Royal Engineers


Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2015.  All Rights Reserved.


             Unless otherwise noted, the details of Bristed’s military service supplied in this narrative were extracted from the officer's service papers (WO339/39297) obtained from the Public Record Office at Kew, Richmond, Surrey and from the

 unit war diaries listed in the Reference section of this narrative.  Other primary sources include census and electoral registers for New Zealand and England and Bristed’s handwritten notes on his applications for membership in the Institution of Civil Engineers. 


 Richard Bower Bristed was born on the 8th of July 1856, the eldest son of Henry Richard and Anna Mary Bristed (née Bower) of Tower Hamlets, Middlesex.  Henry R. Bristed worked as a bonded Caretaker and Warehouseman for a buttons

 and trimming firm located in Middlesex.[1]  The 1861 Census of England provides the following data with regard to the Bristed family:

Dwelling: 19 George Street, Tower Hamlets, Middlesex

Census Place: Civil Parish - Old Tower Without.  County - Middlesex.

Source: National Archives Reference No. RG9/274, Registration district: Whitechapel. Sub-registration district: Aldgate. Enumeration district No. 9. Folio 211.



Estimated Birth Year






Civil Parish



 Henry R. Bristed


Barbican, Middlesex


Old Tower Without


 Anna M. Bristed


London City


Old Tower Without


 Richard B. Bristed


Tower Without, Middlesex


Old Tower Without


 Louisa Bristed


Tower Without, Middlesex


Old Tower Without


 Arthur H. Bristed


Tower Without, Middlesex


 Old Tower Without


Hanna Matthews


Rotherhithe, Surrey


Old Tower Without


Julia Collins


Aldgate, Middlesex


Old Tower Without


 The Bristed residence at 19 George Street, Tower Hamlets appears to be located in an area of London now known as West Ham.  The present day George Street is a short street, one block long, running east to west and connecting
Victoria Dock Road with Silvertown Way.  The street lies close to the River Thames between the East India Dock and the Royal Victoria Dock.

Richard Bristed received his general education at Christ’s Hospital in London from 1864 to 1876.  He then completed a course in scientific engineering at King’s College, London from 1876 to 1877.  Following his studies at King’s College he emigrated to New Zealand where he worked a period of pupilage with two firms; Dennison & Grant Civil Engineers in Oamaru, a town on the east coast of the south island of New Zealand located to the south of Christchurch, from 1878 to 1885 and Edward Dobson, M.I.C.E. in Christchurch from 1885 to 1886.[2]  Edward Dobson was a prominent civil engineer in New Zealand at the time that Bristed worked for him.  Dobson was responsible for designing and overseeing the construction of many important public works, having been appointed provincial engineer in 1854.[ He designed a system of railways for the province, and by the time he retired, the Canterbury Great Southern Railway had reached Lyttelton and advanced as far south as the Selwyn River.  For his outstanding achievements, Dobson was awarded the Telford Medal.[3]

Edward Dobson.jpg   Dobson Telford Medal.jpg

Edward Dobson, M.I.C.E.                               The Telford Medal

While employed by Dennison & Grant he worked as an assistant to the principals of the firm, and during the years of 1881 to 1885 he worked on survey work dealing with triangulation of South Island, New Zealand.  He also was involved with bridge work, railway surveys, the Oamaru Water Works and with general engineering practice.[4]  In 1885 he resided on Severn Street in Oamaru.[5] 

His work with Edward Dobson from 1885 to 1886 involved the survey of the Midland Railway of New Zealand.  In 1886 he married Constance Robinson (born in 1859), a young lady from Liverpool who also was living in New Zealand.[6]

During the year 1886 Bristed left the employ of Edward Dobson and went into private practice as a civil engineer where he mainly worked on roads and bridges throughout New Zealand.  He continued in his private practice until 1889 when he took a position with the New Zealand Government Engineering Staff as the District Engineer in North Island.  His work entailed surveying, opening up roads in new forest country and the subdivision of land into blocks for settlement.  In 1888 he had become a Member of the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors.[7]

In 1890 the Bristeds were living on Hawkestone Terrace in Wellington and 1891 he was living in Napier, Hawkes Bay, a town on the east coast of New Zealand located to the north of Wellington.  It would appear that his work as a government engineer and surveyor kept him and wife moving around New Zealand quite frequently.  By 1891 they were back in Wellington where their first child, Geoffrey Thornborrow Bristed[8] was born in the 16th of January 1891.  The Bristeds were residing on Hawkestone Street at the time.

      The Bristeds had two additional children while they were living in New Zealand; Phyllis, who was born in 1893 and Joan who was born in 1895.  In 1896 he terminated his employment with the New Zealand Government Engineering Staff.  His wife and children left New Zealand in 1896.  They sailed from Lyttleton on board the SS “Gothic” and arrived in London in August.[9] 

      During 1896 he applied to become an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (I.C.E.) located at Great George Street, Westminster, London S.W.  His application for membership in the I.C.E. was prepared on the 16th of July 1896 and was considered by the I.C.E. Council for the first time on the 9th of February 1897.  It should be noted that most of the information regarding Bristed’s work while in New Zealand was taken from his I.C.E. application form.  He was elected an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (A.M.I.C.E.) in 1897.  Bristed signed agreeing to abide by the Royal Charter of the Institution on the 17th of February 1897.  He was residing at that time in Marton, New Zealand. 

      Bristed left New Zealand in 1897 and took a position with Sir W. Shelford[10] & Son in Lagos, Nigeria.  He worked there under Mr. William Gee, Resident Engineer on the Lagos Government Railway until 1898 when he moved to the Gold Coast.  On the Gold Coast he worked as a District Engineer under Mr. J.G. Napier, the Resident Engineer for the Gold Coast Government Railway until 1900.  His subsequent assignment, starting in 1900, was as the District Engineer in charge of Headquarters in Sekondi, Gold Coast where he worked on the construction of workshops, buildings and the Sekondi Pier.  His immediate supervisor at Sekondi was Mr. William Bradford, the Resident Engineer.

      Richard Bristed seemed to have developed an attachment to Africa much like he had to New Zealand.  Following his work on the Gold Coast Government Railway he was employed by the Royal Engineers from 1902 to 1903 on the geodetic survey of the Gold Coast under the command of Major Watherston, R.E.  A rigorous survey of the Gold Coast Colony was rendered necessary in 1901 on account of the large number of gold mining concessions taken up by companies.  These concessions were for the most part indifferently demarcated by private surveyors, a great deal of overlapping of boundaries occurred, and a considerable amount of litigation ensued.  In the middle of 1901 Major Watherston brought out a small party of Royal Engineer officers, non-commissioned officers and sappers and laid down several long traverse lines on which to base the survey of the concessions and cut one or two concession boundaries in order to obtain a basis on which to determine fair survey fees for boundary cutting.  In October 1902 a large party of Royal Engineer officers and men and Queensland and New Zealand surveyors landed at Sekondi to undertake the survey of the concessions under Major Watherston, the Director of Surveys. During the three seasons 1902-3, 1903-4 and 1904-5 upwards of 300 concessions were cut and the country covered with a network of long traverses.  Richard Bristed performed survey duties during the first of these seasons.

      From 1903 to 1904 Bristed worked on the alignment and construction of the Prestea Railroad on the Gold Coast for Tarbutt & Company.  Prestea is a town in the southwest portion of the Gold Coast about 50 kilometers north of the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It lies on the west bank of the Ankobra River, about 60 miles northwest of Cape coast.

      From 1905 to 1908 he worked on the Benguella Railway in Angola in charge of the alignment and later the construction of the railway under Mr. H.C. Colvin-Smith, the Resident Engineer.  Benguela is a city in western Angola, south of Luanda, and capital of Benguela Province. It lies on a bay of the same name.

