Australian Mining Corps

The Australian Mining Corps was a specialist military mining unit of the Royal Australian Engineers during World War I.


On 10 September 1915, the British government sent a formal appeal to Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to raise tunnelling companies in the Dominions of the British Empire.[1] In August 1915, the Australian geologist and Antarctic explorer Edgeworth David, after reading reports about mining operations and tunnelling during the Gallipoli Campaign, along with Professor Ernest Skeats, a professor at the University of Melbourne, had already written a proposal to George Pearce, the Australian Defence Minister, suggesting that the government raise a military force to undertake mining and tunnelling.[2] After the proposal was accepted, David used his advocacy and organisational abilities to set up the Australian Mining Corps, and on 25 October 1915 he was appointed as a major, at the age of 57.[3] The first contingent of the corps consisted of 1,300 officers and men that were initially organised into two battalions before being reorganised into the units listed below:[4]

The first three of these units were tunnelling companies, while the Electrical Mechanical Boring and Mining Company was tasked with carrying out related repairs.[1] The four mining units formed by the Royal Australian Engineers for the British Expeditionary Force departed Australia for the United Kingdom in February 1916,[5] became fully operational by March 1916,[1] and arrived on the Western Front in May 1916.[5] After May 1916, the four constituent companies of the Australian Mining Corps were deployed directly as part of the tunnelling companies of the Royal Engineers.


  1. ^ a b c "The Tunnelling Companies RE". The Long, Long Trail. Archived from the original on 10 May 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  2. ^ Finlayson 2010, p. 54.
  3. ^ Finlayson 2010, p. 55.
  4. ^ Finlayson 2010, p. 1.
  5. ^ a b Dennis et al 1995, pp. 402–403.


  • Dennis, Peter; et al. (1995). The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History (1st ed.). Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press Australia & New Zealand. ISBN 0-19-553227-9.
  • Finlayson, Damien (2010). Crumps and Camouflets: Australian Tunnelling Companies on the Western Front. Newport, New South Wales: Big Sky Publishing. ISBN 978-0980658255.

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