Royal Engineers

Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers badge.png
Cap Badge of the Corps of Royal Engineers
Active 1717 – present
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Size 15 Regiments
Part of Commander Land Forces
Garrison/HQ Chatham, Kent
Motto Ubique (Everywhere)
Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt (Where Duty and Glory lead)
March Wings (Quick march)
Brigadier S Hodder
Chief Royal Engineer Lt Gen Sir Mark Mans KCB CBE DL
Tactical recognition flash Royal Engineers TRF.svg

British Army arms and services
Flag of the British Army.svg
Combat Arms
Royal Armoured Corps
Special Air Service
Army Air Corps
Special Reconnaissance Regiment
Combat Support Arms
Royal Artillery
Royal Engineers
Royal Corps of Signals
Intelligence Corps
Combat Services
Royal Army Chaplains' Department
Royal Logistic Corps
Army Medical Services
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Adjutant General's Corps
Small Arms School Corps
Royal Army Physical Training Corps
General Service Corps
Corps of Army Music

The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers (RE), and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army. It is highly regarded throughout the military, and especially the 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 of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Germany.


Royal Engineers recruitment poster
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, a talented military engineer, 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.[1]

In 1717, the Board 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 1782, a Soldier Artificer Company was established for service in Gibraltar, and this was 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 officered 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.[1]

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.[1]

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.[2]

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.[3]

The Corps has no battle honours. Its mottoes, Ubique (Everywhere) and Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt (Where Duty and Glory lead), were granted by King William IV in 1832, signifying that the Corps had seen action in all the major conflicts of the British Army and almost all of the minor ones as well.[4][5] The Royal Engineers Museum is in Gillingham in Kent.[6]

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 30 years of age. They trained at the Royal Engineers Depot in Chatham or the RE Mounted Depot at Aldershot.[7]

Honourable conquests and historical construction

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.[8]

Royal Albert Hall

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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13]

Dover's Western Heights

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."[14]

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.[14]

Pentonville Prison

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.[15]

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 civic 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:[16]

  • 1839 – Canada-United States
  • 1858 – Canada-United States (Captain (later General Sir) John Hawkins RE)
  • 1856 and 1857 – Russo-Turkish (Lieutenant Colonel (later Sir) Edward Stanton RE)
  • 1857 – Russo-Turkish (Colonel (later Field Marshal Sir) John Simmons RE)
  • 1878 – Bulgarian
  • 1880 – Græco-Turkish (Major (later Major General Sir) John Ardagh RE)
  • 1884 – Russo-Afghan (Captain (later Colonel Sir) Thomas Holdich RE)
  • 1894 – India-Afghanistan (Captain (later Colonel Sir) Thomas Holdich RE)
  • 1902 – Chile-Argentine (Colonel Sir Delme Radcliffe RE)
  • 1911 – Peru-Bolivia (Major A. J. Woodroffe RE)

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.[17]

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.[18]

H.M. Dockyards

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

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 Naval Dockyards in various parts of the world.[19]

Chatham Dockyard

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.[20]


All members of the Royal Engineers are trained combat engineers and all sappers (privates) and non-commissioned officers also have another trade. Women are eligible for all Royal Engineer specialities.

ME – Fabricator in Iraq
ME – Armoured operating an AVRE in Canada

All Sappers train as Military Engineer – Combat. Sappers then qualify as an 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, commando engineer, diver, parachute engineer or search specialist.[21]


The Royal Engineers comprises units of both the Regular Army and the Army Reserve. There is also a higher engineer formation:

Combat Engineers prepare a bridge for demolition in Malaya.
Royal Engineers' Surveyors in Europe
Combat Engineers of 20 Field Squadron, 36 Engineer Regiment practice landmine clearance.
  • 8th Engineer Brigade
    • 12 (Air Support) Engineer Group[22]
      • 39 Engineer Regiment
      • 20 Works Group
    • 29 EOD & Search Group[23]
      • 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD)
      • 101 Engineer Regiment (EOD)
      • 11 EOD Regiment RLC
      • 36 Engineer Regiment (Search)
      • 1 Military Working Dog Regiment
    • 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group (previously Military Works Force)[24]
      • HQ Works Group
        • Royal Engineers Specialist Advisory Team (RESAT)
        • Technical Information Centre Royal Engineers
      • 62 Works Group (Water utilities, water development and well drilling)
        • 506 STRE (Water Infrastructure) (Volunteers)
        • 519 STRE (Works)
        • 523 STRE (Works)
        • 521 STRE (Water Development)
      • 63 Works Group (Electrical power generation and distribution)
        • 504 STRE (Power Infrastructure) (Volunteers)
        • 518 STRE (Works)
        • 528 STRE (Power)
        • 535 STRE (Works)
      • 64 Works Group (Fuels, fuel production and distribution)
        • 503 STRE (Fuel Infrastructure) (Volunteers)
        • 516 STRE (Fuels)
        • 524 STRE (Works)
        • 527 STRE (Works)
      • 65 (Volunteers) Works Group (Civilian infrastructure, railway and ports infrastructure)
        • STRE
        • STRE
        • STRE
        • STRE
        • STRE
      • 66 Works Group (Air Support and geotechnical engineering)
        • 510 STRE (Air Support)(Volunteers)
        • 517 STRE (Works)
        • 522 STRE (Works)
        • 530 STRE (Materials)
      • 67 Works Group
        • 502 STRE (Works)
        • 505 STRE (Works)


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
TROJAN AVRE with Full Width Mine Plough and Fascine.
  • 21 Engineer Regiment:[25]
    • 7 Headquarters and Support Squadron
    • 1 Field Squadron Squadron
    • 4 Field Squadron Squadron
    • 103 Field Squadron
    • 106 Field Squadron
    • Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Light Aid Detachment
  • 22 Engineer Regiment:[26]
    • 6 Headquarters and Support Squadron
    • 3 Armoured Engineer Squadron
    • 5 Armoured Engineer Squadron
    • 52 Armoured Engineer Squadron
    • Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Light Aid Detachment
  • 26 Engineer Regiment:[29]
    • 38 Headquarters and Support Squadron
    • 8 Armoured Engineer Squadron
    • 30 Armoured Engineer Squadron
    • 33 Armoured Engineer Squadron
  • 32 Engineer Regiment:[30]
    • 2 Headquarters and Support Squadron
    • 26 Armoured Engineer Squadron
    • 31 Armoured Engineer Squadron
    • 39 Armoured Engineer Squadron
  • 36 Engineer Regiment:[33]
    • 50 Headquarters & Support Squadron
    • 20 Field Squadron
    • 69 Gurkha Field Squadron
    • 70 Gurkha Field Support Squadron
  • 39 Engineer Regiment:[34]
    • 60 Headquarters and Support Squadron (Air Support)
    • 10 Field Squadron (Air Support)
    • 34 Field Squadron (Air Support)
    • 48 Field Squadron (Air Support)
    • 53 Field Squadron (Air Support)
    • REME Workshop
  • 42 Engineer Regiment (Geographic):[35]
    • 13 Geographic Squadron
    • 14 Geographic Squadron
    • 16 Geographic Support Squadron
    • 135 Geographic Squadron (Reserve)
  • The Royal Monmouthshire RE (Militia):[37]
    • 100 Field Squadron (Militia) - Cwmbran, Swansea, Cardiff and Bristol
    • 225 Field Squadron (Militia) - Oldbury, Stoke-on-Trent and Cannock
    • Jersey Field Squadron (Militia) - St Helier and St Peter Port
  • 71 Engineer Regiment (V):[38]
    • 10 (Orkney) Troop - Kirkwall
    • 2 Troop - RAF Leuchars
    • 102 Field Squadron (Air Support) - Paisley
    • 124 Field Squadron (Air Support) - Cumbernauld
    • 236 Troop - Kinloss Barracks
    • 591 Field Squadron - Bangor
  • 75 Engineer Regiment:[39]

The Royal School of Military Engineering

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.[40] It was renamed the School of Military Engineering in 1868 and granted the "Royal" prefix in 1962.[41]

  • Royal School of Military Engineering[42]
    • Combat Engineer School
      • 3 Royal School of Military Engineering Regiment
        • 55 Training Squadron Royal Engineers
        • 57 Training Squadron Royal Engineers
        • 63 Training Support Squadron Royal Engineers
      • Communication Information Systems Wing
    • Construction Engineer School
      • 1 Royal School of Military Engineering Regiment
        • 24 Training Squadron Royal Engineers
        • 36 Training Squadron Royal Engineers
      • Civil Engineering Wing
      • Electrical and Mechanical Wing
    • Royal Engineers Warfare Wing (Founded in 2011 and split between Brompton Barracks, Chatham and Gibraltar Barracks at Minley in Hampshire, this is the product of the amalgamation between Command Wing, where Command and Tactics were taught and Battlefield Engineering Wing, where combat engineering training was facilitated.)
      • United Kingdom Mine Information and Training Centre
    • Defence Explosive Munitions and Search School (formally Defence EOD School and the National Search Centre)
    • Defence Animal Centre
    • Royal School of Military Survey (until 1 April 2006)
  • 28 Training Squadron, Army Training Regiment[43]
  • Diving Training Unit (Army), (DTU(A))[44]
  • Band of the Corps of Royal Engineers (The Band are part of the Corps of Army Music, but wear the uniform of the Royal Engineers)[45]

Army Reserve

Royal Monmouthshire RE (Militia) Capbadge.
  • 71 Engineer Regiment[47]
    • RHQ [RAF Luechars]
    • 102 Field Squadron [Paisley/Barnsford Bridge]
    • 124 Field Support Squadron [Cumbernauld, Leuchars, Kinloss and Orkney]
    • 591 (AA) Field Squadron [Bangor, NI]
  • 21 Engineer Regiment (a Hybrid unit)[48]
    • 103 (1st Newcastle) Field Squadron [Newcastle/Sunderland(2Tp)]
    • 106 (West Riding) Field Squadron [Sheffield/Bradford]
  • 23 (Air Assault) Engineer Regiment (a Hybrid unit)[49]
    • 299 Para Squadron [Gateshead]
  • 75 Engineer Regiment (Volunteers) (Field)[50]
    • 107 (Lancashire and Cheshire) Field Squadron [Birkenhead]
    • 202 Field Support Squadron [Manchester]
    • 412 Amphibious Engineer Troop(Volunteers) Reserve ( MINDEN, GERMANY )
  • 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (EOD) (Hybrid Regiment – Regular & Reserve)[51]
    • 221 Field Squadron (EOD)(V) [Rochester/Catford]
    • 579 Field Squadron (EOD)(V) [Tunbridge Wells]
  • 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD) [Hybrid Regiment – Regular & Reserve][52]
    • 350 Field Squadron (Air Support) [Nottingham]
    • 217 (London) Field Squadron (EOD) [Holloway]
  • 42 Engineer Regiment (Geographic) (a Hybrid unit)[54]
  • 135 Independent Geographic Squadron Royal Engineers [Ewell]
  • 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group (previously Military Works Force)[56]
    • 62 Works Group [Regular]
      • 506 STRE (Water Infrastructure)
    • 63 Works Group [Regular]
      • 504 STRE (Power Infrastructure)
    • 64 Works Group [Regular]
      • 503 STRE (Fuels Infrastructure)
    • 65 Works Group
      • 507 STRE (Railway Infrastructure)
      • 509 STRE (Ports Infrastructure)
      • 508 STRE (Works)
      • 525 STRE (Works)
      • 526 STRE (Works)
  • The Nottinghamshire Band of The Royal Engineers [Nottingham][57]

Under Army 2020, several regular units will be disbanded or placed in suspended animation. These include:[58]

  • 25 Engineer Regiment and 28 Engineer Regiment will be removed from the ORBAT not before October 2015.
  • 38 Engineer Regiment will be removed from the ORBAT.
  • 67 Works Group will also be removed from the ORBAT not before April 2015.

Corps' Ensign

Camp Gate Flag of the Royal Engineers
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.[59]

Bishop Gundulf, Rochester and King's Engineers

Rochester Castle from across the Medway. Engraving from image by G.F. Sargent c1836.
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".[60]

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.

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.[61]

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.[62]

The Sapper is published by the Royal Engineers Central Charitable Trust and is a monthly magazine for all ranks.[63]

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:[64]

  • By fostering esprit de corps and a spirit of comradeship and service.
  • By maintaining an awareness of Corps traditions.
  • By acting as a link between serving and retired members of the Corps.
  • To provide financial and other assistance to serving and former members of the Corps, their wives, widows and dependants who are in need through poverty.
  • To make grants, within Association guidelines, to the Army Benevolent Fund and to other charities which further the objectives of the Association.

Royal Engineers' Yacht Club

Un-defaced Blue Ensign flown by members of the REYC.
REYC Burgee.

The Royal Engineers' Yacht Club, which dates back to 1812, promotes the skill of watermanship in the Royal Engineers.[65]

The 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.[66][67][68] 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.

