History

A History of the Engineer Corps in Tasmania

 

Pre-Federation – The Tasmanian Engineers 1883-1987

 

In 1883 the Government of Tasmania decided to raise their own forces to defend the Colony. Amongst the forces to be raised was a corps of engineers, known as the Tasmanian Engineer Corps. They were raised with the envisioned role of conducting the submarine mining of the Derwent and subsequently Tamar Rivers. The Engineers were to be the only partly paid Corps in Tasmania at the time.

 

Enrolment of the Engineer Corps began on 29 March 1883, under the supervision of the Staff Officer of the Local Forces, Captain Tudor Boddam. The Corps consisted of some fifty two men in all, made up of three Officers, fourteen Non-Commissioned Officers and thirty-five Sappers. Every trade or profession considered necessary for the execution of submarine mining operations was represented amongst the men enrolled.

 

During the following months the men were taught the basics of soldiering, that is marching drill, rifle exercises, and signalling. They were also given specialist instruction on explosives, telegraphy, electrical testing and submarine mining.

 

The Corps was called out for its first annual months’ continuous training on 3 December 1883, just eight months after enrolment had began. It was intended that one-third of the mines for the wartime field should be connected up and laid temporarily in their proper positions. There were so many difficulties to be overcome that in more than one instance several attempts were made before a mine was successfully laid. Captain Boddam reported that not only was there great difficulty but a certain amount of danger.

 

The Regulations for the Voluntary Military Forces were gazetted in February 1884. They prescribed the special conditions for the Engineer Corps, which included unpaid attendances at 24 evening parades between 1 January and 30 November each year, and paid attendance for sixty hours during December. The rates of pay were #20 per year for Captains, #15 a year for Lieutenants, 1s 10d an hour for Warrant Officers and Sergeants, 1s 8d an hour for Corporals, 1s 7d an hour for Second Corporals, 1s 6d an hour for Sappers. Under these regulations the whole rank and file engaged to serve for three years.

 

The second annual period of continuous training in December 1884 was free from most of the frustrations of the year before. A line of 16 electro-contact mines were laid and connected to an observation station and temporary test room. The mines were left in position till January 1885 to test their buoyancy.

 

The Tasmanian Forces conducted their first Easter encampment in 1885 at Mona Vale in the Midlands. This site was chosen as it was allowed the Southern Division which was based in Hobart and the Northern Division to join in training. There was clearly a need for field engineers, and volunteers were called for from the Engineer Corps, 46 of whom attended. The unit was restricted to fortress work, and found they were constructing earthworks for the artillery, they also took part in the Monday manoeuvres.

 

Almost immediately after this encampment a Russian war scare led the Tasmanian Government to take a number of emergency measures. The Engineer Corps were called out on 15 April for a period of night training, and fourteen men were employed full time during the day preparing a complete minefield across the Derwent. Also the establishment was increased to seventy seven to allow a detachment to be sent to the north of Tasmania to mine the Tamar. As soon as the Russian scare passed Defence declined in political importance. The December 1885 continuous training period was waived on the grounds that the money to pay for it had been spent in the emergency.

 

The Tasmanian Engineer Corps changed its name during 1886 to the Tasmanian Torpedo Corps. This accurately reflected their primary role. For the next four years there was little change in strength, the activities or the efficiency of the Corps.

 

In 1889 Major-General Bevan Edwards, RE, recommended that a small company of Field Engineers should be raised, amounting to thirty, all ranks. This was ignored by the Tasmanian Government.

 

During 1890 a Naval Expert visited Tasmania, accompanied by Major R Rainsford-Hannay RE, the Commanding Engineer in Victoria, who was in the capacity of Technical Adviser. The Tasmanian Commandant asked Rainsford-Hannay for his own report on the Derwent Submarine Mining Defences, and the result was a thorough-going condemnation. Four major deficiencies were evident, there was no steamboat, the mines were poorly stored, the test room was unprotected from shell-fire, and the mine cases were of an old, obsolete pattern.

 

No action was taken by the Tasmanian Government to remedy these matters during 1891 or 1892 due to the state of the economy. During 1893 continuous training for Torpedo Corps was cancelled, the establishment was reduced, training funds were withdrawn, capitation grants were reduced, as well as votes for stores. There were still more cuts in the defence estimates in 1894. Conditions improved for a while during 1895, but once again the strength declined towards the end of 1896 and did not improve much during 1897.

 

In December 1898 Queen Victoria approved the alternation of the designation of the Corps from Tasmanian Torpedo Corps to the Tasmanian Engineers. At that time the unit adopted the Khaki field service  uniform keeping its scarlet jacket with black velvet facings for formal occasions.

 

In 1899 training included bridging and elementary fortifications. A year later in 1900 the acquisition of a cable wagon enabled the unit to embrace field telegraphy.

 

The new Peace Establishment published in February 1901, allowed the Tasmanian Engineers a total of seventy personnel.

 

In March 1901 control of the Tasmania Defence Forces was transferred to the Commonwealth, this was welcomed by almost everyone connected with the Tasmanian Defence Forces. They now looked forward to some relief from the disadvantages of scale from which they had always suffered. The Tasmanian Engineers had a good reason to adopt this view.

 
FEDERATION TO THE GREAT WAR

 

In the middle of 1902, various Colonial Engineer Corps were amalgamated. The Tasmanian Engineer Corps became a Section of No 5 Field Company, Australian Engineers. They also formed No 3 Electric Company, Australian Engineers, with thirty militia.

 

The Military Authorities of the new Commonwealth faced formidable difficulties with the amalgamation of the six forces, as each one differed in every in every aspect. Establishments, equipment and conditions of service were different. Some forces were more efficient than others, better paid and better trained.

 

In Tasmania the militia continued on pre-federation lines for both home and continuous training. The venue for the Easter camp was Ross.

 

The dress of the Australian Engineers at this time was set out in Standing Orders of 1906. The Corps were scarlet tunics or pantaloons in Full Dress, and blue trousers without the scarlet stripe in undress. There was also a provision for Summer Dress, khaki drill. The headdress was a white helmet with a spike and pugaree, in permanent units the pugaree was white and in militia units it was white with a blue centre fold. The Corps badge was worn on the headdress. Grenades were worn on the collar of the tunic or jacket. Militia units wore their company numbers - 5 A.E. – on their shoulder straps.

 

The Tasmanian Militia Engineers remained as No 5 Field Company until the reorganization of 1912. One of the problems that had existed upon Federation was the confusion arising from units with the same numerical designation.

This was rectified in the reorganization, and the engineer units in Tasmania became 14th Field Company, 31st Signal Company, and 36th Fortress Company.

 

In 1914 the training camp for the Tasmanian units was held at Perth for the Field and Signal Companies and at war stations for the Fortress Engineers.

 
THE GREAT WAR 1914 -1919

 

3rd Field Company AIF

 

In August of 1914, 3rd Field Company AIF was raised from new recruits and reinforcements from all over Australia. The Tasmanian Engineers were included as part of this unit. The 3rd Field Company AIF served in Egypt, at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. The Company was part of 1st Divisional Engineers.

 

In Egypt they worked on the Suez Canal and many other tasks, and continued with sapper training. The Company was the Divisional Reserve for the landing at Gallipoli. On Gallipoli they, like all the deployed companies, performed a wide variety of engineer tasks, including tunneling and mining. They were evacuated from Gallipoli early in December 1915. On the Western Front they were involved in all the Battles in which 1st Division was engaged, the Somme, Bullecourt, Messines, Third Ypres, and Amiens to name a few.

 

6th Field Company AIF

 

The following year, in September 1915, the 6th Field Company AIF was raised, Tasmanians were also part of this Company. The 6th Field Company served on the Western Front as part of the 2nd Division Engineers. They sailed from Australia in November 1915 from Melbourne to Egypt. They departed for the Western Front with the 2nd Division in March 1916. They then participated in the battles of the 2nd Division on the Western Front.

 

Both Companies returned to Australia in 1919 and were demobilised with the rest of the AIF.

 

 
BETWEEN THE TWO WARS 1919 – 1939

 

In 1918, when the end of the war was in sight, an effort was made to preserve the traditions of the AIF units which were being disbanded. In Tasmania initially the designations of the pre-war units were used, that is 14th Field Company and 36th Fortress Company.

 

On 21 May 1921 the Army was reorganised once again. All Tasmanian units became part of 12th Mixed Brigade, and the Tasmanian Field Engineers were designated as 12th Field Company. This is the first association of the 12th Company/Squadron with the State. 12th Field Company AIR was a 4th Divisional Company formed in Egypt in March 1916 from 2nd Division Engineers and reinforcements. It served with 4th Division on the Western Front.

 

The changes of 1921 still retained as part of the Military District organsation 36th Fortress Company. This organisation was retained essentially unchanged until the outbreak of war in September 1939.

 

The Militia essentially continued in the same manner as it had before the Great War. Except that with compulsory service the overall strength was around 45,000. The establishment of a field company was around 6 officers and 53 other ranks.

 

In January 1930 enlistment of a new militia scheme was commenced. This scheme relied on voluntary recruitment, each year there were eight days home and eight days continuous training. The Militia were treated well in comparison to their regular counterparts due to the fact that they were volunteers.

 

In the years that followed the Army went through a lot of hard times brought about mainly by the lack of funds. In spite of these hard times the Army kept going, there were some developments which improved morale, such as the restoration of full dress for the Regular Forces in 1931 and other uniform adjustments.

 

The Militia units of the Australian Engineers were granted the title ‘Royal’ at the beginning of 1936, and were thereafter distinguished from the regular units by being termed Royal Australian Engineers (Militia) or RAE (M). This brought them into line with the Permanent units which had been RAE since 1907.

 
 
THE SECOND WORLD WAR 1939 – 1945

 

On 25 September 1939 formation and district base commanders were informed of the existence of a ‘state of tension’ between the British Empire and Germany. On 2 September the Government declared a danger of war and on 3 September war was declared. On 5 September a portion of the Militia was called up for the protection of key points.

 

Militia to AIF

 

On 15 September 1939 it was announced that the Militia would be called up for one months continuous training. The Militia had no liability for overseas service but it would have been possible, as it was in 1914 to base the expeditionary force on the Militia, some of which could have been nominated for the new force. However the opportunity was lost, and there began the unfortunate distinction between the Militia and the 2nd AIF.

 

There was a possibility that the Militia units might see active service. This reinforced a reluctance to break up formed units to provide recruits for a force with dubious prospects of going overseas. This in turn lead to a reluctance of the Militia officers to join the AIF in the early months of the war, and it also caused them to dissuade their men from doing so.

 

In the last three months of 1939 the strength of the Militia had dropped because of the withdrawal of men in ‘reserved occupations’, the transfer of married men to the Reserve, and the wastage through enlistment in the AIF. Those enlisting in the AIF formed 6th Divisional Engineers. The strength of the Militia was restored in 1940 when compulsory training was introduced, from this time on the Militia began to lose its voluntary character and to diverse still more in outlook from the AIF. Training was also made hard because of the shortage of equipment and training stores.

 

In February 1940 the Government decided to raise another AIF division (7th). Part of the Divisional Engineers were the 2/9th Field Company of which the headquarters and one Section came from Tasmania and the other two sections from Victoria. This company trained at Brighton in Tasmania.

 

In May 1940 the 8th Divisional Engineers were raised. The units which formed this division came from all over Australia, some were existing units others were newly raised units. Late in September 1940 another division (9th) was formed. The Divisional Engineers were formed using the AIF units in Great Britain as a nucleus and adding units raised or to be raised in Australia. By spreading the recruiting base of all the units the Army was trying to avoid the problems created by the mass casualties of the Great War which often decimate a regions population. Thus Tasmanians served in many engineer units of the 2nd AIF.

 

12th Field Company

12th Field Company found itself as part of 5th Division. This was deployed to New Britain in 1944, when a Platoon was deployed under command of 36th Battalion. They landed at Cape Hoskins on 8 October. Cape Hoskins was occupied by the US Forces. The remainder of the Company landed at Jacquinot Bay with 6th Brigade on 4 November, again without opposition.

 

The Company was involved initially on works to support the Brigade. They were then given the task of providing combat engineer support to the battalions advancing across New Britain. These tasks included road construction, river crossings until their relief and return to Jacquinot Bay in March 1945. The Company returned to Australia in 1946 and was demobilised at Kapooka in NSW.

 
POST WAR RESERVE SERVICE

 

Reformation of the CMF

 

The 12th Field Company remained in abeyance until the reformation of the reserve forces as the Citizens Military Forces (CMF) in 1948. The unit was then raised as 12th Independent Field Squadron Royal Australian Engineers. The Squadron paraded at the Beaumaris Depot in Sandy Bay until 1960.

