Welcome to this, the second edition of the Barbarian Blog. Having visited most sub-unit locations since the first edition it is great to hear that it has been well received. As you will see, this edition will confirm that we continue to be a leading, dynamic Regiment conducting a myriad of activities and tasks that you have either participated in or have been responsible for. You should all, rightly, remain proud of the significant achievements we, collectively, continue to deliver.
Op HERRICK 17 Medal Parade
123 Sqn hosted a Regtl Medal Parade for the 17 individuals from 123, 237 and 243 Sqns that deployed on Op HERRICK 17, in addition 2 VRSMs and a clasp were also awarded. A GOC Theatre Troops commendation for outstanding service was also presented to one of our long standing Civil Servants, Mr Martin Pointon, the Regt’s service funds accountant. Quite a haul! Colonel Thurgood, the Garrison Commander at Bicester and a strong advocate of the Reservists, took the parade and presented the medals and commendation. His address to the 90 members of the Regt on parade, and the 60 families and friends assembled in the audience, was both thought provoking and inspiring, and warmly welcomed by the medal recipients and their family and friends. A superb curry supper, prepared and served by our excellent culinary team, SSgts Norton and Morris. A big thanks to Captain Terry Speak and his team at 123 Sqn, for putting on a magnificent event, thoroughly enjoyed by all in attendance.
We have news from the Front!! Our soldiers currently attached to 9 Theatre Logistic Group (TLG) on Op HERRICK 18 are now in the final weeks of their tour. Planning for their recovery, normalisation and medal parade is now in hand. We continue to receive regular updates from CO 9 TLG about Op HERRICK 18 with positive comments of how well the troops are doing and how they are adding value to the operation. As you will all be aware, our boys and girls are all assigned to either the General Support Squadron (Ammunition Troop and Materiel Troop) or the Reverse Supply Chain Squadron (RV Troop). In the most recent update, Lt Williams has been specifically mentioned in dispatches as the RV Tp Comd, a small extract of which is below:
“RV Tp has been extremely busy over the past six weeks with a large influx of stores. The dispersal of the Troop has been a challenge but Lt Williams has ensured the whole troop is working hard to maintain the vital link the RV Troop provides. Lt Williams is relishing his opportunity to command on an operational tour and is clearly learning all that he can. With the release of the White Paper on the Army Reserves Lt Williams is extremely positive about his future within the Army Reserves and recently briefed all of the soldiers within the RSC Sqn.”
Well done to Lt Williams and the rest of the team who are all making such a valuable, and significant contribution to the effort being made by 9 TLG as a whole. In the meantime we are liaising with 27 TLG who have now welcomed into their fold our troops that have mobilised for HERRICK 19, and who are currently enjoying some pre tour leave. They deploy in October after they have completed their Mission Rehearsal Exercise in September. Their number includes Pte Sonya Doddrell, who will be joining her son Pte Mark Doddrell, a regular serving with 27 TLR on the deployment. As you might expect this has attracted interest from both regional and national media, so watch out for the stories!!
An update to Op FORTIFY, the Army’s Regular and Reserve Recruiting effort has just been issued, which focuses attention on the activity that will be needed to ensure that our recruiting effort is properly resourced and supported. We have now been paired with 7 Regt RLC, who will be providing us with a small Regimental Support Team to aid us in this high profile recruiting campaign, which will focus much of our activity over the coming months. No doubt some of you will find yourselves working alongside them, please make them welcome and look after them whilst they are on our patch.
In the meantime we will also be revisiting our own recruiting plan, in order to refresh it and make it more relevant, following the announcement of FR20 and the implementation of Op FORTFY. I am pleased to report that we are to some degree ahead of the game, following the implementation of our own Op BARBARIAN SURGE 13 (BS13). The surge Op, as expected, slowed down during the leave period, but is being re-energised and is on target. So far the total number of contacts resulting from BS13 has increased to 65, the key now is to turn those contacts into on-line applications. As we move into the Further Education arena and the Job Centres in the Autumn it is envisaged that our contact base will increase further. This successful model will be replicated in 123 Sqn from mid September and be expanded across the Regt thereafter.
Whilst problems remain with the smooth flow of the recruiting pipeline, progress is now slowly being made. We know that additional staff have been recruited by CAPITA and there are now separate teams dealing with both the legacy applications and the new ones. Although slow to start we are now beginning to see some applicants filter through the system. New applications are being processed quickly, with some successful candidates being loaded onto TSC A/B within weeks (rather than months) of applications being submitted on-line. Problems do however remain and frustrations remain, we must however remain positive and keep the effort going. The challenge to us remains the same, to attract new recruits, and to ensure that we provide mentoring and support to those in the system waiting to complete Phase 1 training; a responsibility that applies to us all.
Whilst training across the Regiment took a natural pause over the summer this period, we did however conduct a HERRICK weekend of training which included administrative checks, fitness and weapon handling tests. The most recent HERRICK and MATTs weekend was a resounding success with good attendance levels across the Regt and some very pleasing results.
The new Commander 102 Logistic Brigade, Brigadier D Amison OBE also visited us in Swynnerton. The visit was a resounding success and the Commander left the Regt hugely impressed with the dedication, commitment and professionalism he witnessed not just over the course of his visit but also from the tales and conversations he had with many of you – well done.
Many of you will already be aware that the Regiment has re-launched its Twitter account - @159SupRegt. From the feed you will get updates on events planned, happening and happened as well as some key messaging and opinion from within the Regiment and Brigade. Please follow us and get in touch with your views about what is sent and what you would like to see sent.
I also need your help. We need to get better at capturing our training on camera in order that we can show-off what we do. Not only will it help encourage participation from those already in the Reserves, but it will also help with our recruiting effort. Army Facebook and Twitter sites have been established across the country at regional level, and I am keen that our activities are uploaded onto these sites, for people to see and comment on. I would ask that you pass on any photos and comments you might have on training activities and sporting events that you participate in to your Sqn PSIs, who will ensure that they are passed to the site administrators for uploading. We have so much to be proud of and that message can be passed very quickly with your help.
News from around the Patch
123 Sqn (Telford) - Hosted the Regtl Medal Parade on 31 Aug, which saw 150 regimental personnel, family and friends gather at their TAC in Telford, to present 17 Op HERRICK 17 medals, 2 VRSMs and a clasp and a GOC Theatre Tps commendation. The last month also saw them victorious in the majority of the events that took place during the CO’s Trophy weekend in Tynemouth, and they also provided the full compliment to represent the Regiment in the RLC ‘Corps Weekend’ tug o War competition, where they were beaten in the final. Another great effort! The Sqn also completed a very successful soldier first weekend in Sennybridge, and hosted a Families’ Fun Day to mark the return of their HERRICK 17 contingent, over 85 attended the event.
125 Sqn (Glasgow) - On 7th Aug the Sqn hosted 144 Para Med Sqn, the first of several local units who have been invited to come along and give a presentation on their role and what vacancies they have available for 125 Sqn personnel to consider as an option to transfer when the Sqn disbands at the end of next year. The team from 144 Sqn gave an excellent presentation, and some of the younger, fitter members of 125 Sqn showed a lot of interest in what was on offer. In Sep, 102 Fd Sqn RE, 32 Sig Regt and 207 Bty RA will be visiting to give similar presentations. Hopefully this will give the Sqn personnel some idea about moving on when the time comes.
The Sqn enjoyed a fantastic AT weekend at Rothiemurchus Lodge, Aviemore on 16-18 Aug 13. The accommodation was paid for by Lowland RFCA, and an arduous day was had on Saturday in the Cairngorms, led by SSgt Dave Johnston. On the Sunday the weather was not as conducive to hill walking, so plan B was invoked, and the Sqn visited the historic battlefield of "Killiekrankie" and the famous "Soldier's Leap".
216 Sqn (Tynemouth) - 5 members of the Sqn joined in with the Regulars on a Mountain Bike Training Day near Catterick which was a huge success and has increased interest from other members of the Sqn. This was followed on by a Mountain Bike Adv Trg weekend in the Lake District led by the OC, Maj Drennan. The rain was torrential throughout the weekend but this appeared to add to the sense of achievement and enjoyment from those taking part. Maj Drennan and Cpl Anderson also assisted with the Cheviot Challenge, and entered, the Great North Bike Ride alongside Officers from Theatre Troops. SSgt Ross, along with other members of the Sqn, took part in the RLC Six a Side competition where 159 Sup Regt RLC were runners up in the competition. WO2 Carrielies and his recruiting team continue to get potential recruits through the door and have worked hard to keep them interested whilst they go through the recruiting process. Three personnel have recently been loaded onto the Class 3 cse and hope to deploy on H19.1 with other members of the Sqn.
237 Sqn (West Brom) - Maj David Paget has taken over as OC 237 Sqn, and WO2 Bandwood as SSM. Sgt Gentry has returned from ATU (WM) and has taken over A (HERRICK) Tp and has immediately started training for H20A. Congratulations to SSgt Coley, who is now ETL trained to better support fitness training. Congratulations too, to Pte’s Pleadon and Roberts who have both have passed TSC(B) and can finally move out of Recruits Tp, into A Tp, and to Pte O’Brien who has passed his LSS Cl 3 course. Well done to all on their various endeavours.
243 Sqn (Coventry) - This has been a very quiet period in terms of activity and attendance as the PSI has been on leave along with the rest of the world. Despite this the Sqn have continued to be active in the world of recruiting and had their first potential recruits walk through the door from the NRC, a positive step. They have also started to get walk-ins again, and are looking forward to a surge in numbers again shortly. Interest has also been expressed by some ex Regulars, with enquiries from 2 x WOs and 1 x SSgt, including a previous RSM. An improvement in applications and vacancies for LSS courses, with a number attending both Class 3 and Class 2 courses also gives cause for small celebration. Finally Capt Cox the PSAO organised and attended a charity fishing match at Wolvey in Leicestershire, raising £1012 for H4H, a superb effort that also saw the record broken for total weight caught, 700 kgs caught by 19 anglers!
381 Sqn (Lancaster) - WO2 Ross MacDougall (ex RAPTC) has embarked upon an intensive programme to improve everyone’s fitness in the Sqn. To support him, Pte Morrissey has attended and passed his PTI course. Ptes Tosh and Edgar have also just passed an ETL course at Altcar. This places the Sqn well for adhering to the Regtl PD Directive, and raising the overall fitness levels within the Sqn. As this goes to press LCPL Standring and Cluney are attending their Class 2 LSS Course and Pte Holden his PNCO course.
Finally a few congratulations are in order:
Congratulations to our footballers. The RLC TA Sixes took place on 31 Aug and 1 Sep in Grantham, with the Regiment entering three teams into the competition, which was in itself is a great effort, for which I offer my heartfelt thanks. Although we failed to bring the trophy home, we did reach the final, beating the tournament favourites, 156 Tpt Regt from Liverpool 3-2 in the semi final, only to lose 2-0 to 152 Tpt Regt from Belfast. This is another fantastic achievement that once again highlights the talent to be found within the Regiment. Well done to all those that took part and helped prepare the teams.
Well done also to the Regimental (123 Sqn) Tug of War team in their sterling performance at the Corps Day. They were only beaten by the reigning Army Champions in the final.
A final well done to WO2 Christman and the Regiment’s Nijmegan Marches’ team. A truly herculean effort for some people to come through the competition and even more so given the limited training time afforded to a Reserve unit. All of the team can be truly proud of what they achieved.
Lt Col CJ Francis MBECommanding Officer