menin Gate
15 September depart.
If you are interested please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
7 Field Company began 1917 at Bazentin le Petit administrating Three Corp's trench tramways where they had been since early September 1916. In late January they moved to Albert and spent 10 days training before moving down to the River Somme, where they trained at four different locations. The fourth location, Morcourt, is where they trained intensely on field engineering, which was a welcome change and it included pontooning on the river Somme. After the battles of the Somme, British Generals were confident that the Germans were weakened and that future battles, with the use of the tank, would be a mobile war. It was on this basis the Company were training and their next battle (the battle of Arras) was less than a month away. At the end of March the whole of the 50th Division moved by Brigades on a long indirect march to Arras, sometimes stopping off at locations for 2-3 days doing training. The Company at this time supported the 149th Bde and were were in action with them at the battle of Arras 13-26 April 1917. They were back in action on the front line again 16 June to the 5 October 1917, this time just a little further east. In the autumn the 50th Division were on the front line north of Ypres. At this location the Company was the reserve Field Company and were employed on several jobs at Elverdinghe and Boesinghe areas. In December they where back on the front line in the mud at Passchendaele.
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 Company did bridging on this section of the Somme
The Company did bridge demolition training on this bridge March 1917
March route from Morcourt
to Arras continued on map right
22nd April 1917:
The deep dugouts constructed by 7 Coy (see sketch map right). As the working party completed the R.A.P. dugouts and were leaving the site at 4 am, a heavy shell burst on the party causing 17 casualties - 2nd Lt, R.E.E.Chaplin, Lcpl W. Nunn, and 7 sappers killed and 8 sappers wounded, all of No 1 Section
Map 21. East of Arras
7 Coy's work area 15 June - 5 October 1917,
a little further east than their first visit in April.
East of Arras 15 July to 5 October 1917
The urgent jobs to be undertaken immediately were:
(1) To get good fighting trenches dug along the whole front.
(2) To provide shelters in the trenches for the men.
(3)To provide dugouts for battalion and company headquarters .
(4) To complete communication trenches up to the front line.
Photo IWM. Wancourt village 30 July 1917. In April 1917 two Sections of 7 Coy were billeted in a dug out below the ruins of a house off the main street. One of the Company's tasks then, was to keep the main street passable, which was constantly being shelled. At the time this photo was taken, the Company was back in the area but a bit further east.
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.
Centre de Poitiers - 7 Field Company's location on the front line trenches May 1918
The Marne Pontoon Bridge Centenary Commemoration September 2014
7 Field Company Video Library