History (This page is for general info only as it is lacking in material but does give us an idea of our heritage)

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The Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers came into being officially on 15 May 1944, with the fusion of various elements from the Royal Canadian Engineers, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps and Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, following the model of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

With the increase of mechanized equipment during World War II, the need to have one corps dedicated to service and maintenance thereof was becoming increasingly apparent. Trucks had become the de facto means of transportation and logistic support, armoured vehicles had replaced cavalry, weapons were becoming more complicated, as well as the advent of radios and radar, it was apparent that the previous model of having a different corps for each job was inadequate for a modern, mechanized army.

The majority of R.C.E.M.E. (pronounced Ree-mee, even though there is a "C" in it, just as the British do) technicians were, and still are, vehicle mechanics, but the original R.C.E.M.E. structure incorporated 25 different trades and sub-trades, employing specialists for each particular job in order to train and deploy them in time to meet the war's demand. While it was somewhat bulky, it was nonetheless a centralized structure for maintaining the Army's everyday equipment which was more efficient than the previous system of having each corps perform its own equipment maintenance, and also allowed for a greater degree of specialization within trades.

 RCEME Formation and Early Years

The R.C.E.M.E. motto, Arte et Marte (By Skill and By Fighting)[1] R.C.E.M.E. Corps consisted of a laurel wreath, three shields, the Tudor Crown surmounting, and the letters R.C.E.M.E. on a scroll underneath. Emblazoned on the shields were: on the first, three lightning bolts, which represented the telecommunications trades, three cannons, which represented armament, and a large gear, representing the vehicle mechanics. On the second shield, above the three cannons are three cannon balls, which are larger than the cannons. This came from the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, which in turn inherited it from its British counterpart, the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. Its significance goes back to the Crimean War when ammunition shipped to the front was too big to fit in the cannons, and was intended to remind the members of that Corps of how imperative doing their job well was (though it was not really their fault, it was the manufacturer's mistake).

There was some debate as to what the Regimental March should be, and several tunes, including Hi Ho, Hi Ho! from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs were proposed, but the final tune chosen was a medley of Lillibullero and Auprès de ma Blonde, just as REME had chosen. However, there were some things that R.C.E.M.E. chose differently than their British counterparts. The Regimental Slow March of REME was not chosen for R.C.E.M.E., but rather, the tune chosen was The Flower of Scotland, and St. Jean de Brébeuf was named the patron saint.

Each division had a central workshop, where major repairs would be conducted, and within the division, R.C.E.M.E. units would be embedded to effectuate certain repairs (1st Line) on the spot. This included Light Aid Detachments, which could deploy quickly to recover or repair equipment on the line, or in transit to the front. The R.C.E.M.E. triage system was divided into three groups: 1st Line, which would be embedded in the operational units, would carry out routine maintenance and minor repairs; 2nd Line, which was located in Field Workshops back from the front, carried out major overhauls and full component replacements; 3rd Line would be responsible for reconditioning and rebuilding equipment. Though the location of each and various tasks have changed, the structure is still in place today, with 1st Line Maintenance Platoons / Troops embedded in combat units, while 2nd Line is located 20 minutes to 2 hours away, but still in theatre, and the only 3rd Line workshop in service is 202 Workshop in Montreal.

In 1949, the R.C.E.M.E. Corps adopted a new badge, nearly identical to the British one which had been struck in 1947. It consisted of a white horse (a Mustang, as opposed to the Arabian horse of the British badge) superimposed over a lightning bolt, with a chain fixed around its neck running down its back, standing on a globe, to which the other end of the chain is attached, which pictured the Western Hemisphere (whereas the British badge pictured Europe, Africa, Australia, Antarctica and Asia). Behind the horse's head was a scroll with the letters R.C. on one side of the head, and E.M.E. on the other, surmounted by the Tudor Crown (commonly and mistakenly called referred to as the King's Crown). The only modification ever made to this badge was in 1952 when Elizabeth II ascended to the throne, and the Tudor Crown was replaced with the St. Edward's Crown.

During the 1950s, the R.C.E.M.E. Corps was reorganized to accommodate the postwar structure of the Army, and many trades were combined, due to the need to have specialists quickly fielded for the war no longer existing. Young Craftsmen (as privates in the Corps are called) trained in their trade at the R.C.E.M.E. school, titled the Royal Canadian School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, located in Kingston, Ontario, then deployed to the various squadrons and troops of R.C.E.M.E. to perform their trades.

In the mid 1960s, Canadian Army planners were again looking to streamline the structure of the Army, and beginning in 1965, various models were proposed for combining the elements of Maintenance, Supply and Transport for each brigade into one unit. The result was the formation in 1968 of Service Battalions, each consisting of Maintenance, Supply and Transport Companies, while Craftsmen who had previously belonged to R.C.E.M.E. squadrons and only attached to the combat unit, were incorporated directly into the unit, and administered through the unit's chain of command rather than the R.C.E.M.E. squadrons and troops, which ceased to exist. R.C.E.M.E. ceased to have its own autonomous chain of command; they worked for a Service Battalion with Supply and Transport, or a Service company or squadron within a combat unit.

RCEME to LORE

1968 also saw the unification of the Canadian Forces, which saw the R.C.E.M.E. Corps disbanded, and replaced with the Canadian Forces Land Ordnance Engineering Branch. Several R.C.E.M.E. trades were shed off and went over to the Air Force, such as machinist and metals technician, the Radio and Radar Techs and the R.C.E.M.E. flag, which consisted of three horizontal stripes of dark blue on top, yellow in the middle, and red on the bottom, received a fourth stripe: light blue, to represent the Air Force personnel now working the L.O.R.E. workshops. In spite of the R.C.E.M.E. Corps being disbanded, Canada's Craftsmen continued to wear the old cap badge until 1973 when a new one was introduced. The new badge was an oval in shape, had a wreath of 10 maple leaves, which represented Canada's ten Provinces, and on a blue field, which represented the Air Force, were a lightning bolt, superimposed on two crossed cannons, superimposed on a Wankel-type piston (the symbol the Society of Automotive Engineers) and surmounted by the St. Edward's Crown.

The 1970s also saw more trades added to the L.O.R.E. Branch, and existing trades condensed. For example, all the trades pertaining to repair of vehicles were grouped together into the Vehicle Technician's trade, all weapon-related trades were combined into the Weapons Technician trade, and all electrical trades were grouped together into the Electro-Mechanical Technician. All the material-support trades were transferred to the Air Force.

In the 1980s, it was confirmed that the organization of materials support was inadequate for the Army's needs; some trades were performed by vehicle technicians, such as auto-body, others by Air Force trades, such as machinists, and welding was divided between the Air Force's Metals Technician and the Army's Vehicle Technician trades. In 1985, these were all combined into the Materials Technician's trade, belonging to the L.O.R.E. Branch. It was also around this time that the L.O.R.E. title was decided to be inaccurate in its description of the Craftsmen's trades. After several proposals, ranging from odd to just stupid, such as C.R.E.M.E., the title Land Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was finally settled upon for a new title. The badge did not change.

EME - GEM Today

The concession to adopt the E.M.E. letters spurred an interest in reviving tradition, and bringing the horse badge back, which was spearheaded by BGeneral Jim Hanson CD, CWO John Sloan CD, & CWO Ron Roy CD, and led into the early 1990s. The new badge would have to be modelled on the old horse, but at the same time, reflect the changes in the Army and in the trades that had occurred since. The new badge, had several proposals. It would definitely include the letters E.M.E. and G.E.M. (Génie Electrique et Mécanique) in place of the former R.C.E.M.E. title. The original proposal had the title G.E.M. on one side of the horse's head, and E.M.E.on the other, so that it conformed to the pattern of other Commonwealth services (REME), R.A. E.M.E. (Australia), R.N.Z. E.M.E. (New Zealand), but it was decided that "GEMEME" would not be used, and it was thus reversed to E.M.E. G.E.M. to conform with CF rules on signs etc... (Documents and other items that include both French & English, the English goes on the left & the French on the right). There are other subtle differences between the old horse badge and the new one, such as the collar of fleur-de-lis being replaced with four maple leaves, and the horse's nose being shortened to accommodate three letters in front of it instead of two.

The Electrical and Mechanical Engineers are charged with the maintenance of all electrical and mechanical equipment in use in the Canadian Army today. The Branch is broken down into five trades:

  • Vehicle Technicians: whose task is to repair and maintain anything that operates with an internal combustion engine, including heaters, chainsaws and outboard motors, as well as staff cars, Jeeps, trucks and armoured vehicles.
  • Weapons Technicians: are responsible for maintenance of all weapons employed throughout the Army, from bayonets to Advanced Air Defence Artillery Systems, as well as Coleman Company stoves and lanterns, and locks, safes and high security containers.
  • Fire Control Systems Technicians: were originally a collection of two dozen other trades, but were condensed into three, then into one. They maintain and repair optical systems, electronic targeting systems, laser and Infrared ranging and targeting systems, Air Defence Anti Tank systems, night vision equipment, etc.
  • Materials Technicians: have a very diverse job that stretches from being a welder, to repairing tents, to auto-body and carpentry. This is the most recent arrival to the EME-GEM trade group, added in 1985, and formed from a number of various Army and Air Force trades.
  • EME Officers - Maintenance Officers are responsible for managing and leading EME workshops, both in garrison, and in the field, by making technical, administrative and tactical decisions that determine the unit's effectiveness and operational capacity.

 CFSEME

The Canadian Forces School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering was once known as the Royal Canadian School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, and has been alternately located in Kingston, Ontario, Canadian Forces Base Borden, Ontario, and the St. Jean Garrison, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec. In the early years of R.C.E.M.E., the school alternated between Kingston and Borden, holding both English and French courses, until the General J.F. Allard Megaplex was built in St-Jean. This not only served as the recruit school for French-speaking recruits, but also became the home of the École Technique des Forces Canadiennes (Canadian Forces Technical School), where French-speaking Craftsmen (Artisans) would study in their trades before being posted to their respective units. This changed when the ETFC was merged with CFSEME in the early 1990s, in order to make room for the English speaking recruits in St-Jean when CFLRS Cornwalis was closed. The school is located at Canadian Forces Base Borden, and has three companies: Regimental Coy., Artisan Coy., and Vehicle Coy.

 Regimental Company

Upon completing Recruit Training and Soldier Qualification, then being posted to Canadian Forces Base Borden, future Craftsmen will take a two-week-long course called Common EME Training or CET, which introduces them to the history of their trades, the marchpast, the badge, unit structure and EME-GEM traditions, such as Sadie, a statue taken from a garden in Italy during World War II, that accompanied the R.C.E.M.E. Craftsmen through the rest of the war, and was finally placed in a glass case in the main hallway of Regimental Coy, where she stays, except for occasional excursions for special events. It is at Regimental Coy. that the trainees are first given the title Craftsman.

EME-GEM officers will begin their Phase III training, or occupational course at Regimental Coy., where they too are introduced to the history and traditions of the EME-GEM Branch, as well as undergoing a two-week-long field exercise to apply the technical and tactical skills that they learned in the classroom. Their Phase IV portion is held at both Vehicle Coy. and Artisan Coy. in order to familiarize future Maintenance officers with various types of workshop and the jobs that are performed in each by the technicians who will be under their command.

 Artisan Company

Once they have successfully completed CET, the trainees move to Artisan Coy. for a month long course called Common EME Technical Training which focuses on certain technical skills that are universal throughout their four various trades. Once this course is completed, the Materials Technicians, Weapons Technicians and Fire Control Systems Technicians will stay at Artisan Coy. to complete their Qualification Level 3 (QL3), or basic trade qualification courses. The FCS Technicians will also go to CFB Kingston for the Performance-Oriented Electronics Training or POET course, which lasts for 26 weeks, before returning to Canadian Forces Base Borden for their QL3 course.

