Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

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Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Cap Badge
Active 1 October 1942 – Present
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Size 8,032 personnel
Garrison/HQ Lyneham
Motto "Arte et Marte" (By Skill and By Fighting)
Colours Blue Red Gold
March Quick: Lillibullero
Slow: Duchess Of Kent
Colonel-in-Chief HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Master General REME Lieutenant General A C Figgures CB CBE
Tactical Recognition Flash REME TRF.svg
Bromsgrove cemetery, memorial for Craftsman E.W. Broomfield.

The Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME; pronounced phonetically as "Reemee" with stress on the first syllable) is a corps of the British Army that maintains the equipment that the British Army utilises.


Prior to REME's formation, maintenance was the responsibility of several different corps:

World War II's increase in quantity and complexity of equipment exposed the flaws in this system. Pursuant to the recommendation of a committee William Beveridge chaired, the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was formed on the 1st October 1942.[1]

Phase I

Such a major re-organisation was too complex to be carried out quickly and completely in the middle of a world war. Therefore the changeover was undertaken in two phases. In Phase I, which was implemented immediately, REME was formed on the existing framework of the RAOC Engineering Branch, strengthened by the transfer of certain technical units and tradesmen from the RE and RASC.

At the same time a number of individual tradesmen were transferred into REME from other corps. The new corps was made responsible for repairing the technical equipment of all arms with certain major exceptions. REME did not yet undertake:

  • Those repairs which were carried out by unit tradesmen who were driver/mechanics or fitters in regiments and belonged to the unit rather than being attached to it.
  • Repairs of RASC-operated vehicles, which remained the responsibility of the RASC; each RASC Transport Company had its own workshop.
  • Repairs of RE specialist equipment, which remained the responsibility of the RE.[2]

Phase II

In 1949, it was decided that "REME Phase II" should be implemented. This decision was published in Army Council Instruction 110 of 1949, and the necessary reorganisation was carried out in the various arms and services in three stages between July 1951 and January 1952. The main changes were:

  • The transfer to REME of most of the unit repair responsibilities of other arms (Infantry, Royal Artillery, Royal Armoured Corps etc.).
  • The provision of Light Aid Detachments for certain units that had not possessed them under the old organisation.
  • The provision of new REME workshops to carry out field repairs in RASC transport companies. Maintenance of vessels of the RASC fleet whilst in port was given to the fleet repair branch, a civilian organisation who came under the R.E.M.E umberela.

This organisation was also responsible for arranging and overseeing ship refits.[2]

Cap badges

After some interim designs, the badge of the Corps was formalised in June 1943 for use as the cap-badge, collar-badge, and on the buttons. It consisted of an oval Royally Crowned laurel wreath; on the wreath were four small shields at the compass points, each shield bearing one of the letters of "REME".[3] Within the wreath was a pair of calipers.[4] Examples of these early badges can be found at the REME Museum. In 1947 the Horse and Lightning was adopted as the cap badge.[5]

Maj Ivan Hirst REME and Volkswagen

At the end of the war, the Allies occupied the major German industrial centres to decide their fate. The Volkswagen factory at Wolfsburg became part of the British Zone in June 1945 and No. 30 Workshop Control Unit, REME, assumed control in July. They operated under the overall direction of Colonel Michael McEvoy at Rhine Army Headquarters, Bad Oeynhausen. Uniquely, he had experience of the KdF Wagen in his pre-war career as a motor racing engineer.

Whilst attending the Berlin Motor Show in 1939 he was able to test drive one. After visiting the Volkswagen factory he had the idea of trying to get Volkswagen back into production to provide light transport for the occupying forces. The British Army, Red Cross and essential German services were chronically short of light vehicles. If the factory could provide them, there would be no cost to the British taxpayer and the factory could be saved. To do this a good manager with technical experience would be needed.

Maj. Ivan Hirst was told simply to “take charge of” the Volkswagen plant before arriving in August 1945. He had drains fixed and bomb craters filled in; land in front of the factory was given over to food production.

At first, the wartime Kubelwagen was viewed as a suitable vehicle. Once it became clear it could not be put back into production, the Volkswagen saloon or Kaefer (Beetle) was suggested.

Hirst had an example delivered to Rhine Army headquarters where it was demonstrated by Colonel McEvoy. The positive reaction led to the Military Government placing an order for 20,000 Volkswagens in September 1945. . [6]


Two soldiers from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) abseil from an Army Air Corps Lynx helicopter.
REME Full Dress Home Service Helmet with Brunswick star cap badge.

With minor exceptions only, the Corps is now responsible for the examination, modification, repair and recovery of all mechanical, electronic, electrical and optical equipment of the Army beyond the capacity of unit non-technical personnel. REME currently has its Regimental Headquarters collocated with 11 Training Battalion REME based in Arborfield Garrison, in Berkshire. Class 3, 1 and Artificer training of Electro/Mechanical trades of REME and various related training to other units within the British Army and the Navy and Air Force is conducted at 10 Training Battalion REME, based at Bordon, Hampshire.[7]

Both REME training battalions are due to relocate to Lyneham, Wiltshire during the autumn of 2015 as part of the Defence College of Technical Training (DCTT).