      Later in 1908 Bristed left Africa for South America.  He went to Rosario, Argentina where he worked on the preliminary design of a railroad line that had yet to be financed.  Rosario is the largest city in the province of Santa Fe, in central Argentina. It is located 300 kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires, on the western shore of the Paraná River.  In June of 1909 he changed jobs to work on the Arica to La Paz Railway for Sir John Jackson[11] (Chile) Limited.  This work consisted of the relocation of a railway line through difficult terrain between Arica and the Bolivian border.  The improved line shortened the distance of the existing railway by 11 kilometers, thereby reducing the cost of construction.  While on this project Bristed worked for Mr. H.C. Wynne Edwards, the Resident Engineer.  Bristed was engaged on this project until June of 1910.

Photo 1 Sir John Jackson.jpg

Sir John Jackson

(Richard Bristed’s work for Sir John Jackson (Chile) Limited would open a door some years later for his son Geoffrey Thornborrow Bristed who would also work for Sir John).

      Beginning in June of 1910 Bristed worked on the southeast section of the Longitudinal Railway of Chile from Cabildo to Capiapó, a distance of 619 kilometers.  This work was undertaken for a joint venture between Griffiths & Company Contractors Limited of London and Régie Génèrale de Ch. De Fer & Travaux Publics of Paris.  For this project Bristed acted as Agent and Chief Engineer.  The work involved the construction of a difficult railway line through mountainous terrain over about 200 kilometers.  The project included the construction of four tunnels the lengths of which totaled 4,651 meters.  Seven ports were utilized for landing of materials necessary to construct the railway.  The railway was a narrow gauge road consisting of one-meter track.  Various bridges also were constructed on the line.  The total cost of the work was approximately £4,000,000.  Bristed left the project in February of 1913 with about 6 months worth of work still to be done to complete the railway line.

      On the 21st of May 1913 while he was still employed on the Longitudinal Railway of Chile, Richard Bristed applied to the Institution of Civil Engineers to transfer his standing in that organization from Associate Member to Member.  His application was read by the I.C.E. Council for the first time on the 18th of November 1913 and was passed by the Council on the 9th of December 1913.  Bristed signed agreeing to abide by the Royal Charter of the Institution on the 20th of March 1914.

      There was no trace of Richard Bower Bristed in the 1871, 1881, 1891 or 1901 Census of England, obviously because he was living abroad at the time.  However, the 1901 Census of England does provide the information regarding his family, as shown in the table below.

Dwelling: 22 Broad Walk, Buxton, Derbyshire.

Census Place: Civil Parish - Buxton.  Ecclesiastical Parish - Buxton St. John the Baptist.  Town - Buxton.  County - Derbyshire.

Source: National Archives Reference No. RG13/3270, Registration district: Chapel En Le Frith. Sub-registration district: Buxton. Enumeration district No. 7. Folio 35.


Estimated Birth Year



 Civil Parish


 Constance Bristed


Liverpool, Lancashire




Geoffrey Bristed


New Zealand




Phyllis Bristed


New Zealand




Joan Bristed


New Zealand




Evaline Sewell


New Zealand




 Prior to the Great War of 1914-1918 Richard Bristed returned to England.  He departed from Buenos Aires, Argentina aboard the Hamburg South American Line ship SS “Blucher” and arrived in Southampton on the 2nd of December

 1913.  Upon his arrival in England his took up residence at 59A London Wall, London E.C., presumably with the rest of his family.  This address is located near Finsbury Circle to the northeast of St. Paul's Cathedral.



            Bristed was 57 years old when the Great War broke out in August of 1914.  A year after the start of the war he offered his services to the War Office and, because of his age and experience as a civil engineer, he received a commission as a Captain in the Royal Engineers on the 21st of August 1915.  Immediately upon commissioning he was assigned to the 2nd Labour Battalion, Royal Engineers and proceeded to France.

Labour Battalion Organization and Mission 

To understand the organization and duties of the unit to which Captain Bristed was assigned, the following background material on the labour battalions is helpful.  During June 1915 both Royal Engineers and infantry labour battalions had been formed in England and sent overseas for work in army areas, mainly on road maintenance work.  These units were formed from men of the navvy[12] class and from men who were over military age.  The overage personnel were enlisted at a special rate of pay of 3 shillings per day.[13],[14]

For many months none of these battalions could be spared for the Lines of Communication (L. of C.), but about the end of 1915, the 8th Royal Engineers Labour Battalion was transferred to L. of C. work and was employed under the Director of Works (D.W.) on road making and forestry operations.  By the middle of 1916, two infantry and two Royal Engineers Labour Battalions were employed on road making, quarrying and forestry.

It was originally intended to form 16 battalions, but only 11 were actually formed, for work in France.  A battalion, designated the 18th, was raised in Ireland for work in Salonika, but owing to the difficulty of obtaining recruits it was sent overseas on a modified establishment.[15]

It was subsequently decided that the Labour Battalions in France should be replaced by Infantry Works personnel as casualties occurred.  The Labour Battalions were all absorbed by the Labour Directorate in January of 1917 and formed into the Labour Corps.  The Depot which had been formed at Southampton to deal with replacement personnel for the battalions was abolished.

The following list indicates the controlling headquarters of various Labour Battalions during the Great War, as published in a series of articles known as Battle Honours of the Royal Engineers:[16]

1st Labour Battalion:              XIV Corps

2nd Labour Battalion:             4th Army, III Corps, XV Corps and 5th Army

3rd Labour Battalion:             3rd Army, VII Corps and XVII Corps

5th Labour Battalion:              2nd Army

6th Labour Battalion:              General Headquarters, 4th Army, 5th Army and XIII Corps

7th Labour Battalion:              2nd Army

8th Labour Battalion:              Director of Works

9th Labour Battalion:              5th Army

10th Labour Battalion:[17]

11th Labour Battalion:            5th Army

12th Labour Battalion:            General Headquarters

13th Labour Battalion:[18]

 A study of the casualty lists contained in Soldiers Died in the Great War indicates the following relationships between Royal Engineers regimental numbers and the R.E. Labour Battalions:[19]

1st Labour Battalion:              110000 - 111000 and 124000 - 125000

2nd Labour Battalion:             110000 - 112000

3rd Labour Battalion:             114000 - 115000

4th Labour Battalion:              115000 - 116000

5th Labour Battalion:              115000 - 117000

            6th Labour Battalion:              117000 - 118000

            7th Labour Battalion:              117000 - 119000

            8th Labour Battalion:              119000 - 120000

            9th Labour Battalion:              120000 - 123000

            10th Labour Battalion:            123000 - 124000

            11th Labour Battalion:            124000 - 125000

            12th Labour Battalion:            Not determined

            13th Labour Battalion:            124000 - 125000

While the correlation between the battalions and regimental numbers given above is not exact, the list shows pretty clearly that any individual with a regimental number in the series from 110000 to 125000 probably served in one of the R.E. Labour Battalions.  Numbers in the 113000 series are missing and may have been assigned to some other R.E. units.  The regimental numbers of men assigned to the 12th Labour Battalion could not be determined.

France and Flanders (1915-1919)

            The 2nd Labour Battalion, Royal Engineers arrived at the port of Le Havre, France on the 23rd of August 1915 and was placed under the control of the General Headquarters (GHQ), British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.).  Captain Bristed was with the battalion at this time and it appears that he initially was assigned to the battalion headquarters as a staff officer. 

The battalion subsequently was transferred to the control of the British Fourth Army about eleven months after its arrival in France.  With the Fourth Army it took part in the actions at Pozieres between the 23rd of July and 3rd of September 1916 and it was present at the action at Flers-Courcelette from the 15th to the 22nd of September 1916.  The battalion was then transferred to the British III Corps for the battle at Morval between the 25th and 28th of September 1916 and then worked in support of the British XV Corps at Le Transloy from the 1st to the 18th of October 1916.  Captain Bristed was away from his battalion on leave twice in 1916, once from the 18th to the 26th of February and again from the 23rd of May to 2nd of June.  He was present in the field, however, for each of the major engagements noted above.     