 

In April 1951 the members of the Squadron under command of Lt Co HB Murn, entered Brighton for Annual Camp. The members of the Infantry Assault Pioneer Platoon from Queenstown joined them for this camp which was held under canvas. Training held during this camp covered many varied aspects of engineer responsibilities, such as basic bridging, field machines, use of explosives, watermanship and section in attack.

 

During the latter half of 1951, a 60 hour course was held to introduce the unit to Bailey Bridging. After the course a demonstration of its use was given in Franklin Square during Army Week. This gave the members an opportunity to carry out certain aspects of Corps training not normally possible during week-night parades, and not always possible at annual camps.

 

In January 1952 at the request of the HEC the members of the unit travelled to Weymouth, to erect a Bailey Bridge. The bridge was to enable the HEC to proceed with one of their construction projects. The bridge was of Double Single construction and crossed a gap of 120 ft. It was erected in 2 days.

 

Also in January 1952 No 3 Troop was formed at Bronte Park, an HEC settlement in the Tasmanian Highlands. The Troop was under the command of Major R Ballantyne. All of the troop members were employees of the HEC. Some were National Service trainees and others were New Australians from either Great Britain or Poland. The unit had a full day parade every second Sunday.

 

Later in 1952 the Squadron, including 3 Troop, went into camp at Brighton. The training consisted of normal engineer training along with certain aspects of infantry training.

 

The site for the Annual Camp in 1953 was Fort Direction, South Arm. This was the first opportunity the unit had for being self-supportive and the camp proved to be invaluable to those who attended. The camp also included many new aspects of field engineering, field machines, explosives and infantry training.

 
Settling Down

 

During the following years training continued along the same lines as before giving many soldiers the opportunity to train in the various aspects of field engineering.

 

On 28 February 1956 more than 200 soldiers attended the 14 day Annual Camp at Tunbridge. The training included demolitions, road construction, field defences and obstacles, minewarfare and minelaying as well as infantry tactics and patrolling. Part of this camp was spent with 12th Infantry Battalion, 12th Field Ambulance, Tasmania Command Hygiene Section, and 6th Supply Company. There were almost a thousand soldiers in camp.

 

During December 1958 the Squadron built a bridge in George Town, it was remarkable in that it was the first bridge built by the CMF for public use in Tasmania. The bridge covered a distance of 80 feet. In 1959 another bridge was built at Corra Linn over the Esk River to the Scout Camp. This was the third bridge that the Squadron had built for the Scouts and was a 120 foot suspension bridge.

 

19th Field Squadron

 

Due to the surplus of Sapper officers and NCOs in Tasmania in the late fifties and early sixties another Field Squadron was formed. This was 19th Field Squadron. It existed only as a cadre of Officers and NCOs with no soldiers. It disappeared as the result of a reorganisation in the mid sixties. It paraded at the Beaumaris Depot.

 
WATERLOO TRAINING DEPOT – DOWSING POINT
1960 – 1987

 

A New Home

 

In 1958 25th Construction Squadron had constructed the Waterloo Training Depot at Dowsing Point for its own use. The unit was disbanded in 1960. As a result a purpose built engineer depot became vacant. 12th Field Squadron moved into the Depot in 1960.

 

The early sixties saw the Squadron conducting its Annual Camps in Tasmania. Sometimes Brighton and the new training area at Buckland. In 1961 the Annual Camp was devoted to the commencement of the current Scale A area.

 

Top Sappers at SME – 1964

 

The Squadron conducted its second annual camp in Sydney at SME in May-June 1964. The camp was used to concentrate on the use of bridging, especially the use of aluminium assault bridging. The OC at the time was Capt D Johns and he took more than 50 men with him. During the camp there was a field engineering skills competition conducted against five Victorian units and the Squadron won.

 

The latter part of the sixties saw a works theme again dominant. 1967 was a return to Buckland for works. The following year the first trip was made to the Craycroft River crossing between 9 – 24 March 1968,  The major task during this camp was the construction of a suspension footbridge to provide pedestrian access to an from the Arthurs Plains.The area was described by the soldiers as the hellhole of the South West. It was likened to the AIF Kokoda conditions but without enemy interference. Access from the Picton River Crossing was approximately 18 miles by foot. Stores were delivered on a sled dragged by bulldozer and ration packs were dropped on the Arthurs Plain by RAAF Caribou aircraft.

