The Corps of Royal Engineers, better known as the Royal Engineers (RE) or the Sappers, is part of the British Army.
The Corps provides military engineering and technical support to British armed forces around the world.
The origins of Royal Engineers when British military engineers were formed into a Royal Corps of Engineers in 1716 – but the Royal Engineers can trace its roots all the way back to the military engineers who travelled to England with William the Conqueror back in 1066.
The Corps of Royal Engineers today is the British Army’s largest Corps and is divided into several regiments.
It's based in locations in the UK and around the world. The Royal Engineers can claim 900 years of unbroken service to the crown – that’s almost a millennium of history, a feat not rivalled by any other Arm or Service.
As the Corps has no battle honours the motto signifies that the Corps has seen action in all the major and almost all the minor conflicts of the British Army.
Col&MacArthur is proud to partner the Royal Engineers and the make a financial contribution to REA – The Royal Engineers Association for every watch ‘Sapper’ watch sold.
On 26 May 1716 a Royal Warrant of George I authorized the Royal Regiment of Artillery and the Corps of Engineers as separate entities.
In 1787 they were granted the title Royal and Engineer officers were styled Royal Engineer.
The Peninsular Wars against France showed the need for a trained body of field or combat engineers.
In 1812 a school was created for this purpose at Chatham. It continues today as the Royal School of Military Engineering (RSME).
The first trainees were in action in Spain in 1813 and in 1814. The Engineer soldiers were retitled as the Royal Sappers and Miners.
After the Napoleonic Wars, the Royal Engineers and Royal Sappers and Miners were employed around the world both on active service and in the peaceful development of the Empire
ROYAL ENGINEERS TRAINING
The RE trains men and women in a wide range of skills.
This includes training as divers, bomb disposal experts and parachute engineers.
Royal Engineer soldiers are known as ‘Sappers’. Sappers are unique, motivated, and highly intelligent.
They are heralded as multi-skilled soldiers, combat engineers and tradesmen.
Sappers provide essential support to all areas of Defence in peacetime and during conflicts.
The RE had always been well-known for coming up with ingenious solutions to engineering problems.
A project in 1903 saw the Corps' engineers shift 68 timber and iron huts weighing 35 tonnes apiece from Longmoor in Hampshire to a base at Bordon, 4.5 miles away.
Engineers came up with the idea of building 2 light railway tracks over the flattest route possible.
Each hut was jacked up onto a specially-built wagon, and a steam-powered winch – known as 'the Contraption' – attached to the front of the load.
Horses pulled the winch cable to a suitable anchor point – usually a tree – and the hut was winched forward along the rails.
The project team moved 4 huts a week at an average speed of 3 miles (4.8km) an hour. Only one of the huts fell off its trolley during work on the scheme.
It was abandoned and later converted into a police post.
ROYAL ENGINEERS ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Royal Engineers helped to design and build Pentonville prison in north London in 1842.
The prison was one of many civil engineering projects the RE have worked on.
The prison was designed by Captain (later Major General) Joshua Jebb and its design included new concepts such as single cells, good heating, and proper sanitation.
Captain Jebb also designed Portland prison on Portland Island, off the Dorset coast, and parts of Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight.
The RE is admired worldwide for its oft-noted skill and ingenuity. Amongst its vast exploits, the RE has designed and built dams and reservoirs in British colonial India, the Rideau canal in Canada and naval and civilian ports in the UK.
During D-Day in WWII, specialized Royal Engineers helped lead led the assault, breaching the sea wall and opening routes inland.
After the assault, one of the greatest military engineering feats ever was the construction and operation of the Mulberry Harbour.
Prefabricated in Britain in a matter of months, its components were towed across 100 miles of open sea and installed on the Normandy coast, an artificial port to resupply the armies ashore, bring in reinforcements and evacuate the wounded.
British military engineers have also been involved in many civilian projects.
These include the construction of Pentonville prison in London in 1842 and world-famous concert venue the Royal Albert Hall in 1871.