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On manoeuvres with the Royal Wessex Yeomanry
FIXING its sights on the enemy position, the Royal Wessex Yeomanry’s tank roared across Salisbury Plain.
Reserve soldiers from the Bovington-based Royal Wessex Yeomanry together with their regular counterparts are currently taking part in the week-long exercise – Wessex Dragon.
As part of the demonstration, the Challenger Two tank hunted down ‘enemy’ Land Rovers, fixed on their target and fired, before shooting out plumes of smoke to hide their escape.
Under changes being brought in as part of the Army 2020 initiative, the Yeomanry will provide armoured reinforcement to the three armoured regiments in the new Reaction Force – the Queen’s Royal Hussars, the King’s Royal Hussars and the Royal Tank Regiment.
The reservists are working towards full integrating with the three regular units.
As part of the exercise, the reservists have been training to become crewmen on the battle tank, as well as skills including how to camouflage the tank and hide its distinctive track marks to deceive the enemy.
Troopers Marcus Cribb, 23, and Trevor Markerson, 30, both live in Weymouth and train with A Squadron at Bovington.
They have both recently qualified to drive the Challenger Two.
Trooper Cribb said it was great to be training on the tanks.
He said: “It’s great because I joined the Royal Wessex Yeomanry to drive tanks and now we are.”
He added that the integration between the regulars and reservists was ‘really good’ and they had been learning a lot from them.
Trooper Markerson said when they were training to be a driver or a gunner it was done separately, so it was great to be able to work together as a team.
He added: “It’s nice to go from learning to get out on the vehicle.
“To actually come out and drive the main battle tank and put all the skills we have learnt into one.”
Both troopers said the best part about the reservists was the camaraderie and the humour and urged anyone interested to go along and find out more.
l Earlier in the day, Prince Edward came to inspect the regiment. He is the Royal Honorary Colonel of the Yeomanry.
As part of the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) The Royal Wessex Yeomanry is the South West of England's only Yeomanry regiment.
The Royal Wessex Yeomanry has four squadrons and has TA centres in the counties of Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.
The Royal Wessex Yeomanry has three roles: The training of Challenger 2 main battle tank crewmen as Turret Crew Replacements.
The provision of skilled officers and senior non-commissioned officers to support the Regular Army on operations as watchkeepers and liaison officers.
The three roles are shared between all four squadrons who, in addition, maintain basic soldier skills and fitness.
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