Museum history

The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) Museum was formed in 1958 and tasked with a mission to:

  • Preserve the heritage of the Corps
  • Promote a broader understanding of the functions of the Corps, its interaction with society and its role of technical support to the Army
  • Provide an information source for members of the Corps, the public, researchers and educationalists
  • Collect, conserve, display and interpret objects relevant to this mission

The Museum was originally located in Moat House, Arborfield, where it occupied four rooms on the ground floor. The collection included medals, plaques, flags, models, a small weapons collection as well as paintings, photographs and documents. It was during these early days that the Museum also acquired some of its more unusual items, including Mussolini’s Boots and the Salerno Wheel.

As donations continued and the collection increased in size, it was recognised that Moat House could not accommodate all the historical material available to the Corps. Plans for a new building were included in the revised Garrison facilities built in the early 80s. The Museum moved to its second home in Arborfield, off Isaac Newton Road, in 1985. During its time at that location there were a number of display and building developments.

As part of a wider Ministry of Defence estates rationalisation programme, REME training establishments were moved from Arborfield and Bordon to the former RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire by the end of 2015. As part of this relocation programme the REME Museum also transferred to Lyneham, taking up residence in the former Officers' Mess.

Refurbishing the old Mess into a museum provided the opportunity to overhaul the design of the Museum displays and add a dedicated archive and education suite to the Museum's facilities. The Museum opened to the public at the renamed MOD Lyneham in June 2017.

REME history

Maintaining and repairing equipment has always been an important part of ensuring the fighting efficiency of the Army. Prior to the formation of REME, maintaining and repairing equipment was the responsibility of the arms and services that used them most. Because of this, a number of separate repair organisations began to develop.

The early years of the Second World War brought the realisation that the existing repair system was not able to support the massive scale of equipment being deployed in every theatre. Following on from recommendations made by a Cabinet committee, under the chairmanship of Sir William Beveridge, the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was formed on 1 October 1942.

Such a major re-organisation was too complex to be carried out quickly and completely in the middle of the War. It was decided that the changeover would be undertaken in two phases.

The first phase, implemented in 1942 saw the REME Corps being formed on the existing branch of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) and supported by the transfer of technical tradesmen from the Royal Engineers (RE) and Royal Army Service Corps (RASC).

The new Corps was made responsible for repairing the technical equipment of all units (with certain major exceptions).

Soon after its formation, REME was tested at the Battle of El-Alamein and proved successful.

By May 1945, REME had proved to be indispensable and had expanded in response to the scale, variety and deployment of the weapons and equipment in service.

Phase 2 began in 1949. This included the provision of Light Aid Detachments (LADs) for units that had not possessed them under the old organisation. It also included the provision of new REME workshops to carry out field repairs in RASC transport companies and to vessels of the RASC fleet.

There were no basic changes to the recovery and repair system previously used during Phase 2. REME LADs were still integral parts of the units they supported and they worked under the direct command of the unit Commanding Officers – they simply wore their own REME cap badge rather than the cap badge of the parent regiment.

When the Army Air Corps (AAC) was formed in 1958, it also became the task of REME to provide the field repair support for all aircraft used (previously done by the Royal Air Force).

Since then the functions of the Corps have increased in line with technological progress, and the REME soldier has provided engineering support for every military operation.

From its creation, REME has been a combat Corps. REME detachments have served in the front line of every major theatre of operation. Since World War Two this has included Korea, Malaya, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, the First Gulf War, Angola, Zaire, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

As technology advances and equipment becomes more complex, the men and women of REME have to be up to the challenge. Whether it’s maintaining the Apache Attack Helicopter, repairing a Multiple Launch Rocket System or recovering a Challenger tank, REME ensures that the equipment of the British Army is ready for action.