A SHORT HISTORY OF 101 (CITY OF LONDON) ENGINEER REGIMENT (EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE DISPOSAL)
101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) – the Black Cats - formed in 1860 in Knightsbridge. The unit has been at the vanguard of the ‘integrated’ (including both regular and reserve squadrons) Army since 2010.
The Regiment has a strong operational pedigree, having provided Royal Engineer Bomb Disposal teams to neutralize the threat of German bombs during World War II, whilst more recently the Regiment has routinely supported operations in Afghanistan, dealing with the pernicious improvised explosive device (IED).
One of two specialist and deployable Royal Engineer bomb disposal regiments responsible for providing mobility support to the Army’s armoured infantry brigades, we also undertake a wide range of capacity building and training missions around the globe. Core capabilities include: High assurance search, bomb disposal and explosive ordnance clearance and dive trained personnel.
The Regimental emblem is taken from the 56th London Division flash worn during World War II and represents ‘Tommy’, Dick Whittington’s cat. Predominantly based at Carver Barracks, near Saffron Walden the Regiment’s Reserve component has detachments in Catford, Rochester, Tunbridge Wells and Reigate. The Regiment includes the following sub-units:
• 22 HQ & Sp Sqn (EOD)
• 17 Fd Sqn (EOD)
• 21 Fd Sqn (EOD)
• 221 Fd Sqn (EOD)
• 579 Fd Sqn (EOD)
22 Headquarter and Support Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)
Formed in Halifax on 2 October 1940, the Squadron was based in Chelmsford before a re-organization of bomb disposal companies saw them focussed on East Anglia and the South Midlands. After the War the Squadron continued to clear WW2 ordnance, which included significant finds at the Beckton Gas works, East London (1986), a 1000kg bomb in Bermondsey (1987) and Isle of Dogs (1988). On 1 April 2000 the Squadron was renamed to adopt the title of today, whilst operational experience has included the Falkland Islands, Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and the 2012 Olympic Games.
Its current operational role is to support the United Kingdom’s Technical Response Force, with a team held at 3 hours notice to move to respond to a nuclear or radiological incident anywhere in the United Kingdom.
17 Field Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)
Formed on 2 October 1940 in Halifax, the Squadron was based in Sevenoaks, Kent until November 1942, when they joined the Allied Task force on Operation TORCH, the invasion of North Africa. This was followed by a move to Italy, as part of Operation HUSKY (July 1943), the Company dealt with over 1,000 unexploded bombs, defused and removed approximately 4,500 bombs from dumps and cemeteries, neutralised in excess of 300 mines and gathered intelligence on numerous, previously unseen items.
At the end of the war No. 17 Bomb Disposal Company was disbanded. 17 Field Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) was reformed on 6 July 2006 and has subsequently seen operational service in Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.
21 Field Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)
21 Bomb Disposal (BD) Company was formed in Halifax on 2 Oct 1940, in response to the German bombing of London. With the Blitz at its most ferocious, the company deployed to South Woodford, London in January 1941, with an operational area of the North-East quadrant of the City of London, remaining in London until large-scale German raids had ceased.
Disbanded in early 1946, 21 Field Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) was reformed in 1990 for Operation GRANBY, the liberation of Kuwait. Since its reformation the Squadron has supported operations in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.
221 Field Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)
Formed in 1920, on the reconstitution of the Territorial Army (now the Army Reserve), 221 Squadron was mobilized alongside the 56th Division to support the British Expeditionary Force in France. Subsequently it saw service in Persia, Iraq, North Africa, Sicily and Italy, suffering heavy casualties during the Salerno landings. With the exception of periods of Regimental suspended animation, 221 Squadron has remained with 101st throughout its existence.
579 Field Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)
Originating from World War 1, 579 Squadron are the direct descendants of No. 6 Company Kent Fortress Royal Engineers (1915). Disbanded after the War, they were reformed in 1939, before deploying alongside 1st Army to North Africa on Operation TORCH in 1943, finishing the War in Italy. Reorganized to become a bomb disposal Squadron in 1950, the Squadron returned to its spiritual home in Rochester, before being disbanded in 1961. The Reserve Squadron reformed in 1990 in its current role.
The Regiment has retained an unbroken link with the London Divisions over nearly 60 years, which included both World Wars. Furthermore, elements of the Regiment have been actively involved in securing the City of London from the threat of unexploded ordnance since the Blitz, which included direct support to Operation OLYMPICS; the longest and largest military security operation on mainland United Kingdom since World War II.
In April 2000 the then Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Clive Martin, granted “City of London” status to the Regiment in recognition of its long and distinguished association with the Corporation; the Regiment retains close affiliations even today with the Curriers, Patternmakers, Fan Makers, Lightmongers and Constructors. In its 150 year history the Regiment has undergone no less than thirteen changes of name, however, ‘London’ has been the one constant for the past 102 years.
If you would like anymore information about joining the Reserves please contact Capt Stuart Bailey on 0208 697 9250 or 07824519070. You can also find out more by liking our Facebook page or following us on Twitter @101EngrRegt.