The Royal Engineers, or Sappers as they are known, have blazed a trail of innovation and achievement through history. The term Sappers originates from the trenches or 'saps' which engineers were employed to build towards enemy positions to allow the placing and detonating of explosive charges.
Originally called Sappers and Miners, the name Sappers has stuck with the Royal Engineers throughout their history.
From the earliest developments in military aviation, signaling and and tank warfare to the very latest bridging systems and map making techniques, the Sappers have operated at the cutting edge of technology and frequently in the most inhospitable conditions.
That commitment to ingenuity and the problem solving of practical problems is as strong today as it has ever been and the Sappers continue to fulfil an essential role all over the world.
A Brief History of the Royal Engineers
In its 900-year history the Royal Engineers has been involved in every major conflict the British Army has fought, as well as carrying out humanitarian roles such as providing clean water and building schools.
The Corps of of Royal Engineers has a long heritage that not many corps can rival - it can claim direct descent from the military engineers that William the Conqueror brought to England. Since then it has lived up to its Motto 'Ubique' ('Everywhere'), having had a significant presence at every large-scale battle the British Army has ever fought.
The Royal Engineers have introduced new technology to the British Army throughout their history including diving, telegraphy and the development of the tank.
Survey, began in 1747, was the first of the Royal Engineers 'specialist' activities. Between 1820's-1856 soldiers of the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners assisted officers of the Corps of Royal Engineers in survey duties in the British Isles and elsewhere in the British Empire. Today's Ordnance Survey was developed from the early Royal Engineers survey activities.
Diving as one of the Corps 'specialist' activities was introduced in 1838 by Colonel (later General Sir) Charles Pasley (1780-1861). In the early days both Royal Engineers and Royal Sappers and Miners trained as deep water divers. Shallow water diving capabilities were developed in the 1950's. The Sappers taught the first Royal Navy divers.