Royal Engineers

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Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers badge.png
Cap badge of the Corps of Royal Engineers.
CountryFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
BranchFlag of the British Army.svg  British Army
Size22 Regiments
Part of Commander Field Army
Garrison/HQ Chatham, Kent, England
Motto(s)Ubique and Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt ("Everywhere" and "Where Right And Glory Lead"; in Latin fas implies "sacred duty") [1]
MarchWings (Quick march)
Chief Royal Engineer – Lt Gen Tyrone Urch CBE

Corps Colonel – Col Matt Quare MBE ADC

Corps Serjeant Major - WO1 Paul Clark RE
Chief Royal Engineer Lieutenant General Tyrone Urch CBE
Tactical recognition flash Royal Engineers TRF.svg

The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers (RE), and commonly known as the Sappers , is a corps of the British Army. It provides military engineering and other technical support to the British Armed Forces and is headed by the Chief Royal Engineer. The Regimental Headquarters and the Royal School of Military Engineering are in Chatham in Kent, England. The corps is divided into several regiments, barracked at various places in the United Kingdom and around the world.

Sapper Soldier who performs a variety of military engineering duties

A sapper, also called pioneer or combat engineer, is a combatant or soldier who performs a variety of military engineering duties such as breaching fortifications, demolitions, bridge-building, laying or clearing minefields, preparing field defenses, as well as working on road and airfield construction and repair. They are also trained to serve as infantry personnel in defensive and offensive operations. A sapper's duties are devoted to tasks involving facilitating movement, defence and survival of allied forces and impeding those of enemies. The term "sapper" is used in the British Army and Commonwealth nations, Polish Army and the U.S. military. The word "sapper" comes from the French word sapeur, itself being derived from the verb saper.

British Army land warfare branch of the British Armed Forces of the United Kingdom

The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.

The Chief Royal Engineer (CRE) is the official head of the Corps of Royal Engineers of the British Army.



Royal Engineers recruitment poster Royal Engineers recruitment poster 1890.JPG
Royal Engineers recruitment poster
Corps of Royal Engineers Cypher Royal Engineers Cypher.jpg
Corps of Royal Engineers Cypher

The Royal Engineers trace their origins back to the military engineers brought to England by William the Conqueror, specifically Bishop Gundulf of Rochester Cathedral, and claim over 900 years of unbroken service to the crown. Engineers have always served in the armies of the Crown; however, the origins of the modern corps, along with those of the Royal Artillery, lie in the Board of Ordnance established in the 15th century. [2]

William I, usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. He was a descendant of Rollo and was Duke of Normandy from 1035 onward. His hold was secure on Normandy by 1060, following a long struggle to establish his throne, and he launched the Norman conquest of England six years later. The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England and his continental lands and by difficulties with his eldest son, Robert Curthose.

Gundulf of Rochester 11th and 12th-century Bishop of Rochester

Gundulf was a Norman monk who went to England following the Conquest. He was appointed Bishop of Rochester and Prior of the Cathedral Priory there. He built several castles, including Rochester, Colchester and the White Tower of the Tower of London and the Priory and Cathedral Church of Rochester.

Rochester Cathedral Church in Kent, United Kingdom

Rochester Cathedral, formally the Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, is an English church of Norman architecture in Rochester, Kent.

In Woolwich in 1716, the Board formed the Royal Regiment of Artillery and established a Corps of Engineers, consisting entirely of commissioned officers. The manual work was done by the Artificer Companies, made up of contracted civilian artisans and labourers. In 1772, a Soldier Artificer Company was established for service in Gibraltar, the first instance of non-commissioned military engineers. In 1787, the Corps of Engineers was granted the Royal prefix and adopted its current name and in the same year a Corps of Royal Military Artificers was formed, consisting of non-commissioned officers and privates, to be led by the RE. Ten years later the Gibraltar company, which had remained separate, was absorbed and in 1812 the name was changed to the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners. [2]

Woolwich district in South East London, England

Woolwich is a district of southeast London, England, within the Royal Borough of Greenwich. It has been part of the London metropolitan area since the 19th century. In 1965, most of the former Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich became part of Greenwich Borough, of which it remains the administrative centre.

Gibraltar British Overseas Territory

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It has an area of 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) and is bordered to the north by Spain. The landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of which is a densely populated town area, home to over 32,000 people, primarily Gibraltarians.

