This unique society has flourished since its formation at the end of the Second World War. Its membership is limited.
Qualification is, by custom, commissioned service in any past or present constituent part of the Royal Engineers: Regular, Reserve, Territorial Army, Supplementary Reserve, Army Emergency Reserve, National Service or Engineer and Logistic Staff Corps. All ranks and titles are suppressed, each member being known as “Sapper…”
The purpose of the Society has always been to foster good comradeship amongst Sappers, serving or retired, by providing opportunities for getting together and to promote the Esprit de Corps of the Royal Engineers. It has established a tradition of making regular donations to Royal Engineers benevolence and good causes, and in its early days members helped fellow Sappers to find employment on demobilisation.
In a difficult period of the Second World War, a number of members in the bar at the Devonshire Club, in whose premises the Public Schools Club was also accommodated, were seen to be wearing the Royal Engineers tie. When they found that they had all served in the Corps during the First World War, they decided to meet for lunch together about once a month and continued to do so up to the end of the war.
They became known as the “Sapper Set” and, from them, the Blythe Sappers Society has evolved. The Minute Book shows that the first recorded meeting of the Sappers was held at a luncheon party arranged by Mr J Coventon Moth at the Devonshire Club on Thursday, 15 February 1945, and amongst those present was Mr Ormond Alfred Blyth (Chairman of the Devonshire Club from 1941 to 1946).
At that meeting it was unanimously agreed that Ormond Blyth, who was happy to accept the invitation, should be President of the Society and that its Headquarters should be at the Devonshire Club. Coventon Moth agreed to act as Secretary from his office at 19 Berkeley Street, W1.
At a subsequent meeting of the “Committee of the Sapper Set” held on 1 March 1945, Sapper Fryer was elected as the first Chairman, to be followed by Sapper Coventon Moth, and “thereafter in rotation alphabetically”. Sapper Rosborough was appointed Joint Secretary with Sapper Coventon Moth, Sapper Grierson-Carr was appointed Mess President and it was decided that a letter of invitation should be sent out to “a selected number of potential members” to attend an inaugural luncheon to be held at the Devonshire Club on 24 March 1945.
Among other decisions taken at this meeting were: that Ormond Blyth was to be asked to preside at the Inaugural Luncheon and at all future luncheons of the Society; that the Joint Secretaries should also act as Treasurers; that the Committee create a form of Guarantee Fund to defray expenses and any deficit which might arise; that the five original members be Founder Members of the Society, namely Sappers Fryer, Grierson-Carr, Rosborough, Coventon Moth and Westlake; and that the numbers be limited to 50 with an additional 10 per cent of honorary members.
At this same meeting the title chosen for the Society was THE BLYTHE SAPPERS, in recognition of the kindness and consideration that members received from their President, Ormond Blyth. (For the record, the reader will notice that the title for the Society has a different spelling of Blythe from the founding President’s surname. It is assumed that this was caused by a spelling error of the latter, carried forward over the years and only noticed in 1997.) The “fostering of good comradeship” was declared to be the general purpose of the Blythe Sappers. On 10 July 1945, the Provisional Committee voted donations to the Old Comrades’ Association and the Royal Engineers’ Benevolent Society; the first of many such donations.
In 1946 the Society commisioned the The Blythe Sappers’ Cup
The founding principles of comradeship and benevolence are as much at the heart of the Blythe Sappers today as they were in 1945. With its rich mix of professionals amongst its membership, the Society is an excellent forum for those wishing to seek a change in career direction. Each year sizeable donations are provided for Service charities and preferably those that support the wider Sapper family. For example, between 2015 and 2020 the Society donated £21,500 to 8 different charities, all with Service connections. These account for why this unique Society survives and flourishes.
Membership is by invitation only. Those intent upon joining us should make contact with an existing Blythe Sapper or the Honorary Secretary, whose contact details can be obtained from the Institution of RE.