The Churchill Medal is the premier prize awarded by professional engineering institutions to recognise engineering achievement within the Armed Forces. The award goes to an individual or small team for ‘achievement in engineering and technical advancement in support of military operations’.
This year’s winner was Captain Pip Lines, an officer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME). The medal was awarded for her leadership and innovation during operations in Afghanistan whilst deployed as an engineering officer with the King’s Royal Hussars in Helmand province.
Captain Lines delivered unprecedented levels of engineering support for a diverse range of military vehicles, weapons and other military equipment employed across the Lashkar Gah district while she was in command of the Combined Force Lashkar Gah Light Aid Detachment (LAD).
On receiving the award, Captain Lines said:
It was an honour to be nominated for the award. I was privileged to work with an outstanding team of REME tradesmen on Op Herrick 16.
Afghanistan brought new challenges; working with a wide variety of equipment, the majority unfamiliar to an Armoured LAD, in the harsh summer environment in Afghanistan and the number of patrols and operations across the Lashkar Gah district meant that our engineering skills were tested on a daily basis.
The protected vehicle fleet within Lashkar Gah was complex and diverse; it included Jackal, Husky and Mastiff vehicles together with Special Forces variants and other specialist equipment not normally used by mainstream Army units. There were also more than 10 different types of weapons in operational use.
The judges said that this diverse equipment dependency presented a significant engineering challenge and Captain Lines quickly developed an insightful plan to develop a high quality engineering support solution, which delivered unprecedented operational equipment availability across the theatre of operations.
Captain Lines explained:
At times the team worked non-stop to ensure that the equipment was available to the troops on the ground when they needed it most and it is great to be recognised for our efforts.
The Churchill Medal was first awarded in 1952 and was the Society of Engineers’ most prestigious award.
The medal was awarded at the discretion of the society’s council to an individual who had made a significant contribution to engineering based on individual enterprise or an innovative project.
Sir Winston Churchill gave the approval for the title of the medal following the presentation of an honorary fellowship of the society to Churchill by the president of the Society of Engineers.
The Churchill Medal was then not awarded for a number of years, but was reinstituted in 2011 at the request of the Churchill family. Given the background of the medal and its association with the military, it was deemed appropriate to associate the medal with the Armed Forces.
Not only is Captain Lines the first female to win this award but also the first REME officer to receive it.
The picture at the top of the page shows (from left) Colonel Dan Scott, REME, Mrs Jenny Body, President of the Royal Aeronautical Society, Captain Pip Lines, REME, and Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology.