Army Reservists with 266 (Gloucestershire Volunteer Artillery) Battery have been honing their gunnery skills in a live-firing weekend on the Sennybridge Training Area in mid-Wales.
Two 105mm light gun teams from 266 Battery HQ in Bristol and its Plymouth detachment, 289 Commando Troop, joined three other Batteries from 104 Regiment Royal Artillery to improve their teamwork, speed and accuracy.
They were striking a variety of targets some 8 kilometres away on the Sennybridge ranges, firing 35lb high-explosive shells as well as smoke rounds.
Gunner George Aldridge, whose day job is in pensions investments, and was responsible for loading the Bristol team’s gun, said: “It’s awesome firing the gun. It’s certainly different to the norm for me.”
266 Battery, based at The Artillery Grounds in Whiteladies Road, also supplied instructors, safety officers, fire support team and command post personnel directing the gun teams.
An especially interested observer was Brigadier David Harrington ADC, Deputy Commander (Reserves) at 3rd (UK) Division, which is the only Army division in the UK at continual war-fighting readiness.
He said: “The progress that 266 Battery and 104 Regiment have made is quite incredible. They are very close to taking up their full operational role in the Division.
“It’s particularly valuable being here on the ranges at Sennybridge. You get some benefit from training on simulators but nothing like these gunners experience from live-firing – the weight of the shells, the over-pressures when they fire the gun.
“This training is part of their progress to a full operational capability in the next year or two, after which we’ll be able to use them and deploy them on operations overseas.”
266 Battery’s commander, Major Neil Cook, added: “What I get out of a weekend like this is seeing the team perform well – and they have performed to the highest standards.
“It was only in 2017 that we were tasked with raising two gun teams within five years. By the end of this year we will have achieved four gun teams, We are established for 91 personnel and have 64 already. We’re looking for more to join us.”
As a close-support artillery regiment, 104 Regt is part of 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade within 3rd Division, alongside 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade, 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade and 101st Logistic Brigade.
To find out more about opportunities with 266 Battery in Bristol or in Plymouth, go to the 266 GVA Battery – Royal Artillery Facebook page or call 0117 973 4895.