Non-commissioned officer Military officer without a commission

A noncommissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who has not earned a commission. Non-commissioned officers usually obtain their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks. In contrast, commissioned officers usually enter direct from a military academy, and are often expected to have a university degree.

The Corps has no battle honours. In 1832, the regimental motto, Ubique & Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt ("Everywhere" & "Where Right And Glory Lead"; in Latin fas implies "sacred duty") was granted. [1] The motto signified that the Corps had seen action in all the major conflicts of the British Army and almost all of the minor ones as well. [3] [4]

Battle honours of the British and Imperial Armies

The following battle honours were awarded to units of the British Army and the armies of British India and the Dominions of the British Empire. From their institution until the end of the Second World War, awards were made by, or in consultation with, the British government, but, since 1945, the individual countries of the former British Empire have awarded battle honours to their forces independently.

Motto Short sentence expressing a motivation

A motto is a maxim: a phrase meant to formally summarize the general motivation or intention of an individual, family, social group or organization. Mottos are usually found predominantly in written form, and may stem from long traditions of social foundations, or from significant events, such as a civil war or a revolution. A motto may be in any language, but Latin has been widely used, especially in the Western world.

In 1855 the Board of Ordnance was abolished and authority over the Royal Engineers, Royal Sappers and Miners and Royal Artillery was transferred to the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, thus uniting them with the rest of the Army. The following year, the Royal Engineers and Royal Sappers and Miners became a unified corps as the Corps of Royal Engineers and their headquarters were moved from the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, to Chatham, Kent. [2]

Commander-in-Chief of the Forces Wikimedia list article

The Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, later Commander-in-Chief, British Army, or just the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C), was the professional head of the English Army from 1660 to 1707 and of the British Army from 1707 until 1904.

Royal Arsenal former arsenal in Woolwich in south-east London, England

The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich carried out armaments manufacture, ammunition proofing, and explosives research for the British armed forces at a site on the south bank of the River Thames in Woolwich in south-east London, England, United Kingdom. It was originally known as the Woolwich Warren, having begun on land previously used as a domestic warren in the grounds of a Tudor house, Tower Place. Much of the initial history of the site is linked with that of the Board of Ordnance, which purchased the Warren in the late 17th century in order to expand an earlier base at Gun Wharf in Woolwich Dockyard. Over the next two centuries, as operations grew and innovations were pursued, the site expanded massively; at the time of the First World War the Arsenal covered 1,285 acres (520 ha) and employed close to 80,000 people. Thereafter its operations were scaled down; it finally closed as a factory in 1967 and the Ministry of Defence moved out in 1994. Today the area, so long a secret enclave, is open to the public and is being redeveloped for housing and community use.

Chatham, Kent town in Kent, England, United Kingdom

Chatham is one of the Medway towns located within the Medway unitary authority, in North Kent, in South East England.

The re-organisation of the British military that began in the mid-Nineteenth Century and stretched over several decades included the reconstitution of the Militia, the raising of the Volunteer Force, and the ever-closer organisation of the part-time forces with the regular army. [5] The old Militia had been an infantry force, other than the occasional employment of Militiamen to man artillery defences and other roles on an emergency basis. This changed in 1861, with the conversion of some units to artillery roles. Militia and Volunteer Engineering companies were also created, beginning with the conversion of the militia of Anglesey and Monmouthshire to engineers in 1877. The Militia and Volunteer Force engineers supported the regular Royal Engineers in a variety of roles, including operating the boats required to tend the submarine mine defences that protected harbours in Britain and its empire. These included a submarine mining militia company that was authorised for Bermuda in 1892, but never raised, and the Bermuda Volunteer Engineers that wore Royal Engineers uniforms and replaced the regular Royal Engineers companies withdrawn from the Bermuda Garrison in 1928. [6] [7] The various part-time reserve forces were amalgamated into the Territorial Force in 1908, [8] which was retitled the Territorial Army after the First World War, and the Army Reserve in 2014. [9]

The Militia of Great Britain were the principal military reserve forces of the Kingdom of Great Britain during the 18th century.

Bermuda Volunteer Engineers

The Bermuda Volunteer Engineers was a part-time unit created between the two world wars to replace the Regular Royal Engineers detachment, which was withdrawn from the Bermuda Garrison in 1928.

