Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

The Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME /ˈrm/ REE-mee) is a corps of the British Army that maintains the equipment that the Army uses. The corps is described as the "British Army's Professional Engineers".[1]

Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
REME cap badge.png
Cap badge of REME
Active1 October 1942–Present
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Size8,032 personnel
Garrison/HQMoD Lyneham
Motto(s)"Arte et Marte"
By Skill and By Fighting
ColoursBlue Yellow Red
Colonel-in-ChiefHRH The Countess of Wessex
Master GeneralLieutenant General P W Jaques CB CBE
Tactical Recognition FlashREME TRF.svg


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

During World War II, the increase in quantity and complexity of equipment exposed the flaws in this system. Pursuant to the recommendation of a Committee on Skilled Men in the Services chaired by William Beveridge, the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was formed on 1 October 1942.[2][3]

Phase IEdit

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 that 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.[4]

Phase IIEdit

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 which came under the REME umbrella.

This organisation was also responsible for arranging and overseeing ship refits.[4]

Cap badgesEdit

REME Cap Badge First version - in service 1942 - 1947

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".[5] Within the wreath was a pair of calipers.[6] Examples of these early badges can be found at the REME Museum. In 1947, the Horse and Lightning was adopted as the cap badge.[7]

Major Ivan Hirst REME and VolkswagenEdit

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.[8]

After visiting the Volkswagen factory, McEvoy 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.[8]

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.[8]


The REME Museum is based at MoD Lyneham.[9]


The Defence School of Electronic and Mechanical Engineering at MoD Lyneham meets most of the training needs of the corps.[10]


With minor exceptions, the Corps is 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 has its Regimental Headquarters co-located with 8 Training Battalion REME based in MoD Lyneham, Wiltshire. All trade training and Artificer training of electro/mechanical trades of REME and various related training to other units within the British Army, Navy and Air Force is conducted by 8 Training Battalion REME. In line with the Army 2020 review, there are seven Regular, two Training and six Army Reserve battalions within REME. Alongside these major units, all battalion sized units within the army have a workshop integrated, made up of REME soldiers, called a Light Aid Detachment (LAD).

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.

Separate Units

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

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

In 2012 a new post of Master General REME was created with Lieutenant General Andrew Figgures as the first incumbent.[20]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers". Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Our history". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  3. ^ William H. Beveridge (2014) [1943]. The Pillars of Security (Works of William H. Beveridge). Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-317-57304-3.
  4. ^ a b "Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers: A history". Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  5. ^ Robert Wilkinson-Latham, Discovering British Military Badges and Buttons, Shire Publications Ltd 2006 ISBN 0-7478-0484-2 (p.27)
  6. ^ Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Volume 25 (London 1947) (p. 171)
  7. ^ "The Aims of the REME Association". Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  8. ^ a b c REME Archives - Arborfield
  9. ^ "New REME Museum moves into new home in Lyneham". Gazette and Herald. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Defence School of Electronic and Mechanical Engineering". British Army. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  11. ^ "6 Armoured Close Support Battalion REME". British Army. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  12. ^ "7 Aviation Support Battalion (Official Website)". Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  13. ^ "Welcome to 101 Battalion REME". Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers". Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  15. ^ a b c d e Peregrine & Croucher, pp. 383–398
  16. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 15 April 2021.
  17. ^ "Maj Gen Sir Eric Bertram Rowcroft, CB, KBE, M.I. Mech.E., M.I.E.E. 1891 – 1963" (PDF). Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  18. ^ "Major-General Denis Redman". The Telegraph. 10 August 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  19. ^ "ATKINSON, Sir Leonard Henry (1910-1990), Major General". Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives. King's College London. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  20. ^ "REME soldiers march through Wokingham for the last time". Get Reading. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2018.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Preceded by Order of Precedence Succeeded by