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11316 Company Sergeant Major
Royal Engineers

Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2004. All Rights Reserved.


Unless otherwise noted, the details supplied in this narrative were extracted from the soldier’s service papers obtained from original documents housed in the National Archives at Kew, Richmond, Surrey. The service papers were located in War Office files WO97/3311.


William W. Long was born in the Parish of St. Mary's, near the Town of Southampton in the County of Hampshire in May of 1852. Prior to his enlistment in the Army in 1871 he worked as a Surveyor. This civil trade made him a prime candidate for the Corps of Royal Engineers when he decided to enlist in the Army; specifically, it provided him with the credentials necessary to work for the Ordnance Survey on the Survey of England. This employment during his 21 years in the Army would keep him in the United Kingdom for the entire period of his military service.


The following is a description of William Long at the time he enlisted in the Army in 1871:


19 years and 3 months


5 feet 9 inches


127 pounds

Chest Measurement (normal):

36 inches

Pulse (regular):

72 beats per minute


18 inspirations per minute







Vaccination Marks:

Yes, in infancy

Distinctive Marks:


Muscular Development:



a. Recruitment

William Long was recruited for service in the Corps of Royal Engineers on the 9th of August 1871. He was given a preliminary medical examination at Chatham, Kent on that day and a Medical Certificate on Enlistment was issued by T.W. Fry, Surgeon, Royal Engineers pronouncing Long fit for service in the Army.[1]

b. Enlistment

On the 15th of August 1871, William Long was granted special authorization to enlist in the Corps of Royal Engineers by the Deputy Assistant Adjutant General, R.E. Long's service papers do not indicate why "special authorization" was required for his enlistment. In all probability this "special authorization" had something to do with his skills as a surveyor in civil life and his subsequent assignment to the Ordnance Survey.

Long was enlisted on the 16th of August at 12:00 noon at Chatham, Kent by Sergeant Major John Foster, R.E. His enlistment was for a period of 12 years with the promise of a free kit.[2]

As part of his enlistment Long was asked the normal questions that were put to a recruit when joining up. His responses to the questions were recorded on his Attestation Paper by Sergeant William G. Mackay, R.E. Long indicated to Sergeant Mackay that he was not an apprentice and that he was not married. He declared that he was not a member of the Militia or the Army Reserve, that he was not a member of the regular forces and that he had never been rejected as unfit for service in the forces. Long further stipulated that he had never been marked as a "Deserter" and had never been discharged for "Bad Conduct."

William Long swore the Oath of Attestation at Rochester, Kent on the 17th of August 1871 at 3:45 PM before Francis M. Webb, a Justice of the Peace for Rochester. He returned to Chatham on the following day where his Medical Certificate on Approval was issued by T.W. Fry, Surgeon, R.E. On the 26th of August 1871, Long's attestation was certified by the Deputy Assistant Adjutant General, R.E. He was now 11316 Sapper William Long, Royal Engineers.

c. Recruit Training

Sapper Long began his recruit training as an engineer soldier at the School of Military Engineering at Chatham.[3] His training continued until October of 1872 when it appears that he was assigned to a unit at Chatham, probably to a company within the Depot Battalion Royal Engineers.[4]


a. Promotions

William Long received the following promotions during his time in service:

Date of Promotion
or Appointment

Rank or Appointment and
Time in each Grade

16 August 1871

Enlisted in the rank of Sapper (6 years and 152 days)

16 January 1878

Appointed Lance Corporal (1 year and 54 days)

12 March 1879

Promoted 2nd Corporal (3 years and 72 days)

24 May 1882

Promoted Corporal (6 years and 246 days)

26 January 1889

Promoted Sergeant (3 years and 1 day)

28 January 1892

Promoted Company Sergeant Major (201 days)

b. Conduct

1. Disciplinary Actions

No record of any disciplinary actions was found in Company Sergeant Major Long's military service records.

2. Good Conduct Badges

Company Sergeant Major Long received the following Good Conduct Badges during his time in service:[5]

Good Conduct Badge

Date of Award

Total Time in Service

Awarded Good Conduct Pay at 1d.

17 August 1873

2 years

Awarded Good Conduct Pay at 2d.

17 August 1877

6 years

Eligible for Good Conduct Pay at 3d.

17 August 1883

12 years

Eligible for Good Conduct Pay at 4d.

