Pioneer battalionsAlthough they had existed in the Indian Army before 1914, pioneer battalions were essentially an innovation of the British Army during the First World War. During the war there was a much heavier reliance on field work and roads and railways needed to be maintained. Engineers alone could not meet the heavy demand, while rifle men were always needed at the front. Therefore, pioneer battalions were raised to meet the needs of both and trained to support engineers and infantry.
In 1916 the AIF raised five pioneer battalions, one per division. They were organised like a normal infantry battalion, with a lieutenant colonel in command, a headquarters staff, and four companies. Personnel normally posed a variety of trades and skills. During the First World War pioneer battalions were raised as divisional troops but during the Second World War they were corps troops.