591 Field Squadron is the only Royal Engineer Army Reserve unit in Northern Ireland. The Squadron is based in Bangor, County Down with a detachment located in Antrim.
The Squadron is a Light Role, Close Support, Combat Engineer Squadron. It comprises 2 Field Troops of Combat Engineers, a Support Troop of drivers and plant operators and supporting personnel. The Squadron employs the following trades
Royal Engineers - Officers
Royal Engineers - Combat Engineers
Royal Engineers -Drivers
Royal Engineers -Plant Operators
Royal Engineers - Signallers
Royal Engineers - Resources Specialists
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers - Vehicle Mechanics and Armourers
Royal Army Medical Corps - Medics
Royal Logistic Corps - Chefs
Adjutant General Corps - Clerks
Army Physical training Corps - Physical Training Instructor
The Squadron is established for 158 personnel and is absolutely focussed on delivering challenging and rewarding training and supporting the British Army on operations. The Squadron regularly trains on the mainland and currently has personnel deployed on UN peacekeeping operations as well as Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan.
In the past 12 months 591 has conducted demolition training in Scotland, bridging training in Weymouth, water supply training in Ripon and combat engineers and plant training in France. Squadron personnel have undertaken adventure training in Scotland and Gibraltar and a battlefield tour in Normandy.
History of 591 Field Squadron RE
591 Field Squadron RE is able to trace its history as far back as 1854, to the Royal Antrim Militia formed to man the coastal defences of Belfast Lough. It was mobilised in 1854-56 for the Crimean War and between 1899-1901 for the Boer War and was finally transferred to the Special Reserve at the start of the century.
In 1937 the Antrim Fortress Company RE formed. It was one of the first reserve units to be formed in Northern Ireland and in 1940 converted to become 591 (Antrim) Field Company RE.
As part of 2 Corps 591 (Antrim) Field Company RE moved to Halifax in January 1941, and then to Ely. It then went to Woodbridge and became part of 54 Division. In May 1943 the Company converted to a parachute role and joined 6 Airborne Division as 591 (Antrim) Parachute Squadron RE.
591 (Antrim) Parachute Squadron RE was one of the first to land in France in 1944. Shortly after midnight on 6 June, 1 and 3 Troops were dropped east of the Orne bridge to clear an area for gliders of 6 Airborne Division due to land at 0330 hours. This task was successfully completed and the troops cleared mines, reconnoitered routes and laid a minefield to strengthen the Ranville position. Meanwhile 2 Troop formed part of the force that was dropped on the heavy gun battery at Merville. Although few sappers reached the target due to inaccurate dropping, the force eventually neutralized the guns. The remaining sappers joined and fought with other units until they could rejoin their Squadron. The Squadron stayed in France until August 1944, and then returned to Bulford.
In December the Squadron moved back to France to help counter the German offensive in the Ardennes. By February 1945, the Squadron was back in England having spent a short period in Holland on the way. Their stay in England was short-lived. On 24 March, as part of Operation Varsity, they took part in the Rhine Crossing followed by a rapid advance to Wirmar on the Baltic Coast, which they reached on 2 May 1945.
During May they moved to Norway via England to clear mines, assisted by German labour force.
The Squadron finally returned to England in early 1946 where they were demobilized and placed in suspended animation on 15 March 1946.
The Squadron was re-constituted in 1947 in two Nissen huts at Girdwood Park, Belfast, and in 1950 and was renamed 591 (Antrim) Independent Field Squadon RE as part of 107 (Ulster) Infantry Brigade.
In 1966 the Sqn was yet again placed in suspended animation.
In 1967 591 Sqn & 146 Regt amalgamated and reformed as 74 (Antrim Artillery) Engineer Regiment RE.
Between 1967 and 1993, 74 (Antrim Artillery) Engineer Regiment RE went through several transformations before becoming 74 (Antrim Artillery) Independent Field Squadron RE in 1993, at which point it was relocated to Bangor, where it remained until the squadron was disbanded in Mar 1999 under the Strategic Defence Review (SDR).
On 01 October 2006 591 Field Squadron RE was reformed at Balloo Army Reserve Centre, Bangor.