Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

From Academic Kids

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The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers cap badge

The Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME; usually pronounced phonetically as "Reemee") is a corps of the British Army that has responsibility for the maintenance of all electrical and mechanical equipment.

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

The outbreak of World War II, with the consequent increase in quantity and complexity of equipment, led to the flaws in this system being exposed. So, following a recommendation from a committee chaired by William Beveridge, the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was formed in October 1942. The corps was unique in being granted the 'Royal' prefix from its inception.

Such a major re-organisation was too complex, however, to be carried out quickly and completely in the middle of a world war. It was decided therefore that the changeover should be 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.

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 and to vessels of the RASC fleet.

REME today

With minor exceptions only, REME 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. Within the army there are a total of seven regular and four TA battalions:

  • Regular Army
    • 1 Battalion, REME - 4 Armoured Brigade
    • 2 Battalion, REME - 7 Armoured Brigade
    • 3 Battalion, REME - 20 Armoured Brigade
    • 4 Battalion, REME - 12 Mechanised Brigade
    • 5 Battalion, REME - 19 Light Brigade
    • 6 Battalion, REME - 1 Mechanised Brigade
    • 7 Battalion, REME - 16 Air Assault Brigade
  • Territorial Army
    • 101 Battalion, REME (V)
    • 102 Battalion, REME (V)
    • 103 Battalion, REME (V)
    • 104 Battalion, REME (V)
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