Military Reservists across the South West of England will be marking Reserves Day on Wednesday (27 June), many of them by wearing their uniforms to work.
Reservists are integral to the nation’s security at home and overseas, and they rely on the support of employers and work colleagues to fulfil their responsibilities.
The Wessex region can boast the widest variety of Reserve units in the country, with more than 3,000 dedicated men and women serving at locations from Swindon to St Mawgan and from Gloucester to Jersey.
As well as units of the Royal Naval Reserve at Bristol and Plymouth and a Royal Marines Reserve HQ at Bristol with sub-units at Plymouth and Poole, there are more than 30 Army Reserve units and detachments across 21 locations.
The largest of these is 6 RIFLES with some 500 light infantry Reservists based in Devon, Dorset, Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Bristol.
The Royal Wessex Yeomanry trains nearly 250 Reservists as crew for the Army’s main battle tank, the Challenger 2. The Regiment operates from Army Reserve Centres in Dorset, Devon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.
Other units develop the appropriate skills in a range of roles to reinforce the Regular Army, either as individuals or formed units, or to support national resilience in response to emergencies in the UK.
- combat engineers (100 Field Squadron, Royal Monmouthshire Militia RE; Royal Jersey Field Squadron RE)
- light gun crews (266 Battery, 104 Regiment Royal Artillery)
- commando-trained engineers (131 Commando Squadron, RE)
- signallers (39 Signal Regiment)
- specialist and cyber signallers (15 Signal Regiment; 81 Signal Squadron, 10 Signal Regiment)
- helicopter ground support (675 Squadron, 6 Regiment Army Air Corps)
- armoured infantry (7 RIFLES)
- port and beach landing logistics (165 Port & Maritime Regiment, RLC)
- Global logistics support (180 Movement Control Squadron, RLC)
- commando-trained fuelling logistics (383 Commando Petroleum Support, RLC)
- electrical and mechanical engineers (105 Battalion REME)
- medics (243 Field Hospital)
- military intelligence (7 MI Battalion)
- special forces (SAS)
- University Officer Training Corps (Bristol, Bath, Exeter, Plymouth)
The RAF, celebrating its centenary this year, has a significant Reserve presence through 505 (Wessex) Squadron, based at RAF St Mawgan near Newquay in Cornwall.
Reservists also provide the permanent staff organising university-based training for students contemplating a military career or just wanting a taste of adventure in uniform.
Bristol University Air Squadron, currently based at MoD Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, is open to students at the Universities of Bristol, West of England, Bath, Exeter and Plymouth. The Royal Navy offers corresponding leadership training opportunities through its University Royal Naval Units at HMS VIVID in Plymouth and HMS FLYING FOX in Bristol.
Wessex Reserve Forces’ & Cadets’ Association works on behalf of the Ministry of Defence to raise awareness and build relationships with businesses, business people and employers
Many of the 3,000 men and women serving with all three Services in the Wessex region work in small businesses, but also in large corporations, local authorities and not-for-profit organisations.
Wessex RFCA is also responsible for the upkeep, maintenance and management of Reservist and Cadet facilities, on 271 sites across the South West of England.
Since Reserves Day 2017, new facilities have been opened at Army Reserve Centres (ARCs) in Derriford (Plymouth) and Yeovil and at HMS Flying Fox in Bristol. Projects are also under way at ARCs in Swindon, Gloucester and Exeter.
The Reserve Forces make up approximately one sixth of the UK’s Armed Forces personnel and have a particularly important role in specialist areas such as IT and medical skills.
Reservists are ordinary people, often with family and work commitments, who are prepared as Reservists to undertake extraordinary responsibilities when deployed alongside the Regulars on combat, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.
For more information about support for employers of Reservists go to https://www.wessex-rfca.org.uk/employers/ .