The Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) is a corps of the Australian Army (although the word corps does not appear in their name or on their badge). The RAE is ranked fourth in seniority of the corps of the Australian Army, behind the Staff Cadets, Armoured and Artillery Corps. The corps was formed by the amalgamation of the various colonial engineer corps of the states and territories of Australia in 1902 and since then has served in various conflicts including World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. The corps has also served on numerous peacekeeping operations and was heavily involved in the Australian contribution to the war in Afghanistan.
The origins of the Royal Australian Engineers date back to 15 November 1860, when the Corps of Engineers was founded in the colony of Victoria by Peter Scratchley. By 1876, five of the six colonies—New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia—had raised their own engineer units. These were amalgamated on 1 July 1902 as the Corps of Engineers. At this time, the corps consisted of field, fortress, telegraph, electric and submarine mining companies. After Federation the small regular engineer component was granted the prefix “Royal”; however, the Militia remained part of the “Australian Engineers”.
In 1911, the Australian Corps of Signallers was absorbed into the Engineers as the RAE Signal Service. Four years later, in July 1915, all members of the Survey Section RAE, separated to form the Australian Survey Corps. During this period the School of Military Engineering was established at Moore Park in Sydney. During World War I there were approximately 40 engineering units raised as part of the First Australian Imperial Force. These units included field engineering units, tunneling companies, railway units and signalling squadrons which served at Gallipoli, the Sinai, Palestine, France and Belgium. Following the end of the war the School of Military Engineering was disbanded.
On 1 January 1925 the RAE Signal Service was separated to form the Australian Corps of Signals. This was followed in 1932 by the Survey Section separating to form the Australian Survey Corps. The regular Permanent Force and reserve Citizen Military Forces (CMF) engineer units were brought together in January 1936 as the “Corps of Royal Australian Engineers”. In 1939 the School of Military Engineering was re-established at Steele Barracks in Liverpool, New South Wales, where it remains today.
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