About This Unit
7th Pioneer Battalion
Each Division was allocated a Pioneer Battalion. The 7th Pioneer Battalion was raised in the UK but destined to be allocated to Corps Troops.
Pioneer Battalions were essentially infantry with light military combat engineer skills and equipment, located at the very forward edge of the battle area. They were used to develop and enhance protection and mobility for supported troops and to deny it to the enemy. They constructed defensive positions, command posts and dugouts, prepared barbed wire defences and on occasion breached those of the enemy using devices like the Bangalore Torpedo.
Their skills and capability were broad from building, construction and maintenance to road and track preparation and maintenance. They could also, and did quite often, fight as infantry.
Although they had existed in the Indian Army before 1914, pioneer battalions were used on a large scale by Commonwealth forces on the Western Front during the First World War. Becasue of its largely static nature, there was a much heavier reliance on field defences and the provision of mobility support to get troops, weapons, ammunition, rations and stores up to the front and casualties out. Roads and railways needed to be built maintained and repaired.
While these were also Engineer tasks, Engineers alone could not meet the heavy demand, while riflemen were always needed at the front. Therefore, pioneer battalions were raised to meet the needs of both and trained to support both engineers and infantry.
AWM link Pioneer Battalions
Steve Larkins Jun 2019