Bermuda Garrison

The Bermuda Garrison was the military establishment maintained on the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda by the regular British Army, and its local militia and voluntary reserves from 1701 to 1957. The garrison evolved from an independent company, to a company of Royal Garrison Battalion during the American War of Independence, and a steadily growing and diversifying force of artillery and infantry with various supporting corps from the French Revolution onwards. During the American War of Independence, the garrison in Bermuda fell under the military Commander-in-Chief of North America. Subsequently, it was part of the Nova Scotia Command until 1868, and was an independent Bermuda Command from then 'til its closure in 1957.

In 1911 the Corps formed its Air Battalion, the first flying unit of the British Armed Forces. The Air Battalion was the forerunner of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force. [10]

In 1915, in response to German mining of British trenches under the then static siege conditions of the First World War, the corps formed its own tunnelling companies. Manned by experienced coal miners from across the country, they operated with great success until 1917, when after the fixed positions broke, they built deep dugouts such as the Vampire dugout to protect troops from heavy shelling. [11]

Before the Second World War, Royal Engineers recruits were required to be at least 5 feet 4 inches tall (5 feet 2 inches for the Mounted Branch). They initially enlisted for six years with the colours and a further six years with the reserve or four years and eight years. Unlike most corps and regiments, in which the upper age limit was 25, men could enlist in the Royal Engineers up to 35 years of age. They trained at the Royal Engineers Depot in Chatham or the RE Mounted Depot at Aldershot. [12]

During the 1980s, the Royal Engineers formed the vital component of at least three Engineer Brigades: 12 Engineer Brigade (Airfield Damage Repair); [13] 29th Engineer Brigade; and 30th Engineer Brigade. [14] After the Falklands War, 37 (FI) Engineer Regiment was active from August 1982 until 14 March 1985. [15]

Regimental museum

The Royal Engineers Museum is in Gillingham in Kent. [16]

Significant constructions

Britain having acquired an Empire, it fell to the Royal Engineers to conduct some of the most significant "civil" engineering schemes around the world. Some examples of great works of the era of empire can be found in A. J. Smithers's book Honourable Conquests. [17]

British Columbia

The Royal Engineers, Columbia Detachment, commanded by Richard Clement Moody, was responsible for the foundation and settlement of British Columbia as the Colony of British Columbia. [18] [19]

Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall, designed by Captain Francis Fowke RE BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall -26July2008-2rpc.jpg
The Royal Albert Hall, designed by Captain Francis Fowke RE

The Royal Albert Hall is one of the UK's most treasured and distinctive buildings, recognisable the world over. Since its opening by Queen Victoria in 1871, the world's leading artists from every kind of performance genre have appeared on its stage. Each year it hosts more than 350 performances including classical concerts, rock and pop, ballet and opera, tennis, award ceremonies, school and community events, charity performances and lavish banquets. The Hall was designed by Captain Francis Fowke and Major-General Henry Y. D. Scott of the Royal Engineers and built by Lucas Brothers. [20] The designers were heavily influenced by ancient amphitheatres, but had also been exposed to the ideas of Gottfried Semper while he was working at the Victoria and Albert Museum. [21]

Indian infrastructure

Much of the British colonial era infrastructure of India, of which elements survive today, was created by engineers of the three presidencies' armies and the Royal Engineers. Lieutenant (later General Sir) Arthur Thomas Cotton (1803–99), Madras Engineers, was responsible for the design and construction of the great irrigation works on the river Cauvery, which watered the rice crops of Tanjore and Trichinopoly districts in the late 1820s. In 1838 he designed and built sea defences for Vizagapatam. He masterminded the Godavery Delta project where 720,000 acres (2,900 km2) of land were irrigated and 500 miles (800 km) of land to the port of Cocanada was made navigable in the 1840s. Such regard for his lasting legacy was shown when in 1983, the Indian Government erected a statue in his memory at Dowleswaram. [22]

Other irrigation and canal projects included the Ganges Canal, where Colonel Sir Colin Scott-Moncrieff (1836–1916) acted as the Chief Engineer and made modifications to the original work. Among other engineers trained in India, Scott-Moncrieff went on to become Under Secretary of State Public Works, Egypt where he restored the Nile barrage and irrigation works of Lower Egypt. [23]

