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27557 Sapper
ARCHIBALD LINDSAY
Royal Engineers

by
Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2005. All Rights Reserved.

1. INTRODUCTION

Unless otherwise noted, the details supplied in this narrative were extracted from the soldier’s service papers obtained from the National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office) at Kew, Richmond, Surrey. Sapper Lindsay's papers were located in War Office files WO364/2100.[1]

2. EARLY LIFE AND FAMILY INFORMATION

Archibald Lindsay was born in the Parish of Greenock, near the Town of Greenock in the County of Renfrewshire, Scotland in November of 1869. Prior to enlisting in the Army he worked as a blacksmith and lived with his mother, Cecilia Lindsay, at 19 Bruce Street in Greenock.[2] Mrs. Lindsay was listed in Archibald Lindsay's military service papers as his next of kin. There is no mention in the papers of his father or of any siblings. The Lindsays were Presbyterians.

3. PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

The following is a description of Archibald Lindsay at the time he enlisted in the Army in 1893:

Age:

23 years and 8 months.

Height:

5 feet 6 inches.

Weight:

128 pounds.

Chest Measurement (minimum):

34 inches.

Chest Measurement (maximum):

37 inches.

Complexion:

Dark.

Eyes:

Dark brown.

Hair:

Dark brown.

Distinctive Marks:

A tattoo consisting of an indistinct cross on the web of his left thumb. Moles above his right nipple and inside of his left nipple. Two moles on the left side of his back. Scars on the back of his head and the back of his right elbow.

The following is a description of Archibald Lindsay at the time he was discharge from the Army in 1913:

Age:

44 years and 8 months.

Height:

5 feet 6 inches.

Chest Measurement (minimum):

39 inches.

Chest Measurement (maximum):

41 inches.

Complexion:

Dark.

Eyes:

Dark brown.

Hair:

Dark brown.

Distinctive Marks:

A tattoo consisting of an indistinct cross on the web of his left thumb. Moles above his right nipple and inside of his left nipple. Two moles on the left side of his back. Scars on the back of his head and the back of his right elbow.

4. ENLISTMENT AND TRAINING

Archibald Lindsay was recruited for enlistment in the Army by Sergeant George Smith, R.E. He enlisted at Glasgow, Scotland on the 28th of July 1893 for a period of 3 years with the Colours and 9 years in the Reserve.[3]

Lindsay indicated that he was a blacksmith by trade and that he was not an Apprentice at the time of his enlistment. He was not married and stated that he had never been imprisoned by civil power. Lindsay indicated that he had no prior regular naval or military service and that he had never been previously rejected for military service. He also indicated that prior to his enlistment he had served with the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. This battalion was headquartered in his hometown of Greenock.[4]

Lindsay swore the Oath of Attestation on the 28th of July 1893 with Sergeant George Smith as witness. His attestation was certified on this same day by the Recruiting Staff Officer of the Clyde District. Additionally, Lindsay's Certificate of Medical Examination was issued on this date by Captain G.E. Moffett, Army Medical Department. Captain Moffett pronounced Lindsay fit for service in the Army.[5]

On the 1st of August 1893 Lindsay's Certificate of Primary Military Examination was issued at Glasgow by the Recruiting Staff Officer of the Clyde District. He was determined to be fit for service in the Royal Engineers, undoubtedly because of his civil trade as a blacksmith, one of the trades sought after in a recruit by the Royal Engineers. The Certificate of Approving Field Officer also was issued on this date by the same Recruiting Staff Officer. Archibald Lindsay was given regimental number 27557 and the rank of Sapper in preparation for his recruit training.[6]

5. ASSIGNMENTS AND CAMPAIGN SERVICE

Chatham (1893-1894)

Sapper Lindsay proceeded to the School of Military Engineering at Chatham, Kent where he would receive his basic training as an engineer soldier. On the 23rd of December 1893, while at Chatham, Lindsay was convicted by civil power of being drunk and disorderly. For the offence he was fined 2 shillings and 6 pence. In all likelihood this bout of drinking was associated with holiday celebrations prior to Christmas. After the Christmas festivities of 1893 were over, Sapper Lindsay apparently came to the conclusion that Army life was for him. On the 28th of December he extended his service to complete 7 years with the Colours. Major George Alexander Cockburn, R.E, approved his request for extension.[7]

Pembroke Dock (1894-1896)

Following the completion of his training at Chatham, Lindsay was assigned to the 35th Company (Submarine Mining), Royal Engineers under the command of Captain Paul Robert Burn-Murdoch, R.E. The 35th Company was assigned to the Western District, with the district headquarters in Devonport. The 35th Company was stationed at Pembroke Dock in Pembrokeshire (now Dyfed), Wales on the east end of Milford Haven.

