Army Reserves from The Royal Wessex Yeomanry (RWxY) have been fixing their sights and demonstrating their growing capability to deliver support to the UK’s Rapid Reaction Force, by taking part in a Live Firing Exercise on the Lulworth Ranges in Dorset.
Integrated with Regular subject matter experts, the Challenger 2 (CR2) Main Battle Tanks taking part have been manned entirely by Reserve crews from Squadrons based in Dorset, Devon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.
Participating in a Live Firing Package designed to train, educate and inspire them; they have demonstrated that as the Nation’s Armoured Reserve, they are able to deliver military capability in providing the Armoured Resilience to the UK’s Reaction Force.
To the soldiers, who have been training using gunnery simulators either at Bovington or in Donnington in the Midlands, this is the culmination of months of hard work.
Commanding Officer Lt Col Chris McGregor said:
‘We can train in simulated environments but there is nothing better for a soldier than getting in the equipment that they are going to have to use in conflict potentially. It really gives people an incentive to do all of the long and arduous training that is required to reach the standards needed to fire a vehicle like this.
‘This is a demonstration of what the Reserves can do and are already doing.’
It has been a busy training year in which soldiers from the Yeomanry have supported Regular units, The King’s Royal Hussars and The Royal Tank Regiment, during their Live Firing Exercises in Canada. Soldiers also recently deployed on Exercise BLACK EAGLE in Poland, an exercise to demonstrate NATO’s reassurance to its Eastern European members and to showcase interoperability between British and Polish forces.
Major Justin Crump, the Officer Commanding C Squadron in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, explained about recent changes to the training now being undertaken:
‘In the past we trained turret crewmen as individual replacements but of course the Army fights as a team and we created good individuals but they didn’t train as crews and the essence of a tank is the crew.
‘The changes we have had over the last couple of years have given us a much more cohesive role within the Army, allowing us better to produce that type of output.’
This year has also seen their numbers grow as A Squadron, The Royal Yeomanry, based in Swindon became part of the RWxY Regimental Family and are now formally recognised as: Y Squadron, The Royal Wessex Yeomanry. This has meant a change of beret from blue to brown for the Swindon unit. The Regiment was also presented with a new unifying cap badge bearing the Wessex Wyvern. They will also now wear the famous red and black triangle insignia of the 3rd Division on their left sleeves.
Corporal Mike “Charlie” Farley, 30, from Corsham, Wiltshire, has been in the Reserve for five years and has served in Afghanistan and is part of the newly amalgamated Y Squadron, said:
‘In August I completed my gunnery training and I am here on the ranges to do some live firing for the first time and I am really enjoying the experience.’