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A Short History Of Bordon And Longmoor

Bordon and it's neighbouring camp at longmoor are two of the camps which were constructed to accomodate the British Army on it's return from the Boer War. 781 acres of land were purchased from the commissioner of Her Majesty's Woods, Forrests and Lands in February 1863 for use by the Army as a  training area. Included in this purchase was a very fine example of a Douglas Fir tree planted in about 1849 from seed introduced from North America and still standing in the grounds of Ladysmith House.

Construction work started at Longmoor by 23 Field Company Royal Engineers in August 1900, and the camp was completed in May 1903. The first units to occupy the camp were the 1st Battalion "The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders" and the 2nd Battalion "The Wiltshire Regiment", who complained so strenuously that the ground was damp and unhealthy that in 1903 the War Office decided to move part of Longmoor to Bordon.

Longmoor Huts Moved To Bordon

53rd Railway Company Royal Engineers was moved to Longmoor to execute this project. Today, with modern equipment, the problem would be a difficult one, but in 1903 the task of moving 68 huts a distance of 4 to 6 miles over forest and heath was indeed formidable! The move was accomplished by building a narrow (18") guage railway, from Longmoor to Bordon, along an undulating route which is easily tracable today behind the butts of numbers 2 and 3 Ranges, across number 1 Range to Whitehill crossroads, and even through Hogmoor Inclosure into Bordon.

The laying of the track itself was quickly completed and then the task of moving the huts themselves started. Each hut was jacked up to allow 7 pairs of trolls to fit beneath, and the hut now "on wheels" was drawn to the light railwayand the journey to Bordon began. Horses, steam and man power were used to move the huts at an average speed of 3 miles per hour. The project, which took 2 years to complete, was a classic example of engineering planning, practice and co-operation. The units directly concerned with the project were 53rd Railway Company Royal Engineers and the 23rd Field Company Royal Engineers, supported by various units including 13th and 59th Companies ASC, who provided the horses.

The Mounted Infantry School replaced the Infanrty Brigade at Longmoor and adaptation of their accomodation went on simultaneously with the move of "A" and "B" lines to Bordon.

The Woolmer Istructional Military Railway

By the end of 1905, the London and South Western Railway had opened a rail link from Bentley to Bordon, and in that same year the War Office decided to continue this line onto Longmoor. 8th and 10th Railway Companies moved from Chatham to join the 53rd Company at Longmoor for this task with 59 Company ASC in support. Because of the steep gradients of the "hut moving" line, another route was surveyed for this standard gauge line, running closer to the Whitehill - Greatham road.

Workshops, stores and a locomotive shed were built at Longmoor, some of the materials used having been salvaged from the Suakin - Berber military railway, built during the Sudan Campaign of 1882 to 1885. The standard gauge line was completed in 1907, and in the following year was offically designated the Woolmer Istructional Military Railway (WIMR sometimes affectionately known as the "Will It Move Railway).

The Building Of Bordon

Meanwhile in Bordon, Lt Col WS Gordon Royal Engineer, who had been seconded for a number of years to the Sudanese Army, returned home in August 1901 to supervise the construction of Bordon Camp.

His first responsibility was the building of Quebec and St Lucia Barracks on the east side of the A325 road, and these were completed between 1901 and 1903. His second task was the erection of the huts received from Longmoor, to form Gaudaloupe and Martinique Barracks on the west side of the road, which was accomplished between 1903 and 1905. These 4 barracks each housed an Infantry Battalion which made up the Infantry Brigade stationed in Bordon.

In 1906 to 1907, Louisburg Barracks was built to house 2 regiments of Artillery, and in 1911 the Royal Engineer Lines and stables were built near the Bordon crossroads to accomodate 26th Field Company Royal Engineers. This was followed in the early 1930's by the building of the RASC Lines on the edge of Louisburg Barracks.

In 1937 the old South African type of huts in Quebec and St Lucia Barracks were demolished and new brick Barracks were built in their places. These in turn were demolished in 1973 to make way for Married Quarters. Also in 1937 the building of Havannah Barracks (now Prince Philip Barracks) began, followed shortly by Martinique Barracks (Militia type) to the north-west of the present Louisburg Barracks. The old hutted Martinique along-side the A325 road was renamed San Domingo Barracks, which in it's turn was demolished between 1961 and 1967 to make way for Married Quarters.

The Canadian Army
Maple Leaf Bordon has always had a close relationship with Canadian Forces and this can be seen in the naming of the Barracks in Bordon (eg Quebec Etc..) Both Bordon and Longmoor housed Canadian soldiers during the 1914 - 1918 War, of particular interest being the sawmill set up by the Canadian Forestry Corps near the Deer's Hut Inn at Liphook. Their presence during the 1939 - 1945 War is instanced by the sites of Erie, Huron, Supior and Ontario Camps in the Bramshott area. For most of this period all the barracks in Bordon were occupied by Canadians and the present SEME Technicial Training Area, where 4 Battalion are based, was a Canadian Base Ordnance Depot and Workshop. 4 Battalion REME are Proud of the long association with the Canadian Forces and have even adopted the Maple leaf as a back-round to the "IV" in their 4 Battalion Logo.
A commerative stone was erected by the Land Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Canadian Forces in June 1985 on the site of the original Garrison Church of St George in memory of members of the Canadian Army who served in Bordon 1914 - 1918 and 1939 - 1945.

The Longmoor Military Railway:

After the 1914 - 1918 War, the Railway Training Centre at Longmoor took some time to become re-established, but by the end of 1923 training was in progressthrough the relaying of the Longmoor to Bordon line in new 75Lb rail and by 1933 the extension to Liss Station had been completed.

In 1935 the name of the Railway was changed from the Woolmer Istructional Military Railway to the Longmoor Military Railway, as being more appropriate to a system controlled and administered from Longmoor. As early as 1907 a survey had been carried out for a loop line round Woolmer Forest, but it was not until 1932 that the work was started on what was to become ten years later, the "Hollywater Loop".

Post - War Bordon

In Bordon after the 1939 - 1945 War, the infantry Brigade and other Field Units did not return and Bordon became a centre for training units. In 1946 the newly formed Army MT School from Rhyl, North Wales, moved to Bordon. This school was an amalgamation of the RAC Driving School from Bovington and the pe-war RA and RASC Driving Schools from Woolwich and Feltham respectively.

In 1965 the Army MT School became the MT Wing of the Army School of Transport and in 1977 moved to Leconfield in North Humberside to form part of the Newly formed Army School of Mechanical Transport.

In 1953 the Depot Bn RASC moved from Newton Abbot into Quebec and St Lucia Barracks, which they took over from the Light Infantry Brigade Training Centre. They remained in these Barracks until December 1963 when they moved to their permanent home in Buller Barracks, Aldershot. With the termination of National Service, the Depot Bn RASC contracted into Quebec Barracks, Leaving St Lucia occupied by the Junior Leaders Bn RASC, who eventually moved to Norton Manor Camp, Taunton, in April 1961.

In 1950, 6 (Veh) Training Bn REME was formed from 14 Technical Training Centre REME, and moved from Arborfield to Bordon. They first moved into Louisburg Barracks and then into Havannah Barracks. Also in that year the Armament Wing of the REME Training Centre at Blackdown was redsignated 4 (Armt) Training Bn REME, and this Battalion was moved to Bordon (Martinique Barracks) the following year. These two Battalions almalgamated on 17th of March 1961 to form the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (SEME). On 1st of April 2000 4 Battalion REME was formed from 9 Field Workshops, 14 Field Workshops and the Headquarers elements in place at the time. They share the Technical Training Area with SEME and are the youngest Battalion in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.