Description: Royal Australian Engineers – Bi-Metal Hat Badge 1953 – 60
Maker’s Name: K G Luke
Condition: Near Mint
Comments: Royal Australian Engineers – Bi-Metal Hat Badge 1953 – 60. Complete with 2 lugs.
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 is currently involved in the Australian contribution to the war in Afghanistan.
The RAE provides combat engineering, construction and other technical support to the Australian Defence Force. One of the main roles of the Corps is to provide mobility and counter mobility capabilities to the Australian Army and its allies. This means enhancing the ability of friendly forces to move while denying movement to enemy forces. In order to provide these capabilities, engineers are required to conduct many tasks including penetrating minefields, locating and disarming booby traps, purifying water and building roads and bridges. The Corps also performs the majority of the Australian Army’s demolition tasks and is trained to fight as infantry if needed.
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.
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. In 1939 the School of Military Engineering was re-established at Steele Barracks in Liverpool, New South Wales, where it remains today.
During the interwar years the RAE maintained a force of 233 regular troops and a militia force of 1,750. With the outbreak of World War II, however, the corps was expanded greatly, eventually reaching a peak of 32,984 men in 1945. RAE units of the Second Australian Imperial Force and militia served in North Africa, Malaya, New Guinea and Borneo campaigns.
Following the end of the war the size of the corps was once again reduced. Nevertheless, the various units and sub units of the RAE have been deployed on many overseas operations since 1945. During the Korean War there were no formed engineer units deployed by the Australian Army, although individual members of the RAE were deployed with the 1st Commonwealth Division. Later RAE units deployed as part of the Australian commitment to the Malayan Emergency, Confrontation and the Vietnam War. They have also been deployed overseas to carry out construction work in New Guinea.
During the Vietnam War the RAE maintained a force of about 1,000 personnel in South Vietnam where they served as part of the 1st Australian Task Force. Following the end of the war the size of the Australian Army was decreased in line with the abolition of the national service scheme and as a consequence of this and a number of lessons that came out of the deployment to Vietnam the RAE underwent a series of changes. One of the most significant changes came in 1972 and was the decision to establish full regimental sized engineer units, as opposed to squadron or company sized units. This units were initially known as Field Regiments, but have subsequently become known as Combat Engineer Regiments. As a part of this restructuring the RAE was reorganised to raise one regiment for each brigade and the Corps lost its responsibility for maintaining water transport and engineering stores.
On 1 July 1996 the RAE reabsorbed the Royal Australian Survey Corps.
Since the late 1980s members of the Corps have been involved in combat and peacekeeping operations in Namibia, Rhodesia, Pakistan, Kurdistan, Cambodia, Somalia, Rwanda, Bougainville and Mozambique as Timor Leste, the Solomon Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan.