Upon the formation of REME, Storeman (T and D), RAOC and Storeman, Technical, RASC (other than Railway and RAOC) were transferred to REME. By 1959 the trade was REME Storeman and by 2001 became Technical Storeman and Regimental Specialist. Regimental Specialist and Technical Storeman were amalgamated to Technical Support Specialist (TS Spec) with effect from 1 Apr 2008. The new trade of TS Spec would deliver military training, stores management and some driving capability. (Malcolm Heppolette’s article: History of REME Trade Changes since its Formation in 1942, 2011, pp 26-27; 29). Today TSS provide logistical support and manage millions of pounds worth of a REME unit’s weapons, ammunition, vehicles, tools and workshop infrastructure.

We return to 22 Advanced Base Workshop, situated in Lot, Belgium in 1945. The unit photograph album shows the workshop’s tool stores.

Black and white image of a tool store with tools on the wall and two people on either side of the counter. A sign reads " Tool Store " .

Tools Store, 22 Advanced Base Workshop, Lot, Belgium, 1945. A:1960.0249.06.

The detailed caption to the photograph explains that: “the store comprises three separate sections: - (A) Detail Tool Store: This deals with the daily issue of hand tools, drills, reamers etc. of which approximately 1700 items are binned or on Shadow Boards. Issues are at the rate of 750 items per week. (B) Special tank tools: most of these are prominently on shadow boards so that the fitters can indicate the tool he requires to the storeman. Issues are at the rate of 300 per week and a check system is used to avoid constant signatures. (C) Special Vehicle Tools: These apply only to vehicle repairs and were not much used in this workshop owing to the prominent tank role."

21 Advance Base Workshop, REME, British Liberation Army, also maintained a unit album which includes photographs of its Section of Central Tools and Expense stores, 1944. Specialist tools were issued as required and from the expense stores all quick moving items, such as nuts and bolts, gaskets, small quantities of metal etc., were issued.

Black and white image of the interior view of a tool store, with many rows of shelving inside a warehouse.

Interior view, Central Tools Store, 21 Advanced Base Workshop, 1944. A:1961.0411.12.

Black and white image of the interior view of a tools store, with shelving behind a wire fence diving the inside of a warehouse. A sign is visible on the fence.

View of Central Tools Stores with instruction, 21 Advanced Base Workshop, 1944. A:1961.0411.15.

This photograph includes a plea to all users: "All tools will be returned each day. Other personnel have the same job to do. So play the game and let us have yours back every day."

Documents in the archives include: a Seniority Roll which includes storemen; a personnel list (regulars and reserves) of HQ 7th Armd Div LAD, Trenchard Barracks, Celle, British Army of the Rhine, 1949; recruitment brochures for Technical Storeman (1990s) and Technical Support specialist (2011).

Two paper documents

Left: Seniority Roll for Warrant Officers, Clerks, Storeman and Regimental Duty Sections, January 1956. E:07.0093.

Right: Personnel list HQ 7th Armd Div LAD, Trenchard Barracks, Celle, British Army of the Rhine, 1949. E:07.0668.06.

Two typed paper documents showing job adverts.

Recruitment adverts for Technical Support Specialists, c 1990s and 2011.

A Prospectus for The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Ninth Edition, 1994 describes the administrative trade group at the time which provided the supporting services which enabled the Corps to carry out its role. Technical storemen were trained at SEME Bordon and Regimental duty soldiers at A Coy SEME Regiment Bordon. Technical Storeman: All REME workshops contain extensive technical and general stores; REME storemen manage them. During their training storemen learn stores organisation, maintenance of records, accounting procedure and storage methods. Later in their careers they may qualify for membership for the Institution of Purchasing and Supply. The initial and advanced courses are 4 and 5 weeks long.

The archives also includes job specifications and reports of reviews of the trade:  

Two documents, one orange with REME cap badge on front, one green with binder.

Job Specification Storeman REME, 1980, and Report of the Storeman REME Review, 1980. E:12.3645.

The report also expands on the additional duties REME Storemen would be expected to do, as well as the importance of their service.

Typed document outlining the role of a REME Storeman.

Role of REME Storeman. E:12.3645.

The report also tells us that the REME Storeman were posted to all units who had REME tradesmen in them, the range of postings as broad as it was long and that in the 1980s there were REME Storemen serving in the UK, West Germany, Belgium and even the 'more exotic places' like Hong Kong, Canada and Cyprus.

A job specification for 1995 explains the main job objective as control, maintenance, issue and receipt of stores, tools and equipment; control and maintenance of accounts, registers, vouchers and equipment tables at 1st line, 2nd line and training establishments, whilst undertaking military tasks and duties commensurate with rank/experience. To supervise the user in equipment maintenance or other tradesmen on technical matters … can be called upon to instruct in field units and training establishment. The conditions under which the job was often performed are also described.

Storemen appear regularly in group photos and as individuals in our collections from 1 Training Battalion in the 1950s to 1 Field Workshop, Bielefeld, BAOR, 1974; to a District Workshop in Singapore; to a Guards LAD in the 1980s. We also hold a personal collection of a REME Storeman who served in the UK from 1958 to 1964.

This image is from a collection of group photographs of Storeman Courses, SEME, Bordon, 1987/1988.

Group photograph of REME soldiers. 6 stand in the back row, 8 sit in the front.

Storeman Course, Bordon, 1987/1988. E10.1566.013.

Last, but not least the archives also holds training manuals, such as a REME Careers and Training Plan and DSEME Technical Support Specialist Theory Precis Books 1 and 2.

Celia Cassingham, Museum Archivist

This article was published in The Craftsman on 1 October 2022.