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I
150px
The logo of the Corps of Engineers
Active 1777-Present
Country  India
Branch  Indian Army
Army Headquarters New Delhi, India
Motto(s) sarvatr (Everywhere)
Colours Gold, red and black
            
Engagements

Second Anglo-Afghan War
First World War
Second World War

Sino-Indian War of 1962

Indo-Pakistani War of 1947
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Indo-Pakistani War of 1999
Commanders
Colonel Commandant of the Corps of Engineers Lieutenant-General J. Sikand, Engineer-in-Chief
Notable
commanders
Lt.Gen. Premindra Singh Bhagat

The Indian Army Corps of Engineers has a long and history dating back to the mid-18th century. The earliest existing subunit of the Corps (18 Field Company) dates back to 1777 while the Corps officially recognises its birth as 1780 when the senior most group of the Corps, the Madras Sappers were raised.

The Corps consists of three groups of combat engineers, namely the Madras Sappers, the Bengal Sappers and the Bombay Sappers. A group is roughly analogous to a regiment of Indian infantry, each group consisting of a number of engineer regiments. The engineer regiment is the basic combat engineer unit, analogous to an infantry battalion.

Besides the combat engineers, the Corps mans and operates major engineering organisations such as the Military Engineering Service (MES), the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), the Married Accommodation Project and the Survey of India.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

Corps of Bengal Sappers and Miners guarding their sector of the Sherpore Cantonment, outside the city boundary of Kabul, Afghanistan, during the Afghan War 1878-9

The Corps of Engineers is one of the oldest arms of the Indian Army. The origin of the Corps dates back to 1780 when the two regular pioneer companies were raised in the Madras Presidency Army. Subsequently, the Group of Madras, Bengal and Bombay Sappers were formed in their respective presidencies. These Groups came together when the British Indian Army was formed after 1857 and were later merged on 18 November 1932 to form the Corps of Indian Engineers. Engineer Groups initially consisted of field companies (a sub-unit organization that exists to this day).

Till 1911, the Sappers also had the duty of passing battlefield messages. Between 1911 and 1920, they handed this task to a batch of their own kinsmen who then formed the Corps of Signals. The Sappers also contributed the first batch of airmen when the Indian Air Force was raised in 1932. From 1942-1945 officers of the Indian Railways were recruited into this Corps to participate in Britain's Burma Campaign.

Combat Engineers[edit | edit source]

In war, Combat Engineers provide mobility to own forces by constructing bridges, tracks and helipads; on the other hand the Corps denies the same to the enemy by creating obstacles such as laying mine-fields and demolition of bridges. The need for accurate survey arose before combat engineering. Vast holdings had to be carefully delineated and mapped out, to plan the correct form of commercial extraction. By 1780, serious attention began to be given to the art of sapping and mining.

Forts abound in the subcontinent, and to the forts the main defences withdrew for a protracted stand. On being invested, the siege (heavy) artillery including trench mortars or bombards went at it. The real work, not for the faint-hearted, went to the sappers who had to do the 'sapping' or mining. Sapping is the technique of accurately digging trenches, usually covered or zigzag, to cover one's approach to the point of assault.

Military Engineer Services[edit | edit source]

The Military Engineer Services, or the MES, are responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of all works, buildings, airfields, dock installations, etc., together with accessory services such as military roads, water and electricity supply, drainage, refrigeration, furniture, required by the Army, Navy and Air Force in India.[2]

The Military Engineer Services is the largest construction agency in the country. As the premier engineering arm of the Ministry of Defence, the MES primarily provides for the three arms of Defence forces, the Army, Air Force and Navy and also to other Defence related departments and organisations. It was founded in 1851 to provide rear-line-engineering support to the erstwhile British Indian Army.

Border Roads Organisation[edit | edit source]

The Border Roads Organisation has made its own contribution to the nation by constructing national highways, airfields, buildings and bridges. The Border Roads, by constructing a large number of roads in once inaccessible areas of the Himalayas, Rajasthan and North East States have contributed significantly to their economic development.

Decorations[edit | edit source]

General PS Bhagat of the Corps remains the first Indian Officer to have won the Victoria Cross in the Second World War. Another first in the same war, Subedar Subramaniam was awarded the George Cross. Later, during operations in Kashmir soon after Independence, Major Rama Raghoba Rane was awarded the Param Vir Chakra for making a passage through enemy mine fields while crawling in front of a tank. Engineer units have been deployed abroad as part of UN Missions.

The Corps of Engineers has to its credit one Param Vir Chakra, one Ashoka Chakra, one Padma Bhushan, 38 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, two Maha Vir Chakras, 13 Kirti Chakras, three Padma Shris, 88 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals, 25 Vir Chakras, 93 Shaurya Chakras, six Yudh Seva Medals and many other awards.

9 Engineer Regiment became one of the youngest Engineer Regiment in world history to enter the battlefield and got as many as 12 decorations including 01 Mahavir Chakra, 03 Vir Chakra, 04 Sena Medal, 04 Mention in Dispatch at the "Battle of Basantar" in 1971.[3] 107 Engineer Regiment gained an Indian Institute of Bridging Engineers award for constructing a bridge in Himachal Pradesh in 2001.[4] 268 Engineer Regiment was raised in 1964.[5] As of 2009 it is based 'somewhere in the western sector'. 69 Engineer Regiment was raised in 2005. As of 2006 it is based at Chandigarh.[6]

Engineer regiments that served with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka included the 3,4,8,16,51,53,110,115, and 270.[7]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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