British Army, Corps of Royal Engineers, 75 Engineer Regiment, with Bundeswehr, Minden, Germany (Crown Copyright, 2017)

General Highlights Royal Engineers’ Role in Germany

75 Engineer Regiment Leading the Way on Interoperability

Chief of the General Staff General Sir Nicholas Carter KCB CBE DSO ADC, in his speech given at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) highlighted the role played by units of the Corps of Royal Engineers in developing unique interoperability with NATO allies. Speaking on Monday, 22 January 2018, General Carter said:

It’s also vital that our human relationships are maximised. And, for example, the combined engineering regiment that we share with the Bundeswehr, based in Minden in Germany, is a very good example of how you can burden share and deliver more capability through a pairing and a partnership like that.

 

The combined engineering regiment referred to comprises elements of 75 Engineer Regiment, specifically 23 Amphibious Engineer Troop and 412 Amphibious Engineer Troop. With the disbanding of 28 Engineer Regiment in 2014, 23 and 412 Troop became part of 75 Engineer Regiment. Both units moved from Hameln to Minden to share facilities with Bundeswehr counterpart, Panzerpionierbataillon 130, at Herzog von Braunschweig Kaserne.

‘M3 Rigs are Awesome’

Last year, Commander Field Army, Lt Gen Patrick Sanders, visited the base and was highly impressed by what he saw:

The M3 capability really underlines the co-operation and the importance of staying close together. The M3 Rigs are awesome and to see the skills those soldiers have is incredible.

23 Amphibious Engineer Troop began life as 23 Amphibious River Crossing Cadre in 1962, being expanded to a Squadron in 1963. Equipped with German M2 Amphibious Bridging and Ferry Equipment in early 1970, 23 became part of 28 Amphibious Engineer Squadron, along with 64 and 73 Amphibious Engineer Squadrons.

With the steady reduction in the size of the British Army, 23 Squadron, comprising 1 Troop, 2 Troop and 412 Troop, was the only wide wet-gp crossing capability at its disposal. When 28 ER was disbanded, 23 Squadron was reduced in size to a Troop.

British Army Reserve in Germany

412 Troop is the only British Army Reserve unit based in Germany and last year celebrated its 20th anniversary. The Troop was founded by Capt Phil Hogan (Retd), who sent out letters to ex-servicemen to drum up new recruits:

I formed the troop by sending letters to people I didn’t know and invited them to come along. I recruited up to 75 individuals at one stage.

At one time, there were other British Army Reserve units in Germany – 410 Plant Troop RE in Osnabrück and 408 Squadron in Berlin – but both were disbanded under Options for Change in the mid-1990s.

From Op TELIC to Op CABRIT

Sgt Michael Taylor has served with 412 Troop since its formation and described the highpoints of his career:

After M3 training, the first big thing we did was to take part in the Ulan Eagle series of exercises held in Poland. Since then we have done lots of major exercises and the troop was mobilised in 2003 for Op Telic in Iraq. We had a couple of guys go out with the squadron on Op Herrick and have done a few MACC tasks (Military Aid to the Civilian Community) as well.

“We remain exceptionally busy,” said Sgt Taylor, “and the amphibious capability is completely booked out.” Most recently, 412 Troop were deployed on Op CABRIT for NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in the Batlic countries.

The End of British Forces Germany

Under current British Army rebasing plans, 23 Troop are due to return to the UK, with the preferred location of Halton near Lancaster. Sources were unable to confirm whether 412 Troop would also return to the UK.

Sources: British Army unit to move back to Minden [link defunct]; Plenty in reserve (Sixth Sense) [link defunct]; 23 Amphibious Engineer Squadron, 1964-2014; Panzerpionierbataillon 130 in Minden

Image: British Army, Corps of Royal Engineers, 75 Engineer Regiment, with Bundeswehr, Minden, Germany (Crown Copyright, 2017).