Purple Patch: History of 3rd Field Company Engineers, AIF


Purple Patch

History of the 3rd Field Company Engineers in World War One

By Darren Prickett

Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $34.99 in hardback • ISBN 9781922265067

Darren Prickett came to this project through the exploration of his family tree, having alighted upon a distant relative who had served out the entirety of World War I with the 3rd Field Company Engineers (3FCE), of which no previous history exists.

Established in 1914 and disbanded at the end of the war, 3FCE holds a distinguished place in the history of the Australian Army, being the first unit of the AIF to deploy on active service and to come under enemy fire, in defence of the Suez Canal against a Turkish attack in February 1915, almost three months before the Gallipoli landing.

3FCE was part of the first wave of AIF to depart Australia and they did so with a strength of 200 sappers and six officers.

Initially headed for Europe, events en route saw the convoy diverted to the Middle East, their eventual destination Cairo and Mena Camp.

By February the next year, the company was preparing for its move to Lemnos, the staging point for the Gallipoli landings. It was at Gallipoli the company was to suffer its first deaths in battle.

Throughout the book, there are some excellent photos, many retrieved from private collections.

It’s hard not to be impressed by the depth of research undertaken for this book and the emphasis on the personal recollections written in diaries and letters.

There will, no doubt, be many readers eager to read the history of this unit, grateful for the years of research Darren Prickett has undertaken.

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