In line with the Army 2020 review there are a total of seven Regular, two Training and six Army Reserve battalions within REME.

  • Regular Army Battalions
    • 1 Close Support Battalion REME
      • 4 CS Company
      • 12 CS Company
    • 2 Close Support Battalion REME
      • 7 CS Company
      • 11 CS Company
    • 3 Close Support Battalion REME
      • 5 Armoured Company
      • 20 Armoured Company
      • 18 Field Company
    • 4 Close Support Battalion REME
      • 9 Armoured Company
      • 10 Armoured Company
      • 17 Field Company
    • 5 Force Support Battalion REME
      • 1 Field Company
      • 2 Field Company
      • 15 Field Company
    • 6 Close Support Battalion REME
      • 3 Armoured Company
      • 14 Armoured Company
      • 13 Field Company
    • 7 Air Assault Battalion REME, based in Wattisham
      • 8 Field Company (Para)
      • 71 Aviation Company
      • 72 Aviation Company
      • 73 Aviation Company
  • Training Battalions
    • 10 Training Battalion REME, based in Bordon, provides trade training to regular soldiers as well as army reserve soldiers as Vehicle Mechanics, Armourers, Recovery Mechanics, Metalsmiths and Technical Support Specialists as well as conducting equipment courses.
    • 11 Training Battalion REME, based in Arborfield, provides trade training to Aircraft Technicians, Avionics Technicians and Electronics Technicians.
    • Both of these battalions have moved to Lyneham, Wiltshire in the autumn of 2015 as part of the Defence College of Technical Training (DCTT) and are now known as 8 Training Battalion REME.
  • Army Reserve Battalions
    • 101 Battalion REME, HQ based in Wrexham, with sub units in Prestatyn, West Bromich/Telford, Merseyside and Manchester. (Paired with 6 Armoured Close Support Battalion).
    • 102 Battalion REME, HQ based in Newton Aycliffe with sub units in Newcastle, Scunthorpe/Hull and Rotherham/Sheffield. (Paired with 1 Close Support Battalion).
    • 103 Battalion REME, HQ based in Crawley with sub units in Redhill, Ashford/Bexleyheath, Warley/Barnet and Portsmouth. (Paired with 4 Armoured Close Support Battalion).
    • 104 Battalion REME, HQ based in Northampton with sub units in Swindon, Derby/Nottingham and Coventry/Redditch. (Paired with 5 Force Support Battalion).
    • 105 Battalion REME, HQ based in Bristol with sub units in Bridgend/Cwmbran, Taunton/Yeovil and Gloucester. (Paired with 3 Armoured Close Support Battalion).
    • 106 Battalion REME, HQ based in East Kilbride with sub units in Edinburgh, Grangemouth, Glasgow and Belfast. (Paired with 2 Close Support Battalion).

Former units

  • 19 Combat Service Support Battalion (Catterick Garrison - 19 Light Brigade).
  • 50 Hong Kong Workshop REME - closed 1 October 1996.

List of Directors of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering/Master General REME

The head of REME was officially known as Director of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (Army) or DEME(A).

  • Major General Denis Redman (1960 to 1963)[9]
  • Major General Sir Leonard Henry Atkinson (1963 to 1966)[10]
  • Major-General J Boyne (1985 to 1988)
  • Major-General D Shaw (1988 to 1991)

In 2012 a new post of Master General REME was created to head the Corps of which Lt Gen Figgures became the first incumbent.


  1. "Our history". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 9 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers: A history". Retrieved 9 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Robert Wilkinson-Latham, Discovering British Military Badges and Buttons, Shire Publications Ltd 2006 ISBN 0-7478-0484-2 (p.27)
  4. Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Volume 25 (London 1947) (p. 171)
  5. "The Aims of the REME Association". Retrieved 9 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. REME Archives - Arborfield
  7. "SEME and Bordon Garrison". British Army.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Maj Gen Sir Eric Bertram Rowcroft, CB, KBE, M.I. Mech.E., M.I.E.E. 1891 – 1963" (PDF). Retrieved 9 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Major-General Denis Redman". The Telegraph. 10 August 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "ATKINSON, Sir Leonard Henry (1910-1990), Major General". Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives. King's College London. Retrieved 23 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Durie, W. "The British Garrison in Berlin 1945-1994, No where to go" Verlag: Vergangenheits, Berlin May 2012 ISBN 978-3-86408-068-5.
  • Craftsmen of the Army Vol 2 1969-1992,(1996)
  • Craftsmen of the Army Vol 1 1942-1968, (1970)

External links

Preceded by
Royal Army Medical Corps
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Adjutant General's Corps