Sapper J. W. Hutchison was not an original member of the 1st FCE, but was later a sapper with the 14th FCE. He was clearly inspired by the men of the 1st FCE and dedicated these verses to them and the quiet achievements of the Engineer. It is a wonderful piece from the time, helping define the work of the Engineers .
The following transcript is from the Sydney Mail, Wednesday 28 June 1916
“THE writer of these verses (Sapper J. V. Hutchison, of the 14th Company, Australian Field Engineers) in a letter to the ‘Mail’ says: — ‘The Sturdy Engineer’ was written by me some time ago, and is familiar to any of the original Engineers of the First Field Company, who took part in the landing at Gaba Tepe on April 25, 1915. We have just been looking at the picture (in the Mail of December 1, 1915) of the cross that was erected to 14 of the fallen members of the 1st Company. ………….A good many of that company are now attached to this division.”
“WHEN our boys were at Gallipoli
On that fateful April day,
And the First Division landed
Where the Turkish soldier lay,
Our army suffered losses,
But they showed no sign of fear;
And among the many fallen
Was The Sturdy Engineer.
WHEN the army is advancing
Through a country rough and drear,
Who makes the roads and bridges
For the big guns in the rear?
Who clears the road of dangers
And advances without fear?
No need to ask the question
— ‘Tis The Sturdy Engineer.
WHEN, the sun it has departed,
And the army takes a rest,
There’s things that need attention
From the men who know them best;
And while the men are sleeping
We are fixing up their gear,
For the army needs the knowledge
Of The Sturdy Engineer.
WHEN the enemy is sighted,
And there are trenches to be dug,
They need the supervision
Of the man who’s not a ‘mug’;
And when there’s need for sapping
Or entanglements to clear,
They know the man to do it
Is The Sturdy Engineer.
WHEN the enemy is routed
And they rapidly retreat,
Our army then advances
On a road that’s none too neat.
For the foe have burnt the bridges
And destroyed the roads in rear;
But the damage soon is mended
By The Sturdy Engineer”
Verses Written By – Sapper J. W. Hutchison
The Engineers spent much of their training dedicated to bridge construction. This is considered a vital and perhaps the most important combined skill of the Sappers/Engineers.
The trained engineer, the surveyor, the bush carpenter, the fitter, blacksmith, the harness maker, and all the tradies alike were all equal to the task of bridge building, the men of the Field Company Engineers would be very proud of their work and the support they provided to the troops, maintaining vital transport links and constructing roads and bridges for troop, artillery and supply movements.
The following photos below show original members of the 1st FCE enthusiastically building bridges and displaying how proud they were of their work. These photos have been kindly donated by the family of Bob Lundy from his Private Collection.
Sources: nla.news-article166256267 – Verses 4603 sapper John William Hutchison
Photos Courtesy of the Bob Lundy family – “Bob Lundy Private Collection”
1. Looking to identify the men in these photos. Please contact us if you have any knowledge of the men in these pictures.