Royal Artillery reservists from Hilsea smash goals as they 2,300 miles in 30 hours for charities

RESERVIST soldiers from the Royal Artillery smashed all their targets as they pushed their bodies to breaking point during a gruelling charity fundraiser.

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 8:51 am
Updated Thursday, 1st October 2020, 9:54 am

A team of 10 soldiers from 295 Battery, Royal Artillery, had set themselves an ambitious goal of cycling 1,600 miles between them in 36 hours in a bid to raise £1,000 for charity.

But the determined group of servicemen destroyed both targets with ease, notching up a stunning 2,302.5 miles in just 30 hours – raising about £1,800 in the process.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Lance Bombardier Kevin Rimington pictured alongside reservists from the Royal Artillery during a 1,600-mile static cycle ride over 36 hours raising money for two military charities, at the Army Reserve Centre, Hilsea Picture: Chris Moorhouse (260920-04)

Major Colin McQuillan, 295 Battery’s commander, was among those taking part during the event, having recently recovered from a collapsed lung.

He said: ‘I’m immensely proud of everyone. Their stamina has really shone through.’

Read More

Read More
Worker tells jury petrol-soaked psychologist ran into his arms at pub car park

The epic challenge, staged at 295’s HQ in Peronne Road, Hilsea, was in memory of the men from 78th Light Anti-Aircraft (LAA) Battery, 35 Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Clockwise from front left, Lance Bombardier Kevin Rimington, Staff Sergeant Steven Adjei, Sergeant Danny Jefferys and Staff Sergeant Rob Hewitt. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (260920-01)

The Second World War unit, made up of territorial soldiers similar to those in 295, were captured by the Japanese after having flown out from their base in Gosport to Singapore in 1942.

The 400-strong battery was among almost 2,500 Allied prisoners of war from fallen Singapore to be transferred by the Japanese to Sandakan, in northern Borneo, to build an airfield.

Over the years, prisoners were forced to march hundreds of miles through the dense jungle only to arrive at camps with few provisions.

Many were beaten, starved, and left ravaged by disease. Of the 2,434 British and Australian soldiers who were either living at the camps or sent out on the death marches, only six survived.

Lance Bombardier Kevin Rimington, of Southsea, was among those helping to organise the cycle ride, with teams of soldiers tackling hour-long stints.

The 52-year-old fitness fanatic, who grew up in Sandakan, said: ‘The effort involved, particularly for those who are not regular cyclists, was colossal.

‘Our initial target had been set to take into account those who would struggle to maintain the sorts of speeds hardened cyclists would aim for.

‘In typical army style, everyone rose to the challenge and pushed far harder than was ever envisaged.’

Sergeant Danny Jefferys, a regular soldier from 12th Regiment Royal Artillery on Thorney Island but who is part of 295’s permanent staff, tackled a whopping eight-hour stint on the static bike.

The 31-year-old: ‘Riding on static bikes like this is just relentless. You don’t get any chance to catch your breath. If you’re not turning the pedals, you’re not increasing your mileage.’

Sgt Jefferys added the memory of 78th LAA had pushed all the team from Hilsea to smash their targets.

‘What happened to them was awful, what more can you say,’ he said. ‘What can you do apart from this? We will never put the wrongs right but at least this can help someone.’

The money raised will be split between the Royal Artillery Charitable Fund and the Burma Star Memorial Fund.

295 Battery is an air defence unit. Reservists are trained to operate the latest close air support weapon, the high velocity missile.

To find out how to join 295, see 295 Battery’s Facebook page, call 02392 675898 or email [email protected]

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

Thank you for reading this story. The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on our advertisers and thus our revenues.

The News is more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism.

Every subscription helps us continue providing trusted, local journalism and campaign on your behalf for our city.