Rideau Canal

The construction of the Rideau Canal was proposed shortly after the War of 1812, when there remained a persistent threat of attack by the United States on the British colony of Upper Canada. The initial purpose of the Rideau Canal was military, as it was intended to provide a secure supply and communications route between Montreal and the British naval base in Kingston, Ontario. Westward from Montreal, travel would proceed along the Ottawa River to Bytown (now Ottawa), then southwest via the canal to Kingston and out into Lake Ontario. The objective was to bypass the stretch of the St. Lawrence River bordering New York State, a route which would have left British supply ships vulnerable to attack or a blockade of the St. Lawrence. The construction of the canal was supervised by Lieutenant-Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers. In 2007 it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognizing it as a work of human creative genius. The Rideau Canal was recognized as the best preserved example of a slack water canal in North America demonstrating the use of European slackwater technology in North America on a large scale. Lt. Denison was one of the junior Royal Engineers who worked under Lt. Colonel John By, RE on the Rideau Canal in Upper Canada (1826–1832). Of note, Denison carried out experiments under the direction of Lt. Col. By to determine the strength, for construction purposes of the old growth timber in the vicinity of Bytown. His findings were published by the Institution of Civil Engineers in England who bestowed upon him the prestigious Telford Medal. [24]

Dover's Western Heights

Drop Redoubt. Drop Redoubt - - 170889.jpg
Drop Redoubt.

The Western Heights of Dover are one of the most impressive fortifications in Britain. They comprise a series of forts, strong points and ditches, designed to protect the United Kingdom from invasion. They were created to augment the existing defences and protect the key port of Dover from both seaward and landward attack. First given earthworks in 1779 against the planned invasion that year, the high ground west of Dover, England, now called Dover Western Heights, was properly fortified in 1804 when Lieutenant-Colonel William Twiss was instructed to modernise the existing defences. This was part of a huge programme of fortification in response to Napoleon's planned invasion of the United Kingdom. To assist with the movement of troops between Dover Castle and the town defences Twiss made his case for building the Grand Shaft in the cliff:

"... the new barracks. ... are little more than 300 yards horizontally from the beach. ... and about 180 feet (55 m) above high-water mark, but in order to communicate with them from the centre of town, on horseback the distance is nearly a mile and a half and to walk it about three-quarters of a mile, and all the roads unavoidably pass over ground more than 100 feet (30 m) above the barracks, besides the footpaths are so steep and chalky that a number of accidents will unavoidably happen during the wet weather and more especially after floods. I am therefore induced to recommend the construction of a shaft, with a triple staircase ... the chief objective of which is the convenience and safety of troops ... and may eventually be useful in sending reinforcements to troops or in affording them a secure retreat." [25]

Twiss's plan was approved and building went ahead. The shaft was to be 26 feet (7.9 m) in diameter, 140 feet (43 m) deep with a 180 feet (55 m) gallery connecting the bottom of the shaft to Snargate Street, and all for under an estimated £4000. The plan entailed building two brick-lined shafts, one inside the other. In the outer would be built a triple staircase, the inner acting as a light well with "windows" cut in its outer wall to illuminate the staircases. Apparently, by March 1805 only 40 feet (12 m) of the connecting gallery was left to dig and it is probable that the project was completed by 1807. [25]

Pentonville Prison

Pentonville Prison designed by Capt Joshua Jebb RE Pentonville Prison ILN 1842.jpg
Pentonville Prison designed by Capt Joshua Jebb RE

Two Acts of Parliament allowed for the building of Pentonville Prison for the detention of convicts sentenced to imprisonment or awaiting transportation. Construction started on 10 April 1840 and was completed in 1842. The cost was £84,186 12s 2d. Captain (later Major General Sir) Joshua Jebb designed Pentonville Prison, introducing new concepts such as single cells with good heating, ventilation and sanitation. [26]

Boundary Commissions

Although mapping by what became the Ordnance Survey was born out of military necessity it was soon realised that accurate maps could be also used for civil purposes. The lessons learnt from this first boundary commission were put to good use around the world where members of the Corps have determined boundaries on behalf of the British as well as foreign governments; some notable boundary commissions include: [27]

Much of this work continues to this day. The reform of the voting franchise brought about by the Reform Act (1832), demanded that boundary commissions were set up. Lieutenants Dawson and Thomas Drummond (1797–1839), Royal Engineers, were employed to gather the statistical information upon which the Bill was founded, as well as determining the boundaries and districts of boroughs. It was said that the fate of numerous boroughs fell victim to the heliostat and the Drummond light, the instrument that Drummond invented whilst surveying in Ireland. [28]

