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British Royal Engineers recruitment poster est.1890. 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 provides military engineering and other technical support to the British Armed Forces. It 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. The Royal Engineers trace their origins back to the military engineers brought to England by William the Conqueror 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. 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.
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. In 1862 the corps also absorbed the British officers and men of the engineer corps of the East India Company.
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.
The Corps has no battle honours, but its motto Ubique (Everywhere), awarded by King William IV in 1832, signifies that it has seen action in all the major conflicts of the British Army and quite a few of the little ones too. A second motto is Quo Fas et Gloria ducunt (Where right and glory lead).
The Royal Engineers Museum of Military Engineering is in Gillingham in Kent.
A point of some pride to the Sappers is that their name takes the form Corps of Royal Engineers rather than, for example, Royal Engineer Corps. The distinction, they say, is that every Sapper is Royal in his own right, rather than simply being a member of a Royal Corps (such as the Royal Corps of Signals or the Royal Regiment of Artillery).
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. Description Source Wikipedia