The Labour Corps was raised in 1915 and disbanded in 1921, today thier roles are undertaken by the Royal Logistics Corps.
The Corps grew to some 389,900 men (more than 10% of the total size of the Army) by the Armistice. Of this total, around 175,000 were working in the United Kingdom and the rest in the theatres of war. The Corps was manned by officers and other ranks who had been medically rated below the “A1” condition needed for front line service. Many were returned wounded. Labour Corps units were often deployed for work within range of the enemy guns, sometimes for lengthy periods.
In April 1917, a number of Infantry Battalions were transferred to the Corps. The Labour Corps absorbed the 28 ASC Labour Companies between February and June 1917. Labour Corps Area Employment Companies were formed in 1917 for salvage work, absorbing the Divisional Salvage Companies. In the crises of March and April 1918 on the Western Front, Labour Corps Units were used as emergency infantry. It became the 18th -19th Labour Corps in May 1917.
The Corps always suffered from its treatment as something of a second class organization: for example, the men who died are commemorated under their original Regiment, with Labour Corps being secondary. Researching men of the Corps was made more difficult by this until the publication of the mammoth ‘Soldiers died in the great war’ collection where the Labour Corps was finally given it’s own section in volume 80.