Bengal Engineer Group

The Bengal Engineer Group (BEG) (informally the Bengal Sappers or Bengal Engineers) is a military engineering regiment in the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army. The unit was originally part of the Bengal Army of the East India Company's Bengal Presidency, and subsequently part of the British Indian Army during the British Raj. The Bengal Sappers are stationed at Roorkee Cantonment in Roorkee, Uttarakhand.

Bengal Engineer Group
Bengal Engineer Group marching contingent passes through the Rajpath during the 63rd Republic Day Parade-2012, in New Delhi on January 26, 2012.jpg
Bengal Engineers on the Rajpath, New Delhi during the 63rd Republic Day Parade, 26 January 2012.
Active1803–present
CountryIndia India
AllegianceRepublic of India (historically: Bengal Army; Indian Army)
BranchCorps of Engineers
RoleMilitary engineering
Regimental CentreRoorkee, Uttarakhand
Nickname(s)Bengal Engineers, Bengal Sappers
Motto(s)God's Own
ColorsPresidential Colours of India
Anniversaries7 November
Decorations11 Victoria Cross
116 Indian Order of Merit
1 Padma Bhushan
17 Shaurya Chakra
93 Sena Medals
11 Arjun Award
Battle honours80
11 Theatre honours
Commanders
Colonel Comdt of Bengal SappersLt Gen Harpal Singh, AVSM, VSM[1]
Colonel of
the Regiment
Lt Gen S. K. Srivastava
Engineer - in - Chief[2]
Notable
commanders
Lt Gen J. S. Dhillon, Padma Bhushan, PVSM
Lt Gen K. N. Dubey, PVSM

The Bengal Sappers are one of the few remaining regiments of the erstwhile Bengal Presidency Army and survived the Rebellion of 1857 due to their "sterling work" in the recapture by the East India Company of Delhi and other operations in 1857–58. The troops of the Bengal Sappers have been a familiar sight for over 200 years in the battlefields of British India with their never-say-die attitude of Chak De and brandishing their favourite tool the hamber.[3][4][5]

Over the years the Bengal Sappers have won many battle and theatre honours, 11 Victoria Cross, 116 Indian Order of Merit, 17 Shaurya Chakra, 93 Sena Medals and 11 Arjun Awards, the highest number of won by any single organization in the country.[3][6] Lt Gen Joginder Singh Dhillon was commissioned into Bengal Engineer Group in 1936 and commanded the First Republic Day Parade in New Delhi,[citation needed] becoming the first army officer to be awarded the Padma Bhushan in November 1965.[7] Among the three Sapper units of the Indian Army, the Bengal Sappers was the first engineer group to receive the 'President Colours' in recognition of its service to the nation, on 12 January 1989, by Ramaswamy Venkataraman, the eight President of India, who presented the Regimental Colours to Bengal Engineer Group at Roorkee.[5]

Besides service on the battlefield, the Bengal Engineers also rendered valuable peacetime contributions. The military engineer Lt. James Agg designed St John's Church, Calcutta. It was based on James Gibbs's St Martin-in-the-Fields in London and was consecrated in 1787.[8] St John's was the Anglican cathedral of the city – capital of the Bengal Presidency – until St Paul's Cathedral, begun 1839, was completed in 1847.[9] St Paul's was also designed by a Bengal Engineer, William Nairn Forbes, who was also architect of the "Old Silver Mint" building at the India Government Mint, Kolkata, basing its portico on the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens.[9]

St Paul's Cathedral, Kolkata, designed by William Nairn Forbes, Bengal Engineers. Built 1839–47.

HistoryEdit

The Indian Army Corps of Engineers is one of the oldest arms of the Indian Army, dating back to 1780, when the two regular pioneer companies of the Madras Sappers were raised, as a part of the East India Company's army.[10] Prior to its formation, by 1740s officers and engineers from the Kingdom of Great Britain served in the Bengal Engineers, Bombay Engineers and Madras Engineers, formed with the respective Presidency armies, while British soldiers served in each of the Presidencies' engineering companies, namely the Madras Sappers and Miners, Bombay Sappers and Miners, and the Bengal Sappers and Miners.[11][12]

The Bengal Sappers and Miners was originally the Corps of Bengal Pioneers, which was raised from two pioneer companies in 1803, part of Bengal Army of the Presidency of Bengal; one raised by Capt T. Wood at Kanpur as Bengal Pioneers in November 1803,[4] also known as "Roorkee Safar Maina".[13] In 1819, at the conclusion of Third Maratha War, a part of Bengal Pioneers merged with the Company of Miners (raised in 1808) to become the Bengal Sappers and Miners, and raised at Allahabad, with Captain Thomas Anburey as the Commandant. The remaining part of the Corps of Bengal Pioneers was absorbed in 1833.[4] In 1843 'Broadfoot's Sappers', which had been raised in 1840, merged into the Bengal Sappers and Miners.

In 1847 the Bengal Sappers and Miners was renamed Bengal Sappers and Pioneers, and in 1851 it became the Corps of Bengal Sappers and Miners. On 7 November 1853, the regiment moved to Roorkee, where it has maintained its regimental centre ever since.[14] Lord Kitchener of Khartoum's 1903 Kitchener Reforms saw it re-designated as the 1st Sappers and Miners, which was again altered in 1906 to the 1st Prince of Wales's Own Sappers and Miners.

On the accession of George V to the throne in 1910 it was renamed 1st King George V's Own Bengal Sappers and Miners,[15] with the '1st' being dropped in 1923, to make it King George V's Own Bengal Sappers and Miners. In 1937 it was renamed King George V's Bengal Sappers and Miners, and in 1941 they became the 'King George V's Bengal Sappers and Miners Group of the Indian Engineers'. In 1946 it became the 'King George V's Group' of the Royal Indian Engineers. On Indian independence and partition in 1947, about half of the serving personnel were allocated to the Pakistan Royal Engineers. In 1950 they became the Bengal Centre, Corps of Engineers, after which they became the Bengal Engineer Group and Centre.[16]

Battle honoursEdit

Colonial IndiaEdit

 
Bengal Sappers and Miners laying explosive charges and the subsequent storming of Ghazni. 23 July 1839, Battle of Ghazni, First Afghan War.
First Anglo-Afghan War (1839–1842)
First Anglo-Sikh War
Second Anglo-Sikh War
Indian Rebellion of 1857
 
Bengal Sappers and Miners Bastion, at Sherpur cantonment, Kabul, Second Afghan War, c. 1879.
Second Anglo-Afghan War
Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885–1887)
  • Burma 1885–87
Chitral Expedition (1895)
Tirah (1897–1898)
  • Tirah
Boxer Rebellion
  • China 1900
World War I
Third Anglo-Afghan War
  • Afghanistan 1919.
World War II

Republic of IndiaEdit

First Indo-Pakistani War
  • Jammu and Kashmir 1947–48
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
  • Jammu and Kashmir 1965
  • Punjab 1965
  • Rajasthan 1965
Third Indo-Pakistani War
  • East Pakistan 1971
  • Jammu and Kashmir 1971
  • Sindh 1971.[16]

Victoria Cross recipientsEdit

Name Event Date of action Place of action
Duncan Home Indian revolt 1857-09-1414 September 1857 Delhi, India
James Innes Indian revolt 1858-02-2328 February 1858 Sultanpore, India[21]
Philip Salkeld Indian revolt 1857-09-1414 September 1857 Delhi, India[22]
John Smith Indian revolt 1857-09-1414 September 1857 Delhi, India[23]
Edward Thackeray Indian revolt 1857-09-1616 September 1857 Delhi, India
William Trevor Anglo-Bhutanese War 1865-04-3030 April 1865 Dewangiri, Deothang, Bhutan
James Dundas Anglo-Bhutanese War 1865-04-3030 April 1865 Dewangiri, Deothang, Bhutan
Edward Leach Second Afghan War 1879-03-1717 March 1879 Khyber Pass, Afghanistan[24]
Fenton Aylmer Hunza-Naga Campaign 1891-12-02 2 December 1891 Nilt Fort, British India[24][25]
James Colvin First Mohmand Campaign 1897-09-16 16 September 1897 Bilot, British India[26]
Thomas Watson First Mohmand Campaign 1897-09-16 16 September 1897 Bilot, British India[27]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ "Gazette of India No 45" (PDF). 7 November 2020. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  2. ^ "Gazette of India No 45" (PDF). 7 November 2020. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  3. ^ a b Bengal Sappers’ saga of valour The Tribune, 24 November 2008.
  4. ^ a b c Bengal Sappers: 'Sarvatra' for Two Hundred Years Sainik Samachar, Vol. 50, No. 21, 1–15 November 2003, 10-24 Kartika, 1925 (Saka), Ministry of Defence, Govt. of India.
  5. ^ a b Corps of Engineers, Indian Army bharat-rakshak.com. Archived 25 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Bengal Engineering Group Archived 1 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine Haridwar Official website.
  7. ^ Unique Achievements Archived 15 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine Bengal Sappers.
  8. ^ "Churches in Kolkata". Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  9. ^ a b Curl, James Stevens; Wilson, Susan, eds. (2015), "Forbes, William Nairn", A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (3rd ed.), Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780199674985.001.0001, ISBN 978-0-19-967498-5, retrieved 30 June 2020
  10. ^ Corps of Engineers - History Indian Army Official website. Archived 22 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Indian Sappers (1740-1947) Royal Engineers Museum. Archived 31 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Indian Army Service Records (up to 1947) Royal Engineers Museum. Archived 20 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ THE BENGAL SAPPERS National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee. Archived 13 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Institute Time Capsule IIT Roorkee.
  15. ^ "1st King George's Own Sappers and Miners - Officers & Non-Commissioned Officers and Men". Reubique.com. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  16. ^ a b "King George V's Own Bengal Sappers and Miners". Archived from the original on 30 October 2007. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
  17. ^ Bengal Sappers’ 200 yrs of valour The Tribune, 29 October 2003.
  18. ^ "The Battle of Kabul 1879". Britishbattles.com. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  19. ^ "Chitral 1895 - Fort Siege". Devonheritage.org. 31 July 2009. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  20. ^ Cassino Memorial Archived 17 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Lieutenant James John McLeod INNES VC Royal Engineers Museum. Archived 23 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Lieutenant Philip SALKELD VC Royal Engineers Museum. Archived 6 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Sergeant John SMITH VC Royal Engineers Museum. Archived 3 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ a b "Victoria Crosses held by the Royal Engineers Museum". victoriacross.org.uk/. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  25. ^ "Captain Fenton John AYLMER VC". Royal Engineers Museum. 2010. Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  26. ^ Lieutenant James Morris Colquhoun COLVIN VC Royal Engineers Museum. Archived 23 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Lieutenant Thomas Colclough WATSON VC Royal Engineers Museum. Archived 23 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine

ReferencesEdit

Short Histories:

  • The Indian Sappers and Miners,By Lieut.-Colonel E.W.C. Sandes D.S.O., M.C., R.E. (Ret.), Published by The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, 1948. Extracts
  • K.S. Calendar of battles, honours and awards : King George V's Own Bengal Sappers & Miners from 1803 to 1939, by Rhamat Ullan Khan, ca. 1944.
  • History and digest of service of the 1st King George's Own Sappers & Miners. Roorkee : 1st King's Own Press, (ca. 1911)
  • Regimental history of the King George's Own Bengal Sappers & Miners. Roorkee : KGO Sappers & Miners Press, 1937.
  • Corps reunion and the unveiling of the war memorial. (Roorkee : King George V's own Bengal sappers and miners group, R.I.E),1927.
  • History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, by Great Britain Army. Royal Engineers, Whitworth Porter. Published by Longmans, Green, 1952.
  • The Bengal Sappers 1803–2003, by General Sir George Cooper GCB MC and Major David Alexander. ISBN 0-903530-24-4.
  • The Military Engineer in India, by Lt. Col. E.W.C Sandes. Reprint 2001, Original 1933.ISBN 9781843420422.

First World War:

  • Cunningham, A.H., A Short history of the Corps of King George's Own Bengal Sappers & Miners during the War, 1914-1918. (1930)

Second World War:

  • Pearson, G., Brief history of the K.G.V's own Bengal Sappers and Miners Group, R.I.E., August 1939-July 1946. Roorkee : Pearson, 1947.

External linksEdit