17 August 1887

16 years

Eligible for Good Conduct Pay at 5d.

17 August 1892

21 years

NOTE: Long entered the Army when the 1870 rules for awarding good conduct pay were in force. Under these rules (and the subsequent 1876 rules) he received good conduct pay after 2, 6 and 12 years of total service. His fourth and fifth good conduct badges were awarded under the 1876 rules at 16 years and 21 years. It should be noted that he received each badge exactly on the anniversary date of his service as specified by the regulations for awarding the badges.

3. Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

Company Sergeant Major Long completed 18 years of service on the 8th of August 1889 and became eligible for the award of the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. This medal was subsequently issued to him the following year.[6] It was the only medal awarded to him during his military career.


a. Education

Company Sergeant Major Long earned a Second Class and a First Class Certificate of Education in 1886.[7] His service papers do not indicate the day or month that each of the certificates was issued.

b. Qualifications

William Long entered the Army after having worked as a Surveyor in civil life. He spent his more than 21 years in the Army as a Surveyor working on the Ordnance Survey of England.


a. Summary of Service

William Long served all of his time in the Army at home, without any active service or service abroad. The table below provides a summary of his service.




Years & Days

Chatham, Kent

16 August 1871

9 October 1872

1 year & 54 days

Guildford, Surrey

10 October 1872

28 September 1875

2 years & 354 days

Reading, Berkshire

29 September 1875

30 November 1882

7 years & 63 days

Bristol, Somerset

1 December 1882

17 August 1892

9 years & 260 days

Total Service:

21 years and 1 day

b. Narrative of Service

Following the completion of his recruit training, Long was posted to Guildford, Surrey on the 10th of October 1872 where it appears that he was assigned to the 14th (Survey) Company, Royal Engineers to perform duties related to the Survey of England. The 14th Company had been stationed at Guildford since December of 1866. The company subsequently moved to Tonbridge in Kent and in January of 1874 it was located in Chester, Cheshire. Long's final move with the 14th Company occurred in March of 1875 when the unit moved to London.

Long was posted to the 16th (Survey) Company, Royal Engineers at Reading, Berkshire on the 29th of September 1875, again to perform duties relating to the Survey of England. On the 28th of November 1881, while still serving at Reading, he re-engaged to complete 21 years of service with the Colours.[8] The 16th Company was moved to Clifton in March of 1879 and then to Ipswich, Suffolk on the 2nd of January 1882.

On the 1st of December 1882, Long was posted to Bristol where he served with the 13th (Survey) Company, R.E. at the Ordnance Survey Office in Tudor Hall. He ultimately served as the Company Sergeant Major of this unit and was still serving with the company at the time of his discharge in August of 1892.


The following information was taken from William Long's medical records during his time in service:


Date of

Ailment or Medical

Period of Hospitalization
or Treatment

Chatham, Kent

9 Aug 1871

Medical examination on enlistment

Found fit for
Service in the Army.

Chatham, Kent

30 Aug 1871


Vaccination failed

Chatham, Kent

6 Sep 1871


Vaccination failed

Chatham, Kent

11 Sep 1872

Conjunctivitis caused by an accident

Admitted to hospital for treatment. Released to duty on 13 September 1872


a. Spouse and Children

On the 3rd of February 1875, William Long married Lucy Ellen A. Vingar at Guildford, Surrey without leave.[9] Lucy was originally from Penzance, Cornwall and was 23 years old at the time of their marriage.

The Longs first child, Charles W.H. Long was born at Reading, Berkshire on the 11th of November 1875. A second son, Sydney W.H. Long was born at Stansted Montfield, Essex on the 3rd of April 1878. Both sons were given the middle initial "H" in their names. There is no record to indicate what the letter "H" stood for, but it may be surmised that it was the name of a male member of the Long family.

b. Census Information

(1) 1881 British Census

The Household of William H. Long

Census Place: Yate, Gloucester, England
Source: FHL Film 1341606, PRO Reference RG11, Piece 2512, Folio 46, Page Number 3

And Occupation


Marital Status




William W. Long,
2nd Corporal, Royal Engineers





Southampton, Hampshire, England
Lucy E.A. Long





Penzance, Cornwall, England
Charles, W.H. Long, Scholar





Reading, Berkshire, England
Sydney W.H. Long, Scholar





Stansted Montfield, Essex, England
John Jones, Laborer, Ordnance Survey





Glamorgan, Wales
Philip Conway, Civil Assistant, Ordnance Survey






(2) 1901 British Census[10]