            The 2nd Labour Battalion was involved in routine works duties during the winter of 1916/1917.  Although the work was routine, the only fatality in the 2nd Labour Battalion during the war occurred during this period.  111161 Acting Lance Corporal Charles Scrivens died of wounds received on the 5th of January 1917.[20],[21]

Captain Bristed took advantage of the winter lull in the fighting to take leave on two occasions; from the 9th to the 20th of January 1917 and from the 9th to the 20th of February 1917. By this time the labour battalions were part of the Labour Corps and no longer part of the Royal Engineers, the change having been made in January of 1917.  It may be supposed that at the age of 60 Captain Bristed needed more rest and recuperation than other officers in the battalion.  For this reason his commander was probably more generous with Bristed's requests for leave than with the requests of other officers in the unit. 

            In April of 1917 the 2nd Labour Battalion was placed under the control of the British Fifth Army.  At that time the battalion was at Bapaume, but on the 15th of the month it moved to Fremicourt where it undertook road construction work.    From the 3rd to the 17th of May 1917 the battalion, still under Fifth Army control, supported operations at Bullecourt and Bristed was present with the unit in the field during this action.  From the 10th to the 12th of May the battalion moved from Fremicourt to Butte De Warlencourt.  Following the battle at Bullecourt the battalion was sent to the 58th Group[22] within Fifth Army on the 25th of May 1917.  Bristed was subsequently granted leave on the 23rd of June and returned to duty from leave on the 7th of July 1917.  During this period the battalion was engaged on light railway construction work.

            On the 1st of August 1917 Captain Bristed was attached for duty to the 701st Labour Company.  This company was part of the 2nd Labour Battalion.  The company was still engaged in light railway construction work at this time.

            Captain Bristed was granted leave on the 13th of September 1917, returning to duty in the field on the 24th of September.  On the 3rd of October the 701st Labour Company was assigned to the British IV Corps.  On the 19th of November half of the company moved from IV Corps to VI Corps in the British Third Army.  It is not known if Bristed was in the half that moved.  The half company remaining with IV Corps was stationed at Mory where it undertook light railway line construction.

            Despite the rear area nature of the work of the 701st Labour Company, there was still enough action to cause casualties in the unit and for men to be decorated.  The company suffered one man wounded on the 3rd of January 1918 while working on light railway construction.  290138 Sergeant B. Deeley of the 701st Company was awarded the Military Medal on the 24th of January 1918, the medal being presented to him by the VI Corps Commander.

            On the 8th of February 1918 Richard Bower Bristed was promoted to the rank of Temporary Major.[23]  Although it is not specified in his service papers, it is most probable that Major Bristed assumed command of the 701st Labour Company after his promotion. 

In March the 701st Company made numerous moves while engaged in light railway construction.  The company moved from Mory to Achiet on the 21st, then to Bucquoy on the 22nd.  The 23rd was spent at Bucquoy working on light railways and on the 24th the German offensive began taking the 701st Company under shellfire while the unit was engaged in maintaining a light railway line to the front.  The company was moved to Beaumetz on the night of the 25th.  A non-commissioned officer of the company was awarded the Military Medal for the action at Bucquoy.

            On the 27th of March 1918 the 701st Company was at Fosseux and on the 29th it moved to Lucheux where it was involved with forestry work.  On the 31st the company returned to Fosseux to continue its light railway work.  The company moved from Fosseux to Herissart on the 18th of April to undertake forestry work once again and to work on the construction of defensive positions in the area.  On the 14th of May the company moved from Herissart to Louencourt where it continued work on defensive positions.

            The London Gazette dated 21 May 1918 published a mention in despatches for Major Bristed for valuable services rendered in the field.  On the 14th of June 1918 Bristed was granted 15 days leave.  He returned to his company on the 29th of June while the unit was still at Louencourt engaged in work on light railway construction and maintenance in the IV Corps area.  The nature of the work must have been difficult, as the Corps War Diary indicates that four men of the company were injured; one each on the 1st , 13th , 15th and 22nd of July.

            The 701st Company left Louencourt on the 7th of August 1918 and moved to Puchevillers where it continued its light railway work.  As company's work progressed it moved to Coigneux (20 August), Bouquoy, Larbret and Saulty (22 August), and Aveluy (27 August).  At Aveluy the company was given bridging and road construction tasks to perform.

            On the 12th of September 1918 the 701st Labour Company was nominated to maintain the General Headquarters Defence Line during the winter since it was a unit composed of older men who had been too long in the forward area.  This could be well appreciated by Major Bristed who was now 61 years of age.  On the 19th of September the company moved from Hamel in the British V Corps area to Marieux and Saulty in the Third Army area.  The company then moved on the 12th of October from Marieux and Saulty to Nergnies in the British XVII Corps area and on the 14th of October to Awoingt where it was assigned rear area railway work with the company headquarters established at Rieux.  It remained in this area until the Armistice on the 11th of November 1918.

            Major Bristed was granted leave from the 9th of December 1918 to the 6th of January 1919 while his company worked on railway construction and maintenance in the Army Area.  He remained with the 701st Labour Company until the 6th of April 1919 when he was appointed to command the 707th Labour Company.

            The 707th Labour Company was located in No. 1 Area in Valenciennes, France.  Major Bristed assumed command of the company on the 21st of May 1919 and on the 3rd of June 1919 the London Gazette published his award of the Order of the British Empire (Officer), Military Division "for valuable services rendered in conjunction with military operations in France."[24] 

            At about the same time as his award of the O.B.E., Bristed was granted leave and proceeded to Calais en route to England.  He returned to Calais on the 18th of June 1919 where he remained to continue his duties.  Bristed received his second mention in despatches in the London Gazette on the 10th of July 1919.  On the 31st of July 1919 he reported for duty to the Mons Sub Area and on the 13th of August he was posted to the 127th Labour Company of the Labour Corps as the Officer Commanding.  He assumed command of his new company on the 16th of August.

            Major Bristed was graded a Field Engineer, Class "FF", for pay purposes on the 13th of September 1919 and was posted to Headquarters of No. 1 Area in Valenciennes.  On the 10th of October he relinquished his Class "FF" grading in preparation for demobilization.

            Bristed's Protection Certificate (Army Form Z. 3) was prepared on the 12th of November 1919 while he was still in France.  The certificate indicates that his effective date of demobilization was the 14th of October 1919, yet he was still in uniform.  The certificate contained the following items of information:

·         Dispersal Area No. VIII.

·         Theatre of War: France.

·         Regiment: Royal Engineers.[25]

·         Unit with which last serving: Royal Engineers.

·         Place of rejoining in case of emergency: Aldershot.

·         Occupation in Civil Life: Civil Engineer.

·         Medical Category: Not graded.

·         Married.

·         Service Category V.

Bristed's demobilization papers were prepared at Duisans, No. 1 District, France on the 13th of November 1919.  On that date he ceased employment as a Field Engineer and was granted independent passage home due to ill health.  On the 14th of November he embarked at Calais and crossed the Channel to Dover. His address after demobilisation was 3 Waverley Grove, Southsea, Hants.  There is no entry in his service records to indicate whether his wife was living at this address while he was serving in the war; however, it appears to be his residence for a short while after leaving the Army.

The details of his demobilisation seem to have raised a question with someone in the War Office. Major Bristed received a letter from the War Office dated the 11th of December 1919 from the Military Secretary.  The letter read as follows:


With reference to your demobilisation, I am directed to request that you state the date of disembarkation at Dover.

Your reply should be addressed as soon as possible to the Secretary, War Office (M.S.6), Bridgewater House, Cleveland Square, St. James, London, S.W.1.

Bristed wrote back on the 12th of December from his address in Southsea with the following response:


I have today received from the Military Secretary, War Office, Whitehall, memo dated 11.12.19 No. 106478/3 (M.S.6) instructing me to report to you the date of my disembarkation at Dover.

I crossed from Calais on 14.11.19 & disembarked at Dover on 14.11.19.

My demobilisation papers were made out at DUISANS, No. 1 District, France, on 13th November and I was granted an independent passage on found of ill health.[26]

This letter was Major Bristed's final contact with the Army.


