Until the late 19th century, however, the relative simplicity of the equipment in use with the Army made a specialist corps of tradesman unnecessary. The soldier carried out minor repairs on his own equipment, assisted as necessary by the armourer, the regimental farrier, the carpenter and the leatherworker.
The early years of the Second World War brought the realisation that the existing repair system was not able to support the massive scale of equipment being deployed in every theatre.
In 1941 the War Cabinet directed Sir William Beveridge to carry out an enquiry into the employment of technical manpower in the Services. As a result of the recommendations of this enquiry, the Royal Corp of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was formed on 1st October 1942.
One of its first missions was the Battle of El Alamein, the British Army's first major operation after the Corps was formed. It has since evolved into a highly skilled and specialised Corps that is capable of meeting the toughest of challenges anywhere in the world.
Over the past 60 years REME has played a vital role in all of the Army's operations, being present in Palestine, Korea, Kenya, Malaya, Suez, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Afghanistan and both Gulf Wars. It has also been involved in peacekeeping duties all over the globe, from the Balkans to Sierra Leone.
In the former republic of Yugoslavia, REME has been present since 1992, often relying on its ingenuity rather than technology in the early years when conditions were more challenging.
Some little known facts about REME include: