Canadian Military Engineers

Canadian Military Engineers
Canadian Military Engineers
CME Badge.jpg
The cap badge of the Canadian Military Engineers
Country Canada
Branch branch of the Canadian Forces
Type military engineer
Role Primary : To permit friendly forces to live, move and fight on the field of battle and to deny the same to the enemy.
Secondary : To fight as infantry when required.
Motto Quo fas et gloria ducunt (Latin, "Whither right and glory lead")
Ubique (Latin, "Everywhere")
March Wings
Anniversaries 4 December St. Barbara's Day
Colonel-in-Chief HM The Queen
Colonel Commandant BGen R.W. Deslauriers, OMM, CD (Ret)

The Canadian Military Engineers (CME) is the military engineer branch of the Canadian Forces.



The mission of the Canadian Military Engineers is to contribute to the survival, mobility, and combat effectiveness of the Canadian Forces. Their roles are to conduct combat operations, support the Canadian Forces in war and peace, support national development, provide assistance to civil authorities, and support international aid programs. Military engineers’ responsibilities encompass the use of demolitions and land mines, the design, construction and maintenance of defensive works and fortifications, urban operations (hostile room entry), breaching obstacles, establishing/maintaining lines of communication, and bridging. They also provide water, power and other utilities, provide fire, aircraft crash and rescue services, hazardous material operations, and develop maps and other engineering intelligence. In addition, military engineers are experts in deception and concealment, as well as in the design and development of equipment necessary to carry out these operations. The official role of the Combat Engineer is to allow friendly troops to live, move and fight on the battlefield and deny that to the enemy.



Following the Boer War the Canadian Government realized that the defence of Canada required more than just a single infantry battalion and a few artillery batteries as part of the permanent defence force. In 1903 The Royal Canadian Engineers were founded as the basis of the permanent military engineers, while the militia had the Canadian Engineers created under the leadership of a former Royal Military College of Canada officer cadet, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Weatherbe. [1]

World War I

Canal du Nord - Building an extra bridge (2).jpg

One of the first tasks completed by the engineers after the declaration of war upon Germany in 1914 was for the rapid development of the Valcartier training site in Quebec. At its peak size 30,000 men where stationed here before the 1st Canadian Division was deployed to England.

When the 1st Division arrived on the front in Belgium they were accompanied by field companies of the Canadian Engineers (men recruited into the service after the start of the war were part of the Militia branch and not the regulars). These troops were responsible for construction of defences, sanitation systems, water supplies, bridging, and assisting with trench raids.

One of the most important functions of the Sappers during the war was to dig tunnels underneath enemy trenches, with which to plant explosives to destroy them. At the Battle of Vimy Ridge, several such mines were used to win the battle.

During the war the only Victoria Cross the Canadian Engineers ever received was earned by Captain C. N. Mitchell for actions on 8 October 1918 at Canal du Nord.

In total, more than 40 000 Canadians served as Engineers during the war, 14 000 on the front on the last day of the war.

Between wars

Upon demobilization, the permanent force of Engineers was changed to 38 officers and 249 other ranks. As a matter of honour, King George V, the Canadian monarch bestowed on the organization the right to use the prefix royal before its name in 1932. On 29 April 1936, the Militia and Permanent components were joined to form the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers. On this date the Militia adopted the cap badge used by the regulars.

World War II

The formation patch worn by Royal Canadian Engineers attached to the First Canadian Army during World War II.

The Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers expanded dramatically in size to support Canada's war effort. On August 31, 1939, the Permanent Force engineers included 50 officers (with 14 seconded to other branches of the Canadian Army) and 323 other ranks; the maximum size of the Corps was reached in 1944, when it included 210 officers and 6283 other ranks[2].

In keeping with British Army practice, company-sized units in the two armoured divisions were called "squadrons" following cavalry terminology. The following units were deployed in Canada and in Europe:

  • 1st Canadian Infantry Division
    • 1st Field Company
    • 3rd Field Company
    • 4th Field Company
    • 2nd Field Park Company
  • 2nd Canadian Infantry Division
    • 2nd Field Company
    • 7th Field Company
    • 11th Field Company
    • 1st Field Park Company
  • 3rd Canadian Infantry Division
    • 6th Field Company
    • 16th Field Company
    • 18th Field Company
    • 3rd Field Park Company
  • 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division
    • 6th Field Squadron
    • 8th Field Squadron
    • 9th Field Park Squadron
  • 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division
    • 1st Field Squadron
    • 10th Field Squadron
    • 4th Field Park Squadron
  • 6th Canadian Infantry Division in Pacific Command
    • 20th Field Company
    • 25th Field Company
    • 26th Field Company
    • 7th Field Park Company
  • 7th Canadian Infantry Division in Atlantic Command
    • 15th Field Company
    • 23rd Field Company
    • 27th Field Company
    • 5th Field Park Company
  • 8th Canadian Infantry Division in Pacific Command
    • 21st Field Company
    • 24th Field Company
  • I Canadian Corps
    • 12th Field Company
    • 13th Field Company
    • 14th Field Company
    • 9th Field Park Company
    • 1st Drilling Company
  • II Canadian Corps
    • 29th Field Company
    • 30th Field Company
    • 31st Field Company
    • 8th Field Park Company
    • 2nd Drilling Company
  • First Canadian Army
    • 1st Canadian Army Troops Engineers
      • 5th Field Company (unit code 1207 [3])
      • 20th Field Company (unit code 1208)
      • 23rd Field Company (unit code 1209)
      • 10th Field Park Company (unit code 1210)
    • 2nd Canadian Army Troops Engineers
      • 32nd Field Company
      • 33rd Field Company
      • 34th Field Company
      • 11th Field Park Company
    • No. 1 Workshop and Park Company
    • 1st Field (Air) Survey Company
    • 2nd Field Survey Company
    • 3rd Field (Reproduction) Survey Company
  • General Headquarters (GHQ) and Line of Communication (LoC) Troops
    • 1st Mechanical Equipment Company
    • 1st Mechanical Equipment Park Company
    • 2nd Battalion
    • 3rd Battalion
    • 1st Road Construction Company
    • 2nd Road Construction Company
    • No. 1 Railway Operating Company
    • No. 1 Railway Workshop Company
  • Other units
    • 1st Chemical Warfare Company (in Canada, Sept. 1942 - Aug. 31, 1943)
    • 2nd Chemical Warfare Company (in Canada, Sept. 1942 - Aug. 31, 1943)

The senior officers of the Corps during World War II were as follows[4]:

  • Chief Engineer, First Canadian Army
    • Major-General Charles Sumner Lund Hertzberg (6 Apr. 1942 - 23 June 1943)
    • Brigadier James Learmont Melville (24 June 1943 - Oct.? 1943)
    • Brigadier Allister Thompson MacLean (20 Oct. 1943 - 1 Sept. 1944)
    • Brigadier Geoffrey Walsh (2 Sept. 1944 - 20 Jul. 1945)
    • Colonel Henry Lloyd Meuser (Acting Chief Engineer, 21 Jul. 1945 - 31 Dec. 1945)
  • Chief Engineer, I Canadian Corps
    • Brigadier Charles Sumner Lund Hertzberg (25 Dec. 1940 - 6 Apr. 1942)
    • Brigadier James Learmont Melville (6 Apr. 1942 - Oct. 1943)
    • Brigadier Alan Burton Connelly (1943–1944)
    • Brigadier Colin Alexander Campbell (27 Jul. 1944 - 23 Apr. 1945)
    • Brigadier John Despard Christian (24 Apr. 1945 - 17 Jul. 1945)
  • Chief Engineer, II Canadian Corps
    • Brigadier Allister Thompson MacLean (1943)
    • Brigadier William Norman Archibald Bostock (1943–1944)
    • Brigadier Geoffrey Walsh (13 Feb. 1944 - 1 Sep. 1944)
    • Brigadier Dudley Kingdon Black (2 Sep. 1944 - 16 Jun. 1945)


Unification and the Cold War

On 1 February 1968, the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force were officially unified as the Canadian Armed Forces. As such the Royal Canadian Engineers, Royal Canadian Navy Civil Engineers and Royal Canadian Air Force Construction Division were amalgamated. However, the new branch went under the name Royal Canadian Engineers until 1973. At that point the branch was officially named as the Canadian Military Engineers.

21st century and beyond

Bailey bridge at Royal Military College of Canada constructed in 2004 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Military Engineers

The role of the Canadian Military Engineers has been expanding. The regular force component has been expanding the size of their units, due to the current missions of the Canadian Forces.

The current deployment in Afghanistan requires considerable use of Engineers for road clearance, Explosive Ordinance Disposal, Heavy Equipment, and Combat Support. To date 16 members of the CME have been killed in Afghanistan.

Customs and traditions


HM Queen Elizabeth II is the Colonel-in-Chief of the CME. She had previously been Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Engineers until unification in 1967. On the occasion of her Silver Jubilee she was re-affirmed as Colonel-in-Chief. King George V, Edward VIII (albeit briefly), and George VI have all served as previous Colonels-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Engineers.


King George V granted the RCE the same mottoes as the Royal Engineers.

Ubique (Latin, "Everywhere") serves as a substitution for the battle honours the Corps would have obtained if they were a line regiment.

Quo fas et gloria ducunt (Latin, "Whither right and glory lead")

Cap badge

From shortly after their creation until 1967, the Royal Canadian Engineers had a nearly identical cap badge to the Royal Engineers. This consisted of the Cipher of the Reigning monarch, surrounded by the Garter, surrmounted by the crown with the words Royal Canadian Engineers on the scroll at the bottom, and surrounded by maple leaves instead of laurels.

The cap badge came to its current form after unification. Since the Royal Canadian Engineer cap badge was representative only of the army, a new one was developed. In bilingual format, the words Engineers and Genie appear on the current cap badge indicating the bilingual nature of the CME. The word Ubique also appears, confirming that the Engineers are present everywhere the Canadian Forces goes.


The CME greeting or toast is “Chimo” - pronounced Chee-mo (with emphasis on the first syllable). This expression is also often used as a closing on correspondence between Engineers. The word Chimo is derived from the Inuktitut greeting: “saimo” (saimu) that means “hello,” “goodbye,” “peace be with you,” and similar sentiments. This salutation was used in the Ungava region of Northern Quebec and shares the same derivation as Fort Chimo (today Kuujjuaq) on Ungava Bay in northern Quebec. The current spelling and pronunciation is based on a Caucasian adaptation of the native language.[5]

Engineer Prayer

The Engineer Prayer was created for 2 Field Engineer Regiment by Major Hugh Macdonald, the unit's padre. It goes as follows:

Almighty God, we pray thee to bless the Canadian Military Engineers. May our bridges always stand, and our charges never fail, our members be ever loyal, and our officers worthy of their loyalty. May we work diligently in all our purposes and be skilled in our trades; steadfast for Queen and Country everywhere. Amen. [5]

Patron saint

The Canadian Military Engineers have no patron saint but Engineers often participate in artillery celebrations honouring St. Barbara, the patron saint of the artillery. Engineers, along with the artillery and miners, celebrate her feast day on December 4.

Canadian Military Engineers Association

The CMEA ( is the non-profit group of serving and retired military and civilian members of the Engineer Branch. Membership is $2 per month payable, by pay allotment Y012 for military members or by cheque, to the Branch CWO. The address is shown on the membership application ( Branches are distributed across Canada, or wherever like-minded members gather to promote military engineers and engineering.


Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering

The Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering (CFSME), located at CFB Gagetown in Oromocto, New Brunswick is responsible for the conduct of 85 different courses that span all ranks and occupations within the Field, Construction and Airfield Engineer organizations. CFSME is the Canadian Forces Centre of Excellence in Engineer Training and home of the Engineers. [6]


Regular Force units

Reserve Force units

  • 34 Combat Engineer Regiment (34e Régiment du Genie de Combat) (Westmount, Quebec)
    • 4 Engineer Squadron (Westmount, Quebec)
    • 9 Escadron du Génie (9 Engineer Squadron) (Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec)
    • 16 Engineer Squadron (Training and Recruiting) (Westmount, Quebec)
  • 41 Combat Engineer Regiment (Edmonton, Alberta)
    • 25 Engineer Squadron (Edmonton, Alberta)
    • 33 Engineer Squadron (Calgary, Alberta)
    • Administration Squadron
  • 1 Engineer Squadron (Fredericton, New Brunswick) (Currently integrated with the 1st Battalion, Royal New Brunswick Regiment)
  • 31 Engineer Squadron (Winnipeg, Manitoba) (Currently integrated with the Fort Garry Horse)
  • 45 Engineer Squadron (Sydney, Nova Scotia)
  • 46 Engineer Squadron (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) (Currently integrated with the North Saskatchewan Regiment)
  • 56 Engineer Squadron (St. John's, Newfoundland)


The reserve component of the CME has just completed a reorganization. Until recently the reserves had one Combat Engineer Regiment, three Field Engineer Regiments, and seven independent Field Engineer Squadrons. Three Canadian Brigade Groups had more than one engineer unit, and one (38 Canadian Brigade Group) did not have any units at all. Now the Field Engineer Regiments have been re-designated and/or amalgamated to become Combat Engineer Regiments, and the Field Engineer Squadrons have either been amalgamated to make new Combat Engineer Regiments or re-rolled as generic Engineer Squadrons.[7]

At the present all but 36 Canadian Brigade Group, 37 Canadian Brigade Group, and 38 Canadian Brigade Group are without a Combat Engineer Regiment to support it. 36 CBG has an independent Engineer Squadron. 37 CBG also has an independent Engineer Squadron, but has a second being stood up that is presently hosted by 1st Battalion, Royal New Brunswick Regiment with hopes that in the near future a regiment can be established. 38 CBG previously had 21 Field Engineer Squadron, based in Flin Flon, Manitoba. It was however disbanded in 1995. In 2003, the Fort Garry Horse in Winnipeg, Manitoba began hosting what will become 31 Engineer Squadron. The brigade hopes to start up a second squadron somewhere in Saskatchewan.

Order of precedence

Preceded by
Royal Canadian Artillery
Canadian Military Engineers Succeeded by
Communications and Electronics Branch

See also


  1. ^ Canadian Military Life After South Africa
  2. ^ Kerry, A. J. and McDill, W. A., The History of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, vol. II (1936-1946), The Military Engineers Association of Canada, Ottawa, 1966.
  3. ^ Unit codes were used to identify bridges and roads without disclosing the unit's actual name.
  4. ^ Kerry, A. J. and McDill, W. A., The History of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, vol. II (1936-1946), The Military Engineers Association of Canada, Ottawa, 1966.
  5. ^ a b "Customs and Traditions of the Canadian Military Engineers". National Defence. Archived from the original on 2005-09-09. Retrieved 2010-04-05. 
  6. ^
  7. ^

External links

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