In addition to the Order of the British Empire, Major Bristed was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal with mention in despatches oak leaf for his service during the Great War of 1914-1918.  All of the last three medals are named to him with impressed block capital letters as follows:

1914-15 Star: CAPT:R.B. BRISTED


British War Medal: MAJOR R.B. BRISTED

Victory Medal: MAJOR R.B. BRISTED

RB Bristed Medals.jpg


            Nothing is known about Major Richard Bower Bristed after he left the Army except where he and his wife lived at different times.  He resided at 3, Waverley Grove in Southsea, Hampshire for a short time after his return from Argentina.  He and his wife resided at 12/18 Inverness Terrance and later at 16 Inverness Terrace in London from 1922 to 1928.  They subsequently moved to 69 Upper Berkeley Street, London W.1 and between 1929 and 1938 they resided at 68/70 Queensborough Terrace and later at 60/62 Queensborough Terrace in London.  On the 18th of November 1941 Bristed relinquished his membership in the Institution of Civil Engineers by failing to pay his annual subscription.  The last address that the Institution had for him at that time was c/o 10 York Terrace, Regents Park, London, NW1, suggesting that this was a postal address rather than a residence.[27] 

            No record could be found of Richard Bristed engaged in any business affairs following his demobilization from the Army in 1919, however at age 63 he probably had retired from any active engineering practice.

            Constance Bristed died in Tonbridge, Kent in March 1947 at the age of 87.  Richard Bower Bristed died at St. Leonards-On-Sea, Hastings, East Sussex on the 6th of October 1947. 



 1. A Register of Admissions to King's College, Cambridge, 1797-1925.  John Murray, London, 1929.

 2.  Army Honours and Awards.  Reprint of the April 1920 Army List Supplement.  J.B. Hayward & Son, London.

 3. The Work of the Royal Engineers in the European War, 1914-1919.  Work Under the Director of Works (France).  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1924.

 4. The Work of the Royal Engineers in the European War, 1914-1919.  Miscellaneous.  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1926, pp. 16 and 17.

 5. Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.  Part 4. The Corps of Royal Engineers.  J.B. Hayward & Son, Polstead, Suffolk, 1989. 


 1. 1861 Census of England, National Archives Reference No. RG9/274, Registration District: Whitechapel, Sub-registration district: Aldgate, Enumeration District No. 9, Folio 211, Page 49.

 2. 1901 Census of England, National Archives Reference No. RG13/3270, Registration district: Chapel En Le Frith. Sub-registration district: Buxton. Enumeration district No. 7. Folio 35, Page 14.

 Computer Software

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

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


 Letter from Richard Bower Bristed to the War Office, dated 12 December 1919.

 Email from the Archivist, the Institution of Civil Engineers, dated 16 January 2015.


 1. Casualty Form - Active Service.  Army Form B. 103.

 2.   Protection Certificate (Officer).  Army Form Z. 3.

 3.   Application for Associate Membership in the Institution of Civil Engineers (I.C.E.), dated 16 July 1896.

 4.   Application for Membership in the Institution of Civil Engineers (I.C.E.), dated 21 May 1913.

 5.   New Zealand, Electoral Rolls, 1853-1981.


1. New Zealand, Electoral Rolls, 1853-1981 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.

2. New Zealand, Marriage Index, 1840-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT,     USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. New Zealand, City & Area Directories, 1866-1954 [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.

3. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and
 Administrations), 1858-1966
[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:     Operations Inc, 2010.

4. London, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1965 [database on-line].    Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.

5. UK, Civil Engineer Lists, 1818-1930 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.

6.    FreeBMD. England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006.

7. England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.  Original data: General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office.

8. UK, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.  Original data: Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA). Series BT26, 1,472 pieces.

9. UK, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.  Original data: Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA). Series BT26, 1,472 pieces.


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

2. Fifth Supplement to The London Gazette, 8 February 1918, Number 30515, p. 1810.

3. Third Supplement to The London Gazette, 17 May 1918, Number 30686, p. 5840.

4. Supplement to The London Gazette, 3 June 1919, p. 6796.

5. Supplement to The London Gazette, 10 July 1919.

6. Fifth Supplement to The London Gazette, 27 November 1919, Number 31661, p. 14658.

7. Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette, 12 July 1920, Number 31976, p. 7432.

8. Monthly Army List, November 1917, p. 808d.

9. Monthly Army List, December 1919, p. 802b.

10. Monthly Army List, June 1920, p. 802b.

War Diaries

1. British General Headquarters War Diary.

2. British Third Army War Diary.

3. British Fifth Army War Diary.

4. British IV Corps War Diary.

5. British V Corps War Diary.

6. British VI Corps War Diary.

7. British XIII Corps War Diary.

8. British XVII War Diary.

9. 58th Group War Diary.


[1] 1861 Census of England.

[2] I.C.E. Associate Membership application.

[3] The Telford Gold Medal is the highest prize awarded by the Institution of Civil Engineers for a paper, or series of papers.  The medal  was introduced in 1835 following a bequest made by Thomas Telford, the Institute’s first president.

[4] I.C.E. Associate Membership application.

[5] New Zealand, Electoral Rolls, 1853-1981.

[6] New Zealand, Marriage Index, 1840-1934.

[7] I.C.E. Associate Membership application.

[8] See the narrative of Geoffrey Thornborrow Bristed’s life and military service at

[9] UK, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960.

[10] Shelford, Sir WILLIAM (1834–1905), civil engineer, born at Lavenham, Suffolk, on 11 April 1834, was eldest son of William Heard Shelford (d. 1856), fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and rector of Preston St. Mary, Suffolk.

[11] Born in York, England, son of a goldsmith, he became one of the greatest civil engineering contractors of his age - an age when Britain built most of the major infrastructure projects in the world. His career was launched with the Stobcross (Queen's) dock in Glasgow at the age of 25 and his name was made when he built the foundations of Tower Bridge in London....His overseas contracts include the Simon's Town dock in Southern Africa, harbour works in Singapore and a barrage across the Euphrates in Mesopotamia, replacing the one which had been washed away in spring floods. He achieved what most engineers had considered to be impossible; he built the railway over the Andes from Arica in Chile to La Paz in Bolivia.

[12] Unskilled labourer.

[13] The Work of the Royal Engineers in the European War, 1914-1919.  Work Under the Director of Works (France).  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1924, p. 185.

[14] The Work of the Royal Engineers in the European War, 1914-1919.  Miscellaneous.  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1926, pp. 16 and 17.

[15] A study made by the author of Soldiers Died in the Great War shows casualties listed for the Depot Labour Battalions and Labour Battalions numbered 1 through 13.  Additionally, there are casualties listed for a separate company, the 271st Labour Company.  The existence of more than 11 Labour Battalions is also borne out by mention of the 12th Labour Battalion in Battle Honours of the Royal Engineers published in editions of The Royal Engineer Journal between 1925 and 1932.

[16] The Royal Engineers Journal, 1925-1932.

[17] No reference could be found for the 10th Labour Battalion in the Battle Honours of the Royal Engineers.

[18] No reference could be found for the 13th Labour Battalion in the Battle Honours of the Royal Engineers.

[19] This information can be useful when trying to determine the unit in which a man served during the Great War solely from the naming on his medal(s).  This study of regimental numbers and units of assignment was performed by the author.

[20] Scrivens was born in Clerkenwell, Middlesex.  He was living in Battersea, Surrey when the war broke out and enlisted in the Royal Engineers at London.

[21] According to Soldiers Died in the Great War at total of 175 men died during the war while serving in labour units.  Officers Died in the Great War lists a total of only 3 officer fatalities in labour units during the war.

[22] Little has been written about these Groups in the official histories of the Great War.  They appear to have been made up of labour units of various types and were placed under Army Control.

[23] London Gazette, 8 February 1918.

[24] The entry of page 6796 of the Supplement to the London Gazette dated 3 June 1919 shows Bristed as a Temporary Major, Royal Engineers.

[25] He was still considered to be an officer in the Royal Engineers although he had been serving in the Labour Corps since January of 1917.

[26] This letter is the first indication that Bristed was suffering from ill health.  There is no Medical History Sheet in his military papers to indicate what the problems was or whether he had suffered from ill health at any other time during the war.

[27] Email from the Archivist, Institution of Civil Engineers, dated 16 January 2015.