Come in from the frightfulness, mind your head, and welcome to the online dugout of the 37th Division Royal Engineers.
Who we are and what we do, in short.
We are a living history group based in America's Mid Atlantic region. Our mission is to study and interpret the history of the Royal Engineers in the Great War 1914-18. To this end, our group recreates the signal and field companies of the British 37th (English) Division which served on the Western Front from late 1915 until the Allied victory of 1918. Through commemorative events, public displays, classroom presentations, battle reenactments, and the material on this site, the 37th Division Royal Engineers humbly seeks to preserve and perpetuate the rich history of this momentous period. Many of the these activities are done as part of the Great War Association.
Why the Royal Engineers?
The Corps of Royal Engineers carries a distinguished lineage of service to the English Crown dating back to the Norman Conquest. Established officially in 1716, sappers of the Royal Engineers remain an indispensable asset to any British Army campaign. The word sapper is rooted in the French term sapeur - to 'undermine.' This related to digging trenches beneath castle or fort walls for their destruction. During the First World War, the RE became evermore essential for harnessing cutting edge technologies and the logistical demands for modern total war. Their motto, ubique (everywhere in Latin), succinctly sums up their work, their importance, and why we recreate them.
They built roads, bridges, railways, and telephone networks, dugouts, gun pits, tunnels, and trenches. They operated flamethrowers and dispensed chemical weapons. They delivered the mail, produced maps, and surveyed topography. They issued weather reports, pioneered the use of grenades, and sent messages by every means from foot runner to wireless radio. Even the Royal Flying Corps (later the Royal Air Force) began in 1912 from the air arm of the Royal Engineers. Lastly, it should always be remembered that they went 'over the top' on raids or full scale attacks with the infantry, to perform whatever job was required at the sharp end. This fact is in keeping with the battle cry... "Follow the Sapper!"
Why the 37th Division's RE?
The 37th arguably represents the 'everyman' experience of the First World War British soldier. Formed in March 1915 from a mass of 'New Army' volunteers recruited from Yorkshire to London and Lincoln to Somerset, it possessed men from a variety of backgrounds and pre-war occupations with conscripts later joining to replace many lost originals. Their battle trail from Sussex to the Sambre included several epic clashes such as the Somme, Arras, Third Ypres, and the Selle. And critically, they left behind a rich body of humour, lyricism, prose, and visual art in their souvenir publication The Golden Horseshoe (1919). The book, named after division's insignia, is a poignant testimony to human endurance and devotion through fire.
So, enjoy your stay old chum. And be sure to join up if you hear the King calling.