Stoney Head received its first major attentions from the Squadron between 1-16 February 1969 when the first 1500 feet of the airstrip was constructed. Sixty unit members and a number of pieces of plant built it to DCA standards. RAAF Caribou landed on the strip at the end of this camp. It was built to facilitate delivery of artillery ammunition for CMF live firing practices.

 

Bellerive Battery – 1970

 

In October 1970 the Squadron returned to a bit of fortress work. They were given the task of restoring the guns of the Bellerive Battery to position. The two guns, each of which weighed twelve tones, had to be manhandled into place due to the nature of the location and the lack of suitable granage on the Island. The method used was very similar to that used when the battery was installed in 1884. The original steel mounts had been removed in 1920, they were replaced with concrete. Other works tasks that year included the destruction of a Triple Single Bailey Bridge in the Strathgordon area.

 

SME in the Seventies

 

The Squadron returned to SME in 1971 to allow all ranks to participate in the training available there. Especially bridging over wet and dry gaps. Fifty all ranks attended from 2-16 June 1971. The Squadron did not return until 1976 and the absence was obviously felt by the unit as it was recorded as many years since the previous visit. Again about fifty all ranks under the command of Major AV Peters. A highlight of the visit was Maj Gen Gray’s visit. A third attempt to destroy the School was made in 1979 when sixty personnel went between 17 February and 2 March under the command of Maj G Surtees. The Squadron’s final visit to SME was in March 1984 under the Command of Maj C Bowden.

 

Adventure on the Nile

 

Adventure training was added to the Squadron schedule in January 1973, when 14 unit members carried out a trip up the South Esk River. They used Assault Boats which they carried, dragged, pushed, paddled and occasionally motored from Trevallyn Dam to just below Nile River.

 

Buckland Range

 

Apart from the SME visits and a bridge repair Camp at the  Craycroft River in 1972,  the early seventies were primarily with the construction of the Buckland Range Road from the gate to Scale A and the Ranges beyond. The Squadron dedicated much time and effort to this task. The Annual Camps of 1973, 1974 and 1975 were all concerned with these tasks. In that time many kilometers of road, culverts and tonnes of timber were turned into the facilities now used and taken for granted by all.

 

Freedom of the City of Glenorchy

 

On 21 February 1976 the Squadron was granted the Freedom of the City of Glenorchy. The City had adopted the Squadron in 1967, but this was the highest honour that a municipality could bestow upon a military unit. It is the recognition of the close association between the City and the unit. More than 55 sapper paraded for the presentation ceremony which was commanded by the OC Major A V Peters. They then exercised their new rights and marched through the City streets with ‘bayonets fixed and swords drawn ‘.

Since then the Squadron has exercised its right twice. On 27 February 1982 under Major D E Townsend and in 1984 under Major C D Bowden.

Maria Island

 

The Squadron has visited Maria Island on two Annual Camps. In 1977 the Squadron visited the Island to complete the demolition of the old cement works. A previous attempt by a civilian contractor had resulted in bankruptcy and left many structures in a precarious and dangerous condition.. In 1981 the Squadron visited to construct bridging in the national park.

 

Heemskirk with the Lancers

 

The Lancers were not only at Heemskirk if the legends are to be believed. The Squadron participated in 1978 in a largest Field Force Army Reserve Exercise for some time in Tasmania. The exercise ranged all over the island. It included most Tasmanian and some mainland units, including 12/16 Hunter River Lancers ( armoured personnel carriers ). There was a tactical phase at Heemskirk followed by more work at Buckland including the bridges on the Water Point Road. A water point was also established to support an Infantry advance.

 

Forever Buckland

 

The Buckland Training Area has been the popular choice for exercises many times in the past ten years. The Annual Camps for 1980, 1982, 1985 and 1986 were all carried out there. On three occasions courses for junior NCO were run, in 1980 and 1985 Subject 2 for Corporal and in 1986 a Junior Leaders Course. On other occasions the emphasis has been on demolition and small arms practices,  plus works, including upgrading Scale A and many of the other facilities associated with the range.

