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Royal Engineers


Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis

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            Thomas Buckley graduated from East London College prior to the outbreak of the Great War of 1914 to 1918, after earning a Bachelor of Science Degree.  He participated in the Senior Division of the University of London Officers’ Training Corps (O.T.C.) and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers (Territorial Force) upon graduation.  He was called to active service on the 1st of August 1915 and was assigned to the 1/1st West Riding Field Company, 29th (West Riding) Divisional Engineers.[1]  On the 8th of December 1915 he arrived at the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force Base at Sidi Bishr in Alexandria, Egypt.[2]  By the time that he arrived in Egypt, his unit already had been withdrawn from Gallipoli, so he did not see any action in that campaign.

            2nd Lieutenant Buckley moved with his company to the Western Front in March of 1916.  By this time the 1/1st West Riding Field Company had been re-designated as the 455th (West Riding) Field Company, Royal Engineers.  On the 1st of June of 1916 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.[3] 

            Lieutenant Buckley saw a lot of action during his time with the 455th Field Company.  The following table summarizes the major battles and campaigns in which he and the unit took part with the 29th Division:[4]



The Somme

1-13 Jul 1916


9-14 Apr 1917


23-24 Apr 1917


31 Jul to 2 Aug 1917


16-18 Aug 1917

Menin Road

20-25 Sep 1917

Polygon Wood

23 Sep – 3 Oct 1917


4 Oct 1917


9 Oct 1917


20 Nov – 3 Dec 1917


9-11 Apr 1918


10-11 Apr 1918


12-15 Apr 1918


13-15 Apr 1918


17-19 Apr 1918


            Buckley served with gallantry and great devotion to duty while in France and Flanders.  On the 7th of April 1918 he was mentioned in the Despatches of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig for his “gallant and distinguished service in the field.”[5]  Lieutenant Buckley was next rewarded for his service by receiving the Military Cross on the 11th of April 1918.  On this same date he was also awarded two certificates from the commander of the 29th Division commending him on his gallant conduct and devotion to duty in the field at Neuf Berquin and Cambrai.[6]  Second Army Orders dated the 16th of May 1918 authorized the immediate award of the Military Cross to Lieutenant Buckley.  The order reads as follows:[7]

Under authority delegated by His Majesty the King, the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief has made the following awards for gallantry and devotion to duty in action:-

The Military Cross

Lieutenant T. Buckley, Royal Engineers (T.F.)

The publication of this order was followed on the 20th of May 1918 by the award of a certificate signed by General Sir Herbert Plumer, Commanding the British Second Army.[8]  The certificate reads as follows:

Headquarters, Second Army

To Lieut. T. Buckley, Royal Engineers

I congratulate you on the gallant act by which you have won the


            On the 21st of May 1918, Lieutenant Buckley’s mention in despatches was published in the Supplement to the London Gazette (No. 30693). 

Lieutenant Buckley returned to England in July of 1918.  The reason for his return to the United Kingdom prior to the end of the war is not known.  He may have been wounded or simply transferred to a unit a home, although details of his service up to the time of his demobilization are not known.[9]

Buckley’s award of the Military Cross was published in the London Gazette dated 16 September 1918.  The London Gazette citation reads as follows:

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  This officer, returning from work, found the enemy advancing along a road between two important villages.  Realizing the seriousness of the situation he, with another officer, dug two strong points with his sappers and checked the advance.  Outflanked on both sides, and suffering many casualties from shell and machine-gun fire, they held on until the infantry had had time to consolidate behind them, when they were withdrawn.”  Based on the table above, this action must have taken place in the vicinity of Estaires or Messines or perhaps as early as the action at Cambrai.

For his services during the Great War he also was awarded the 1915-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.[10] 

His Medal Index Card indicates that Buckley applied for his 1914-15 Star on the 19th of August 1920.  His name had appeared on a list of officers, dated the 4th of February 1919, forwarded to the War Office by the Colonel Commandant of the Royal Engineers, showing his eligibility for the medal.  At the time of his application for the medal his address was listed as Morfa Camp, Conway (Conwy).  However, prior to the medal being sent to him his address had changed by 27 September 1920 to c/o Messrs. Cox & Co, Bankers, Calcutta, India.  This latter address appears to be a postal address rather than a residence. Presumably, Buckley had emigrated to India either to live or to work following his demobilization from the army.



1.       University of London Officers Training Corps Roll of War Service, 1914-1919.  Military Education Committee, University of London, 1921.


2.       Battle Honours of the Royal Engineers.  The Royal Engineers Journal.  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1925-1932.


3.       The Monthly Army List, June 1919.


4.       Documents:


a.       Army Orders, Second Army, 16 May 1918.

b.      Mention in Despatches Certificate, War Office, Whitehall, S.W., 1 March 1919.

c.       Headquarters, Second Army Certificate, 20 May 1918.

d.      29th Division Certificate, 11 April 1918 (Neuf Berguin).

e.       29th Division Certificate, undated (Cambrai).

f.       Medal Index Card.

g.      London Gazette, 4 August 1915, p. 7658.

h.      London Gazette, 21 May 1918, p. 5986.

i.        London Gazette, 16 September 1918, p. 10928.



[1] London Gazette, 4 August 1915 and the University of London Officer Training Corps Roll of War Service, p. 219.

[2] Medal Index Card.

[3] The Monthly Army List, June 1919.

[4] Battle Honours of the Royal Engineers.

[5] The original Mention in Despatches certificate was at one time in the author’s collection.  The certificate is dated the War Office, Whitehall, 1st March 1919.  On the back of the certificate is a notation indicating that the Mention in Despatches was published in London Gazette Supplement 30693.  See Note 9 below.

[6] The originals of these certificates were in the author’s collection at one time. See Note 9 below. 

[7] An original copy of this order was in the author’s collection at one time.  This order was printed by a Field Survey Company of the Royal Engineers.  See Note 9 below.

[8] An original copy of this certificate was the author’s collection, printed in France by the Army Printing and Stationery Services. See Note 9 below.

[9] Buckley was demobilized sometime in late 1919 or early 1920.

[10] His Military Cross and Great War trio of medals were last known to be in a collection in New York City.

9 The originals of these documents were sold to the owner of the Military Cross and Great War trio mentioned in note 8 above.