For 27 soldiers of the KRH, their first day back after leave would not be spent on the tank park; instead, they would be travelling to the Underwater Escape Training Unit at RNAS Yeovilton, better known as 'the dunker'. While there, they would complete Air Course 319 and gain a qualification that allows night-flying over large bodies of water.
Although a useful qualification was gained, it is not essential in the life of an armoured soldier; rather, the trip was conceived as part of the KRH drive to bring the Army Leadership Code to life. Everyone who attended was pushed beyond their comfort zone, and it was a character-building experience for all. Many had to confront long-held fears; of water, of tight spaces, or of being trapped underwater while in a tight space and in complete darkness.
The course consisted of four stages, progressing from a warm-up run in slow-time to the final quick run-through, in the dark with a 180 degree rotation. The group returned to Tidworth exhilarated, and having learnt much about themselves.
The ice sports have come to a close for the season and the KRH have ended on an impressive high. Here's the report from Lt Scott Pryor:
After a successful Army Championships in both luge and skeleton, Lt Pryor, 2Lt Graham and Tpr Whatmore were all selected for the Army squad going into the Inter-Services the next week.
Training took place alongside the Royal Navy and RAF so all athletes could see what they were up against and quickly became aware that they had to perform at their best if they were to stand any chance of success.
As the two day race arrived all three KRH athletes were selected to represent the competing team.
After the first day of sliding Tpr Whatmore had completed one very good run but unfortunately the Army luge team couldn't match the pace of the RAF or Royal Navy and ended up third.
Going into the second day the Army men's skeleton with Lt Pryor were second and the women's with 2Lt Graham holding on to a narrow lead. After the final day the positions remained the same to end the Championships with a great result for both the men's and woman's for which the KRH played a prominent role.
This week saw Lt Pryor, 2Lt Graham (AGC SPS) and Tpr Whatmore travel to Winterberg, Germany to take part in the Army Ice Sports Championships. Lt Pryor and 2Lt Graham competing in the skeleton and Tpr Whatmore for luge.
The track consists of over 1300 meters of solid ice, 15 turns and a vertical drop of 110 meters. Athletes will be reaching top speeds of 120km/h with nothing but a slither of roll mat tucked under a lycra race suit for protection.
The week started well for all three athletes. 2Lt Graham and Tpr Whatmore are both in their novice season having slid just ten times previously. Lt Pryor was returning for his second season and looking to improve from last years fourth place finish in the Army Championships.
As the race day arrived both 2Lt Graham and Tpr Whatmore put in their best times to date and as a result won the novice cup in their respective disciplines. This is the first time in over five years that the novice cup in skeleton has been won by a female. 2Lt Graham was also just 0.09 seconds off a podium finish in the main female skeleton championship. Lt Pryor also performed well sitting in fourth going into the final run he was able to improve enough to jump into third for the men's skeleton championship.
All three athletes have been invited to represent the Army in their respective disciplines for the inter-services next week.
The beginning of the second week saw Lt Lynch-Staunton and LCpl Samuels join Lt Pryor and Tpr McGarrigan in St Moritz to tackle The Cresta Run and attempt to bag a share of the trophies on offer at the Army Junction Championship.
With the Championship on Thursday the new pair were left with little time to prepare. After beginners school on the Monday and a couple of falls at Shuttlecock under their belt they were thrust into the championship along with racers from a number of other regiments. The KRH team were split to make pairs and while Lt Pryor and Tpr McGarrigan competed together, Lt Lynch-Staunton and LCpl Samuels remained as a novice duo.
Due to falls in the first run, The Regiment was out of running for the 17th/21st Lancer's Cup, but with two personal bests Lt Pryor came away the victor, by some 8 seconds, in The Novice Cup.
On the back of this success Lt Pryor was invited to stay out a further week to train with the Army team. Much to his relief his progression continued and he came away victorious in The Services Silver Spoon race as well as riding the Cresta Run from top.
All in all a great return for the Regiment to The Cresta Run and some firm foundations laid for future seasons. The team would especially like to thank the trustees for their financial support without which, this season would not have been possible.
As is the case every year, the end of November signals the work dodging winter sports enthusiasts to jet off on various expeditions around Europe, leaving the rest of the regiment to work hard in preparation for the Regiment’s Christmas stand down. The inevitably anti-social Orderly Officer rotation and extra work required from the SNCO’s undoubtedly made the prospect of Ex COLLODEN HAWK a particularly easy sell. A week of fishing, deer stalking and walked up shoots was an excellent break from the hustle and bustle of day to day work.
The Officer’s and Warrant Officer’s messes set off on a predictably long mini bus journey into the depths of Scotland to enjoy a week of bonding, field sports and a few ‘wee drams’ of the local drink of choice. The trip also coincided brilliantly with the hallowed fields of the Battle of Culloden, which was the last pitched battle to be fought on British soil; the battle may not be synonymous with armoured warfare but both the 10th and 11th Hussars fought in the battle, it also had a staggering effect on the tactical development of the professional army, and all left with a renewed interest in the Jacobite rising of 1745.
By Lt Sam Rutter, Photos by Maj Sarah Owen, RMO.
As January 2016 leaves just quickly as it arrived, so too does the 25th anniversary of the Gulf War. To mark its anniversary and tell his story, John Dingley has written a book, called Challenging the Beast, about his time as 2nd Troop Leader, B Sqn, 14th/20th King's Hussars.
In 1990, the 14th/20th King's Hussars were part of 4th Armoured Brigade (known as the forgotten brigade) and had to look on from Longkesh Camp, Northern Ireland, as the 7th Armoured Brigade deployed to the Gulf. Upon their return to York Barracks, Munster, B Squadron, 14/20 H, found all of its tanks had been cannibalised for spare parts by the 7th and that seemed like the last nail in the coffin of non-deployment. However, just before some post-NI leave the Squadron was told that it would be joining 7th Armoured Brigade in the Gulf after all and that new tanks would be delivered in due course.
John never kept a diary during the campaign, but instead has written his book using his notebooks from orders groups, his photographs in the scrapbook he made in 1993, and his Squadron Leader's account of the battles in which they took part. At the time of the Gulf War, B Squadron Leader was Major Richard Shirreff who is now, General Sir Richard Shirreff KCB CBE, the Regimental Colonel of the KRH.
John said that he 'wanted to write [his] story so that it could be shared with soldiers and families in future generations. It also does a little to highlight the imbalances between 7th Armoured and 4th Armoured brigades both in equipment but also news coverage and eventually awards.' He also hopes that troop leaders of today and in the future might find it a useful account about the rewards and challenges of tank troop leading.
While the book is a way to keep the memory alive of those who have "passed off the square too early" such as Cpl Lythgoe and SSM Skip Rae, John hopes that it will remind those who served in the Gulf with him of the various personalities of B Squadron, the 14/20 H, and educate and entertain those others who are interested.
If anyone would like to buy the book it is currently only available from the Amazon Kindle store. You can go to purchase it using this link and if you think it worthy, John would be grateful for a review: CLICK HERE.
After a five year break from the sport, The KRH returned to St Moritz, Switzerland to take part in The Cresta Run. The two week exercise consists of a training week for Lt Pryor and Tpr Mcgarrigan followed by the Army Championship the week after where Lt Lynch-Staunton and LCpl Samuels will join them.
For those unfamiliar with The Cresta Run, it is similar to a bobsleigh track that you would expect to see at the Winter Olympics, except the run is carved out of natural ice. The course has been going since 1884 and, slightly worryingly, you can actually crash out of the smooth groove into the snow and ice on each side.
The week began in heavy snow, not the best conditions for going fast down the track, but for Lt Pryor and Tpr McGarrigan it was the last thing on their mind as they attended the day's beginners course. In fact, such was the amount of snow on the run the beginners, who are told to 'go slow', finishing times were over 100 seconds. This was much to the displeasure of the Club Secretary who was sure to let you, and everyone else, know over the tannoy.
Until riders are more experienced they have to ride the track from Junction Hut. This is just over halfway up and means that riders must safely navigate only 7 turns before the finish line. The most difficult of which is the infamous Shuttlecock Corner. If a rider is going too fast or has a bad line going into Shuttlecock he will be sent out of the track and into the snow. Tpr McGarrigan has had first hand experience of this on a number of occasions this week!
