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Sappers WW2


My Grandfather William James Young was a Sapper
in the 2/16 Field Company Royal Austrlian Engineers.
I would like to know what Sappers did and what he would have done in the war. He never talked about it much, but he used to get quite sick with malaria. The only thing I remember him talking about the war was this song
"We're Sappers, we're Sappers a long way from home
and if you don't like us ??????????
We'll drink when we're thirsty, we'll drink when we're dry,
We'll drink while we're living , we'll drink till we die.
I can't remember it properly and would like to know the words if anyone else has ever heard this.
Trina
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Re: Sappers WW2


Trina,
Here is a little information about the duties of a Sapper. This information comes from the Defence Forces current explanation of a Sapper's duties - it may have changed a little since WW2 but I imagine it was very similiar

The term 'sapper' relates back to the very early days of engineers; to sap was to dig siege trenches, or tunnels, under the enemy's fortifications.

"What is the Sapper?"
" He is a man of all work of the army and the public, astronomer, geologist, surveyor, draughtsman, artist, architect, traveller, explorer, antiquary, mechanic, diver, soldier and sailor; ready to do anything or go anywhere; in short he is a SAPPER"
Major General George Connelly

The Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) is the Army Corps responsible for the provision of combat, logistic, general engineering support and geomatic engineering within the ADF.

Sappers can be found in a number of different units:

The Combat Engineer Regiment


The Construction Regiment or Squadron


The Chief Engineer Works


The Topographical Survey Squadron


The Emergency Response Squadron


The Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Response Squadron


These units, or detachments, provide engineering support to all levels of Army and the ADF. Sappers' responsibilities are very broad and fall into four main categories:

Mobility Support - Combat mobility, Tactical Mobility and Explosive Ordnance Clearance.


Counter-Mobility Support - Construct Obstacles, Conduct Demolitions.


Survivability Support - Produce water, Combat Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Fire Hazards, Construct Physical Force Protection Measures, Support Deception, Repair and Maintain Civilian Infrastructure.


Geospatial Support - Acquire, manage, analyse and manipulate geospatial data, provide geospatial products and services.
 Source - [sign in to see URL]


Sorry can't help with song though
Kate
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Re: Sappers WW2


The Bulldog Track, also known as the Bulldog-Wau road, in the year 2004 is a foot track crossing the western end of the Owen Stanley Range of Central Papua New Guinea. The track begins near a small settlement on the upper reaches of the Lakekamu River on the south side of the ranges. After penetrating dense equatorial rain forests it winds up around jungle clad ridges for some sixty kilometres to over 9,800 feet (3,000 metres) on the Central Ranges before dropping down to the Township of Wau in the Bulolo Valley.

The track is some one hundred kilometres due west of the famous Kokoda Track crosses some of the most rugged and isolated terrain in the world, combining hot humid days with intensely cold nights, torrential rainfall and endemic tropical diseases such as malaria. For the moment it is one of the few great treks in the Tropical montane regions of the world.

Sixty years ago, it was the only vehicular road across the Central Ranges of New Guinea. In 1943 Australian Army engineers; the 2/1 and 2/16 Field Company RAE, 9th Australian Field Company (AIF), veterans of Greece and Crete, the 1st and 3rd Australian Pack Transport Companies and local Papuan labour cut the road with pickaxes and dynamite over a period of eight [sign in to see URL] Chief Engineer, W. J. Reinhold, was later to write "Every foot of progress made on this road exacted the ultimate in courage, endurance, skill and toil. Its construction took a toll from surveyor, engineer, labourer and native carrier alike." During five months of operations over seventy per cent of the 2/1 Australian Field Company contracted malaria.

"Along many sections, road-surfacing materials was practically non-existent. The climate ranged from torrid heat to icy cold. The annual rainfall ranged between 150 and 200 inches. These wet conditions combined with the topographic features made construction extremely difficult. In a few minutes a landslide would destroy weeks of labour. The construction gangs would stop, repair the work and move on.

As work progressed the problem of maintaining a supply line became formidable. Work was often suspended for lack of petrol, oil, grease explosives, drill steel, jackbits or other essentials. Nearly all work in the high central section of the road was done with picks, shovels and crowbars. Since blacksmiths tools were slow in arriving and forges awkward to transport, it was often necessary to use badly blunted tools."

The purpose of the road was to provide a supply line for future military operations in the Markham Valley and on the northern coasts of Papua New Guinea. On the late afternoon of August the twenty second, nineteen forty- three, the road was finally completed and two jeeps crossed from Edie Creek to Bulldog.

On September twenty third, the first three ton trucks crossed the road successfully and the long supply line was finally open. One hundred and fourteen kilometres of road were now completed. Commencing at Bulldog at an altitude of fifty-nine metres it rose by a series of long loops up through the steep river gorges of the southern watershed to an altitude of three thousand metres, then dropped down a series of ridges into the Wau valley.

Seventeen bridges were constructed; mostly single, but at least one with multiple spans. More than two thousand Australian army personnel and over two thousand Papuans and New Guineans were involved during nine months of construction. Thus the road, acclaimed as the greatest military engineering feat ever, was completed and for the only time in history motor vehicles crossed the high rugged mountains of Papua New Guinea.
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Re: Sappers WW2


My uncle NX116268 AIF (N217600 CMF) was a sapper and served overseas for 335 days at (service records to unclear to read) but I know he served in New Guinea. He started to experience nervous anxiety symptoms around July 1943 which developed into a more severe illness and he was discharged medically unfit and disembarked in Brisbane on 27 Jan 1944. The Unit on discharge was 18A Field Coy. I can't find any mention of it? Am unable to make out Unit during his service as document is unclear. Any suggestions?
Thank you.
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Re: Sappers WW2


Hello Legacy

My Great Grandfather Allan Melbourne VX46356 served with the 2/16th RAE from 12/11/40 as a sapper and was Discharge on 2/4/45 as a Corpral. It would be great to think That my Great Grandfather knew your Grandfather and they got along well.

A sapper is the Engineer basic rank replacing Private it's like the cavalry have troopers as there lowest rank to replace Private.

If anyone can possibly help me in finding some information on 2/16th RAE FLD COY it would be great. I can only work out the general area's where the company served from my Great Grandfather records but I have problems trying to read them because I can not read the hand writing that well. I think they spent some time in Bombay also I think they spent sometime in Palestine because I had a quick flip threw my great Grandfathers diary a few years ago and I can remember a reference of a parade for Anzac day in Palistine. The next place reference on his record is Port Morsey on 28/11/42. Also I have come past picture on AWM of a few sappers apparently of 2/16th Fld Coy RAE laying tracks in Townsville. That is most of the information I have found in my search at this point of time if anyone can add to this it would be very grateful.
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