Monthly Archives: April 2016

HMS King Alfred’s Master and Commander retires to sail the seas

CO's Supersession 12 April 2016 Close up

Following a successful Royal Naval Reserve career, spanning over 30 years, Commander Anthony Stickland, the Commanding Officer of Portsmouth’s HMS King Alfred Headquarters, is retiring from the Service following a ceremonial handover ceremony to Commander Chris Webb.

The popular Commander was cheered by fellow reservists and shook hands with work colleagues who turned out to line his route to the quayside where he departed in style in the Queen’s Harbourmaster’s pilot boat, heading out under a golden sunset into Portsmouth harbour for a final sail wearing the uniform of the Naval Service.

Nevertheless, Cdr Stickland is looking forward to having more time to sail for pure relaxation in his own sailing yacht. Before he departed, Cdr Stickland was presented with a number of personal gifts and addressed the Ship’s Company of officers, sailors and permanent staff thanking them for their friendship, support and hard work during his career in the RNR. Cdr Stickland urged them to continue to deliver outstanding results, to complete their various naval training and to stand ready to support the Royal Navy and Defence’s operational effect. Earlier Cdr Stickland reflected on his Service under the White Ensign and said:

“I am going to miss the RNR – the camaraderie, the honour of being part of the Royal Navy, serving Her Majesty the Queen and helping my fellow reservists develop their careers. But I am equally looking forward to reacquainting myself with my own small boat; I love being afloat. Having completed several ocean passages under sail, I am now looking forward to exploring new places. There are still plenty of opportunities to discover around the English Channel.”

Following his departure, Flag Officer of the Maritime Reserves, Rear Admiral Simon Williams

paid tribute to Cdr Stickland’s service:  He said: “Under his inspirational leadership at HMS King Alfred and during his long Maritime Reserve Forces career, Commander Anthony Stickland has repeatedly delivered top-class results through the close attention to the needs, aspirations and interests of those in his team, coupled with a strong, loyal commitment to the Naval Service.

“HMS King Alfred has repeatedly met and exceeded Government targets to grow and train the Naval Reserve significantly over the past three years in the South region. The Unit’s high standards are evident through their on-going success and I have personally presented a number of awards marking the achievement of its people.  Their specialist maritime and leadership skills have been developed and mentored with exceptional care.

Cdr Anthony leaves the Royal Naval Reserve today in significantly better shape and I thank him personally for his consistent dedication, while also running his own civilian company, and for the energy and motivation he has inspired in his personnel at HMS King Alfred. I wish him every success going forward in his civilian career and trust that he will put his newly acquired leisure time to equally valuable use. He leaves with my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to him for his exemplary leadership and Service to the Nation.”

Cdr Stickland joined the Royal Naval Reserve back in 1985 at HMS Wessex, based in Southampton before the amalgamation of the three South Coast Units into one at HMS King Alfred in Portsmouth in 1994. In those days the Mine Warfare branch of the Naval Reserve conducted mine clearing operations on Mine Countermeasures vessels, primarily HMS Itchen and other River class vessels. Highlights of his early career included navigating HMS Itchen during large Cold War NATO Exercises and conducting fishery patrols and conducting precise navigation drills in HMS Alderney and other vessels as the Officer of the Watch.

Later in his RNR career, Cdr Anthony’s organisational and leadership abilities shone as he undertook the complex management of several major ceremonial events for the RNR Unit in a  four-year post as the First Lieutenant of the RNR Unit. During this time he undertook Parade Commander Duties for the Ceremonial Divisions, inspected by the then Commander in Chief of the Fleet and organised the very successful Freedom of the City of Portsmouth Marching Parade and ceremony for HMS King Alfred.

Cdr Stickland’s meticulous approach to organisational detail supported major NATO exercises as a Watchkeeper in the Amphibious Warfare role on board capital vessels such as HMS Ocean, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark launching simultaneous surface and aviation assaults ashore.

Appointed Commanding Officer in 2013, Commander Stickland skilfully drove forward HMS King Alfred’s recruiting and public engagement activities in a period of unparalleled growth under the Future Reserves 2020 Government initiative.  Doubling the size of the unit under his Command he celebrated the success achieved by members of the Unit, including two reservists awarded the Captain’s Prize following their RNR confirmation course at HMS Raleigh and three reservists presented with Lord-Lieutenant awards for high achievement. Amongst many initiatives, he introduced were better opportunities for reservists to learn how to sail dinghies in the summer months and sourcing field training at Jersey Camp on the Isle of Wight and strongly encouraging and developing the social life of the Unit.

It is a source of immense pride that, in three years, under Cdr Stickland’s command, HMS King Alfred now boasts the largest trained strength of loyal and committed reservists amongst all the RNR units in the UK and his reservists continue to aspire to achieve great things with the firm support of regional community leaders, Reservist employers, the South East Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association and the Royal Navy.

While he has successfully pursued a Reserve Forces career, Cdr Stickland has also been able to successfully manage his own civilian company as the Director of an Electronics Company in the New Forest to which he will return, following his departure from Portsmouth.

As Cdr Stickland retires, he can be justifiably proud of his record of achievements during a long and loyal career.

Exercise Brass Coach 2016

EXERCISE BRASS COACH 2016 – Written by Cdt Rosi Nicholson

24 cadets. 12 adults. 4 (sort of 5) different weapon systems. 5 different ranges. 10,000 rounds. 7 days.


