In the days of bow and arrow, pike, sword, and battle-axe, it was possible for every soldier to be responsible for the upkeep of his own weapons. But, in the modern era, military technology includes automatic weapons, tanks, complex electronics and optics, and new and improved materials. As the complexity of the tools of war has increased, so has the need to properly maintain and repair the equipment. Until the end of the Second World War, it was the policy of the Canadian Government to use British army organization, doctrine, and equipment. The British were aware of the shortcomings of their equipment repair system, and after the First World War, several unsuccessful attempts were made to create a more efficient repair organization.
The problem became critical early in the Second World War, leading to the formation of the British Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) in 1942: a single Corps that would be responsible for the maintenance and repair of all army equipment. Two years later, Canada created the Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME – also pronounced “Ree-Mee”) to carry out the same function in the Canadian Army. Since then, through the Korean War, the Cold War, in Afghanistan, and on NATO and UN deployments around the world, the Corps of RCEME has provided engineering and maintenance support to a vast array of Canadian Army equipment.