CRE [ rank ]


Senior Member
Maybe someboody is the "army man" and can explain the meaning of the CRE abbreviation. I've found it in two similar contexts.
Both taken from the letter sent by young sapper from the Alamein battlefield to his father in England.
Egypt, 1942.
When I reported to the CRE of our Armoured Division, he pointed to a map of the enemy minefields. 'See all these ?' he said. 'We've got to get through them.'

I reported the results of my demolitions to the OC, who was delighted in the extreme and rushed off to Brigade. The CRE also asked me all about it.

Thanks in advance.
  • MikeLynn

    Senior Member
    One of the dictionaries I found says this:
    Chief Royal Engineer (Corps of Royal Engineers, British Army)
    and it seems to make sense, but let's wait for a native to confirm its usability in your context. ;)


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Pending the arrival of gasman :))), I'd say it means "Commander Royal Engineers".

    A 'sapper' is a Royal Engineer, but I expect you knew that!


    Senior Member
    I'd say it means "Commander Royal Engineers".
    After short query it seems to me, that Loob's proposition is better.

    Proposed by MikeLynn "Chief Royal Engineer" is somebody on the top of hierarchy. In this case CRE seems to be the main sapper in the battlefield or even in the division only.


    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    CRE certainly means Chief Royal Engineer, but he would not be involved in such an affair, as it is a title awarded to a retired distinguished former officer. I found the following definition.

    "The 'Chief Royal Engineer' is 'Head of the Corps of Royal Engineers' and is invariably a distinguished officer of the Corps, his tenure in the post is normally for a period of 5 years. He is responsible for seeing that the Corps' traditions and customs are preserved and the continuity of important matters of Corps policy. He keeps the Colonel-in-Chief informed on Corps matters and maintains contact with engineer units in the Commonwealth. He will usually have previously served as a Colonel Commandant and will continue to fill one of the Colonel Commandant vacancies."

    It would appear that the person involved would not be involved in any form of active service.


    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    CRE means "Commander Royal Engineers". He was usually a Lieutenant-Colonel and was the commander of the divisional engineers.

    Edit: A "sapper" was merely a Private in the field engineers. As a result, anyone over the rank of "Private", as we know it, may have once been a "sapper" but once they got promoted, they were no longer "sappers".
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    Australia/Britain - English
    I agree that CRE is an acronym for Commander Royal Engineers (of a Division).

    The Chief Royal Engineer would not have been described as being: "of our Armoured Division" - he would have held a much less specific and "low" command, as mentioned by Gasman.