The mission of the 35th Company was to provide an efficient shore based defence for the British naval base at Pembroke Dock. This was accomplished through the use of underwater mines in conjunction with searchlights for harbour defences. The men selected for service with the submarine mining companies had to be physically fit in order to move the heavy mines around and were also chosen for their intelligence and scientific knowledge. After initial training and experience with such mundane tasks as coiling the electric cables used to connect the mines to shore, the men moved on to become divers, electricians, instrument repairers or engine drivers. Sapper Lindsay qualified as a "Skilled" Engine Driver in the 35th Company in September of 1894.[8]

Halifax and Bermuda (1896-1902)

Sapper Lindsay served with the 35th Company until the 14th of November 1896 when he departed England for service at Halifax, Nova Scotia. On the 5th of September 1901 he extended his service again, this time to complete 12 years with the Colours.[9] Lindsay left Nova Scotia on the 31st of October 1901 for service on the island of Bermuda.

The 27th Company (Submarine Mining), Royal Engineers had been at Halifax, Nova Scotia since September of 1886. In October of 1888 the 27th Company was divided into two companies, with the 27th Company moving to Bermuda and the newly formed 40th Company remaining at Halifax. It is most likely that Sapper Lindsay served in both of these companies between 1896 and 1902.[10]

The South African War (Boer War) of 1899 to 1902 was fought during the period that Sapper Lindsay was serving in Canada and Bermuda. Neither the 27th nor the 40th Company was deployed to South Africa to take part in this war; hence, Lindsay did not earn the campaign medals awarded for this conflict.

Home Service (1902-1906)

Sapper Lindsay served at Bermuda until the 25th of March 1902. His service papers are unclear regarding the unit to which he was assigned when he arrived home in England. The Royal Engineers List of December 1905 shows that the 36th (Fortress) Company, R.E. was reconstituted with the 1st Half Company on Bermuda and the 2nd Half Company at Chatham in Kent. Since Sapper Lindsay subsequently left England for service with the 36th Company, R.E. on the west coast of Africa, it may be assumed that he was serving with the 2nd Half Company of the 36th from 1902 to 1906. He may even have served with the 1st Half Company of the 36th on Bermuda prior to returning to England in March of 1902.

On the 9th of March 1905 Sapper Lindsay re-engaged to complete 21 years of service with the Colours.[11]

Sierra Leone (1906-1907)

Lindsay's next posting abroad was to Sierra Leone. He departed the U.K. for Africa on the 17th of February 1906 and arrived in the British Protectorate of Sierra Leone on the 27th of February. In Sierra Leone he served with the 36th Company under the command of Captain C.F.B. Pike, R.E. Other officers in the company at that time included Lieutenants W.G.S. Dobbie and J.R.W. Mansfield. In addition to the 36th Company, R.E., the Sierra Leone Fortress Company under the command of Major J.I. Lang-Hyde, C.M.G., R.E. also was stationed in West Africa at Tower Hill in Freetown during this period.

Lindsay remained in Sierra Leone for a little over one year, departing for home on the 4th of March 1907 and arriving in the U.K. on the 19th of March 1907. His actual service on the west coast of Africa was allowed to count double towards his pension under Article 1149 of the Pay Warrant of 1906. The shortness of this tour of duty and the extra credit for serving on the west coast of Africa were the result of the pestilential living conditions encountered by Europeans stationed there.

Home Service (1907-1910)

Sapper Lindsay served at home until the 9th of September 1910. Again his service papers do not specify the unit to which he was assigned during this period. Again, he probably was posted to a submarine mining company or fortress company until he departed England for service in Hong Kong with the 40th (Fortress) Company, R.E.

Hong Kong (1910-1913)

Lindsay served with the 40th Company for more than two years working on the construction and maintenance of fortifications in the port and harbour areas of Hong Kong. During Sapper Lindsay's period of service there the company was commanded by Major St. G.R.S. Caulfeild. Other officers assigned to the company at that time included Captain H.L.G. Bell and Lieutenants B.E. Coke, C.R. Shannon and C.N. Rivers-Moore. Lindsay returned home from Hong Kong on the 18th of December 1913.

Home Service (1913-1914)

Upon his arrival in the United Kingdom, Lindsay was posted to the Clyde Section of the 49th (Coast Battalion) Company, R.E in the Lowland District of Scotland with headquarters at 30 Rutland Square in Edinburgh.[12] This put Lindsay back into the submarine mining business where he had first started out soon after his enlistment in 1893.

