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A sapper, also called
pioneer Pioneer commonly refers to a settler who migrates to previously uninhabited or sparsely inhabited land. In the United States pioneer commonly refers to an American pioneer, a person in American history who migrated west to join in settling and deve ...
or
combat engineer Combat Engineer depicted in the Vietnam Combat Artists Program A combat engineer (also called field engineer, pioneer or sapper) is a type of soldier who performs military engineering tasks in support of land forces (Army or Marines) comba ...
, is a
combatant Combatant is the legal status of an individual who has the right to engage in hostilities during an armed conflict. The legal definition of "combatant" is found at article 43(2) of Additional Protocol I (AP1) to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. It s ...
or
soldier A soldier is one who fights as part of a military. A soldier can be a conscripted or volunteer enlisted person, a non-commissioned officer, or an officer. In other words, soldiers are military personnel that participate in ground, sea, or ...
who performs a variety of
military engineering Military engineering is loosely defined as the art, science, and practice of designing and building military works and maintaining lines of military transport and military communications. Military engineers are also responsible for logistics beh ...
duties, such as breaching
fortifications A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from Latin ''fortis'' ("strong") and ''facere'' ( ...
,
demolition Demolition, or razing, is the science and engineering in safely and efficiently tearing down of buildings and other artificial structures. Demolition contrasts with deconstruction, which involves taking a building apart while carefully preserv ...
s,
bridge A bridge is a structure built to span a physical obstacle, such as a body of water, valley, or road, without closing the way underneath. It is constructed for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle, usually something that is otherwi ...

bridge
-building, laying or clearing
minefield A land mine is an explosive device concealed under or on the ground and designed to destroy or disable enemy targets, ranging from combatants to vehicles and tanks, as they pass over or near it. Such a device is typically detonated automaticall ...
s, preparing field defenses, and road and airfield construction and repair. They are also trained to serve as infantry personnel in defensive and offensive operations. A sapper's duties are devoted to tasks involving facilitating movement, defense and survival of allied forces, and impeding those of enemies. The term "sapper" is used in the British Army and
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically it has sometimes been synonymous with "republic". The noun "commonwealth", meaning "public welfare, general good or advantage", dates ...

Commonwealth
nations, the Polish Army and the U.S. military. The word "sapper" comes from the French word ''sapeur'', itself being derived from the verb ''saper'' (to undermine, to dig under a wall or building to cause its collapse).


Historical origin


Sapping

A sapper, in the sense first used by the French military, was one who dug trenches to allow besieging forces to advance towards the enemy defensive works and forts, over ground that is under the defenders' musket or artillery fire. This digging was referred to as
sapping 325px, Union troops of the 1st New York Engineers digging a sap with a sap roller on Morris Island, 1863 Sapping is a term used in Siege, siege operations to describe the digging of a covered trench (a "sap" ) to approach a besieged place withou ...
the enemy fortifications. Saps were excavated by brigades of trained sappers or instructed troops. When an army was defending a fortress with cannons, they had an obvious height and therefore range advantage over the attacker's guns. The attacking army's artillery had to be brought forward, under fire, so as to facilitate effective
counter-battery fire Counter-battery fire (sometimes called counter-fire) is a military battlefield-tactic employed to defeat the enemy's indirect fire elements (guns, rocket launchers, artillery and mortars), including their target acquisition, command and control comp ...
. This was achieved by digging what the French termed a ''sappe'' (derived from the archaic French word for
spade A spade is a tool primarily for digging, comprising a blade – typically stunted and less curved than that of a shovel – and a long handle. Early spades were made of riven wood or of animal bones (often shoulder blades). After the art of met ...

spade
or
entrenching tool An entrenching tool (U.K.), intrenching tool (U.S.A.), E-tool, or trenching tool is a digging tool used by military forces for a variety of military purposes. Survivalists, campers, hikers and other outdoors groups have found it to be indispensabl ...
). Using techniques developed and perfected by
Vauban
Vauban
, the sappers began the trench at such an angle so as to avoid enemy fire
''enfilading''
''enfilading''
the ''sappe'' by firing down its length. As they pressed forward, a position was prepared from which a cannon could suppress the defenders on the fort's bastions. The sappers would then change the course of their trench,
zig-zag A zigzag is a pattern made up of small corners at variable angles, though constant within the zigzag, tracing a path between two parallel lines; it can be described as both jagged and fairly regular. From the point of view of symmetry, a regular ...
ging toward the fortress wall. Each leg brought the attacker's artillery closer until the besieged cannon would be sufficiently suppressed for the attackers to breach the walls. Broadly speaking, sappers were originally experts at demolishing or otherwise overcoming or bypassing fortification systems.


Miner

An additional term applied to sappers of the British Indian Army was "miner". The native engineer corps were called "sappers and miners", as for example, the
Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners The Bombay Engineer Group, or the ''Bombay Sappers'' as they are informally known, are a regiment of the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army. The Bombay Sappers draw their origin from the erstwhile Bombay Presidency army of the British Raj. T ...
. The term arose from a task done by sappers to further the battle after saps were dug. The saps permitted cannon to be brought into firing range of the besieged fort and its cannon, but often the cannon themselves were unable to breach the fort walls. The engineers would dig a tunnel from the forward-most sap up to and under the fort wall, then place a charge of gunpowder and ignite it, causing a tremendous explosion that would destroy the wall and permit attacking infantry to close with the enemy. This was dangerous work, often lethal to the sappers, and was fiercely resisted by the besieged enemy. Since the two tasks went hand in hand and were done by the same troops, native Indian engineer corps came to be called "sappers and miners".


Specific usage


Commonwealth of Nations

Sapper (abbreviated Spr) is the
Royal Engineers The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers (RE), and commonly known as the ''Sappers'', is a corps of the British Army. It provides military engineering and other technical support to the British Armed Forces and is he ...
' equivalent of
private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private", by Dusty Springfield from the 1990 album ''Reputation'' * Private (band), a Denmark-based band * "Private" (Ryōko Hirosue song), from the 1999 album ''Private'', written and also recorded by ...
. This is also the case within the
Indian Army Corps of Engineers The Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army has a long history dating back to the mid-18th century. The earliest existing subunit of the Corps (18 Field Company) dates back to 1777 while the Corps officially recognises its birth as 1780 when the seni ...

Indian Army Corps of Engineers
,
Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers "The Moving Spirit" , colors = , colors_label = Colours , march = , mascot = , equipment = , equipment_label = , battles ...
,
Royal Canadian Engineers Royal may refer to: People * Royal (name), a list of people with either the surname or given name * A member of a royal family Places United States * Royal, Arkansas, an unincorporated community * Royal, Illinois, a village * Royal, Iowa, a city ...
,
Royal Australian Engineers The Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) is the Military engineering corps of the Australian Army (although the word corps does not appear in their name or on their badge). The RAE is ranked fourth in seniority of the corps of the Australian Army, beh ...
,
South African Army Engineer Formation The South African Army Engineer Formation is the controlling entity of all South African Army military engineering units. The Formation is currently commanded by the General Officer Commanding (GOC); Brigadier General D.W. Nkosi, as of early 2013. ...
, Jamaica Defence Force Engineer Regiment, and
Royal New Zealand Engineers The Corps of Royal New Zealand Engineers is the military engineering regiment/corps of the New Zealand Army. Linton Camp has been known throughout the Army as the traditional home of the Engineers. The role of the Engineers is to assist in maintain ...
. The term "sapper" was introduced in 1856 when the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners was amalgamated with the officer corps of the Royal Engineers to form the Corps of Royal Engineers. During the course of the First World War, some
Royal Marines The Corps of Royal Marines (RM) is an amphibious light infantry and also one of the five fighting arms of the Royal Navy. The marines can trace their origins back to the formation of the English Army's "Duke of York and Albany's maritime regime ...
also took the rank of Sapper, this was usually found as part of the Royal Marine Divisional Engineers of the
Royal Naval Division The 63rd (Royal Naval) Division was a United Kingdom infantry division of the First World War. It was originally formed as the Royal Naval Division at the outbreak of the war, from Royal Navy and Royal Marine reservists and volunteers, who were ...
.


Australia

During the
Sinai and Palestine Campaign#REDIRECT Sinai and Palestine campaign#REDIRECT Sinai and Palestine campaign {{R from move ...
{{R from move ...
of World War I Australian sappers repaired a bridge at the historic crossing of the
Jordan River ) , name_native_lang = , name_other = , name_etymology = Hebrew: ירדן (yardén, ''“descender”''), from ירד (yarad, ''“descended”'') , image = 20100923 mer morte13.JPG , image_size = , image_cap ...
at Jisr Benat Yakub (also known as Jacob's Ford). Here the retreating Ottoman and German rearguard had blown up the bridge's central arch which was repaired in five hours by sappers attached to the
Australian Mounted Division The Australian Mounted Division originally formed as the Imperial Mounted Division in January 1917, was a mounted infantry, light horse and yeomanry division. The division was formed in Egypt, and along with the Anzac Mounted Division formed part ...
. While the light horse brigades forded the river, continuing the
Desert Mounted Corps The Desert Mounted Corps was an army corps of the British Army during the First World War, of three mounted divisions renamed in August 1917 by General Edmund Allenby, from Desert Column. These divisions which served in the Sinai and Palestine C ...
' advance to
Damascus )), is an adjective which means "spacious". , motto = , image_seal = Flag_of_Damascus.png , seal_type = Flag and Seal , map_caption = , pushpin_map ...
, the sappers worked through the night of 27/28 September 1918, to repair the bridge to enable the division's wheeled vehicles and guns to follow on 28 September.


Canada

In the Canadian Forces, sappers exist both in the regular force and reserve force. The rank of sapper is used instead of private trained to signify completion of the Engineer DP1 course. Canadian sappers have been deployed in many major conflicts in recent history including World War I, World War II, the
Korean War The Korean War (South Korean: ; North Korean: , "Fatherland Liberation War"; 25 June 1950–27 July 1953) was a war between North Korea (with the support of China and the Soviet Union) and South Korea (with the support of the United Nations, ...
, and the
War in Afghanistan War in Afghanistan, Afghan war, or Afghan civil war may refer to: *Conquest of Afghanistan by Alexander the Great (330 BC – 327 BC) *Muslim conquests of Afghanistan (637–709) *Conquest of Afghanistan by the Mongol Empire (13th century), see Mon ...
. The roles of a sapper entail: Bridge building with the ACROW, Bailey, or
Medium Girder Bridge , Mosul, Iraq, 2003. Image:DF-ST-85-04824 An M60A3 main battle tank crosses a medium girder bridge during Exercise REFORGER '83.jpeg, 300px, An M60A3 main battle tank crosses a medium girder bridge during Exercise Reforger, Exercise REFORGER '83 i ...
bridging systems; explosive ordnance disposal; operating the advanced reverse-osmosis water purification unit, used mainly in domestic operations; maintaining roadways and airfields; combat diving; tactical breaching; and erecting and tearing down friendly living spaces. Ultimately, the objective of the sappers is to facilitate the living, moving, and fighting for friendly troops on the battlefield, and denying the same to enemy forces. The motto of the Canadian Military Engineers is ''Ubique'' ( la, everywhere) a motto shared with the
Royal Canadian Artillery , colors = The guns of The ''Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery'' themselves , colors_label = Colours , march = * Slow march: ''Royal Artillery Slow March'' * Quick march (dismounted parades): ''British Grenadiers'' * Trot past: ''Keel Row'' * G ...
. The patron saint of combat engineers is
Saint Barbara Saint Barbara ( el, Ἁγία Βαρβάρα; cop, Ϯⲁⲅⲓⲁ Ⲃⲁⲣⲃⲁⲣⲁ; uk, Свята Варвара), known in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the Great Martyr Barbara, was an early Christian Lebanese and Greek saint and martyr. A ...
, and 4 December is the corps' day of celebration.


Indian Army

The term "sappers", in addition to the connotation of rank of engineer private, is used collectively to informally refer to the
Engineer Corps
Engineer Corps
as a whole and also forms part of the informal names of the three combat engineer groups, viz.
Madras Sappers Madras Engineer Group (MEG), informally known as the Madras Sappers, is an engineer group of the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army. The Madras Sappers draw their origin from the erstwhile Madras Presidency army of the British Raj. This reg ...
,
Bengal Sappers The Bengal Engineer Group (BEG) (informally the Bengal Sappers or Bengal Engineers) is a military engineering regiment in the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army. The unit was originally part of the Bengal Army of the East India Company's Benga ...
and the
Bombay Sappers The Bombay Engineer Group, or the ''Bombay Sappers'' as they are informally known, are a regiment of the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army. The Bombay Sappers draw their origin from the erstwhile Bombay Presidency army of the British Raj. T ...
. Each of these groups consist of about twenty battalion-sized engineer regiments and additional company-sized minor engineer units. The three sapper groups are descended from the sapper and miner groups of the
East India Company The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), East India Trading Company (EITC), the English East India Company or (after 1707) the British East India Company, and informally known as John Company, Com ...
and later the
British Indian Army The British Indian Army was the main military of the British Indian Empire before its decommissioning in 1947. It was responsible for the defence of both the British Indian Empire and the princely states, which could also have their own armies. ...
of the
British Raj The British Raj (; from ''rāj'', literally, "rule" in Sanskrit and Hindustani) was the rule by the British Crown on the Indian subcontinent from 1858 to 1947.''Oxford English Dictionary'', 3rd edition (June 2008), on-line edition (Septembe ...
.


Israel

In the
Israel Defense Forces The Israel Defense Forces (IDF; he, צְבָא הַהֲגָנָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל , ''lit.'' "The Army of Defense for Israel"; ar, جيش الدفاع الإسرائيلي), commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym ''Tzahal'' (), ...
a sapper (in
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the only Canaanite language still spoken and the only tru ...
: פלס, ''palas'') is the military profession of a combat soldier who went through basic
combat engineering Combat Engineer depicted in the Vietnam Combat Artists Program A combat engineer (also called field engineer, pioneer or sapper) is a type of soldier who performs military engineering tasks in support of land forces (Army or Marines) comba ...
training. Most of the sappers are soldiers of the
Combat Engineering Corps The Israeli Combat Engineering Corps ( he, חיל ההנדסה הקרבית, ''Heil HaHandasa HaKravit'') is the combat engineering forces of the Israel Defense Forces. The Combat Engineering Corps beret's color is silver and its symbol features ...
, but there are also infantry sappers, who are part of the
infantry at the Battle of the Somme (July–November 1916) during the First World War Infantry is an army specialization whose personnel engage in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and armored forces. Also known as foo ...
brigade A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of three to six battalions plus supporting elements. It is roughly equivalent to an enlarged or reinforced regiment. Two or more brigades may constitute a division ...
s and are organized in engineering
companies A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity representing an association of people, whether natural, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objective. Company members share a common purpose and unite to achieve specific, declared goals. ...
called פלחה"ן (''palchan''). These companies are integral part of the infantry brigades. Combat engineering corps sappers are arranged in battalions. Each sapper goes through high level infantry training, which qualifies him as rifleman 06 (רובאי 06). Combat engineering sappers are qualified as "sapper 06" (פלס 06). They are skilled in
infantry at the Battle of the Somme (July–November 1916) during the First World War Infantry is an army specialization whose personnel engage in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and armored forces. Also known as foo ...
combat, basic
sabotage Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening a polity, effort, or organization through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. One who engages in sabotage is a ''saboteur''. Saboteurs typically try to conceal their identities ...
,
landmine A land mine is an explosive device concealed under or on the ground and designed to destroy or disable enemy targets, ranging from combatants to vehicles and tanks, as they pass over or near it. Such a device is typically detonated automaticall ...
planting and
demining A US soldier clears a mine using a grappling hook during training Demining or mine clearance is the process of removing land mines from an area. In military operations, the object is to rapidly clear a path through a minefield, and this is often ...
, use of
explosives An explosive (or explosive material) is a reactive substance that contains a great amount of potential energy that can produce an explosion if released suddenly, usually accompanied by the production of light, heat, sound, and pressure. An explo ...
, breaching and opening routes,
trench warfare Trench warfare is a type of land warfare using occupied fighting lines largely comprising military trenches, in which troops are well-protected from the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery. Trench warfare becam ...

trench warfare
, and operating the
IDF Puma The Puma (Hebrew: פומ"ה פורץ מכשולים הנדסי) is a heavily armored Combat engineering vehicle and armored personnel carrier that the Engineering Corps of the Israeli Defence Forces has used since the early 1990s. The vehicle can c ...
combat engineering vehicle A military engineering vehicle is a vehicle built for the construction work or for the transportation of combat engineers on the battlefield. These vehicles may be modified civilian equipment (such as the armoured bulldozers that many nations fie ...
. Combat engineering commanders are qualified as "sapper 08" while combat engineering
officer An officer is a person who has a position of authority in a hierarchical organization. The term derives from Old French ''oficier'' "officer, official" (early 14c., Modern French ''officier''), from Medieval Latin ''officiarius'' "an officer," from ...
s are qualified as "sapper 11". Both go through additional advance training to gain the skills needed for high level sapper profession. The
Israel Police The Israel Police ( he, משטרת ישראל, ''Mišteret Yisra'el''; ar, شرطة إسرائيل, ''Shurtat Isrāʼīl'') is the civilian police force of Israel. As with most other police forces in the world, its duties include crime fighting, tr ...
also maintains a bomb disposal specialist unit. All police sappers must graduate from a 10-month training program at the bomb disposal training center in
Beit Shemesh Beit Shemesh ( he, בֵּית שֶׁמֶשׁ) is a city located approximately west of Jerusalem in Israel's Jerusalem District, with a population of in . Etymology Beit Shemesh means "house of the sun" or "temple of the sun" in Hebrew. The B ...

Beit Shemesh
, which includes operational exercises, theoretical studies, and fieldwork.


France

In France, sapper (''sapeur'') is the title of military
combat engineer Combat Engineer depicted in the Vietnam Combat Artists Program A combat engineer (also called field engineer, pioneer or sapper) is a type of soldier who performs military engineering tasks in support of land forces (Army or Marines) comba ...
s and
firefighters A firefighter is a rescuer extensively trained in firefighting, primarily to extinguish hazardous fires that threaten life, property, and the environment as well as to rescue people and in some cases or jurisdictions also animals from dangerous ...
, both civil and military, (sapper-fireman or ''sapeur-pompier''). Military sappers fall under the umbrella of the
Engineering Arm {{unreferenced, date=September 2016 The Engineering Arm, or ''l'arme du génie'', is the Military engineering arm of the French Army. The Engineering Arm's soldiers are known as sappers (''sapeurs''). Its soldiers in the Paris Fire Brigade are ...
or ''Arme du Génie''. A related title is
pioneer Pioneer commonly refers to a settler who migrates to previously uninhabited or sparsely inhabited land. In the United States pioneer commonly refers to an American pioneer, a person in American history who migrated west to join in settling and deve ...
(''pionnier''), used only in the
French Foreign Legion The French Foreign Legion (FFL; french: Légion étrangère, , ''L.É.'') is a military service branch of the French Army established in 1831. Legionnaires are highly trained infantry soldiers and the Legion is unique in that it is open to for ...
. * Sapper : title of combat engineers in most Engineer Regiments (3rd, 13th, 19th and 31st), except in the
French Foreign Legion The French Foreign Legion (FFL; french: Légion étrangère, , ''L.É.'') is a military service branch of the French Army established in 1831. Legionnaires are highly trained infantry soldiers and the Legion is unique in that it is open to for ...
(
1st Foreign Engineer Regiment The 1st Foreign Engineer Regiment (french: 1er Régiment étranger de génie, 1er REG) is one of two combat engineer regiments in the French Foreign Legion, and part of the 6th Light Armoured Brigade. Currently stationed at Quartier General Rolle ...
and
2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment The 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment (french: 2e Régiment Etranger de Génie, 2e REG) is one of two combat engineer regiments in the French Foreign Legion. The regiment provides the combat engineering component of the 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade ...
) * Air Sapper (''sapeur de l'air'') : title of the privates of the 25th Air Engineering Regiment, an Army regiment seconded to the Air Force. * Parachute Sapper (''sapeur parachutiste'') : title of the privates of the 17th Parachute Engineer Regiment, the combat engineering unit of the 11th Parachute Brigade (France), 11th Parachute Brigade * Marine Sapper (''sapeur de marine'') : since 2006, title of the privates of the 6th Engineer Regiment (France), 6th Engineer Regiment, the combat engineering unit of the 9th Light Armoured Marine Brigade (France), 9th Light Armoured Marine Brigade. * Sapper firefighter (''sapeur-pompier'') : title of the firefighters in the civilian fire services and the Paris Fire Brigade. * Sapper-miner (''sapeur-mineur'') : since World War Two, combat engineers specialized in
demining A US soldier clears a mine using a grappling hook during training Demining or mine clearance is the process of removing land mines from an area. In military operations, the object is to rapidly clear a path through a minefield, and this is often ...
.


History

The French Corps of Engineers was created under the command of Marshall Vauban during the late 17th century. Its members were called sappers if their function was to destroy enemy fortifications by using trenches or ''sape'' and miners if they engaged in tunnel warfare or ''mine''. The Corps of the Engineers was suppressed during two short periods (1720-1729 and 1769-1793) and sappers and miners were part of the Artillery regiments. In 1793, the Corps was reorganized into companies of miners and battalions of sappers, each assigned to a particular division. Eventually, as the missions of the Corps grew more diversified, additional titles were used by combat engineers, such as Conductor (military appointment), Conductor (''sapeur-conducteur'') in 1810, entrusted with the logistics of the Corps, Firefighter (''sapeur-pompier'') in 1810 or telegraph sapper (''sapeur-télégraphiste''). In 1814, the companies of miners were integrated into the sapper battalions, themselves organized in Engineers Regiments (''régiments du génie''). In 1875, the distinction between miners and sappers was abolished and all members of the Corps of Engineers were titled sappers-miners, though only sapper was used in common usage. In 1894, the ''pontonniers'' or bridgemakers were transferred from the Artillery Corps to the Engineers, thus creating the title ''sapeurs-pontonniers''. In 1909, the Engineering Arm of the Army Staff was entrusted the burgeoning Air Service (''Aérostation militaire''), its personal was titled sapper-airman (''sapeur-aérostier''). The titled was disused in 1914 when the Air Service took its independence from the Engineering Arm.


Fire services in France, Firefighters

The first fire company created by Napoleon, Napoléon I was a military sapper company of the French Imperial Guard, created in 1810. This company was tasked with the protection of the Imperial palaces after the tragic fire of the Austrian embassy in Paris on 1 July 1810. The Paris Fire Service (''gardes-pompes''), a civilian institution, was re-organized as a military unit in September 1811, becoming the Paris Sappers-Firefighters Battalion. Other cities kept or created civilian firefighters services but used the military ranks and organization of the Paris Battalion. In 1831, National Guard (France), National Guard engineers companies became the reserve components of the Fire Services and kept their military organization even after the disappearance of the National Guard in 1852. Sapper-firefighter is the common title of the civilian and Paris firefighters in France, but the other military firefighters units, such as the Marseille Naval Fire Battalion, do not use the sapper title, as they had no military engineers lineage.


Pioneer (military), Pioneers

Since the 18th century, every grenadier battalion in the French Army had a small unit of pioneers, sometimes called sappers-pioneers (''sapeurs-pionniers''). They had the mission to advance under enemy fire in order to destroy the obstacles drawn by the enemy and to clear the way for the rest of the
infantry at the Battle of the Somme (July–November 1916) during the First World War Infantry is an army specialization whose personnel engage in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and armored forces. Also known as foo ...
. The danger of such missions resulted in pioneers having short life expectancies. Because of this, the army allowed them certain privileges such as the authorization to wear beards. In addition to their beards and axes, they traditionally wear leather aprons and gloves. The pioneers units disappeared during the mid-20th c. century, their last appearance being the short-lived Pioneers Regiments of 1939–1944, a military public works service using the older draftees in the army. Only the Foreign Legion kept using a pioneer unit, mainly for representation duty. The current pioneer unit of the Legion reintroduced the symbols of the Napoleonic era, Napoleonic pioneers : the beard, the axe, the leather apron, the crossed-axes insignia and the leather gloves. If the parades of the Legion are opened by this unit, it is to commemorate the traditional role of the pioneers "opening the way" for the troops. The pioneer unit is made up for parades of selected men taken in both the Infantry and the Engineers regiments of the Legion.


Greece

In the Hellenic Army, there is the "mechanic" or "Corps of Engineers" (μηχανικό; ''michaniko'').


Italy

The Italian Army uses the term "Guastatori" for its combat engineers, "Pionieri" for its construction engineers, "Pontieri" for its bridging engineers, and "Ferrovieri" for its railroad engineers. *2nd Alpine Engineer Regiment *32nd Alpine Engineer Regiment *8th Parachute Assault Engineer Regiment (Italy), 8th Parachute Assault Engineer Regiment


Portugal

In Portugal, the term "sapper" is used both in the military and in the civilian environment. In the Portuguese Army, a ''sapador de engenharia'' (engineering sapper) is a soldier of the engineer branch that has specialized combat engineer training. A ''sapador de infantaria'' (infantry sapper) is a soldier of the infantry branch that has a similar training and who usually serves in the combat support sapper platoon of an infantry battalion. A ''sapador NBQ'' (NBC sapper) is an engineer branch soldier specialized in nuclear, biological and chemical warfare. The ''bombeiros-sapadores'' ("sapper-firefighters") are the civil municipal professional firefighters that exist in the main cities of the country. The largest unit of this type is the ''Regimento de Bombeiros Sapadores'' ("sapper-firefighters regiment") maintained by the Lisbon municipal council. The ''sapadores florestais'' (forest sappers) are the professionals maintained by the Government of Portugal, government, local authorities and large private forestry companies, who cleans and maintain forests and prevents and fights forest fires.


Pakistan Army

In the Pakistan Army, sapper officers perform combat and normal engineer duties. The Corps is led by the Engineer-in-Chief (Pakistan Army), Engineer-in-Chief who is a Lt Gen. The current Engineer-in-Chief is Lt Gen Khalid Asghar. The Frontier Works Organization, Military Engineering Service and the Survey of Pakistan is part of the corps. Initially part of the Indian Corps of Engineers, it dates back to 1780 but came to its modern form in 1947 following the Independence of Pakistan. Since then it has taken part in all wars including 1965 War, 1971 War and Kargil War. It has completed the Pakistan portion of Karakoram Highway. The corps is taking part in Operation Zarb-e-Azb


United States Army

In the United States Army, sappers are combat engineers who support the front-line
infantry at the Battle of the Somme (July–November 1916) during the First World War Infantry is an army specialization whose personnel engage in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and armored forces. Also known as foo ...
, and they have fought in every war in U.S. history. For example, after the Siege of Yorktown, Battle of Yorktown, General Washington cited Louis Lebègue Duportail, the chief of engineers, for conduct that afforded "brilliant proofs of his military genius." Modern-day designation as a sapper is earned as an additional proficiency. The U.S. Army authorizes four skill tabs for permanent wear above the unit patch on the left shoulder (Army Regulation 670-1 Chapter 29–13, Sub-Paragraph f). Along with the Sapper Tab, the Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, and President's Hundred Tab identify soldiers who have passed a demanding course of military instruction and have demonstrated their competence in particular specialties and skills. To wear the Sapper Tab, a soldier must graduate from the Sapper Leader Course, which is operated by the U.S. Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood (military base), Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The Sapper Leader Course is a demanding 28-day leadership development course for combat engineers that reinforces critical skills and teaches advanced techniques needed across the army. This course is also designed to build ''Esprit-de-corps, esprit de corps'' by training soldiers in troop-leading procedures, demolitions (conventional and expedient), and mountaineering operations. The course culminates in an intense field-training exercise that reinforces the use of the battle drills and specialized engineering techniques learned throughout the course. The course is open to enlisted soldiers in the grades of E-4 (P) (in the army, specialists on the list for promotion to sergeant) through E-7, cadets, and officers O-3 (captain ) and below. The course is primarily for U.S. Army and United States Marine Corps, USMC combat engineers, but may be attended by all service members with an approved waiver.


PAVN and Viet Cong

Vietnam People's Army, PAVN (People's Army of Vietnam) and Viet Cong sappers, as they were called by US forces, are better described as commando units. The Vietnamese term ''đặc công'' can be literally translated as "special task". Thousands of specially trained elite fighters served in the PAVN and Viet Cong commando–sapper units which were organized as independent formations. While not always successful due to lack of appropriate personal weapon types for combat and assault like other special forces, at times they inflicted heavy damage against their enemies. They have been armed with various types of bombs, mines, explosive charges, grenades and even steel-pellet mines which were much more devastating than the U.S. M18 Claymore anti-personnel mine, M18 Claymore and are still the main weapons of the ''đặc công''. These elite units served as raiders against American/Army of the Republic of Vietnam, ARVN troops, and infiltrated spearheads during the final Ho Chi Minh Campaign in 1975, where they seized key road and bridge assets, destroyed installations, attacked command and control nodes located deep inside enemy territory, planted explosives on U.S. water craft, and otherwise helped the PAVN's rapid mobile forces advance. A typical PAVN/VC ''đặc công'' organization is shown in the diagram. The raiding force was usually grouped into assault teams, each broken down into several 3–5-man assault cells. Overall, there were generally four operational Echelon formation, echelons. An instance of a successful sapper attack conducted by the Viet Cong was the during the Battle of Battle of FSB Mary Ann, Fire Base Mary Ann. A small number of sappers, through surprise, conducted a successful attack on a superior US force. The battle was described as a "rampage of VC who threw satchels at the command bunker, knifed Americans in their sleep and destroyed all communications equipment.


Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire had an infantry corp named ''Lağımcılar Ocağı'' (literally: ''Sapper Corps''). These infantries were used in most of the Empire's sieges, demolishing enemy fortifications and defences.


Honors

Sapper Island, St. Joseph Channel, Algoma District, Ontario was named in honour of sappers, especially those who graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada.


In fiction

In the 1978 song by Australian rock band Cold Chisel, "Khe Sanh (song), Khe Sanh", the narrator (a fictional Australian army Vietnam War veteran) says "I left my heart to the sappers round Khe Sanh". However, the only sappers or combat engineers present at the historical Battle of Khe Sanh belonged to US, South Vietnamese and (opposing) North Vietnamese units. In the 2008 science-fiction novel ''The Last Colony'', a fictitious "sapper field" technology is used to disrupt enemy weapons operation.


In popular culture

Rudyard Kipling's poem "Sappers" (1896) detailed some of the duties of Sappers in the British Army of Victorian times. The notes on this poemhttp://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/rg_sappers1.htm further explain the duties referenced.


See also

* Pioneer sergeant *Assault pioneer * List of military engineer nomenclatures * Trooper (rank) * Viet Cong and PAVN battle tactics#Sapper attacks, Viet Cong and PAVN Sapper attacks


References


Citations


Bibliography

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External links


Royal Engineers Museum
– History of the Royal Engineers (The Sappers)

{dead link, date=May 2018 , bot=InternetArchiveBot , fix-attempted=yes – Origins of the term "Sapper"
- Site for tracking down former members of the Royal Engineers.
* Dec 1918 Popular Science World War 1 article about a French engineer using a ground stethoscope to listen for German sappers – ''Listening to Enemy Sappers'', Popular Science monthly, January 1919, page 27
Scanned by Google Books

Sapper-Museum
virtual museum of Russian engineering troops

Colonel (sapper), Military Engineer
Adventures Of A Revolutionary Soldier
first person account of the Revolutionary War, as a continental soldier, which includes references to sappers and miners. Land warfare Combat occupations Military engineering Military ranks of the Commonwealth Military ranks of British India