Latest from the serving batteries(December 17, 2006)
L (Néry) BATTERY RHA
It has been an eventful year for L (Néry) Battery Royal Horse Artillery. After the disruption of 2004/05, with the Battery split for TELIC and Cyprus, it was a chance to get some organisation back into the system. Maj Paddy Talbot-King arrived as Battery Commander in September and was accompanied by BSM Burrows. In addition Capts Foss-Smith (R1) and Crawford (R2) came in as the new FOOs.
On 1 Jul 06 L/N (Néry) Battery, The Eagle Troop, was officially split back to its constituent Batteries for the first time since 1999. N Battery, The Eagle Troop, has returned to 3 RHA in Germany, leaving Néry with 1 RHA in Tidworth. Although no soldiers were transferred to 3 RHA, all the property was sent back to its originating Batteries.
In September some members of the Battery supported HQ 1 Mech Bde on Ex SUMAN WARRIOR in Malaysia. This was a Multi-national staff exercise focussing on an evacuation of friendly non-combatants from a failing state. The second phase concentrated on a more conventional operation. On ENDEX there was time for the members of the Battery to go on a battle field tour to Singapore which included a trip to the infamous Changi prison used in WW2.
Support to 1 Mech Brigade continued with Ex NORDIC SHIELD in Norway. The BC and BK, Capt TP Foss-Smith RHA, deployed to Trondheim at the end of November 2005. This was to be a Land Component Command (LCC) exercise qualifying HQ 1 (Mech) Bde as the first stand-alone Bde LCC. The exercise took place at Orland Air Base, the northernmost operational NATO air base, across the fjord from Trondheim. Joining HQ 1 (Mech) Bde were staff officers from both Norway and Denmark giving a real international feel to the Headquarters. The exercise lasted for three weeks based around a scenario recreating the Rwandan conflict and basing in Sierra Leone – an unusual choice of geographical and climatic location given that daylight only lasted for a handful of hours every day and from the first day of the exercise we were enveloped in blizzards. It wasn’t all work as our Norwegian counterparts were unfortunately not allowed to work at weekends and so the exercise was forced to come to a halt on Friday afternoons, allowing weekends for skiing and sight-seeing. Whilst this may have been seen as an added bonus, the price of beer in Norway ensured Monday mornings always started fresh.
The New Year brought the advent of Bowman and so the members of the Battery were sent off on a variety of courses being run by General Dynamics in order to learn this new system. By Easter the Battery was up to speed on the simulations, and it was time to get hands on the real kit before Ex IRON STORM 06. This was achieved by a series of CPXs at Battery and Regimental levels.
Ex IRON STORM was 1RHA’s first chance to deploy in role with the DAG for two years and use realistic rates of ammunition in a variety of training scenarios. For L (Néry) Battery, this was its first opportunity to deploy as a Tactical Group and the 6 week exercise started with a BC’s dry phase. This allowed the revision of basic drills and for the crews to start working together in the field. The live firing phase started after 5 days and for L (Néry) Battery, this meant firing all the guns of the Regiment in rotation. This was interspersed with some excellent Invertron and dry training. The CO then sent his tac groups to Sennybridge for some concentrated training organised and run by BC L (Néry) Battery. CAS and AH briefs, orienteering, shooting and CTRs all contributed to a great package. The finale was a march and shoot competition in which L (Néry) Battery claimed both 1st and 2nd place with R2 and R1 respectively.
The Battery returned to SPTA for the final Regimental and Divisional phases of the exercise. This was split by the best OP Det competition conducted over a weekend. The Battery was represented by Capt Crawford, LBdrs Binks and Sweeney, and Gnrs Hollis and Hayward. Signals, map reading and first aid were only some of the stands which were completed on the first day. The team performed well in most tasks, but let themselves down on the command task, although quite why we would need to get a dustbin onto a wooden post in the middle of a battle remains a mystery. A night navex was followed by a tough march and shoot competition. Given the conditions, the patrol moved as fast as it could, but on the range they performed exceptionally well. When the results were announced the team had come 7th in the OSG and 3rd from 1 RHA, which was a great result from a Battery of 21 men. In particular the patrol had come 1st in the shooting competition.
After Bowman was dry tested by the entire OSG together, we were ready for the Div firing. This was on World Cup semi-final day, and the CRA was the only man relived that England did not make it – he would have faced certain rebellion if the football had been missed. L (Néry) Battery started off the day’s firing with the delay battle. This included simulated air being coordinated by the FOOs and TACP. The delay battle was a success and we handed the battle over to B Battery for the next phase. That evening R2 was chosen to conduct the Regimental coordinated illumination mission. This was an excellent chance to practise this technical mission with enough rounds to enhance the realism as this was witnessed by half of Wiltshire. Once this was complete the Battery recovered back into Camp the following day and prepared some of the equipment for hand back to 19 Regt RA. The remaining vehicles were put into the garages and are now ready for the next challenge whenever that may be. The exercise was a resounding success for the Battery and showed that Bowman is a very good system, which L (Néry) Battery were able to use to great effect and will continue to enhance and improve in the future.
In August, half the Battery deployed to Canada as the OPFOR Artillery group supporting the King’s Royal Hussar Battlegroup. The BC deployed in role with Capt Crawford, BSM Burrows and Bdr Everitt deploying as FOOs. After a weekend off to recover from jetlag spent in Calgary and Banff, the crews took over their vehicles and prepared for deployment onto the Prairie. The deployment started with familiarisation training and force-on-force battle runs. On the basis of these we had confidence going into battle against the might of 2 Bn, The Royal Welsh supported by B Battery, 1 RHA. Initial signs were good as we hit them hard on the initial exercises, but they soon adapted and by the final exercise, Ex TOTALISE, they were an opposition worthy of battle.
The Battery was able to celebrate the 96th anniversary of the Battle of Néry on 1st September, whilst deployed on the Prairie, with a dawn service conducted by the Padre of the 2RW Battlegroup. The service was attended by the CO KRH, Lt-Col N Orr and his 2ic. Fittingly the service was on the first day of the final exercise, and so the Battery launched into this battle with the courage of Néry fresh in their minds. The service finished with the National Anthem, which was not too out of tune. The BSM obviously took great heart from the story of Néry as he was later seen duelling with a Challenger 2 and getting away unscathed. Bdr Everitt claimed the prize scalp of Battlegroup main with several well placed missions, and succeeded in killing BC B Bty. Throughout Ex TOTALISE the tide of battle ebbed and flowed and in the grand finale we held our defensive position despite the best efforts of the Battlegroup and the exercise controllers.
Canada also provided a chance to go adventure training in the Rockies. Gnr Fursland volunteered to go on a 5 day canoeing and kayaking expedition. As the newest member of the Battery, this was his first experience of Adventure Training, and he thoroughly enjoyed it, although he did look a little bedraggled and was suffering from withdraw symptoms from his mobile phone on return. After the vehicles had been handed back, LBdrs Deane and Woolridge and Gnr Hollis went on Ex BEAR DAWN which is a multi-activity package. They enjoyed a day of canoeing, rock climbing and trekking which were a great way to see another side of the BATUS experience. Gnr Hollis managed to lose his spay deck, and paddle and boat on his kayaking day. Fortunately he got the boat back, but was literally left up a creek without a paddle! A place was announced on Ex FAST AIR by the RSM during Battlegroup orders. Bdr Everitt did not let him leave the tent before his name was on the list. Experience is not a pre-requisite for the RA Display Team, but Bdr Everitt hoped that every little helps. Due to bad weather, it was only a little, as he was only able to add 4 jumps to his tally.
There was to be no rest on return to the UK as the Battery deployed immediately on a CAST and a CATT with the HCR Battlegroup. This was the first time that we had really worked together and was a great chance for all of us to integrate in a simulated environment and lay the foundations for Ex WESSEX WARRIOR and DRUID’S DANCE which takes place later in the year. This work is vitally important as the Battery continues to firm up the drills and procedures of working as a formation recce tac group.
