[Transcriber's note: Major Maurice Barber Bevan Keatinge pursued a career as a Civil Engineer centred on railway construction, had a strong military interest with the Garrison Artillery and was commissioned Second Lieutant in 1905. At the age of 28, he joined the A.I.F. as a Lieut. in December 1915. This précis by Major Keatinge covers the work of B Company, 3rd Pioneer Battalion from the time of landing in France on 25 November 1916 until 22 May 1918. The Company was involved in many areas of construction work both in Belgium and France. On 1 February 1919 Major Keatinge was awarded the Military Cross for his 'conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty'. In World War II, he held various training commands.]
When the three new Divisions of the A.I.F. were formed, the 3rd in Australia and the 4th and 5th in Egypt, it was decided to add to each of the five divisions, a Pioneer Battalion.
The formation of the 3rd Pioneer Battalion took place in Australia, and was drafted from all the States viz. A Coy Victoria, B Coy N.S.W., C Coy Queensland, and D Coy South and West Australia.
Pioneer Battalions were, for the British Army (except the Indian Army) a new organisation, and it was recognised in Australia that an effort should be made to form a Pioneer unit for the 3rd Division, which, in addition to being an Infantry Battalion, should have such technical qualifications as to be able to carry out the same work as ordinarily carried out by Field Companies of Engineers.
The formation of the N.S.W. company commenced in Sydney on February 20th, two platoons being drawn from Liverpool and Casula and two from Bathurst.
On completion of the formation of the company, they moved to Victoria assembling at Campbellfields Camp with A Coy on about March 21st 1916. The other two companies marched in later, and the battalion remained at this camp carrying out various training until June 6th. On this date the Battalion embarked for England on the "Wandilla" and after a good journey, arrived in England on July 26th.
The battalion camped at Larkhill until November 25th, when they embarked for France. During the period of training at Larkhill, varied training was carried out, and moderately hard work and comfortable quarters, made everyone fit and keen for the task before them.
As these notes deal with the period in France, I have only briefly outlined the earlier history of the company.
Photographs of Coy taken T & C Journal at Sherpaeum [Serapeum ?], March 1916
Photographs of Coy taken in Melbourne marking through street
Photographs of Coy taken in England.