Stony Head Airstrip

 

In late 1982 and Annual Camp 1983 (12-27 February) the Squadron added 240 meters to the airstrip they had constructed in 1969. This involved typical conditions of sapper work long hard hours and extended the strip to RAAF C130 Hercules capacity. Lysaght and other prefabricated buildings were built to establish the Scale A facilities at Santa Barbara. The Recon Officer,

Captain P C Dwyer was appointed Works Officer for this major construction camp. During the Camp a Dining-in Night was held. It was most probably the most auspicious gathering of engineers for some years in Tasmania, with not only the Colonel Commandant RAE 6 MD present, but also the Corps Director and the Commander Field Force Engineers and may other distinguished guests.

 

SME At Last

 

In early 1984 the Squadron made a long awaited return to the School. A reintroduction was made to bridging, a commodity rare in Tasmania. The only new bridging brought to the island since the bridge collapse was the MGB set here briefly in 1981. Unfortunately this now looks like the fond farewell to the School.

 

High Gear Sappers – Four Camps in Two Years

 

Both 1985 and 1986 saw the Squadron perform two major activities in a year. Both years had an extra Camp. In 1985 the Squadron was tasked and completed the destruction of the Emu Bay railway bridge over the Ring River in May. as well as the February Buckland Camp. The Bridge demolition was a significant task involving a single detonation of 700 kgs of high explosive; this was the largest bridge demolition undertaken by the Australian Army since WW2.

 

In 1986 after the Buckland Courses Camp a further Camp was held in October with 7 FER. They flew across to Victoria for two weeks of constant rain during the exercises. It was a valuable opportunity to work in a Regimental environment, something so often lacking in an independent Squadron. It also afforded the opportunity to work on most types of bridging, wet and dry and non-equipment.

 

Ubique

 

The last and most recent camp saw the Squadron quite literally Ubique. The exercise lasted from 10-25 October 1987. In that period the unit carried out works tasks in Stony Head, Buckland, Lake Sorell, and Hobart. Everything from a concete ford and culverts to sewage systems and road works.

 

In 1985 the Federal Government ordered a review of Australia’s Defence Capabilities.  This resulted in the Dibb Report which was presented to the Government in 1986.  From this report the Government wrote its policy paper ‘The Defence of Australia’.  The ‘white paper’ was presented to parliament in March 1987.

 

A new role was given to the Army Reserve with a primary responsibility for small scale operational defence in the north of Australia.

 

A significant restructure followed which led to the disbandment of 12 Field Squadron.

 

The unit’s last Officer Commanding was Major F J Harland who had the unenviable task of closing down the Squadron on 1 December 1987.

 

The camaraderie lives on.

 

AU REVOIR 12TH FIELD SQUADRON

Engineers have served in Tasmania since the first landing at Risdon Cove, which was then Van Diemans land. The cronical of events are described in the history of Royal Australian Engineers Vol 1-1835 to 1902, Vol 2 - 1902 to 1919 and Vol 3- 1919 to 1945 and later on with the formation of 12 Independant Fd Sqn in 1948 which was a Citizen Military Force (CMF) unit which later became a Army Reserve unit. Prior to the formation of 12 Independant Field Squadron in 1948, 1 Field Troop was established.
 

Some of the activities conducted by 12 Fd Sqn are listed below.
 

  • 1951   

    • Camp at Brighton

    • Bridge at Wayatinah 120ft long, built in 2 days

    • 3 Field troop formed at Bronte

  • 1952

    • Camp at Brighton, sapper training

  • 1953

    • Camp at Fort Direction

    • Lea scout camp roadwork and bridging

  • 1954   

    • Bailey bridge built at Government House for the Queen's visit

  • 1956

    • Now a sub unit 5 Corps Engineer Regiment

  • 1957

    • Now a sub unit 8 Corps Engineer Regiment 

  • 1958

    • Pedestrian Bridge built at George Town for school access

  • 1959

    • 200ft Suspension bridge built at Corra Lynn .

  • 1960

    • 25 Construction Squadron left state.

    • ​​12 Field Squadron moved from Beaumaris to Dowsing Point Waterloo Barracks

    • Annual Camp at the School of Military Engineering.