The Engineers played in the first-ever FA Cup Final, losing 1–0 at Kennington Oval on 16 March 1872, to regular rivals Wanderers.[69] They also lost the 1874 Final, to Oxford University A.F.C..

Their greatest triumph was the 1874–75 FA Cup.[69] 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.[70]

The winning side was:[70]

A match programme from an Old Etonians FA Cup Final sold in an auction held at Sotheby's, New Bond street. The game was played at Kennington Oval on 25 March 1882 and shot past the £20,000-25,000 estimate to hit £30,000. It was bought at the sale on 13-14 May 2014 appropriately enough, by the Old Etonians Football Club to go on display at Eton College's Museum of Eton Life.[71]

A sword owned by Royal Engineers defender G.H. Sim who played in two FA Cup Finals in 1875 against the Old Etonians is going under the hammer at John Mullock auctions on 15 April 2015.[72] John Mullock has been quoted as stating "Any FA Cup artifacts pre-1900s are like hen's teeth".[73]

Their last FA Cup Final appearance came in 1878, again losing to the Wanderers.[69] They last participated in 1882–83 FA Cup, losing 6–2 in the fourth round to Old Carthusians F.C..[69]

The Engineers' Depot Battalion won the FA Amateur Cup in 1908.[74]

On 7 November 2012, the Royal Engineers played against the Wanderers in a remake of the 1872 FA Cup Final at The Oval.[75] Unlike the actual final, the Engineers won, and by a large margin, 7–1 being the final score.[76]


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.[77]

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

Victoria Cross and Bar

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.[81]

Burning hut in the background; red-jacketed soldiers fighting in the foreground
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



