Corps of Engineers is one of the oldest arms of the Indian Army
. The origin of the Corps dates back to 1780 when the two regular pioneer companies of the Madras Sappers were raised. Subsequently, the Group of Madras, Bengal and Bombay Sappers were formed and later merged on 18th of November, 1932 to form the Corps of Engineers in its present form. The Corps of Engineers consists of three major constituents namely Combat Engineers, MES and Border Roads. The Corps of Engineers also provides officers to the Military Survey and Defence Research and Development Organisation.
History of Corps of Engineers
During the early days the engineers were raised by taking a few selected personnel from other units during an emergency at the end of which they were returned to their parent units. As engineer commitments increased it was decided during the early part of the 19th century to retain them during peace time also as pioneer regiments. Later these were organised into the three corps of sappers and miners. Engineers also manned the Military Engineer Services (MES). During the 18th century the department came into being as the Public Works Department (PWD) under the control of the Military Board. It was manned by the Indian Corps of Engineers who were purely military in character.
With the increase in the significance of civil works the department was brought under civil control in 1851 but it continued to execute both civil and military works. After 1857 the control of all military works in Bengal and elsewhere was transferred to the Military Works Branch of the Public Works Department under the direct supervision of the Inspector General of Military Works. In 1889 all military works were taken over by the department and it became entirely military in character. It was then designated as the Military Works Service with the Director General of Military Works at its head. During the re-organisation undertaken after the 1914-18 War the Military Works Service was also taken up and designated as the Military Engineer Service (MES). Garrison engineers were detailed for each station. The service was divided into three branches - building and stores, electrical and mechanical and stores. The MES now control all military works in the country for the three services.
Responsibilities of Corps of Engineers
The major responsibility of the Corps of Engineers ranges with types of operations and as such the organisation is kept very flexible and consists of various types of units. In modern warfare they help the forces by constructing roads, bridges and railway lines and impede the progress of the enemy by undertaking large scale demolition works and laying minefields and erecting obstacles. At the time of natural calamities like flood and earthquakes the army engineers have rendered valuable service by quickly restoring public utility services.
The Corps of Engineers has maintained its domination in the field of sports and adventure activities. The Corps domination in Rowing, Kayaking and Canoeing continues till now.