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21st Engineer Regiment
21 Engineer Regiment Badge.jpg
Badge of the Regiment
Active 1949—1958
1957—Present
Country  United Kingdom
Branch

 British Army

  • Corps of Royal Engineers
Role Close Support Engineering
Size Regiment
Part of 1st Strike Brigade
Nickname(s) 21 Engineer Rgt
Engagements Operation Banner
Operation Granby
KFOR
Operation Telic
Operation Herrick
Operation Trenton
Website 21 Engineer Regiment

The 21st Engineer Regiment is a combat support regiment of the British Army. Although the regiment can trace their history back to the 7th Armoured Division's Engineers, the modern regiment trace their history to the 21st Field Engineer Regiment. The regiment was first formed supporting the 7th Armoured Division, but today after many reforms is assigned to the 1st Strike Brigade in the 3rd (United Kingdom) Division. In addition to changing roles, the regiment today is also no longer a sole regular unit, as it is a Hybrid Regiment meaning it also controlled reserve squadrons.

History[edit | edit source]

Field Regiment[edit | edit source]

In 1969, the 7th Armoured Division's Engineer Regiment was disbanded, and the 21st Field Engineer Regiment was formed in Holzminden. This new regiment was formed after the expansion of the 1st Training Engineer Regiment. In 1949, the regiment moved to Hamlen temporarily, and in 1951 moved to their barracks at Assaye Barracks. By this time, the regiment controlled the following squadrons; 4, 47, and 48 Field Squadrons, and 45 Field Park Squadron. In 1958, a major shock came when it was announced the regiment was to disbanded and their squadrons moved or disbanded. The first change came in January when 4 Field and 45 Field Park Squadrons joined the 5th Divisional Engineers, 27 Field Squadron moved to the 6th Training Engineer Regiment, and 48 Field Squadron was disbanded but concurrently reformed under the new 38th Engineer Regiment.

British Army of the Rhine Service[edit | edit source]

In 1957, just a year before the former 21st Field Regiment was disbanded, the new 7th Armoured Divisional Engineers were formed in Verden. This regiment was later renamed in 1958 when the 7th Armoured Division was renamed as the 5th Division. After this name change, the regiment remained in their role, but under their new name. In July 1960 the 5th Division was this time renamed to became the 1st Division. As a result, the regiment again changed named becoming the 1st Divisional Engineers.

From 1960 to 1962 some minor changes occurred including; 7 Squadron moving to 2nd Division and 26 Armoured Squadron joined from Hohne. In January 1962, 1 and 4 Field Squadrons moved to Nienburg. By the end of the year, the entire regiment moved to Nienburg at Assaye Barracks. In 1965, 26 Armoured Squadron moved to 32 Engineer Regiment, 45 Field Park Squadron became 45 Field Support Squadron, and in April the regiment was renamed as the 21st Engineer Regiment.

In 1970, Operation Banner had begun to step up and the 70's were a very active time (See:Chronology of Provisional Irish Republican Army actions (1970–79)). As a result of this, many units of the army were deployed to Northern Ireland in the infantry role, regardless of their type. The regiment saw 5 deployments in 6 years with three deployments in the infantry role. In April 1978, following the Mason Review the regiment was renamed as the 1st Armoured Division Engineer Regiment.

From 1978 to 1981, the regiment saw a further 6 deployments to Northern Ireland on Operation Banner again. Just a few years later, in 1981 the regiment was renamed as 21st Engineer Regiment following "The Way Forward" Reforms. The 80's and 90's were turbulent times for the army and the 21 regiment was no exception. In 1984, the regiment lost 45 Field Support squadron and in 1990 deployed on Operation Granby in the Gulf assigned to the 7th Armoured Brigade.

End of the BAOR[edit | edit source]

In 1992, the regiment saw a deployment to Northern Ireland and upon returning learned of new major reforms called the Options for Change. As a result of this change, the regiment was considered very luck as they weren't disbanded, unlike many of their engineer regiment colleagues. In 1994, a small change as a result of the reforms happened with 7 Field Squadron being renamed as 7 Headquarters Squadron. In 1995, the regiment saw a quick deployment on Operation Grapple.

In 1994, the Front Line First reform was announced and as a result a larger draw-down from Germany was announced, focusing more on a division being based in the UK (Mechanized/Armoured) and in German (Armoured). The regiment as a result moved to Quebec Barracks and was to support the 4th Armoured Brigade (if needed). In 1999, 45 Field Support Squadron was replaced by 73 Armoured Engineer Squadron. In April 2000, the rest of the squadrons (1 and 4) were redesignated as Armoured Engineering Squadrons.

From 2000 - 2010, regimental activity was very quiet with almost nothing happening in ways of deployments or moving. After 10 years of quiet, the Delivering Security in a Changing World announced a further drawdown from Germany this time including all brigades except the 1st Armoured Division. Although the regiment was assigned to a brigade assigned to this formation, they were moved from Germany. The regiment as a result moved to Claro Barracks in Ripon. This was the regiment's first time being based in the United Kingdom. In 2010 and 2012–13, the regiment saw two deployments to Afghanistan for the first time on Operation Herrick XII and Operation Herrick XVII respectively. The regiment also deployed for Operation Herrick XI.

Army 2020 and After[edit | edit source]

In 2010, and later 2013 and 2015 the major Future Army Structure (Next Steps), Army 2020, and Army 2020 Refines hit the British Armed Forces. This reform proved to be very pivitol in how mostly the army was to be organised and operate. Under the original Army 2020 reforms, the regiment was to be assigned to the 8th Engineer Brigade but under the former refines, won't be under this brigade anymore. The regiment is due to move from Ripon to an unknown, (c. 2019), barracks under Catterick Garrison. The regiment is also due to increase in size by 113 and to re-equip with the new Mechanised Infantry Vehicle.[1][2][3][4]

Under this reform, two new "Strike Brigades" were to be formed name 1st and 2nd respectively. After the refine, it was announced the 21st Regiment would support the 1st Strike Brigade and a light close support engineering regiment. Also under this change, it was announced some units in the army would be converted to "Hybrid Regiments". This title meant that some regiments were consist of both regular and reserve units/members.[1][2][5]

As of September 2020, the regiment's structure is as follows:[6][1][2]

  • Regimental Headquarters at Claro Barracks[5]
  • 7 Headquarters and Support Squadron
  • 1 Field Engineer Squadron
  • 4 Field Engineer Squadron
  • 29 Armoured Engineer Squadron (Moving from 35 Engineer Regiment)
  • Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Light Aid Detachment (LAD)

In 2019, the regiment has had two small deployments including; Operation Trenton (UN in South Sudan), Operation Catan (Somalia), and Operation Herrick (Afghanistan) - Herrick 11, 12, and 17. The regiment also for a short time controlled 106 (West Riding) Field Squadron.[5][7]

As part of the 2016 Defence Estate Announcement, Claro Barracks closed in 2019, and the regiment moved to Marne Barracks, Catterick Garrison.[8]

References[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

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