Soldiers' final farewell as Thorney Island unit is broken up

SOLDIERS paraded at a military base to '˜mark the end of an era' as their unit was wrapped up after four years.

Saturday, 23rd June 2018, 6:00 am
Soldiers from 42 Air Defence Support Battery Royal Artillery at Baker Barracks on Thorney Island during their decentralisation parade marking the break-up of their unit. PHOTO: Tom Cotterill

Heads were high as troops marked the final day of 42 Air Defence Support Battery Royal Artillery at Baker Barracks on Thorney Island.

Since 2014, the troops of 42 battery have been the ‘central spine’ of logistic support for 12 Regiment Royal Artillery and 16 Regiment Royal Artillery – both stationed on Thorney.

It was a move made as part of the Army 2020 shake-up, which looked to streamline the military.

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However, top brass felt this change, although good on paper, made things more difficult when regiments were deployed and took the decision to break up the unit of 180 soldiers.

Chiefs say the move to ‘decentralise’ 42 ‘Alem Hamza’ battery, will help both regiments become more effective on operations, having dedicated logistics already attatched to them.

Colonel Giles Malec was there when the unit was set up and gave the salute to mark its end. He added: ‘Nobody is being made redundant, it’s just the organisation is being split up.’

The majority of the men and women will rejoin both 12 and 16 regiment, with a small number taking up posting elsewhere in the country.

The support unit provided everything from pay, quartermasters and engineers to medics and the padre.

Lieutenant Colonel Ian Coulson is the commanding officer of 42 Bty and was proud of his soldiers’ on parade. He said: ‘Today was the end of an era. We had to mark this occasion with something spectacular.’

Lance Bombardier Hollie Jenkinson, 31, was sad to see the unit split up after being part of it for four years. She said: ‘It is emotional. I got my first promotion here from Gunner to Lance Bombardier. This battery has helped me developer as a junior non-commissioned officer. I’ll miss it.’

Lance Corporal Harshal Singh, 31, added: ‘This will make life easier for us but I really enjoyed being part of the battery.’