Since the beginning of military conflict, there have always been parts of the fighting force, which were entrusted with pioneering tasks, which until the 20th century mainly from the tasks of construction of fortifications, bridge construction / reconstruction, construction of military infrastructure and blowing up enemy facilities.
Already the Assyrians in the 7th to 9th century BC maintained pioneering divisions, which actively supported the expansion of the empire. Among other things, they built city walls or built fortifications to defend occupied land against attackers. Later in the Achaemenid Empire, the pioneers' tasks expanded to include the construction of military roads, bridges and canals.
However, the pioneers were appointed to their own branch of service only in the Roman Empire, since the tasks expanded so far that the use of specialists became more urgent. Thus, in addition to the usual tasks, the pioneers of the Romans were also frequently commissioned with the construction of the water supply, affiliation to the transport network and the construction of the castles. A special achievement fell on the construction of the Limes, which was built on the borders to Germania and northern England.
For the first time, the Roman pioneers also used weapons specially developed for their tasks, such as the ballists fired the stones and bolts or the first siege towers and battering rams.
In the centuries to the industrial age, the tasks of the pioneers remained constant. The main task was the construction of defensive structures that were in the Middle Ages by castles, later by military forts and their destruction or conquest. Over time, various constructions developed to overcome obstacles or become more effective through new techniques and materials. The best-known of these times include Siege Towers or battering rams.
The extensive restructuring of the Pioneering Armed Forces developed at the beginning of the First World War. Due to new techniques such as mines, barbed wire, hand grenades, etc. and the frozen front lines, pioneers were used for the construction and removal of shelters, ditches, tunnels and bunkers and the laying of infantry obstacles such as barbed wire, minefields, etc.
For this purpose, special units were built, such. As mine-throwers companies, headlight trains, pioneer parks and railway pioneers who were specially trained and equipped for their tasks. Pioneers were used in assault attacks on the front line to make enemy positions harmless by the use of hand grenades and explosives and to fix immediately after conquest. The most spectacular and at the same time most dangerous missions experienced the pioneers in the years 1917 and 1918 as by subverting and then blasting the enemy trench was trying to push back the enemy.
Pioneers once again played a decisive role in World War II. However, unlike the First World War, the second was far more fast-paced and there were no frozen front lines. The main task of the pioneers was to quickly overcome natural obstacles such as rivers, repair damaged bridges or remove infantry or armored obstructions.
After the Second World War, the main task of the pioneers shifted mainly to the clearing of booby traps, mines and obstacles as well as the construction of runways and accommodation for the fighting troops. Due to the continuous development and new development of the technology, the pioneer units were able to access special vehicles more and more frequently, through which the tasks were carried out more and more effectively. For example, special bridge-laying armor was developed and used, which has a retractable bridge construction, which can be overcome obstacles in the unfolded state with a width of up to 20 meters.
In addition, mine clearance vehicles were further used, which can cut through their strong frontal armor and the attached mines downright aisles in minefields, so that the advancing troops can pass through freely mined areas.
You can find the right literature here:
Combat Engineering Equipment of the Warsaw Pact
The ability to advance rapidly over sometimes difficult terrain was a key part of the Warsaw Pact's strategy. The Eastern European nations which formed this historic alliance wanted to be able to move quickly and effectively so they didn't give their enemies an advantage.
The vital tools which helped the Warsaw Pact overcome the challenges it faced included a whole range of combat engineering equipment. This book is a factual reference of the equipment which was used throughout the Cold War period and the important roles each piece played.
With obstacles including rivers and minefields to negotiate, combat units could have faced costly delays if it hadn't been for the diligent work of the Warsaw Pact's engineers. Refusing to allow troops to be slowed down by the landscape, these combat engineers worked in sometimes challenging conditions to find safe routes to their destination.
From building bridges and clearing safe lanes through minefields to repairing and recovering broken down vehicles and creating field fortifications, the work of these engineers played an essential part in the Warsaw Pact's military strategy.
But the work of this effective force would have been impossible without the specialist engineering equipment they used. Rugged, simplistic compared to their Western equivalents, these items would play a crucial part in both peacetime military exercises and combat operations in Afghanistan.
German Pioneer Equipment and Vehicles: Amphibious Vehicles
The fruit of the seven years’ research, this is the first of a series devoted to the vehicles and crossing equipment used by the German pioneers during World War Two, a theme neglected by military specialists until now. This book now fills the gap, tracing the development of amphibious vehicles from the initial hesitations in the thirties to the secret projects at the end of the war which remained on the drawing board.
Illustrated with thirty or so color profiles and more than 200 black and white period photographs, of which a hundred or so are as yet unpublished, this book is the new reference for as yet relatively unstudied subjects such as:
- The Trippelwagen amphibious cars and how they evolved.
- The Land-Wasser-Schleppers in all its forms
- The L.W.S. II Panzerfähre
- The Skoda LWS III Project
- Amphibious trailers
A historian and model-maker, Rodolphe Roussille has specialized for more than ten years now in engineers’ vehicles and equipment, and in the secret weapons developed by the Allies and the Axis forces during WWII; he is the author of numerous articles on the subject.
German Flamethrower Pioneers of World War I
German Flamethrower Pioneers of World War I is the definitive reference on the topic. Lavishly illustrated, its main sources are the history of the flamethrower regiment, written by its former commander; a manual of assault-troop and flamethrower tactics, by a former flamethrower officer; and the death book published by veterans of the flamethrower regiment. Prewar, wartime, and postwar developments are covered, along with detailed descriptions of weapons, tactics, and epic flame battles. New information, such as the combat use of an aircraft-mounted flamethrower, is included. Includes over 300 photographs and illustrations, most previously unpublished.
Pioneer Battalions in the Great War
Pioneer battalions, created as an expedient in 1914, were a new concept in the British Army. Intended to provide the Royal Engineers, with skilled labor and to relieve the infantry from some of its non-combatant duties, Pioneers became the work horses of the Expedentiary Forces. The Coldstream Guards and over three dozen Country regiments each created at least one pioneer battalion. Several New Army battalions were raised specifically as Pioneers, while others were converted Territorials or Kitchener units formed originally as conventional infantry. Adopting a badge of a cross rifle and pick, these battalions wired, dug and reverted in all weathers and in all terrain. On many occasions they abandoned their working tools and fought alongside the infantry in repelling enemy attacks. In their efforts to stem the German offensives of 1918, several Pioneer units fought themselves to virtual annihilation. Often confused with the Pioneer Corps of the Second World War, the work of the Pioneer battalions has been largely ignored or misunderstood. Far from being the units of the ages and inform, these sixty-eight battalions played a major role in the Allied victory. Pioneer Battalions in the Great War traces the reasons behind the creation of these units, the work they performed and the dramatic transitions many of them had to undergo. It also examines how and why Pioneers have never received the recognition they deserve.
Marine Pioneers: The Unsung Heroes of World War II
Marine Pioneers: The Unsung Heroes of World War II is a personal history of a young Marine during World War II. This book tells a powerful story that has never been told before and documents a rare look into a ""Pioneer Unit"