Bengal Engineer Group

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This article is about BEG - Bengal Engineer Group. For other uses, see BEG.
Bengal Engineer Group
Active 1803 – present
Country India
Branch Corps of Engineers
Role Support
Regimental Centre Roorkee, Uttarakhand
Motto God's Own
Anniversaries 7 November
Decorations 11 Victoria Cross
116 Indian Order of Merit
1 Padma Bhushan
17 Shaurya Chakra
93 Sena Medals
11 Arjun Award
Battle honours 80
11 Theatre honours
Commanders
Current
commander
Brig DV Setia
Ceremonial chief Lt Gen Jatinder Sikand, VSM,ADC Engineer-in-Chief
Colonel of
the Regiment
Lt Gen AT Parnaik, SM, VSM, Director General Border Roads
Notable
commanders
Lt Gen JS Dhillon, Padma Bhushan, PVSM
* First Army Officer to be awarded ‘Padma Bhushan’ on 24 November 1965
* Commander of India's First Republic Day Parade held on 26 January 1950 at the Irwin Stadium, Delhi
* First Engineer Officer post-independence to become an Army Commander
Maj General KN Singh
* Chief Construction Executive of many defence related works responsible for a number of prestigious projects. For his unparalleled service to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), he was decorated with a unique award, a Life Time Achievement Award, from the President of India
Lt Gen K N Dubey, PVSM
* 'Creator' and First Director General (as Maj Gen)of the Border Roads Organisation
* First Sapper Officer post-independence to be appointed as Master General of Ordnance (as Lt Gen) at Army headquarters
* First Sapper to have been awarded the Param Vishisht Sewa Medal (PVSM)
* Gen Dubey created another first of sorts when during his visit to Japan he was conferred with the rank of a Cabinet Minister to enable him to sign the contracts in conformity with the protocol
Bengal Sappers and Miners laying explosive charges and the subsequent Storming of Ghuznee. The Battle of Ghuznee First Afghan War, 23rd July 1839

The Bengal Engineer Group (BEG) or the Bengal Sappers or Bengal Engineers as they are informally known, are remnants of British Indian Army's Bengal Army of the Bengal Presidency in British India; now a regiment of the Corps of Engineers in the Indian Army. The Bengal Sappers have their regimental centre at Roorkee Cantonment in Haridwar district, Uttarakhand. The Bengal Sappers are one of the few remaining regiments of the erstwhile Bengal Presidency Army and survived the Rebellion of 1857 due to their sterling work in the recapture of Delhi and other operations in 1857–58. The troops of the Bengal Sappers have been a familiar sight for over 200 years in the battlefields of British India with their never-say-die attitude of Chak De and brandishing their favourite tool the hamber.[1][2][3]

Over the years the Bengal Sappers have won many battle and theatre honours, 11 Victoria Cross, 116 Indian Order of Merit, 17 Shaurya Chakra, 93 Sena Medals and 11 Arjun Awards, the highest number of won by any single organization in the country.[1][4] Lt Gen Joginder Singh Dhillon, commissioned into Bengal Engineer Group in 1936, who commanded the First Republic Day Parade in Delhi, became the first Army Officer to be awarded the Padma Bhushan on 24 November 1965.[5] Among the three Sappers of Indian Army, Bengal Sappers was the first Engineer Group to receive the 'President Colours' in recognition of its service to the nation, on 12 January 1989, by R Venkataraman, the then President of India, who presented the Regimental Colours to Bengal Engineer Group at Roorkee.[3]

Besides service on the battlefield, the Bengal Engineers also rendered valuable peacetime contributions. The military engineer, Lt. James Agg, designed St John's Church in Calcutta. It was based on James Gibbs's St Martin-in-the-Fields in London and was consecrated in 1787.[6]

History[edit]

Indian Army Corps of Engineers is one of the oldest arms of the Indian Army, dating back to 1780, when the two regular pioneer companies of the Madras Sappers were raised, as a part of British East India Company army.[7] Prior to its formation, by 1740s British officers and engineers served in the Bengal Engineers, Bombay Engineers and Madras Engineers, formed with the respective Presidency armies, while British soldiers served in each of the Presidencies' Sappers and Miner Companies, namely Bengal Sappers and Miners, Madras Sappers and Miners and Bombay Sappers and Miners.[8][9]

The Bengal Sappers and Miners, as they were earlier known, was originally the Corps of Bengal Pioneers, which was raised from two pioneer companies in 1803, part of Bengal Army of the Presidency of Bengal; one raised by Capt T. Wood at Kanpur as Bengal Pioneers in November 1803,[2] also known as "Roorkee Safar Maina".[10] In 1819, at the conclusion of Third Maratha War, a part of Bengal Pioneers merged with the Company of Miners (raised in 1808) to become the Bengal Sappers and Miners, and raised at Allahabad, with Captain Thomas Anburey as the Commandant. The remaining part of the Corps of Bengal Pioneers was absorbed in 1833.[2] In 1843 'Broadfoot's Sappers', which had been raised in 1840, merged into the Bengal Sappers and Miners.

In 1847 the Bengal Sappers and Miners was renamed the Bengal Sappers and Pioneers, and in 1851 it became the Corps of Bengal Sappers and Miners. On 7 November 1853, the regiment moved to Roorkee, where it has maintained its regimental centre ever since.[11] Lord Kitchener's reforms in 1903 saw it redesignated as the 1st Sappers and Miners, which was again altered in 1906 to the 1st Prince of Wales's Own Sappers and Miners.