Vehicle Company

Since two-thirds of the EME-GEM Craftsmen are vehicle technicians, a separate company had to be formed to train such a large number of technicians. Once finished CET and CETT, Vehicle Technician candidates are sent to Vehicle Coy. for the QL3 phase of their training, which lasts 30 weeks. Upon completion of QL3 training, as with the other three trades, the Craftsmen are then posted to various units across Canada to complete about 18 months of apprenticeship before going back to Canadian Forces Base Borden to complete their QL5, or senior technician's courses.

Units of Employment

Most Craftsmen will end up working in a Service Battalion, of which the Canadian Army has three that operate in a regular force capacity: 1 Svc Bn, based in Edmonton, Alberta, which supplies services for the 1st Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group or 1 CMBG; while 2 Svc Bn serves 2 CMBG, based at CFB Petawawa, Ontario; and the 5e BNS du C provides these services for the 5e Groupe-Brigade Méchanisé du Canada based at CFB Valcartier just North of Quebec City.

Trainees are rotated through various units during their apprenticeship in order to gain experience in different types of equipment and environments. Though most will be posted to a Service Battalion, many will work in the various Maintenance Platoons and Troops that are integrated with Combat-Arms units, providing integral support to those units in whichever theatre of operations they may be deployed.

Typical EME-GEM Maintenance Platoon deployment structure  Click to enlarge
Typical EME-GEM Maintenance Platoon deployment structure

EME-GEM officers will also be typically posted upon completion of their Phase training, to a Service Battalion to familiarize themselves with the challenges and requirements of leading soldiers while simultaneously making administrative and technical decisions relative to a workshop's every day functions. This is where they will combine their university training with their military training, and make decisions, under the guidance of more senior officers and experienced Non-Commissioned Members, to provide a workshop that meets both the technical and tactical needs of the units for whom they provide services. Once they reach the rank of Captain, they may then be posted to a combat unit's Maintenance Platoon / Troop, within a combat unit which they will fully command.

The majority of EME-GEM technicians are Craftsmen and Corporals, while Master Corporals, Sergeants and Warrants act as supervisors, and Captains, who make up the bulk of EME-GEM officers, command Maintenance Platoons / Troops in a unit's Service Company.

Bibliography

  • RCEME History and Early Years:
1) CET course material, CFSEME Regimental Coy, CFTSG Borden, CFB Borden, Ontario. Instructor: Beresford, Sergeant T., C.D.;
2) The Canadian Soldier: D-Day to VE Day by Bouchery, Jean Editions Histoire et Collections Paris, 2003;
3) EME Journal, Issue 1 - 2005, Department of National Defence Publication, 202 WD Montreal, 2005.
4) Images Canadian Government copyright.
  • RCEME to LORE:
1) CET course material, CFSEME Regimental Coy, CFTSG Borden, CFB Borden, Ontario. Instructor: Beresford, Sergeant T., C.D.;
2) Image Canadian Government Copyright.
  • Colonel Johnston and EME-GEM Today
1) CET course material, CFSEME Regimental Coy, CFTSG Borden, CFB Borden, Ontario. Instructor: Beresford, Sergeant T., C.D.;
2) Giffin, Cfn. KDW, 5e Bataillon des Services du Canada, CFB Valcartier, Quebec;
3) Department of National Defence Recruiting Cell, NDHQ Ottawa;
4) The EME Journal, Issue 2, 2004, EME Branch Adjutant's Office, CFB Borden, Ontario, 2004;
5) Image of Colonel Murray C. Johnston receiving the Meritous Service Decoration at Rideau Hall released by the Office of Her Excellency, the Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada. Photo by Master Corporal Paz Quillé, Canadian Forces Imaging Service.
6) Images of EME-GEM badge and CFSEME Crest Canadian Government Copyright
7) Image of 5e BNS du C unit slide from Giffin, Cfn. KDW, 5e BNS du C., CFB Valcartier, Quebec. Public Domain
8) Image of EME-GEM Maintenance Platoon Deployment Structure Giffin, Cfn. KDW, 5e BNS du C., CFB Valcartier, Quebec. Public Domain

Order of precedence

Preceded by:
Dental Branch
Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Branch Succeeded by:
Chaplain Branch
From: http://en.wikipedia.org