Abney Level

An Abney level is an instrument used in surveying which consists of a fixed sighting tube, a movable spirit level that is connected to a pointing arm, and a protractor scale. The Abney level is an easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and when used correctly an accurate surveying tool. The Abney level was invented by Sir William de Wiveleslie Abney (1843–1920) who was a Royal Engineer, an English astronomer and chemist best known for his pioneering of colour photography and colour vision. Abney invented this instrument under the employment of the Royal School of Military Engineering in Chatham, England, in the 1870s. [29]

H.M. Dockyards

In 1873, Captain Henry Brandreth RE was appointed Director of the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, later the Admiralty Works Department. Following this appointment many Royal Engineer officers superintended engineering works at Royal Navy Dockyards in various parts of the world, including the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda. [30]

1848 Woodcut of HMD Bermuda, Ireland Island, Bermuda. Ireland Island Woodcut.jpg
1848 Woodcut of HMD Bermuda, Ireland Island, Bermuda.

Chatham Dockyard

Slip 7 at Chatham Dockyard, designed by Col. G. Greene RE ChathamHDYCoveredS0005.JPG
Slip 7 at Chatham Dockyard, designed by Col. G. Greene RE
Slip 3 at Chatham Dockyard, designed and built by the Corps ChathamCoveredSlipNo3.JPG
Slip 3 at Chatham Dockyard, designed and built by the Corps

Chatham, being the home of the Corps, meant that the Royal Engineers and the Dockyard had a close relationship since Captain Brandreth's appointment. At the Chatham Dockyard, Captain Thomas Mould RE designed the iron roof trusses for the covered slips, 4, 5 and 6. Slip 7 was designed by Colonel Godfrey Greene RE on his move to the Corps from the Bengal Sappers & Miners. In 1886 Major Henry Pilkington RE was appointed Superintendent of Engineering at the Dockyard, moving on to Director of Engineering at the Admiralty in 1890 and Engineer-in-Chief of Naval Loan Works, where he was responsible for the extension of all major Dockyards at home and abroad. [31]


ME - Fabricator in Iraq CCT - Spr Alderson welding.JPG
ME – Fabricator in Iraq
ME - Armoured operating an AVRE in Canada X 21 A in ERV.JPG
ME – Armoured operating an AVRE in Canada

All members of the Royal Engineers are trained combat engineers and all sappers (privates) and non-commissioned officers also have another trade. These trades include: air conditioning fitter, electrician, general fitter, plant operator mechanic, plumber, bricklayer, plasterer / painter, carpenter & joiner, fabricator, building materials technician, design draughtsman, electrical & mechanical draughtsman, geographic support technician, survey engineer, armoured engineer, driver, engineer IT, engineer logistics specialist, amphibious engineer, bomb disposal specialist, diver or search specialist. [32] They may also undertake the specialist selection and training to qualify as Commandos or Military Parachutists. Women are eligible for all Royal Engineer specialities. [33]


Brigades & Groups

Combat Engineers prepare a bridge for demolition in Malaya. Royal Engineers prepare to blow up a bridge in Malaya.jpg
Combat Engineers prepare a bridge for demolition in Malaya.
Royal Engineers' Surveyors in Europe Royal Engineers Metcalf and Manduwi (photo Andy V Byers).JPG
Royal Engineers' Surveyors in Europe
Combat Engineers of 20 Field Squadron, 36 Engineer Regiment practice landmine clearance. British engineers demining.jpg
Combat Engineers of 20 Field Squadron, 36 Engineer Regiment practice landmine clearance.
Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers, Bobin, on D Day AVRE-Bobbin.jpg
Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers, Bobin, on D Day
RE Plant Operators construct foundations for a new bridge in Workington after floods Mill Field Workington (28-11-2009) New Bridge.JPG
RE Plant Operators construct foundations for a new bridge in Workington after floods
Sappers launching a Logistic Support Bridge at Workington in order to reduce effects of collapsed bridges Army Bridge Mill Field on 3rd December, 2009 (photo - Andy V Byers).JPG
Sappers launching a Logistic Support Bridge at Workington in order to reduce effects of collapsed bridges
TROJAN AVRE with Full Width Mine Plough and Fascine. Trojan AVRE - Tankfest 2009.jpg
TROJAN AVRE with Full Width Mine Plough and Fascine.


The Royal School of Military Engineering

HQ Royal School of Military Engineering. HQ Royal School of Military Engineering.jpg
HQ Royal School of Military Engineering.

The Royal School of Military Engineering is the British Army's Centre of Excellence for Military Engineering, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), and counter terrorist search training. Located on several sites in Chatham, Kent, Camberley in Surrey and Bicester in Oxfordshire the Royal School of Military Engineering offers superb training facilities for the full range of Royal Engineer skills. The RSME was founded by Major (later General Sir) Charles Pasley, as the Royal Engineer Establishment in 1812. [51] It was renamed the School of Military Engineering in 1868 and granted the "Royal" prefix in 1962. [52]

Corps' Ensign

Camp Gate Flag of the Royal Engineers Corps of Royal Engineers Camp Flag.png
Camp Gate Flag of the Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers' Ensign Royal Engineers Ensign.png
Royal Engineers' Ensign

The Royal Engineers, Ports Section, operated harbours and ports for the army and used mainly specialised vessels such as tugs and dredgers. During the Second World War the Royal Engineers' Blue Ensign was flown from the Mulberry harbours. [57]

Bishop Gundulf, Rochester and King's Engineers

Rochester Castle from across the Medway. Engraving from image by G.F. Sargent c1836. Rochester Castle engraved by H.Adlard after G.F.Sargent. c1836 edited.jpg
Rochester Castle from across the Medway. Engraving from image by G.F. Sargent c1836.
Rochester Cathedral from the West Rochester Cathedral from west.jpg
Rochester Cathedral from the West

Bishop Gundulf, a monk from the Abbey of Bec in Normandy came to England in 1070 as Archbishop Lafranc's assistant at Canterbury. His talent for architecture had been spotted by King William I and was put to good use in Rochester, where he was sent as bishop in 1077. Almost immediately the King appointed him to supervise the construction of the White Tower, now part of the Tower of London in 1078. Under William Rufus he also undertook building work on Rochester Castle. Having served three kings of England and earning "the favour of them all", Gundulf is accepted as the first "King's Engineer". [58]

The Institution of Royal Engineers

The Ravelin Building at the Royal School of Military Engineering, Chatham, is now home to the Institution and the Corps Museum. Royal Engineers Museum, Prince Arthur Rd, Gillingham (2) - - 1148711.jpg
The Ravelin Building at the Royal School of Military Engineering, Chatham, is now home to the Institution and the Corps Museum.

The Institution of Royal Engineers, the professional institution of the Corps of Royal Engineers, was established in 1875 and in 1923 it was granted its Royal Charter by King George V. The Institution is collocated with the Royal Engineers Museum, within the grounds of the Royal School of Military Engineering at Brompton in Chatham, Kent. [59]

The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers is currently in its 12th volume. The first two volumes were written by Major General Whitworth Porter and published in 1889. [60]

The Sapper is published by the Royal Engineers Central Charitable Trust and is a bi-monthly magazine for all ranks. [61]

The Royal Engineers' Association

The Royal Engineers Association was formed to promote and support the Corps among members of the Association in the following ways: [62]


Royal Engineers' Yacht Club

Un-defaced Blue Ensign flown by members of the REYC. Government Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Un-defaced Blue Ensign flown by members of the REYC.
REYC Burgee. REYC Burgee.gif
REYC Burgee.

The Royal Engineers' Yacht Club, which dates back to 1812, promotes the skill of watermanship in the Royal Engineers. [63]

Royal Engineers Amateur Football Club

The club was founded in 1863, under the leadership of Major Francis Marindin. Sir Frederick Wall, who was the secretary of The Football Association 1895–1934, stated in his memoirs that the "combination game" was first used by the Royal Engineers A.F.C. in the early 1870s. [64] [65] [66] Wall states that the "Sappers moved in unison" and showed the "advantages of combination over the old style of individualism".

FA Cup

The Royal Engineers pictured in 1872. Back: Merriman, Ord, Marindin, Addison, Mitchell; Front: Hoskyns, Renny-Tailyour, Creswell, Goodwyn, Barker, Rich. RoyalEngineers1872.jpg
The Royal Engineers pictured in 1872. Back: Merriman, Ord, Marindin, Addison, Mitchell; Front: Hoskyns, Renny-Tailyour, Creswell, Goodwyn, Barker, Rich.

The Engineers played in the first-ever FA Cup Final in 1872, losing 1–0 at Kennington Oval on 16 March 1872, to regular rivals Wanderers. [67] They also lost the 1874 FA Cup Final, to Oxford University A.F.C..

