Army vehicles storm Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to mark 80th anniversary of the Royal Armoured Corps

ARMOURED reconnaissance vehicles parked themselves opposite Britain’s oldest commissioned warship to mark a key anniversary in the army’s history.

Thursday, 4th April 2019, 8:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th April 2019, 8:37 pm
The Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) were down at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Thursday, March 4, to promote themselves and celebrate their 80th anniversary.

Picture: Sarah Standing (040419-5055)
The Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) were down at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Thursday, March 4, to promote themselves and celebrate their 80th anniversary. Picture: Sarah Standing (040419-5055)

Soldiers from the Household Cavalry Regiment provided a special guard of honour for HMS Victory during a rare visit to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The trip was to mark the 80th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Armoured Corps and was part of a national celebration of the milestone.

And to mark the event in Portsmouth, the regiment brought some of its military heavyweights with them to surprise dockyard visitors.

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The Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) were down at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Thursday, March 4, to promote themselves and celebrate their 80th anniversary. Picture: Sarah Standing (040419-5055)

People young and old were given tours of the Spartan armoured personnel carrier and Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicle and had a chance to chat to the soldiers.

Staff Corporal Leigh Preston, of the Household Cavalry Regiment, was leading the event. He said: ‘It’s absolutely marvellous being here in Portsmouth, I couldn’t think of a better place to take part in this celebration than in the shadow of HMS Victory, arguably the most famous battleship globally and something that’s at the heart of many an English person.’

The Royal Armoured Corps was formed on April 4, 1939, just months before the outbreak of the Second World War.

It is the youngest corps in the British Army, made up of 10 regular and four reserve regiments – all of which are descended from the famous cavalry regiments who rode into battle on horseback, and the Royal Tank Regiment, which manned the first tanks in the First World War.

SCpl Preston said the corps had gone through plenty of changes since it was formed.

‘It’s a lot smaller now than it was 80 years ago because of the systematic defence cuts of the corps,’ he said.

‘However, it’s at the forefront of modern battlefield technology.’

And the change is continuing, with new vehicles soon to be delivered to the fighting force.

The Household Cavalry Regiment, along with the King’s Royal Hussars, will be among the first regiments to receive the new, state-of-the-art Ajax reconnaissance vehicle.

‘The new Ajax strike and surveillance vehicle will be the most technologically advanced vehicle on the battlefield,’ said SCpl Preston.

‘The difference between it and what we currently operate is like the difference between a Sopwith Camel bi-plane and space shuttle. They really are polar opposites.’

The Ajax is due to be delivered to the regiment later this year, with training expected to start in earnest later next year.