Madras Sappers and Miners
A brief summary based on notes taken from talks with H.E.M. Newman in 1987

The Madras Sappers and Miners were one of three S&M Corps in India, the others being the Bombay S&M and the Bengal S&M.

The Madras S&M were stationed in Bangalore along with several other regiments, Bangalore being a large garrison town.

The Madras S&M Corps consisted of six field companies, two army troops and two mounted field troops. Each company had three (British) officers, making 18 officers total plus staff officers in headquarters - perhaps 30 in total. Officers tended to spend their carriers in the Corps or leave after a minimum of five years.

During WW2, the Madras S&M served in North Africa, Italy, Singapore/Malaya and Burma (prior to the Japanese occupation).

Recruits for both the Royal Engineers and Royal Artillery began their training in Woolwich. The top students in the Army exam were assigned to the RE, the others going into the RA. Recruits for other regiments went to Sandhurst. RA recruits completed their training at Woolwich while RE students went on to Chatham for two years where they studied engineering subjects such as water supply, electricity etc.

Indian officers had the following ranks:

In his memoirs, my father recorded having the support of one Subadar and four Jemadars when he temporarily took charge of the 9th Company in 1926 - see his memoirs.

In 1924 my father had a Subadar named Anthony who went on to become ADC to King George V in England (interpreted from my 1987 notes of conversation).

See also “Indian Sappers and Miners” by Lt.Col. E.W.C. Sandes

Refer also to the Army Museum, Chelsea Barracks.

My father's uncle Edwin M.B. Newman had preceded him into the Madras S&M, having graduated from Chatham some 30 years before. He was killed in the Sudan in 1885.

Friends of my father who served in the Madras S&M include:

Another army friend of my father, Brigadier Ralph (Pongo) Wheeler, was not in the Madras S&M. He spent his career in the Ordinance Survey, being seconded to Africa for a period. My father first met him in Southampton in 1935 and then in Chessington. On retirement, he remained in the O.S. as a civilian employee in the Bristol area. In the 1960s he and his wife Nancy moved to Brent Knoll where they became neighbours of my father.

Likewise, Major General Geoff Cheetham was not in the Madras S&M. He also spent his career in the Ordinance Survey and was my father's boss before his retirement. His wife Connie - a famously charming and uninhibited lady - was one of my Godmothers.

Page created 26 Jul 2013