The Coast Battalion had been formed in 1885 and was part of the Submarine Mining Establishment. It consisted of a body of officers recruited from the warrant and non-commissioned ranks of the Royal Engineers who retained their regimental position and seniority, and were interchangeable with the rest of the Royal Engineers Submarine Miners. The Coast Battalion was divided into sections, one at each commercial port defended by submarine mines. The duties of a section were the custody and maintenance of the submarine mining defence and the instruction of the Volunteer Submarine Miners at the port. At first the Volunteers were raised as companies of existing Volunteer Corps, but later, when they formed into separate divisions, the officer of the Coast Battalion acted as Adjutant of the Volunteer Division in addition to his duties as officer commanding the section.

As Lindsay's time in service approached the 21-year mark he expressed his desire to take his discharge upon completion of his second term of limited engagement. On the 11th of July 1914 Lindsay acknowledged receipt of all pay and allowances due him upon discharge. This acknowledgement was witnessed by Corporal W.G. Slade, R.E. All of his accounts were certified as correctly balanced on the 13th of July and his discharge was confirmed at Edinburgh on the 15th of July by the Commander Royal Engineers, Lowland District. Sapper Lindsay was discharged from the Army on the termination of his second period of limited engagement on the 27th of July 1914.

6. PROMOTIONS AND CONDUCT

a. Promotions: Sapper Archibald Lindsay did not receive any promotions during his time in service. His conduct appears to have been exemplary during his 21 years of service; however, Lindsay did not attempt to better himself by improving his education. This is apparent from the fact that he earned no Certificates of Education during his service. He appears to have been a proficient engine driver and blacksmith, but was never deemed worthy of promotion to a higher rank.

b. Conduct: Archibald Lindsay received the following Good Conduct Badges during his time in service:[13]

Date of Award

Good Conduct Badge

28 July 1895

Awarded Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 1.d per day.

19 October 1897

Forfeited Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 1.d per day.[14]

19 April 1898

Restored Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 1.d per day.

1 April 1900

Awarded Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 2.d per day.

27 July 1905

Awarded Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 3.d per day.

Unknown

Awarded Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 4.d per day.[15]

Sapper Lindsay qualified for the award of the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal on the 27th of July 1911 after completing 18 years of service. He was awarded the medal with a gratuity of 5 by Army Order 92 of 1911.[16]

7. EDUCATION AND QUALIFICATIONS

a. Education: As previously stated, Sapper Lindsay did not earn and Certificates of Education during his time in service. This lack of effort or intellectual ability on his part may explain his failure to be promoted to a higher rank during his 21 years of service. As indicated below he was a "superior" engine driver whose skills were considered worthy of additional service pay, yet these qualifications were still not sufficient for him to be promoted above the rank of Sapper. It may be that Lindsay was one of those soldiers who shunned supervisory responsibility. Although his records do not indicate as much, he may have refused promotion being content to remain a Sapper for his entire time in the Army.

b. Qualifications: Sapper Lindsay earned the following qualifications during his time in service:

 Date

Qualification

24 September 1894

Passed the class of instruction in Engine Driving ("Skilled"). Qualification approved by the Commander Royal Engineers, Western District.

18 June 1895

Passed the class of instruction in Engine Driving ("Superior"). Qualification approved by a Staff Officer, Royal Engineers, Western District.

April 1902

Granted service pay at the rate of 7.d per day in the rank of Sapper in accordance with Army Order 66 of 1902.[17]

14 June 1911

Qualified in swimming.

8. MEDICAL INFORMATION

Sapper Lindsay's military records did not contain a Medical History Sheet.

9. MARRIAGE AND PERSONAL INFORMATION

According to his military service papers, Archibald Lindsay was not married prior to or during his time in service.

10. DISCHARGE

Sapper Lindsay was discharged from the Army at Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland on the 27th of July 1914 on the termination of his second period of limited engagement. His total service was reckoned as shown in the tables below:

Location

Period of Service

Home

28 July 1893 to 13 November 1896

Halifax, Nova Scotia

14 November 1896 to 30 October 1901

Bermuda

31 October 1901 to 24 March 1902

Home

25 March 1902 to 16 February 1906

Sierra Leone

17 February 1906 to 18 March 1907

Home

19 March 1907 to 8 September 1910

Hong Kong

9 September 1910 to 17 December 1913

Home

18 December 1913 to 27 July 1914

 

Location

Period of Service

Home Service

11 years and 73 days

Service Abroad

9 years and 292 days

Total Service (actual)

21 years exactly

Total Service (for pension)

22 years and 6 days[18]

Sapper Lindsay's discharge papers indicate that he was a blacksmith by trade. This was his civil trade prior to entering the Army and appears to have been the trade he worked at while in the service. He was also an engine driver in the Army, meaning that he could operate oil and steam engines used during his time in the submarine mining companies.

