MORE than 100 new soldiers have arrived in the area as a major Royal Artillery regiment returned to its full strength yesterday.
After two years apart, the 140 troops from 30 Battery – Roger’s Company – and 49 Battery – Inkerman – have finally been reunited with the rest of 16 Regiment.
And to celebrate the milestone, family, friends and special guests were invited to a parade at the soldiers’ new home, inside Baker Barracks, on Thorney Island.
Led by the Band of the Royal Artillery, the troops were inspected by General Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman.
He praised the unit and described it as a true ‘family regiment’.
He added: ‘I congratulate you all on having the unique ability to reorganise yourselves in times of change and keep the regiment going despite your split existence over the last couple of years.
‘Today is truly a reason to celebrate as all your batteries are united, as they should be, so enjoy with your family and friends your new life on Thorney Island.’
The air defence unit replaced 47 Regiment Royal Artillery as part of the Army 2020 shake-up.
In July 2014, 16 Regt and four of its six batteries then moved from North Luffenham to Thorney Island, leaving behind 30 and 49 Batteries.
In spite of the 170-mile split, the regiment was still able to operate effectively, said the unit’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel James Mardlin.
He added: ‘We continue to maintain a high operational tempo, supporting both a permanent presence providing ground-based air defence to our garrison in the Falkland Islands, in addition to holding forces at readiness to support wider defence commitments overseas.’
The regiment operates short range, sophisticated surface-to-air missile systems.
In addition, 49 Battery provides key air surveillance skills for the UK.