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Further reading

  • British Garrison Berlin 1945–1994, "No where to go", W. Durie ISBN 978-3-86408-068-5
  • Follow the Sapper: An Illustrated History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, by Colonel Gerald Napier RE. Published by The Institution of Royal Engineers, 2005. ISBN 0-903530-26-0.
  • The History of the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners: From the Formation of the Corps in March 1772, to the Date when Its Designation was Changed to that of Royal Engineers, in October 1856, by Thomas William John Connolly. Published by Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1857.
  • History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, by Whitworth Porter, Charles Moore Watson. Published by Longmans, Green, 1889.
  • The Royal Engineer, by Francis Bond Head. Published by John Murray, 1869.
  • Papers on Subjects Connected with the Duties of the Corps of Royal Engineers, by Great Britain Army. Royal Engineers. Published by The Corps, 1874.
  • Professional Papers of the Corps of Royal Engineers, by Great Britain Army. Royal Engineers, Royal Engineers' Institute (Great Britain). Published by Royal Engineer Institute, 1892.
  • The Royal Engineers in Egypt and the Sudan, by Edward Warren Caulfeild Sandes. Published by Institution of Royal Engineers, 1937.
  • Citizen Soldiers of the Royal Engineers Transportation and Movements and the Royal Army Service Corps, 1859 to 1965, by Gerard Williams, Michael Williams. Published by Institution of the Royal Corps of Transport, 1969.
  • Royal Engineers, by Derek Boyd. Published by Cooper, 1975. ISBN 0-85052-197-1.
  • The Royal Engineers, by Terry Gander. Published by I. Allan, 1985. ISBN 0-7110-1517-1.
  • Versatile Genius: The Royal Engineers and Their Maps: Manuscript Maps and Plans of the Eastern Frontier, 1822–1870, by University of the Witwatersrand Library, Yvonne Garson. Published by University of the Witwatersrand Library, 1992. ISBN 1-86838-023-8.
  • The History of the Royal Engineer Yacht Club, by Sir Gerald Duke. Published by Pitman Press, 1982. ISBN 0-946403-00-7.
  • From Ballon to Boxkite. The Royal Engineers and Early British Aeronautics, by Malcolm Hall. Published by Amberley, 2010. ISBN 978-1-84868-992-3.
  • A Harbour Goes to War. The story of the Mulberry and the men who made it happen, by Evans, J. Palmer, E & Walter, R. Published by Brook House, 2000. ISBN 1-873547-30-7.
  • Danger UXB. The Heroic Story of the WWII Bomb Disposal Teams, by James Owen. Published by Little, Brown, 2010. ISBN 978-1-4087-0195-9.
  • Designed to Kill. Bomb Disposal from World War I to the Falklands, by Major Arthur Hogben. Published by Patrick Stevens, 1987. ISBN 0-85059-865-6.
  • UXB Malta. Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal 1940–44, by S A M Hudson. Published by The History Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-7524-5635-5.
  • The Underground War. Vimy Ridge to Arras, by Robinson, P & Cave, N. Published by Pen and Sword, 2011. ISBN 978-84415-976-5 .
  • XD Operations. Secret British Missions Denying Oil to the Nazis, by Brazier, C. C. H. Published by Pen and Sword, 2004. ISBN 1-84415-136-0.
  • Blowing Our Bridges. A Memoir from Dunkirk to Korea via Normandy, by Maj Gen Tony Younger. Published by Pen and Sword, 2004. ISBN 1-84415-051-8.
  • Code Name Mulberry. The Planning - Building & Operation of the Normandy Harbours, by Guy Hartcup. Published by Pen and Sword, 2006. ISBN 1-84415-434-3.
  • Summon up the Blood. The war diary of Corporal J A Womack, Royal Engineers, by Celia Wolfe. Published by Leo Cooper, 1997. ISBN 978-0-85052-537-3.
  • Fight, Dig and Live. The Story of the Royal Engineers in the Korean War, by George Cooper. Published by Pen and Sword, 2011. ISBN 978-1-84884-684-5.
  • Stick & String, by Terence Tinsley. Published by Buckland Publishing, 1992. ISBN 0-7212-0897-5.
  • Honourable Conquests. An account of the enduring works of the Royal Engineers throughout the Empire, by Smithers, A. J. Published by Leo Cooper, 1991. ISBN 0-85052-725-2.
  • Never a Shot in Anger, by Gerald Mortimer. Published by Square One Publications, 1993. ISBN 1-872017-71-1.
  • Platoon Commander (Memoirs of a Royal Engineers Officer), by Peter Steadman. Published by Pentlandite Books, 2001. ISBN 1-85821-901-9.
  • Commander Royal Engineers. The Headquarters of the Royal Engineers at Arnhem, by John Sliz. Published by Travelouge 219, 2013. ISBN 978-1-927679-04-3.
  • The Lonely War. A story of Bomb Disposal in World War II by on who was there, by Eric Wakeling. Published by Square One Publication, 1994. ISBN 1-872017-84-3.
  • Bombs & Bobby Traps, by H. J. Hunt. Published by Romsey Medal Centre, 1986. ISBN 0-948251-19-0.
  • With the Royal Engineers in the Peninsula & France, by Charles Boothby. Published by Leonaur, 2011. ISBN 978-0-85706-781-4.
  • Inland Water Transport in Mesopotamia, by Lt Col L. J. Hall. Published by Naval & Military Press, 1919. ISBN 1-84342-952-7.
  • A Short History of the Royal Engineers, by The Institution of Royal Engineers. Published by The Institution of Royal Engineers, 2006. ISBN 0-903530-28-7.
  • Don't Annoy The Enemy, by Eric Walker. Published by Gernsey Press Co. ISBN Not on publication.
  • Oh! To be a Sapper, by M. J. Salmon. Published by The Institution of Royal Engineers. ISBN 0-9524911-4-1.
  • Middle East Movers, Royal Engineers Transportation in the Suez Canal Zone 1947–1956, Hugh Mackintosh. Published by North Kent Books, 2000. ISBN 0-948305-10-X.
  • Mediterranean Safari March 1943 - October 1944, by A. P. de T. Daniell. Published by Orphans Press, 2000. ISBN 0-7212-0816-9.
  • A Sapper's War, by Leonard Watkins. Published by Minerva Press, 1996. ISBN 1-85863-715-5.
  • A Game of Soldiers by C. Richard Eke. Published by Digaprint Ltd, 1997. ISBN 0-9534264-0-8.
  • Wrong Again Dan! Karachi to Krakatoa, by Dan Raschen RE. Published by Buckland Publications, 1983. ISBN 0-7212-0638-7.
  • Send Port & Pyjamas!, by Dan Raschen RE. Published by Buckland Publications, 1987. ISBN 0-7212-0763-4.
  • Highly Explosive, The Exploits of Major Bill Hartley MBE GM late of Bomb Disposal, by John Frayn Turner. Published by George G. Harappa & Co Ltd, 1967. ISBN Not on Publication.
  • Sapper Martin, The Secret War Diary of Jack Martin, by Richard Van Emden. Published by Bloomsbury, 2009. ISBN 978-4088-0311-0 .