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The History Pages

History and background of the Royal Pioneer Corps - Post War History.

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  Post War History

With World War 2 at an end, the Corps along with the rest of the Armed Forces, began to reduce in size as the Age and Service Demobilisation Scheme got underway. The Corps gained many awards for gallantry and in addition received American, French, Dutch, Greek, Belgian and Italian awards. Some 2,800 men of the Corps laid down their lives oversees and 6000 other nationalities serving with the Corps lost their lives during World War II.

In the immediate postwar period the future of the Royal Pioneer Corps came under discussion on several occasions. At a meeting held at the War Office in February 1948 it was decided that the Corps should not form part of the permanent postwar Active Army. However, on 8 October of that year, it was decided that intake in the Corps should continue until at least March 1950. Although the Corps had reduced considerably in size by this time, (the Pioneers of the High Commissioned Territories Corps, after excellent service, had been disbanded) we were still a large Corps with far-flung responsibilities.

The strength of the UK element was :-
650 Officers
900 Soldiers serving on regular engagements
400 Soldiers serving on short service regular engagements
7800 National Service Solders

In addition, the strength of the Mauritian Royal Pioneers was 14,000

In BAOR the Labour Directorate was responsible for the recruitment and administration of 251,000 civilians employed by the Forces. In Egypt the Corps administered the 48,000 civilians employed there. It was about this time the Bastyan Committee on the future of the British Army came into being. Its basic terms of reference being to make recommendations concerning the composition and size of the postwar Regular Army. On 4 May 1949 Brigadier H H Blanchard CBE, Director of Pioneers and Labour presented a paper on the Royal Pioneer Corps to this Committee. A copy of this paper is held in the Royal Logistics Museum at Deepcut and in the Brigadier's own hand is inscribed :-

'This was the first move which resulted in the Corps becoming part of the Regular Army'.

In February 1950 the Royal Pioneer Corps became part of the Regular Army. Since the end of World War 2, Royal Pioneer Corps officers and soldiers have played their part in all operations overseas.

A proposal to change the badge of the Corps to reflect its changing role received the concurrence of the Colonel-in-Chief, His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester, who made a major contribution to the design. Following consultation with, and the agreement of, Garter King of Arms the design of the new badge was submitted to, and approved by, Her Majesty The Queen in March 1984. The description is:- Two Pioneer axes crossed in saltire beneath their heads and surmounted of a Pioneer Sword and a laurel wreath below the same scroll inscribed Royal Pioneers and the whole ensigned by a Royal Crown all argent. By removing the pick and shovel of the badge the outdated image of labouring is eradicated; instead, the inclusion of the axes and sword is both traditional and symbolic of the skills required by members of the Corps in discharging their military role.

 Rebadging Parade Programme - 13th February 1985 Simpson Barracks, Northampton

The second cap badge of the Royal Pioneer Corps


  Announcement of future incorporation into a large Logistic Corps

After the Gulf War in 1991, the Ministry of Defence decided that these organisations, with their separate functions, should be combined into one, to be called the Royal Logistic Corps. Since its formation in 1993, the Royal Logistic Corps has supported Britain's military commitments in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Kosovo), Northern Ireland, Iraq, Cyprus, Falklands Islands, Africa and wherever the British Army is operating. If you want to know more about the History of the Royal Logistic Corps click here to read about the RLC Museum.


On 23 July 1991 the Secretary of State for
Defence announced that the Royal Pioneer Corps
would combine with the Royal Corps of Transport,
the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, the Army
Catering Corps and the Postal and Courier
Service of the Royal Engineers to form a
large Logistic Corps.

The cap badge of The Royal Logistic Corps.
Notice the familiar picks.

The Royal Logistic Corps, both Regular and Territorial Army, was formed on 5th April 1993. This Corps drew from 5 previous Corps or branches of Corps. Elements of each of these previous Corps are shown in the Royal Logistic Corps' current cap badge. These are:

Royal Army
Ordnance Corps
Supply of military
equipment and stores
Royal Corps
of Transport
Transport by land, sea
and air of military
equipment and stores
Star of India
Catering Corps
Feeding the Army
The Motto 'We Sustain'
Pioneer Corps
Construction and Labour
Pioneer Axes
Corps of
Royal Engineers
(Postal and Courier Branch)
Mail and vital document courier service
Laurel Wreath



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