The Maltese Military Artificers Sappers and Miners 1805 – 1817
The Maltese Military Artificers was raised in 1805 on the recommendation of Captain Dickens, Commanding the Royal Engineers (CRE). In July 1805, authority was granted to raise three companies under the control of the Royal Engineers. Two companies were raised for service in Malta; a third company, the Mediterranean or War Company, was formed for general service in the Mediterranean and Egypt. The men enlisted for three years.
The Maltese Military Artificers embraced plasterers, stone cutters, carpenters, smiths and labourers. The men were employed on the maintenance of military infrastructure, barracks and fortifications.
Mr Matteo Bonavia who had served as chief engineer during the blockade of the French in Malta was appointed adjutant. He retired from the department of the Royal Engineers in 1814 and was succeeded by his son, Calcedonio.
The Maltese Military Artificers Sappers and Miners
1806 Maltese Artificers
1 May 1806 Formation of three coys of tradesmen in a Corps of Artificers, two for local service and one for general service in the Mediterranean.
Strength (July 1806): 175 NCO and men under the control of the Royal Engineers.
1807 Maltese Artificers
April 1807 During the mutiny of Froberg Levy, a party of Maltese Military Artificers scaled the walls of Fort Ricasoli, and opened its gates.
23 July 1807 Sgt Evan Roberts, 1 Cpl and 29 artificers of the 1st Coy (Mediterranean Coy) embarked for Messina to repair the fortifications.
1808 Maltese Artificers
The Mediterranean Coy was recalled to Messina to work on the fortifications.
1809 Maltese Artificers
April 1809 The Mediterranean Coy at Messina was increased by a draft of 17 rank and file from Malta.
1 June 39 NCO and men were on the expedition to Naples.
Aug Eight men from 1st Coy formed part of the expedition of Brig-Gen Oswald to the Ionian Islands. They were present at the surrender of Zante on 2 October.
1810 Maltese Artificers
Feb 1810 The strength of 1st Coy Maltese Artificers in Sicily was 3 Sgts, 6 Cpls and 60 Ptes. Another 18 Maltese Artificers were at Zante.
16 Apr The party of 18 Maltese Artificers remained at Zante until the surrender of Santa Maura on 16 April, when they returned to Messina. Those men who had completed their three years engagement returned to Malta.
1811 Maltese Artificers
June 1811 There were 89 Maltese Artificers with the 1st Coy in Sicily, and 64 men with the 2nd Coy and 3rd Coy in Malta, making a grand total of 153 artificers.
1812 Maltese Artificers
June 1812 41 NCOs and men of 1st Coy joined the expedition for Tarragona on the Eastern Coast of Spain. The men were under the command of Maj Thackeray RE. They arrived at Port Mahon, Minorca, and soon afterwards landed at Alicante.
Strength (Oct 1812): 108 men with 1st Coy, and 66 NCO and men with 2nd Coy and 3rd Coy.
1813 Royal Maltese Sappers and Miners
1813 The companies of Maltese Artificers were designated the Royal Maltese Sappers and Miners.
1814 Royal Maltese Sappers and Miners
May 1814 A detachment of 49 Maltese Sappers and Miners landed at Genoa on the expedition of Lord William Bentick. They returned to Sicily in June 1814, and were incorporated with the Maltese detachment to form a company of 110 men.
June Mr Matteo Bonavia resigned as adjutant of the two companies at Malta. He was succeeded by his son Calcedonio who was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in October 1815. Bonavia retired on half pay on 1 June 1817, but remained with the Royal Engineers until his death in 1850.
Nov Seven artificers were detached from 1st Coy in Sicily and sent to Corfu.
1815 Royal Maltese Sappers and Miners
17 May 1815 Sixty men of the Maltese Sappers and Miners based at Messina embarked at Milazzo, Sicily. They disembarked at Naples on 27 May, but moved to Genoa on 2 July 1815. The rest of 1st Coy at Messina reinforced their colleagues on 18 October, bringing the total at Genoa to 101 men.
25 Oct 2nd Coy and 3rd Coy Royal Maltese Sappers and Miners were ordered to disband. A Royal Warrant1 dated 25 October 1815 replaced them with a new Corps of Maltese Military Artificers. The two companies disbanded on 31 January 1816.
The new Corps of Maltese Military Artificers contained:
- 10 Carpenters, wheelers, and coopers
- 4 White Smiths, black smiths and lock smiths
- 24 Stone cutters and miners
- 16 Masons
- 6 Plasterers
- 10 Stone carriers and boatman
1816 Royal Maltese Sappers and Miners
9 Jan 1816 1st Coy (Mediterranean Coy) Royal Maltese Sappers and Miners consisting of 92 men arrived from Genoa. It was retained for general service and was assimilated in the Royal Sappers and Miners.
1817 Royal Maltese Sappers and Miners
31 Mar 1817 The Royal Maltese Sappers and Miners was disbanded.
- 1TNA:WO 44/612, Corps of Maltese Artificers dated October 1815.
- Chesney A. G. 1897. Historical Records of the Maltese Corps of the British Army. London: William Clowes and Sons Ltd.