click to print this page
<  Main  |  News  |  Forums  |  Shop  |  Search  |  Contact  |  Privacy  >


The History Pages

1980 Description of
The Royal Pioneer Corps

../ main page / history index / 1980 description
  1980 Description of The Royal Pioneer Corps

If there is one word that sums up the role of the Royal Pioneer Corps today, it is versatility. The modern RPC is a far cry from the days when its personnel were the Army's labourers. Today their presence is an essential one for the Army, but there is no single role. The RPC assists in moving stores, loading and unloading the thousand and one items the Army needs to move and function, and also provided dog handlers. But first and foremost the Pioneers are fighting soldiers and the task they carry out in Northern Ireland is one inline with that of the rest of the Army.

The main depot and training centre of the RPC is at Northampton, where recruits go to be trained as infantrymen. Thereafter they are trained in what is there central role, namely that of materials and the many forms of handling equipment the army employs, from Eager Beavers to dock cranes. This role is carried out not only in direct support of forward units. At any one time at least 40 per cent of the RPC strength is serving with other arms of the Army such as the RE and RAOC. With the RCT the Pioneers not only assist with the loading and unloading of the vehicles but also act as drivers and even help in the running of the RCT railways.

The RPC is also involved in man management. The bases in Germany employ a great deal of local labour for the hundreds of tasks needed to keep the garrisons and bases functioning. A large proportion of this local labour is recruited, administered and supervised by RPC officers and soldiers.

Selected RPC soldiers are trained to be dog handlers for various tasks. Most RPC handlers are used in security roles at ammunition and other sensitive stores depots, being trained for their role by the RAVC.

To top its versatility, the RPC is also used in an infantry role on occasions and has frequently been used in this way in Northern Ireland. When the first RPC units were stationed there, either on roulement or as part of the Ulster garrison, they had to draw on their flexibility yet again for they often had to build their own billets and guard posts while at the same time carrying out their various security duties.

Despite all its many modern tasks, on occasion the RPC has to revert to its original pick and shovel role. This usually occurs when the corps is in support of the RE road and bridging units when permanent structures have to be built - but Pioneers are also involved in the combat roles of the RE as well.

Whenever the Army has some unusual task that cannot be met by any particular Corps or Regiment, the RPC usually finds itself given the job. Such rapid and varied roles call for a large measure of adaptability and problem approaches which are met by giving all members of the RPC a sound grounding in all manner of military skills ranging from driving to stores management and layout. Senior NCOs and officers are given considerable training in management skills and problem solving. To add to its all round capabilities the RPC often works with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.


History Index

Labor Omnia Vincit