Portsmouth reservists itching to fight full-time regulars after a 'remarkable' year

RESERVIST soldiers from Britain’s newest infantry unit are readying themselves for battle – against their regular counterparts.

Friday, 6th September 2019, 3:46 pm
Updated Sunday, 8th September 2019, 6:38 pm
Soldiers from 4th Battalion, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment on exercise Viking Star in Denmark last year. Photo: Corporal Ben Beale

Troops from the 4th Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (4PWRR), will clash with their full-time comrades during a war game on Salisbury Plain.

It comes after a ‘remarkable’ year for the battalion, which has swelled to more than 300 soldiers and seen the first female recruits beginning their training in an historic first.

Lieutenant Colonel Ben Baker, 4PWRR’s commander, said: ‘I'm very proud of the regiment. What we’ve achieved is quite remarkable given the length of time we had.’

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The exercise, known as Wessex Storm, will take place early next year, and will involve hundreds of soldiers, including about 300 reservists.

The men and women of 4PWRR will spend two weeks acting as as a fictitious enemy alongside reservists from their sister regiment 3PWRR, and units from the Royal Anglian and Royal Yeomanry regiments.

The exercise is being seen as a key training milestone for the unit as they gear-up for future operations.

Lt Col Baker added the soldiers were itching to get stuck into their regular comrades and said: ‘We’re very much looking forward to Wessex Storm and having the opportunity to beat the regulars at their own game.

‘Reservists bring a bit of free-thinking and adaptability to the fight. I think it will feel a lot more like two different armies going head-to-head.’

The battalion – which has a company based at Cosham’s Army Reserve Centre, in Tudor Crescent – marked its second birthday this month.

Looking ahead to the next year, Lt Col Baker said he aimed to send a section of about eight soldiers to join British peacekeeping forces in Kabul, Afghanistan.

He also hoped to see the first female recruits and officers complete their training after a ban on women serving in frontline combat roles was lifted last year.

‘We’ve got them on the books and it’s fantastic,’ Lt Col Baker said. ‘None have gone on the combat infantryman’s course but that’s just a matter of time. I am confident that when they do, they’ll smash it.’

Lt Col Baker hopes to recruit a further 150 soldiers, including new officers, in 2020.