A HISTORY OF 100 SQUADRON RMONRE(M) 100 Field Company was founded in 1926 as part of the supplementary reserve, together with 101 Field Company inheriting the title and traditions of the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia). Based in Newport, annual summer camps at Monmouth put a special focus on bridging techniques, with several bridges being built over the River Monnow such as one at the foot of the castle and the Inglis Bridge still standing today. The unit’s first wartime deployment was as part of the British Expeditionary Force deployed to France in 1939 at the outset of World War 2. Duties included the construction and maintenance of roads, water and electricity supply, and building accommodation for the BEF. Despite the uncomfortable conditions work continued throughout the severe winter of 1939-1940, where frozen ground made road building particularly difficult. 100 Company was relocated to Belgium in May 1940, briefly preparing command posts but soon responsible for preparing bridges over the River Scarpe for demolition between Raches and Milionfosse, under enemy air attacks, to impede the German advance. After demolishing the bridges as the German advance arrived, 100 Company withdrew to Cassel with 145 Infantry Brigade. Under heavy artillery and air bombardment, the sappers prepared defensive positions from which to delay the German advance. Their success bought time for other units to evacuate at Dunkirk but they were themselves surrounded. Most were captured during an attempted breakout, including the OC Major Whitehead, though some made it to Dunkirk. The Prisoner of War Committee in Monmouth ensured these men were supplied with cigarettes, food and clothing until 1945 when they were liberated by the Americans, though those in Stalag VIII-B prison camp had first to endure the Lamsdorf Death March in which they were forcibly marched west in bitter weather conditions away from the Soviet advance. New recruits meanwhile reinforced the unit’s depleted numbers in the UK. From 1940-1943 the unit was based first in Monmouth, ceremonially entering the castle and re-establishing a RMonRE(M) presence in the town, then London and finally Devon. The Sappers mainly cleared air raid damage, particularly in Swansea, London and Exeter. However they also built a defence line along the River Usk and coastal defences along the Devonshire coast. While in London during the Blitz the unit likewise constructed radar mats and a water main for the London Fire Brigade. Finally the unit was relocated to Yorkshire in 1943 to train for deployment to Normandy, again with an emphasis on bridging. Before leaving in 1944, they were inspected by King George VI and the future Queen, Princess Elizabeth. The King expressed approval for the regimental badges still worn by the unit despite War Office stipulations that many units, including RMonRE(M), remove them. From France to Germany, 100 Company was mainly employed in road construction, minefield clearance but particularly bridging. The unit was attached to VIII Corps from France to Belgium until the advance stalled in the winter of 1944-1945. The unit then busied itself in providing food and clothing for Dutch children whose homes had been destroyed, before energetically engaging in further road and bridge construction with XII Corps to allow the allies to break over the River Maas, and then transport armour, artillery and other supplies to maintain momentum. Upon reaching Germany and the Rhine, 100 Company built the then longest FBE Bridge in Europe, which was inspected by Churchill and Montgomery. However, the unit’s most important bridge was arguably that at Petershagen. With the Germans making a stand at the Weser River, 100 Company was the only unit during the assault to successfully complete a heavy bridge capable of carrying tanks, essential for enlarging the bridgehead and thus securing the river. This allowed 6 Airborne Division to then advance quickly enough to cut the Danish peninsula off from the Soviet advance through Germany, and thus potentially prevented them from occupying Denmark during the Cold War. The unit’s last major operation was bridging the Elbe, before basing itself on the Baltic coast. In 1947 100 Company was incorporated into the regular army, and became 562 Company and later 64 Field Squadron, part of 28 Engineer Regiment. However, its traditions were revived the following year with the creation of 100 Field Squadron, RMonRE(M). Its bridging tradition remained strong, being the first Territorial Army unit to construct a two span NGB Bridge over the River Linne in Germany in 1978. The Squadron also mobilised for Operation Telic 2 in Iraq in 2003, and was responsible for constructing Aldershot Bridge across the Shatt al-Arab River near Basrah to better allow Warrior Fighting Vehicles to deploy across the river. The Squadron further provided clean water and electricity to the city. This was the first time a Territorial Army unit had been mobilised since World War 2. Members of 100 Squadron have also deployed in various theatres attached to other units. For example, many served with 21 Engineer Regiment in Afghanistan during Operation Herrick 12 in 2010, and 3 with 22 Engineer Regiment during Operation Herrick 18 in 2013. The awarding of the brigade commander’s coin to Sergeant Williams is testament to their contribution and that of their civilian trade skills. Most recently, members have been embedded in 36 Engineer Regiment for Operation Trenton providing engineering support for the UN mission in South Sudan. 100 Squadron is now based at Cwmbran, with additional Troops at Cardiff and Bristol. Troops from 108 Squadron in Swansea were briefly incorporated from 2014 before 108 Squadron was reformed in 2017.
Second Lieutenant Thomas Clark 15/05/2018