On the accession of George V to the throne in 1910 it was renamed 1st King George V's Own Bengal Sappers and Miners,[12] with the '1st' being dropped in 1923, to make it King George V's Own Bengal Sappers and Miners. In 1937 it was renamed King George V's Bengal Sappers and Miners, and in 1941 they became the 'King George V's Bengal Sappers and Miners Group' of the Indian Engineers. In 1946 it became the 'King George V's Group' of the Royal Indian Engineers. On Indian independence and partition in 1947, about half of the serving personnel were allocated to the Pakistan Royal Engineers. In 1950 they became the Bengal Centre, Corps of Engineers, after which they became the Bengal Engineer Group and Centre.[13]

Battle honours[edit]

Colonel Thomas Tupper Carter-Campbell of Possil (Lord Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace, Argyllshire) Esquire Corps of Royal Bengal Engineers.


Victoria Cross recipients[edit]

Name Event Date of action Place of action
Home, DuncanDuncan Home Indian Mutiny 1857-09-1414 September 1857 Delhi, India
Innes, JamesJames Innes Indian Mutiny 1858-02-2328 February 1858 Sultanpore, India [18]
Salkeld, PhilipPhilip Salkeld Indian Mutiny 1857-09-1414 September 1857 Delhi, India[19]
Smith, JohnJohn Smith Indian Mutiny 1857-09-1414 September 1857 Delhi, India [20]
Thackeray, EdwardEdward Thackeray Indian Mutiny 1857-09-1616 September 1857 Delhi, India
Trevor, William William Trevor Anglo-Bhutanese War 1865-04-3030 April 1865 Dewangiri, Deothang, Bhutan
Dundas, James James Dundas Anglo-Bhutanese War 1865-04-3030 April 1865 Dewangiri, Deothang, Bhutan
Leach, EdwardEdward Leach Second Afghan War 1879-03-1717 March 1879 Khyber Pass, Afghanistan [21]
Aylmer, Fenton Fenton Aylmer Hunza-Naga Campaign 1891-12-02 2 December 1891 Nilt Fort, British India [21][22]
Colvin, James James Colvin First Mohmand Campaign 1897-09-16 16 September 1897 Bilot, British India [23]
Watson, Thomas Thomas Watson First Mohmand Campaign 1897-09-16 16 September 1897 Bilot, British India [24]

References[edit]

Short Histories:

  • The Indian Sappers and Miners,By Lieut.-Colonel E.W.C. Sandes D.S.O., M.C., R.E. (Ret.), Published by The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, 1948. Extracts
  • K.S. Calendar of battles, honours and awards : King George V's Own Bengal Sappers & Miners from 1803 to 1939, by Rhamat Ullan Khan, ca. 1944.
  • History and digest of service of the 1st King George's Own Sappers & Miners. Roorkee : 1st King's Own Press, (ca. 1911)
  • Regimental history of the King George's Own Bengal Sappers & Miners. Roorkee : KGO Sappers & Miners Press, 1937.
  • Corps reunion and the unveiling of the war memorial. (Roorkee : King George V's own Bengal sappers and miners group, R.I.E),1927.
  • History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, by Great Britain Army. Royal Engineers, Whitworth Porter. Published by Longmans, Green, 1952.
  • The Bengal Sappers 1803–2003, by General Sir George Cooper GCB MC and Major David Alexander. ISBN 0-903530-24-4.
  • The Military Engineer in India, by Lt. Col. E.W.C Sandes. Reprint 2001, Original 1933.ISBN 9781843420422.

First World War:

  • Cunningham, A.H., A Short history of the Corps of King George's Own Bengal Sappers & Miners during the War, 1914-1918. (1930)

Second World War:

  • Pearson, G., Brief history of the K.G.V's own Bengal Sappers and Miners Group, R.I.E., August 1939-July 1946. Roorkee : Pearson, 1947.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bengal Sappers’ saga of valour The Tribune, 24 November 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Bengal Sappers: 'Sarvatra' for Two Hundred Years Sainik Samachar, Vol. 50, No. 21, 1–15 November 2003, 10-24 Kartika, 1925 (Saka), Ministry of Defence, Govt. of India.
  3. ^ a b Corps of Engineers, Indian Army[dead link] bharat-rakshak.com.
  4. ^ Bengal Engineering Group Haridwar Official website.
  5. ^ Unique Achievements Bengal Sappers.
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ Corps of Engineers - History[dead link] Indian Army Official website.
  8. ^ Indian Sappers (1740-1947)[dead link] Royal Engineers Museum.
  9. ^ Indian Army Service Records (up to 1947)[dead link] Royal Engineers Museum.
  10. ^ THE BENGAL SAPPERS[dead link] National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee.
  11. ^ Institute Time Capsule IIT Roorkee.
  12. ^ 1st King George's Own Sappers and Miners - Officers & Non-Commissioned Officers and Men
  13. ^ a b [2][dead link]
  14. ^ Bengal Sappers’ 200 yrs of valour The Tribune, 29 October 2003.
  15. ^ The Battle of Kabul 1879
  16. ^ Chitral 1895 - Fort Siege
  17. ^ Cassino Memorial[dead link]
  18. ^ Lieutenant James John McLeod INNES VC[dead link] Royal Engineers Museum.
  19. ^ Lieutenant Philip SALKELD VC[dead link] Royal Engineers Museum.
  20. ^ Sergeant John SMITH VC[dead link] Royal Engineers Museum.
  21. ^ a b The Royal Engineers Museum - Victoria Crosses held by the Royal Engineers Museum
  22. ^ Captain Fenton John AYLMER VC[dead link] Royal Engineers Museum.
  23. ^ Lieutenant James Morris Colquhoun COLVIN VC[dead link] Royal Engineers Museum.
  24. ^ Lieutenant Thomas Colclough WATSON VC[dead link] Royal Engineers Museum.

External links[edit]