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Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers

The first Military Engineers in Canada date back as far as the early 1600s, when the French built a number of defence fortifications in Quebec and Acadia. It wasn't until 1 July 1903, however, that a permanent corps of Military Engineers was organized. After the South African War at the turn of the 20th century, the Canadian Government recognized the need for a permanent army and it was then that the General Officer commanding the Canadian Militia recommended that a permanent corps of Military Engineers be formed. In 1904, His Majesty the King honoured the Corps by adding the prefix "Royal", making them the Royal Canadian Engineers (RCE).

Since their beginning, the role of the Canadian Military Engineers has been to conduct specialized military operations which contribute to the effectiveness of the other branches of the Canadian Military.

On 1 July 1939, when the Second World War was declared, RCE units were quickly reorganized and re-equipped and in December of that year the First Canadian Divisional Engineers were dispatched to England. Over the course of the five-year war, RCE units were involved in the majority of operations, including the Dieppe Raid, 19 August 1942.

The Germans, anticipating the Dieppe Raid, had, in the early hours of August 19, fortified the beach with a variety of obstacles, including pill boxes and barbed wire. The plan for the RCE on that ill-fated day was to blast a path through enemy obstacles at Dieppe. Much to their dismay, Canadians had underestimated their German enemies, and all who landed on the shores of Dieppe that day were met with heavy gun fire. The Royal Canadian Engineers suffered 27 fatal casualties.

By the end of the Second World War, the RCE had proved to be a strong and contributing force for Canada. They were equipped with 685 officers and 15,677 other ranks. It has been argued that there are few other Canadian civilian and military organizations that have contributed as much to the defence and development of Canada as the Canadian Military Engineers.

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