Throughout the year there has been a chance for some of the soldiers to get on courses for both promotion and trade. Gnr (now LBdr) Fletcher came top of a leadership course being run by 47 Regt with a glowing report, whilst 3 other Gunners also passed their leadership courses. LBdr Binks came 3rd in his Bdr course being held at 16 Regt RA. 4 soldiers attained Targeting L2 qualifications, with LBdr Fletcher coming top (again) of his course at 40 Regt RA. 2 LBdrs passed their L3 course held at RSA, Larkhill. The Battery was also able to host a DIT course for the Regiment to ensure that all our JNCOs are now have the tools to be able to instruct soldiers. Gnr Flanagan went on a sailing expedition that resulted him in being awarded Competent Crew status.
L (Néry) Bty has been active throughout the year in both Regimental and Battery sport. On a Regimental stage Capt Crawford RHA and LBdr Woolridge were part of a very successful Nordic ski team that qualified for the Army Championships. The shooting theme continued with Capt Crawford and LBdr Wicks being key members of the Regimental Shooting team that took part in the DIVSAAM. The BC and LBdr Musvipa both played Rugby for the Regimental team, with the BC showing that 2 years in Australia as an IG was not all work, work, work. At a Battery level, L (Néry) Battery merged with O/HQ but this did not stop it flying the Néry flag with pride. LBdrs Sweeney and Wicks took part in the Regimental Boxing competition. After a resounding victory LBdr Sweeney was selected for the Regimental team which will compete in the Commander’s cup later in the year.
Away from work the Battery enjoyed a good Christmas party, although it was not to be the “Piss up in a brewery” that was hoped for, as Capt Crawford was unable to organise it – something the Battery has not let him forget. A night at the Dogs was enjoyed by all with Gnr Flanagan walking away with the biggest win of the night. Even on exercise the Battery found time to relax. Whilst the other Batteries were enjoying a container meal in the Gun Park; Néry had a BBQ outside the block – again evidence that the BC has not totally forgotten his colonial roots.
The Eagle is Back! - N Battery (The Eagle Troop)
After an eight year absence, serving with “The Other Regiment”, under the disguise of L/N (Nery) Battery (The Eagle Troop) RHA, N Battery are back with 3RHA. Returning as the fourth Tac group, under Future Army Structure (FAS) guidelines, the Tactical Group (Tac Gp) Battery will consist of 20 personnel – BC’s party, 2 x FOO parties, an FPC and BC’s Land Rover.
FAS decreed that each Brigade should have its own Formation Recce (FR) unit, which in turn has been recognised to require a dedicated Tac Gp to support it. As such, a fourth Tac Gp is to be added to each Gun Regiment in the Royal Artillery, which in many cases this has meant that amalgamated Batteries have been split, keeping the heritage and history of Batteries alive. Each Battery either remains with the parent Regiment of the amalgamated sub-unit, or is sent to another. Such is the case with L/N Battery – 1 RHA keep L (Nery) Battery and 3 RHA regain N Battery (The Eagle Troop).
The Eagle Troop has a proud history. Formed as the 1st Troop Bombay Horse Artillery, the Battery served in Afghanistan and India and forged its reputation at the Battle of Hyderabad in 1843. There, under command of Major J T Leslie, the Battery enabled General Napier’s forces to inflict staggering losses on the enemy with minimal British casualties. For these actions, the Battery was awarded the title “The 1st or Leslie’s Troop Horse Artillery” by the Governor General of India. In 1889 the Battery were renamed N Battery RHA. The Battery had the honour of conveying Queen Victoria’s coffin in 1901 and the Unknown Warrior’s in 1920. In 1926, N Battery were awarded the honour title “The Eagle Troop” for its exploits in Afghanistan and Hyderabad in the early part of the 19th Century.
Upon their return to 3 RHA, The Eagle Troop will be commanded by Major David Harrison, who joins the Battery on posting from BATUS, where he was part of the permanent staff. Captain Stickley is to become BK and FOO and WO2 Hilton is to become the Technical Sergeant Major. No doubt the small size of the sub unit and their role as FR Tac Gp will ensure that they are kept very busy in the coming months – but you can be sure that The Eagles will rise to the challenge!