13 Field Survey Squadron, Royal Engineers, at Fernhurst
A short history extracted from the Souvenir programme on the 150th Anniversary of the Squadron
The unit under Major. Wise moved to Egypt some time in early 1948. Authority was given in July 1948 by GHQ MELF for the disbandment of 13 Fd Svy Sqn RE and this took place at Fayid on 31 August 1948 when the personnel of the squadron were absorbed into 42 Survey Engineer Regiment, at that time commanded by Lt Col C. Belfield.
13 Field Survey Squadron RE was reformed at Tolworth in, as far as can be determined, April 1950. No 1 Survey Computing Unit RE had moved to Tolworth from Bushy Park sometime in 1949, and it was this unit, which redesignated, formed the nucleus of the squadron.
Maj C St A Wylie was in command, and a year later in April 1951 he moved the unit to Fernhurst Camp, West Sussex. In this particularly pleasant location the squadron was to remain for close on 13 years.
Maj E H T Silva assumed command in August 1953 and in turn handed over to Capt E. Halliday in July 1956. Since arriving at Fernhurst the unit had been involved in many field survey and map production tasks.
The main role in the summer months however was the training of the Army Emergency Reserve survey units. The squadron was also responsible for all Survey Service recruiting displays.
The late summer of 1956 saw the Suez Crisis and the squadron became closely involved in the survey support provided for the operation.
Maj W L Covington RE commanded the unit from January 1957 to August 1959, during this period field survey detachments were sent to Cyprus, the Arabian Peninsula, British North Borneo, the Seychelle Islands and Christmas Island.
The establishment was increased in June 1958 by one captain and 10 ORs for the geodetic surveys necessary for 'Operation Emily', the installation of Thor Guided Missile sites. The task was to continue until September 1962 when the weapons became obsolescent.
In August 1959 Maj W W Ker took over command to be followed in August 1960 by Maj E Halliday MBE. The unit continued in its role of providing survey parties for classified and special tasks in UK. In 1961 the squadron assumed responsibility for producing the indexes for the Army Map and Chart Catalogue, this was to continue through 1962 and 1963.
Maj D P S Wilson MBE assumed command of the squadron in April 1962. Early in 1963 a troop was sent to Kenya to carry out surveys for a large land settlement scheme and demarcation of a regional boundary. The troop was located at Kinangop and the survey covered approximately 50,000 acres.
In January 1964 the unit left Fernhurst Camp and moved to Aden. The establishment of the squadron was revised and consisted of 5 Officers and 92 other ranks.
The Squadron arrived at Falaise Camp, Little Aden, in January 1964 and moved from there to Normandy Lines, Khormaksar, in August 1964, where until its return to the United Kingdom in June 1967, it provided mapping and general survey support for operations within Middle East Command, as well as completing survey commitments for the Ministry of Defence. Maj Wilson handed over command of the unit to Maj E W Barton MBE RE in August 1965.
The principal field survey tasks consisted of second order traverses from Ethiopia through Perim Island and along the South Arabian coast as far as Riyan. Traverses were also extended northwards into the Radfan Mountains and the Beihan State, and the combined topographic troops spent two seasons traversing in the Dhofar Province of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman, covering an area of 25,000 sq. miles. Other tasks included assisting the US Army Map Service in their satellite tracking projects, providing gravity, astronomical and magnetic surveys in South Arabia, carrying out scale checks on the existing Trucial Coast Triangulation, boundary surveys at Buraimi Oasis, survey attachments for the Combined Services Expedition to Socotra, and miscellaneous control and large scale surveys in Bahrain, Masirah Island, Sharjah, Yas Island and Aden. A topographical troop was deployed to the Radfan during the operations there to supply height control for essential mapping.
The reproduction work of the Squadron included the compilation of new maps, both at large scale and for town plans, the production of air photo mosaics, the reprinting of existing maps to maintain stocks, and the provision of overprints for operations, boundaries and restricted areas. In 3½ years a total of 500,000 maps were printed.
The main party of the squadron left Aden by air at 24 hours notice on 29 June 1967. On returning the Squadron was located in 'B' Camp, Barton Stacey.