DORSET’s reserves undertook a training exercise with tanks and a Chinook helicopter on Salisbury Plain.

Following on from their work supporting the multi-agency flood relief effort in Dorset, including on Portland during the recent flooding, the Army Reserves from Dorset went to Salisbury Plain for Exercise Spring Warrior.

The training exercise saw the unit join forces with the RAF for the first time in ten years.

Their joint mission with air crew from 27 Squadron RAF Odiham was to co-ordinate the delivery by air of personnel and their Wolf Scout Land Rovers – with the vehicles under-slung from the giant Chinook aircraft. Like all of the training they do, it was about preparing the reservists to do it for real whilst deployed on operations in support of the Regular Army.

Also involved in the operation were crews from the Royal Wessex Yeomanry from Bovington, Salisbury and Cirencester, driving the army’s main battle tank the Challenger Two across the Plain.

Major Richard Morgan the Officer Commanding B Squadron said: “We used tanks for the first time this weekend as proof of principal to see if it is possible to take tanks out on a weekend, given the amount of time it takes to get a tank ready to move and hand it back afterwards.”

Over the next few years the Royal Wessex Yeomanry will become one of only a handful of reserve units to be a part of the British Army’s Reactive Force. They will be held at a state of higher readiness compared to other reserve units and prepared to deploy anywhere around the world to protect Britain’s interests and national security.

Toby Davison is 27 years old and trains with the Royal Wessex Yeomanry A Squadron in Bovington. He transferred to the Yeomanry after spending time with 6 Rifles. Four months ago he qualified to be a Challenger Two driver and is hoping to go on and complete training to be tank crew as well. He said the exercise had gone very well, adding: “Driving on the Plain cross-country is very good, very smooth.

“It’s all about the speed you need to get the bumps right.

“It’s a very nice engine. I love the sound of it, and it’s very good fun to drive.”

The driver’s space inside the tank is quite cramped and in fact there was less space than in his car at home, Trooper Davison said.

Being part of the Army Reserve helped to promote self-esteem and confidence Trooper Davison said and that was something he took into his day job in technical consultancy.

He said: “I think the main thing is I just really enjoy what I do. So it helps promote your self-esteem and confidence. It’s an enjoyment thing really.

“It’s nice to have something interesting and different to do at the weekend.”