Lindsay's military character was described as "Exemplary" and his commanding officer indicated that he was "a very steady, reliable and hardworking blacksmith. Capable of taking charge of oil and steam engines and making minor repairs. Can be trusted to complete work without supervision." At the time of his discharge, Lindsay was entitled to Class II Proficiency Pay.

11. POST SERVICE LIFE

Sapper Lindsay indicated that upon discharge his intended place of residence would be 19 Bruce Street in Greenock, Renfrewshire. Other than his intended place of residence, no further information is known regarding his post service life.

Lindsay was discharged within a week of the outbreak of the Great War of 1914-1918. No evidence could be found to indicate that he was called back to serve in that war; hence, it is believed that he saw no active service during his military career.[19] The Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in the author's collection appears to be Sapper Lindsay's only medal entitlement.

REFERENCES

Books

1. BAKER BROWN, W. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume IV. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1952.

2. BAKER BROWN, W. History of Submarine Mining in the British Army. W. & J. Mackay & Co., Ltd., Chatham, 1910.

3. CHICHESTER, H.M. & BURGES-SHORT, G. The Records and Badges of Every Regiment and Corps in the British Army. Gale & Polden, Ltd., London, 1900.

4. CONOLLY, T.W.J. Roll of Officers of the Corps of Royal Engineers From 1660 to 1898. The Royal Engineers Institute, Chatham, Kent, 1898.

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

6. 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.

Computer Software

Soldiers Died in the Great War. The Naval & Military Press Ltd., Heathfield, East Sussex, 1998.

Documents

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

Periodicals

1. The Monthly Army List, June 1890.

2. The Royal Engineers Monthly Lists, 1905.

3. The Royal Engineers Monthly Lists, 1908.

Soldier's Service Papers (WO364/2100)

1. Short Service Attestation (Army Form B. 217), consisting of the following sections:

a. Questions to be put to the Recruit before Enlistment.

b. Oath to be taken by the Recruit on Attestation.

c. Certificate of Magistrate or Attesting Officer.

d. Description on Enlistment.

e. Certificate of Medical Examination.

f. Certificate of Primary Military Examination.

g. Certificate of Approving Field Officer.

h. Military History Sheet.

i. Statement of Services.

2. Proceedings on Discharge (Army Form B. 268).

 ENDNOTES

[1] National Archives research performed by Mr. Stuart Gase of West Drayton, Middlesex.

[2] Greenock is a busy port and manufacturing town on the River Clyde Estuary, with many shipbuilding yards and docks. Greenock is located about 20 miles west northwest of Glasgow.

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

[4] CHICHESTER & BURGES-SHORT, p. 824.

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

[6] See Engineer Recruit Training.

[7] See Extensions of Service of the Regular Army.

[8] The 35th Company became an experimental submarine mining company in May of 1892 and was active in this role when Sapper Lindsay joined it.

[9] See Extensions of Service of the Regular Army.

[10] The 27th Submarine Mining Company combined with half of the 36th Company at Bermuda to form the 27th (Fortress) Company on the 1st of July 1905. The 40th (Submarine Mining) Company was brought home on the withdrawal of the Imperial Garrison from Canada and was disbanded at Chatham in January of 1906.

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

[12] The 49th Company had sections at Forth, Clyde and Tay.

[13] See Good Conduct Pay.

[14] The reason for this forfeiture of Good Conduct Pay is not stated in Lindsay's service papers.

[15] Lindsay's service papers indicate that he was in possession of four Good Conduct Badges at the time of his discharge from the Army; however, his Statement of Services does not indicate the date of the last award.

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

[17] Service Pay in addition to their regular pay, was granted to men in the Royal Engineers who demonstrated proficiency in their military trades. Service or Proficiency Pay was awarded in seven classes, with Class I being the highest. Lindsay eventually qualified for Class II Proficiency Pay by the time of his discharge in 1914.

[18] The additional year and 6 days for pension purposes is due to his time in Sierra Leone being counted as double.

[19] A search was made in Soldiers Died in the Great War. Four men by the name of Lindsay were casualties during the war while serving in the Royal Engineers, but Archibald Lindsay was not among them.