Their greatest triumph was the 1874–75 FA Cup. [67] In the final against Old Etonians, they drew 1–1 with a goal from Renny-Tailyour and went on to win the replay 2–0 with a goal each from Renny-Tailyour and Stafford. [68] Their last FA Cup Final appearance came in 1878, again losing to the Wanderers. [67] They last participated in 1882–83 FA Cup, losing 6–2 in the fourth round to Old Carthusians F.C.. [67]

The Engineers' Depot Battalion won the FA Amateur Cup in 1908. [69]

On 7 November 2012, the Royal Engineers played against the Wanderers in a remake of the 1872 FA Cup Final at The Oval. [70] Unlike the actual final, the Engineers won, and by a large margin, 7–1 being the final score. [71]


The Army were represented in the very first international by two members of the Royal Engineers, both playing for England, Lieutenant Charles Arthur Crompton RE and Lieutenant Charles Sherrard RE. [72]

Successor units

Several units have been formed from the Royal Engineers.

Notable personnel

Engineering equipment

Order of precedence

Preceded by
Royal Regiment of Artillery
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Royal Corps of Signals


Victoria Cross

The following Royal Engineers have been awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. [78]

Rorke's Drift, 22-23 January 1879, a battle fought under the command of Lt. John Chard, RE. Eleven Victoria Crosses were won during the battle, including one by Chard. Painting by Alphonse de Neuville Alphonse de Neuville - The defence of Rorke's Drift 1879 - Google Art Project.jpg
Rorke's Drift, 22–23 January 1879, a battle fought under the command of Lt. John Chard, RE. Eleven Victoria Crosses were won during the battle, including one by Chard. Painting by Alphonse de Neuville

The Sapper VCs

In 1998, HMSO published an account of the 55 British and Commonwealth 'Sappers' who have been awarded the Victoria Cross. The book was written by Colonel GWA Napier, former Royal Engineers officer and a former Director of the Royal Engineers Museum. The book defines a 'Sapper' as any "member of a British or Empire military engineer corps, whatever their rank, speciality or national allegiance", and is thus not confined to Royal Engineers. [79]


See also

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75 Engineer Regiment is a Royal Engineers regiment, part of the British Army's Army Reserve.

23 Parachute Engineer Regiment is a Royal Engineers regiment in the British Army that was formed in 2003. It provides engineer support to 16 Air Assault Brigade in both the parachute and air assault role. The regiment is currently based at Rock Barracks in Suffolk and consists of three regular squadrons and one Army Reserve squadron. As part of 16 Air Assault Brigade it can be called upon to deploy on operations across the globe at extremely short notice.

15 Field Squadron (Search) RE

The 15 Field Squadron was a Field Squadron of the Royal Engineers of the British Army based in Ripon which has a long and distinguished history. It has been disbanded.

35 Engineer Regiment (United Kingdom)

35 Engineer Regiment is a unit of the British Army’s Royal Engineers under operational command (OPCOM) 8th Engineer Brigade, Force Troops Command. The Unit provided close support engineering under operational control (OPCON) to 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade. It is now an Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search unit. It is located in Wimbish.

101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment

101 Engineer Regiment is a regiment of the British Army's Royal Engineers. Under Army 2020 Refine, the regiment moved from a hybrid regiment to a reserve EOD&S regiment with the regimental headquarters established in Catford. It is part of 29th Group, 8 Engineer Brigade. The Honorary Colonel of the regiment is Col Jools Holland.

1st Devonshire Engineers

The 1st Devonshire Engineer Volunteer Corps, later the Devonshire Fortress Royal Engineers, was a volunteer unit of Britain's Royal Engineers whose history dated back to 1862. The unit helped to defend the vital naval base of Plymouth, and supplied detachments for service in the field in both World Wars. During the North African campaign in World War II, the unit's sappers distinguished themselves in bridging the Nile and clearing minefields during and after El Alamein. Their successors served on the postwar Territorial Army until 1969.

This is the structure of the British Army in 1989.

The 29th Group, formerly 29th Engineer Brigade, is an engineer formation of the British Army responsible for Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search. Its headquarters were at Aldershot.

The structure of the British Army before the reforms from Army 2020.

28 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers is an engineer regiment of the British Army that focuses on counter-CBRN operations.


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Further reading