  • 1966

    • Replica Vietnam Village built at Buckland Military Training Area

  • 1968

    • Cracroft River suspension bridge constructed

    • Demoliton of the brickworks kiln chimneys West Hobart

  • 1969

    • Airstrip constructed at Stoney Head Training Area

  • 1970

    • Resoration at the Bellerieve Bluff Battery

  • 1972

    • 3 Field Troop raised at Queenstown

    • RAEME detachment added to the Squadron

    • 3.2 klm of road constructed at Buckland Range

  • 1973

    • Continued with a further 2.5 klm of road works at Buckland Range

  • 1976

    • Relocated 30 tonnes of timber by boat to Cynthia Bay at Lake St Clair

    • Granted Freedom of the City of Glenorchy

  • 1977

    • Dismantled derelict buildings on Maria Island

    • Cut timber and built bridges      

    • Improved road from Darlington to French's Farm

  • 1978

    • Annual camp at Buckland Military Training Area - Corporal Course, IET (Initial Employment Training) training, and Plant      training

  • 1979

    • Annual camp at School of Military Engineering (SME) Watermanship, Plant Operator and Bridging training

  • 1980

    • Annual camp at Buckland Military Training Area

  • 1981

    • Annual camp at Maria Island firebreaks, road and bridging works and Cracroft River bridge maintenance 

  • 1982

    • Annual camp at Buckland Military Training Area 

    • Exercised Freedom of the City of Glenorchy

  • 1983

    • Annual camp Stoney Head Training Area - Extension of the airstrip, building Lysart building and Scale A accomodation

  • 1984

    • Annual Camp at the School of Military Engineering.

    • Watermanship, Plant Operator and Bridging training

    • Exercised Freedom of the City of Glenorchy

  • 1985

    • Annual camp at Buckland Military Training Area - Combined camp with 146 Signal Squadron

    • Exercised Freedom of the City of Glenorchy

  • 1985

    • May- Demolition of the Emu Bay Railway bridge over Ring River clear the catchment area for the new Lake Pieman

    • This was the largest Army bridge demolition since World War 2

  • 1986

    • Annual camp at Buckland Military Training Area- IET, road works and construction of a dam

  • 1987

    • Annual camp at Buckland Military Training Area - IET, road maintenance works

    • This was the final camp of 12 Field Squadron prior to disbandment with effect from 01 Dec 1987 

12 Australian Field Company

12 Fd Coy  was formed in 1921 and mobilised at Brighton Camp, Hobart (Tas) in December 1941 as part of 12 Inf Bde Gp  with sections assigned to Hobart Cov (ering)Force at Kingston and 12/50 Inf Bn who were the district reserve at Elphin Camp. This pattern continued with each change in the Hobart Defence Plan with sections detached from Brighton Camp as required to meet  the works program.

Troops were maintained in Tasmania long past any real threat due to the difficulties of reinforcement and some political pressure.  By January  1943 it was possible to send 12 Fd Coy  away, although it would be April before 12 Inf Bde Gp was to head North. In February 12 Fd Coy  arrived in Sydney (NSW) to come under command of CRE 1 Inf Div while camped at Oatley Park. In April they moved to Woodford (QLD) to join 6 Inf Bde Gp

and moved with them to Freshwater, outside Cairns, then moved to Kuranda in June.

July saw 6 Inf Bde Gp move to New Guinea where they became part of 11 Inf Div which were relieving 41 US Inf Div at Dobodura (NG) 

6 Inf Bde Gp occupied the area that had been the focus of the Papuan Campaign six months previously with 12 Fd Coy at Semeni West. Initially they were under Command of CRE 1 Aust Corps Tps until CRE 11 Inf Div arrived in September. HQ 11 Inf Div left in February 1944 and 6 Inf Bde Gp remained until moving to Lae in May and rejoined HQ 11 Inf Div at Bulolo in June, just before they were relieved by HQ 3 Inf Div  in July

6 Inf Bde Gp moved to Lae in September.

To release US troops for the invasion of the Philippines, Australia agreed in late 1944 to take over a number of areas, including New Britain. 

5 Inf Div assembled a force, including Inf Bde Gp to move to Jacquinot Bay on the south coast and from there to patrol towards the main Japanese base at Rabual. 12 Fd Coy moved there in November and they supported Inf Bde Gp as they moved towards Wide Bay. Here they were relieved  by 13 Inf Bde Gp and returned to Jacquinot Bay in March 1945. During this time one platoon was attached to 36 Inf Bde Gp who were similarly advancing along the  north coast of New Britain towards Open Bay. In June 1945, Inf Bde Gp left New Britain for Brisbane(QLD) accompanied by 12 Fd Coy  which moved to the RAE Depot at Kapooka (NSW) in July. The men were generally on leave when hostilities ceased in August 1945.

War Diaries: AWM 52-5  13  28