As the week progressed, both Lt Pryor and Tpr McGarrigan's times were steadily decreasing. Lt Pryor managed a 51.86 sec and Tpr Mcgarrigan a best of 57.73 sec which should put them in good stead for next week's Army Championship, specifically the Novice Cup.
Stay tuned to hear how The Regiment fares at the Army Championships on January 21st.
While many of you may have been reading that there was distinct lack of snowfall in the Alps before Christmas, the KRH Nordic Ski Team were preparing themselves in the depths of Norway. Now they are enjoying the good New Year snow that has come just in time for the competitions. This week they are competing at "Divisionals", but last week they raced in Hochfilzen, Austria in the Royal Armoured Corps Competition. Here is the report and some choice photographs from the Team Captain
From the Royal Armoured Corps Competition prize giving last night, we came away with 12 medals and a trophy:
In the classic race, the KRH won a team Bronze owing to the efforts of Lt OVC, 2Lt Selfe, LCpl Morell and Tpr Cheveau. While Tpr Dowse won a Gold for Top Junior Novice Category, Lt OVC was awarded Gold individually.
In the Biathlon Relay, the KRH bagged themselves another Bronze but this time with Lt OVC, 2Lt Selfe, LCpl Padee and Tpr Cheveau. Tpr Dowse again excelled himself with Gold for the Best Junior, and Gold for the Best Junior Novice. This secured him the trophy for Best Overall Junior in the Competition.
All in all, good results! Let's hope for the same from Divisional. Hussar!
The plains and forests of Eastern Europe are becoming familiar training grounds to the King's Royal Hussars as a second Lead Armoured Battlegroup deploys there in two years. This time it was the turn of the Senior Squadron to test their abilities in cooperating with and reassuring NATO allies.
The LABG at the time was headed up by 1 YORKS and included C Sqn, KRH, as the heavy armour capability. After a lengthy deployment that included a sea crossing and numerous railheads, the BG conducted integration exercises and demonstrations with their Polish, German, US and Canadian counterparts. These exercises and demonstrations proved yet again the ability to work with allies, as well as the rapid projection of force elements from the UK. The interoperability of an Armoured Infantry (AI) Brigade (Bde) is one of it's biggest attributes, and this exercise showed that a BG from 12 (AI) Bde could operate on a expeditionary mission.
The exercise was the culmination of the Sqn’s busy year at readiness which has seen the Senior Sqn working hard to hone their ability to operate within the 1 YORKS BG after an initial training year. That training year culminated in the deployment to BATUS in Summer 2014. This final exercise allowed C Sqn’s troops to take part in everything from conventional armoured battle runs to dismounted tunnel clearances and was a test of every single man within the Sqn. C Sqn are now looking forward to an action-packed 2016.
New for 2016, The Royal Wessex Yeomanry is now recruiting Nationally.
Are you a qualified Challenger 2 Loader, Commander or Troop Leader who left the Regular Army in the last 6 years? Did you understand that when you left the Army you may have automatically joined the Regular Reserve for up to 6 years? Would you prefer to join the Army Reserve instead and get paid?
The Royal Wessex Yeomanry is the British Army’s only Armoured Reinforcement Regiment. Our role is to provide CR2 trained individual augmentees, formed crews and formed Troops to the King’s Royal Hussars, Queen’s Royal Hussars and Royal Tank Regiment for training exercises and in the event of national emergency. Volunteer personnel from the Regiment join the Regular Armoured Regiments in BATUS, on overseas training exercises, Adventure Training and Battlefield Studies each year. If you can give us 27 days per year, we can refresh and maintain your CR2 qualifications. In return, you can expect:
To find out more about the Regiment, take a look at our Army website at this link or call the RCMO on 0192940 3885. Note that this is a new initiative for 2016. The RCMO will guide you through any problems that may be encountered with the National Recruiting Centre during the early stages of the year.
Why not join up with some of your friends and get back into the fun stuff?
KRH Association and serving members of the regiment.