Hampshire soldiers to guard beach volleyball stars

The British Beach Volley Ball team in London

The British Beach Volley Ball team in London

Chris Purcell, who was onboard HMS Sheffield.
 Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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HAMPSHIRE’S soldiers have had to cancel their summer holidays to guard the Olympics – just weeks after returning from the war in Afghanistan.

The security shambles by contractors G4S has led to 100 troops from the First Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (1PWRR) being drafted in.

The soldiers – nicknamed The Tigers – had been granted an extended summer leave after a tough six-month tour of duty in Helmand province.

But now one company has been told to cancel all plans and head to London to work the duration of the Games.

It is understood a further 320 Tigers have been placed on notice to deploy amid fears many G4S staff may fail to turn up to work.

The first 100 troops will leave their barracks in Germany at the weekend.

An MoD spokesman said: ‘They will be doing venue security, checking people as they come in.

‘They will be responsible for specific venues taking part in the Olympic Games.’

One of the venues is thought to include the 15,000-seater temporary stadium at Horse Guards Parade, where the men’s and women’s beach volleyball events will take place.

The MoD confirmed The Tigers will also help with security at the Lee Valley canoeing events and at the main Olympic Park in Stratford – joining 100 colleagues from the regiment’s London-based Second Battalion who were already scheduled to work at the Games.

Lieutenant Colonel James Coote, who is commanding officer of 1PWRR, said: ‘The officers and men of The Tigers will, I know, apply the same professional approach to this task as we did in Afghanistan earlier this year.

‘We are working hard now to ensure that we are fully prepared for the very different challenges that we will face. I am absolutely confident that we will be ready.’

A total of 17,500 armed forces personnel have now been brought in to provide security and support in the capital for the Games which start next week.

That includes a further 3,500 troops announced by defence secretary Philip Hammond last week as the G4S security scandal began to surface.

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