CO: Lt Col S L Humphris MBE

2IC: Maj T J Miller

Adjt: Capt C W Lunn MC/ Capt T Flannagan

Ops Offr: Capt C Brindley

IO: Capt R K Merchant

RSM: WO1 A Baird


By Lt Col Sam Humphris

With the Training Year now completed, the Battalion can look back on an incredibly busy year with enormous pride.  Our officers and soldiers have achieved magnificent things.  In many ways the experience of Cyprus meant that the Battalion started the climb up the year’s mountains from a valley, rather than a plain (although we have spent a huge amount of time on Salisbury’s thus far in 2016!).  Despite that, the peaks we have climbed have been achieved in significant style: whether one considers the accelerated conversion to Light Mechanised Infantry, with its breadth of vehicles, or the performances on the two major Battlegroup test exercises – as a conventional British warfighting Battlegroup and as the larger multinational European Union Battlegroup.  Each have been fantastic achievements.  We are now at double-hatted readiness as the VANGUARD Light Mechanised Battlegroup and as the European Union Battlegroup.  We assumed the latter role on 1 July 2016 – the week after the BREXIT vote – but the readiness is still very tangible and it will mean that we roll through that, standby  over Christmas (where we will be at triple-hatted readiness) straight into mission specific training for our Afghanistan deployment next year.  The pace is unlikely to rescind but we have banked all the major muscle movements and we are now brimming with confidence going forward.  The Battalion has been described to me as the best trained in the British Army and we will need to make sure that we keep banking the dividends from that investment through to the end of the year.

The European Union Battlegroup LIVEX – the precursor event to assuming the role – was undertaken in the privileged position of not only having our normal relationships with 4 Field Squadron 21 Engineers and 88 (Arracan) Battery, but also new ones with a Lithuanian Rifle Company Group, a Latvian Force Protection Company, a Finnish Recce Group, Swedish Weapon Locating Radar and Capt Kev O’Reilly, our Irish Defence Force, Plans Officer.  Kev captures the LIVEX experience in later pages but we felt enormously honoured to have the really expert officers and soldiers from those countries working with us and, with a combined total of 364 vehicles, we felt a potent beast when we were being exercised.

Around the training events we have had many other successes – hot off the press is the Battalion’s award of the Army’s Equipment Care prize – for the second year running.  It is a celebration of some incredible work across the Battalion, but especially in the Quartermaster’s Department, Light Aid Detachment and Mobility Platoon.  We went through both Battlegroup exercises with vehicle availability around the 95% mark and the prize is rich reward for those efforts as well as the Combined Assurance Week successes.  In the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Maj Mark Clough was awarded a 4-Star Commendation for Op SHADER; Capt Steve Tickle a 3-Star Commendation for leading the conversion; and RSM Baird (as a RQMS) and Sgt Wood were both awarded 2-Star Commendations for their efforts over the Unit Move.  The Battalion also received the York and District medal for the sterling flood relief work over Christmas leave.

On the sports pitches I am delighted to say that we have won a variety of rugby plates as well as being promoted to the Premiership.  The 7s team got to the final of the Las Vegas 7s; the XVs team won the Army Championship Plate Final and repeated that success in the Rugby League 9s.  There has been some fantastic cricket played at the beautiful Richmondshire Cricket Club and we have thrown ourselves into the vibrant UK (North) sports scene: winning the athletics competition, securing second in the fencing and third in the cross-country.  You will also read of some excellent adventure training: the most high-profile of which is probably Corunna Company’s ‘Grand Tour of the North’: a new route, of their invention, which linked all the parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty in the north.  It took them 17 days to ascend the 15,107m and to cover the 512 miles that that entailed and they finished with a high profile arrival at Scarborough Castle.

All of these successes are down to the quality of our people and their incredible commitment.  Investing in them and growing them has been our goal over the last year.  We have been blessed to be able to use our purchase of ‘Yorkshire in Yorkshire’ to federate some of the County to help us in that.  We have had guest speakers to the Messes in the shape of Stuart Lancaster, Alan Hinkes, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, Sir Gary Verity and Adam Wurr, with many more planned this autumn.  Some of our people have been on Defence Engagement tasks – you will read about Capt Adam Hugill’s experience working in the British Embassy in Cairo and two other young officers will fulfil similar roles in Tunisia and Morocco later in the year.  The breadth of opportunity is magnificent and if we are able to keep that investment up over the next year, we will be in a superb place when we deploy to Afghanistan in a year’s time.