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1854063 Warrant Officer Class 2
HERBERT E. PIKE
[1]
Royal Engineers

by
ŠLieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis, 2000.

Herbert E. Pike was born on the 12th of March 1897 [2]. Prior to his service in the Great War of 1914-1918, Pike served as a Private (Regimental Number 19317) in the Lincolnshire Regiment [3]. He enlisted as a Pioneer (Regimental Number 128934) in the Royal Engineers on the 7th of December 1915 and saw active service during the Great War [4]. His rank of Pioneer, and his regimental number in the 128000 series, would seem to indicate that he was assigned to the Royal Engineer Special Brigade during the war [5]. The Special Brigade was the Royal Engineer unit responsible for gas warfare. For his service during the war he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Following the war he remained in the Regular Army and was assigned Army Number 1854063 [6]. He then was assigned for duty with the Establishment for Engineer Services [7]. By this time he had risen to the rank of Lance Sergeant. Based on his subsequent promotions and ranks, it appears that he remained with the Establishment for Engineer Services for the remainder of his Army career.

Pike was promoted to the rank of Sergeant (Engineer Ledger Keeper) on the 6th of February 1929 [8]. On the 13th of March 1929 he was posted to Sierra Leone where he served for a little over seven months [9]. Sergeant Pike’s short stay in Sierra Leone can be attributed to the fact that the British were removing majority of their military presence from that country and had started to do so in 1928 [10]. The Military Hospital at Tower Hill had closed down on the 1st of August 1928. The last of the officers and men of the Royal Army Medical Corps stationed in Sierra Leone left on the 9th of December 1928. New Royal Engineer personnel arrived in country on the 30th of October 1928, but the Station News submitted to the December issue of The Sapper indicated that their stay would "likely be curtailed."

The new Commander Royal Engineers, Major J.D. Watson, arrived in Sierra Leone on the 27th of November 1928. The Royal Navy personnel stationed there had practically all departed by that time [11]. There does not seem to have been much in the way of new construction underway by the men of the E.E.S. during most of 1929. Station News in the monthly issues of The Sapper reported nothing but sports activities with no mention whatsoever of any military construction or training. At the completion of his duties there, or perhaps after the almost complete shut down of the British Military presence in Sierra Leone, Sergeant Pike returned to England on the 29th of October 1929 and was posted to Dover [12].

Sergeant Pike still was serving at Dover in 1931 [13] and in 1933 he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (GVR) for completing 18 years of service with the Colours [14]. His assignment at Dover was probably in the Home Counties Area (East) of the Eastern Command. The Commander Royal Engineers in this Area at the time was Lieutenant Colonel S. Pemberton, DSO, MC, whose headquarters were located at Archcliffe Fort in Dover. Sergeant Pike was probably working out this headquarters during the time he was stationed at Dover [15]. While at Dover, Pike was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant. Sometime between January and March of 1934, Pike departed Dover with his family, bound for Singapore [16].

On the 6th of February 1935 Sergeant Pike was promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2 (Engineer Clerk Quartermaster Sergeant). In May of 1935 he still was serving in Singapore with the Establishment for Engineer Services there [17]. The Commander Royal Engineers for the Singapore District at that time was Lieutenant Colonel G. Streeten, MC [18]. The work undertaken by the E.E.S. in Singapore during the time of Pike’s assignment there consisted of improvements to Moonstone Pier, the construction of a new pier with garages and miscellaneous facilities, and work on searchlight and railway construction [19].

Pike returned home from Singapore and was discharged from the Army on the 8th of November 1935. At the time of his discharge he was in possession of a First Class Certificate of Education [20].

REFERENCES:

  1. The Sapper, November 1928 (Station News).
  2. The Sapper, December 1928 (Station News).
  3. The Sapper, January 1929 (Station News).
  4. The Sapper, December 1931, p. 140.
  5. The Sapper, September 1929, p. 53.
  6. The Sapper, March 1934 (Station News).
  7. The Sapper, February 1935 (Station News).
  8. The Sapper, May 1935, p. 610.
  9. The Sapper, February 1936, p. 188.
  10. Medal Index Card (MIC), Public Record Office, Kew, Richmond, Surrey.
  11. DE SANTIS, E. REGNUM Computer Program. Columbia, Maryland, 1985.
  12. The Royal Engineers Quarterly Journal, January 1932.
  13. The Royal Engineers Quarterly Journal, January 1935.

ENDNOTES:

[1] In all probability Pike’s middle name was Edward. He is referred to in Station News in The Sapper of March 1934 as "Ted" Pike, with Ted being a common nickname for Edward among the British.

[2] The Sapper, September 1929, p. 53.

[3] Medal Index Card, Public Record Office, Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[4] Ibid.

[5] REGNUM. A Computer Program designed to determine unit of assignment from Regimental Numbers of the Royal Engineers. E. De Santis, Columbia, Maryland, 1985.

[6] This is the number on the Long Service and Good Conduct medal in the author’s collection.

[7] See Establishment for Engineer Services.

[8] The Sapper, September 1929, p. 53.

[9] This is an interesting assignment. The Royal Engineers Quarterly List for January 1930 shows that Sierra Leone was a Protectorate at the time. The only Royal Engineer officers there at the time were Captains V.E.H. Sanceau and P.F. White, both of whom were on survey duties. Since Pike’s stay in Sierra Leone was a short one, he may have been sent there to assist with these survey duties, since the work of the E.E.S. was practically non-existent in Sierra Leone at that time.

[10] Station News in The Sapper of November 1928 indicated that the "Sappers had been very much depleted in number" in Sierra Leone at this time.

[11] Station News in The Sapper of January 1929.

[12] The Sapper, December 1931, p. 140.

[13] Ibid.

[14] The year of this award is reckoned as 18 years from the date of his enlistment. It is this medal in the author’s collection that is the reason for this research work.

[15] The Royal Engineers Quarterly Journal, January 1932, p. xxi.

[16] The Sapper, March 1934 (Station News).

[17] The Sapper, May 1935, p. 610.

[18] The Royal Engineers Quarterly Journal, January 1935, p. xxi.

[19] The Sapper, February 1935 (Station News).

[20] The Sapper, February 1936, p. 188.