The Royal Logistic Corps and Forming Corps
The Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) was formed on 5 April 1993. The RLC provides essential logistic support and services to the British Army wherever it is in the world. In peacetime and on operations it is the Corps’ job to support the movement of servicemen and women to where they need to be-whether by land, sea or air-and to store and deliver the essential equipment and supplies that the Army needs to do its job, from Challenger II battle tanks to food ration packs.
Logistic support is essential to the success of any operation-after all if the Army does not have the fuel, ammunition or rations it needs to keep it going, it is powerless to do its job.
The RLC currently numbers 12,500 soldiers and officers, amounting to 15 per cent of the British Army. The Corps is the fourth largest business concern in the UK, with the largest fleet of light and commercial vehicles in Europe and the largest range of stores, spares and clothing under single management.
Without the vital services and skills of The RLC it would be impossible for the Army to do its work properly.
Therefore wherever you find the Army in the world you find The RLC.
The RLC was formed from the amalgamation of five 'Forming Corps' comprising of the Royal Corps of Transport (RCT), Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC), Royal Pioneer Corps, Army Catering Corps and the Postal Branch of the Royal Engineers. All had antecedents and a long tradition of service to the Army and the Crown. Below are brief outlines of the history of The RLC's Forming Corps:
Royal Corps of Transport (RCT)
Motto: Nil sine labore
March: Wait for the Waggon
Colours: Blue, white and Red
Its earliest origins link the RCT to the Commissariat, a civilian organisation responsible directly to the Treasury, which provided food and supplies to Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army. However, the very first military transport unit, the Corps of Waggoners, was formed in 1794. This evolved into the Royal Waggon Train which served throughout the Napoleonic Wars, notably at the Battle of Waterloo.
Following its disbandment in 1833, there were a number of short-lived organisations such as the Military Train and the Land Transport Corps, but it was not until the formation of the Army Service Corps in 1899 that transport and supplies became a well organised permanent body.
At the outbreak of the First World War the Army Service Corps numbered 6,500 men, by 1918 this number had grown to 325,000 men. In recognition of the Army Service Corps’ contribution to the war effort of 1914-1919 the Corps was granted the ‘Royal’ prefix and was thus known as the Royal Army Service Corps.
The Royal Corps of Transport was formed in 1965 when the Royal Army Service Corps’ functions of supply and transport were separated. The RCT became responsible for transport whilst supplies became the responsibility of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC)
Motto: Sua tela tonanti
March: The Village Blacksmith
Colours: Blue and Red
In 1414 a Master of Ordnance was appointed with headquarters in the Tower of London. As well as being the King's military treasurer and paymaster, the Master of Ordnance was responsible for supplying war materials.
The Board of Ordnance was established in 1683 as a civilian department of government; responsible for supplying and maintaining military equipment such as ammunition and weapons and also the building and maintenance of dockyards, depots, fortifications and map making.
Following a number of short-lived ordnance organisations, both the Army Ordnance Department and the Army Ordnance Corps were formed in 1896. In 1918 these two organisations were amalgamated and granted the ‘Royal’ prefix thus creating the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
During the Second World War the RAOC expanded rapidly from a few hundred officers and a few thousand men to 8,000 officers and 130,000 men in the space of four years.
In 1965 the RAOC incorporated the supply functions of the RASC.
Royal Pioneer Corps (RPC)
Motto: Labor omnia vincit
March: The Pioneer Corps
Colours: Green and red
The presence of individual pioneers with infantry regiments was common throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries. Military labour units were present at the Crimean War and ‘pioneers’ are referred to in records of campaigns in France from as early as 1315. There is also a description of a soldier we might now describe as a ‘Pioneer’ in the Book of Nehemiah, part of the Old Testament. However, there is little evidence to directly link these ‘pioneers’ to the Pioneers of today.
During the First World War, regiments or corps of the British Army had their own ‘Labour Companies’ and infantry regiments often had their own ‘Labour Battalion’ for field engineering tasks. In 1917 the Labour Corps was involved in battlefield clearance when hostilities had ended and this included the construction of some Commonwealth Cemeteries. Despite its disbandment in June 1920, the Labour Corps is now recognised as the predecessor of the Royal Pioneer Corps.
At the outbreak of the Second World War the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps was formed. In 1940 it was retitled the Pioneer Corps. In addition to British soldiers, the Pioneer Corps was heavily composed of men from the British Empire and Nazi-occupied Europe.
In 1946 the Pioneer Corps was granted the Royal prefix for its services during the Second World War.
Army Catering Corps (ACC)
Motto: Escam in tempore later ‘We Sustain’.
March: Sugar and Spice
Colours: Grey and yellow
The idea of trained army cooks emerged from committees studying the suggestions of Alexis Soyer, a French chef, who travelled as a volunteer with the British Army to the Crimea (1854-56). Soyer developed stoves, basic boilers and simple recipes to help improve the diet and well being of the British soldier.
In 1876 the British Army authorised the training of ‘Sergeant Cooks’ and the first Army School of Cookery was established in 1885. Prior to the First World War, regimental cooks were trained at Command cookery schools run by the ASC but the standard of meals produced in the field varied enormously.
In the 1930s the government began to take a serious interest in improving the standard of living for the British soldier. In 1941 the new school of Army Cookery was opened in Aldershot, signifying the establishment of the ACC’s Aldershot barracks of St Omer.
Royal Engineers Postal and Courier Services
Motto: Swift and Secure
Royal Engineers March: Wings
Royal Engineeers Colours: Blue and Red
In the Nineteenth Century the British Army depended upon the civilian postal services. The only exception to this is the Crimean War (1854-56) when the British troops relied on the French Army Postal Service. The first British military postal organisation was formed in 1882 when a Royal Warrant authorised the formation of the Army Post Office Corps.
As telegraphs became an increasingly important method of communication the Army postal service came under jurisdiction of the Royal Engineers.The Royal Engineers Postal and Courier Service was formed in the 1950s when the postal service amalgamated with the courier service