The 1901 census shows an entry for the household of William W. Long in the Civil Parish of Glasshouse Yard Entire, East Division of the Borough of Finsbury, Ecclesiastical Parish of Saint Botolph without Aldersgate, in the Administrative County of London. The Long's address is shown as 1 Rutland Place. Rutland Place is located near Charterhouse Square in Finsbury, London EC1. It is situated in close proximity to many famous places in London; namely, the Old Bailey, St. Bartholomew's Hospital, the General Post Office and St. Paul's Cathedral.

The 1901 British Census return contains the following entries.

Name and Age

Where Born

Marital Status


William W. Long, 48

Southampton, Hampshire


Caretaker School Porter

Lucy E. Long, 49

Penzance, Cornwall



Charles W.H. Long, aged 26 years, and Sydney W.H. Long, aged 23 years, are not shown in the 1901 census as living in their father's house. At the start of the Great War of 1914-1918, Charles would have been 39 years of age and Sydney would have been 36 years of age. There is no evidence that either man followed in their father's footsteps by joining the forces either before or during the Great War. Neither man shows up as a casualty in Soldiers Died in the Great War.


Company Sergeant Major William W. Long was discharged from the Army at Bristol on the 17th of August 1892 on the on the termination of his second period of limited engagement. At the time of his discharge he was serving in the 13th (Survey) Company, Royal Engineers under the command of Captain P.S. Haynes, R.E. Long served all of his 21 years and 1 day at home with no service abroad and no war service. At the time of his discharge his habits were noted to be "temperate" and his conduct "very good."


No information was uncovered during this research regarding Company Sergeant Major Long's post service life other than what was uncovered in the 1901 British Census.



1. BARTHOLOMEW, J. Reference Atlas of Greater London. John Bartholomew & Son, Ltd., The Geographical Institute, Edinburgh, 1957.

2. FARWELL, B. Mr. Kipling’s Army: All the Queen’s Men. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1981.

3. GRIERSON, J.M. Scarlet Into Khaki: The British Army on the Eve of the Boer War. Greenhill Books, London, 1988.

4. SKELLEY, A.R. The Victorian Army at Home: The Recruitment and Terms and Conditions of the British Regular, 1859-1899. McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1977.


1. Service Record (WO97/3311) of 11316 Company Sergeant Major William W. Long, R.E., including the following documents:

a. Attestation Paper
b. Medical History
c. Military History Sheet
d. Record of Services
e. Statement of Services

2. LARIMORE, F.B. Long Service and Good Conduct Chevrons (Badges) and their Periods of Qualification. Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, 1998.

3. LARIMORE, F. Rules for Awarding Good Conduct Badges, Philadelphia, 2003.


1901 British Census. Public Record Office, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, 2003.

Computer Software

1. 1881 British Census and National Index. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, 1999.

2. GASE, S. Movements of Royal Engineers Companies. West Drayton, Middlesex, 2001.

3. Vital Records Index - British Isles. Family History Resource File, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, 1998.


[1] See Age and Physical Requirements for Soldiers in the British Army and the Corps of Royal Engineers (Victorian Period).

[2] See Periods of Enlistment for the Corps of Royal Engineers.

[3] See Engineer Recruit Training. It has been assumed that Long underwent the normal recruit training as for any other soldier enlisted in the Royal Engineers. This assumption may not be valid if the special circumstances of his enlistment, that is his skill as a surveyor, caused him to follow a different course of training specifically designed for his duties with the Ordnance Survey.

[4] It is quite possible that following his recruit training he was assigned further training to prepare him for service with the Ordnance Survey. It is also possible that he was assigned directly to a Survey Company of the Royal Engineers following his recruit training, although there were no Survey Companies at Chatham in 1872.

[5] See Good Conduct Pay.

[6] This medal is in the author's collection and is the reason for this research work.

[7] See Certificates of Education.

[8] See Re-Engagement in the Regular Army.

[9] See Marriage of Soldiers during the Victorian Period. Long's service papers do not indicate that he was ever placed on the Married Establishment, although as a senior non-commissioned officer this must have occurred at some time during his career.

[10] PRO Reference: RG13, Piece 263, Folio 127, Page 9, Schedule 37.