Starting the week off at Bicester (Oxon ACF HQ) meant that we had a flurry of brand-new-basics desperately trying to see what senior cadets could do, watching how to march properly and peering through people just to get a glimpse of the different weapons systems. Whilst at Bicester, we focussed on WHTs (Weapons Handling Tests), lessons and the No. 8 rifle. After successfully passing our WHTs (not all first time..!) we progressed through to applied learning on the LSW (Light Support Weapon). This was the first time that some of us had held the LSW and you can bet we were excited!

At Bicester we also covered the Marksmanship Principles, a basic foundation of knowledge for anybody trying to shoot; when we got out on the ranges we learnt how to apply these in order to get the best shot. We used the 15 metre indoor tube range to practice our groupings (how close the shots were) for the No. 8 rifle and then continued to the indoor 25 metre range to test out application of shot. We also carried out an LSW shoot on the 25 m range outside, this was an ‘Introduction to the LSW’ shoot and an opportunity (for those of us who hadn’t already) to pass our WHTs on this weapon.

After a final dinner at Bicester we set out to Longmoor Camp. The journey to Longmoor took two and a half hours, thankfully there was not much traffic! When we arrived we sorted all the weapons and ammo into their selected areas in the armoury and then continued to the billets. The male billets were almost full, they managed to fill more than two rooms; however the female billets were a different matter…with only five of us there was plenty of space. This resulted in us having no conflict over showers and numerous itchy-scratchy’s (blankets) to keep us warm during the night! The accommodation was comfortable but we did notice a strange noise on the first night…sounded a bit like an inconsistent waterfall! Too tired to go and investigate we waited until the next morning, only to discover that it was the urinals flushing every ten minutes…whoever would have guessed…

The following morning was a little foggy and a tiny bit soggy, we set off after breakfast to the armoury to pick up the GP rifles. Then we travelled to the GP ranges and were all issued brand new cleaning kits, I’ve never seen cadets so excited about something involving cleaning! On the ranges we were able to apply the coaching methods that we had been taught and practice shooting with GPs, we were aiming for small groupings and the electronic targets made this easy to monitor from a distance. We had one rather entertaining moment when LCpl Haywood decided to launch himself into one of the shooting trenches (quite by accident) and disappear from view, only to return with a painful wrist…not a happy trip!

We were able to start with some LSW shooting on Tuesday, at Longmoor. Throughout the day we progressed from 100 to 400 m on the electronic converted gallery range and everyone had a blast ~ despite the wet, chilly weather. Despite the cold we managed to keep warm by moving swiftly between different distances on the range. We also found out how to adjust the sights to counteract the wind factor.  In the evening we started learning about the CTR (cadet target rifle), readying ourselves for the WHTs to following morning.

The next morning we started by finishing off our CTR lessons and then progressing onto our WHTs. We also carried out a 25 m shoot for the CTR to practice our groupings. This was followed by more practical lessons on the CTR, for this we were placed into groups of three, organised by similar height (useful for adjusting the rifle) and I came to the conclusion that I was the shortest in the cadre.

The next day we were shooting with the CTR at distances from 100 m up to 300 m. We had some people coaching and the rest were butt markers…not quite cool as it sounds! They had one of the hardest jobs, having to pull down the targets whenever they got shot and use markers to direct the coach as to where the shot had gone so that the sights could be adjusted appropriately…definitely a good test of teamwork. This was then followed by our mess dinner at Bisley, we arrived and got changed in one building before heading out to the building we would eat in. As we formed up outside the building we realised that it didn’t feel quite right in suits and dresses! The dinner was incredible and awards were given out, congratulations to LCpl Kate Harris on receiving Top Student, and SMI Bennett on receiving Best Instructor. After a lovely dinner we headed back to Longmoor Camp for our last night.


On the final morning we packed up the billets and spent the majority of the day cleaning weapons, something we may need to perfect! We also had the opportunity to have a go on the DCCT, something some of the cadets hadn’t experienced before – a good experience! After lunch and a beautiful rendition of some Les Mis songs by SSI Halsall, we got in the minibuses and set off back to Bicester.

In summary, there was occasional sun, accompanied by lots of wind and rain. The lessons we had were practical and interesting and will be really valuable in the future (and the instructors were all incredible – thank you again!).

For me it was lovely to spend a week with cadets from all four companies, as well as 3 cadets from another battalion. I made a lot of friends and I am looking forward to Annual Camp. I am very grateful that I got the opportunity to go on this week and I have definitely improved my shooting and coaching skills.

Thank you to the shooting team!


Cdt Rosi Nicholson

North Oxfordshire Detachment

Calais Company

HMS King Alfred Open Day Part.2

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Trained Chef and Royal Naval Reservist who has used his Reserve training as a stepping stone to join the Royal Navy as a Regular

Able Seaman Chris Brown from Purbrook in Portsmouth works as a Chef in a local Care Home.  Chris has been in the Reserves for 14 months and knew he wanted to join the Royal Navy but decided to join the Reserves to get a head start and make sure it was the right career move for him.  Chris said, “I am also making a complete change and am hoping to train as a weapons engineer, but I am sure my Chef trade will still come in handy somewhere!”

Chris is a member of HMS King Alfred and was on hand to talk to potential recruits who were invited along to HMS King Alfred at Whale Island, to attend one of the Royal Navy’s ‘RNR Live’ recruiting events.

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A member of the Recruit Training Team at HMS King Alfred and ex Regular Royal Navy Officer

Lieutenant Amie Jackson who lives in Southampton is an ex Regular Royal Naval Warfare Officer who serviced in the UK and around the world for 9 Years.

She now works for Carnival UK, who operate P&O and Cunard Liners as well as many others.  Amie is a Nautical Superintendent with Carnival and is in charge of the day to day operational side of the cruise industry.

After leaving the Regular Royal Navy, Lieutenant Jackson joined the Reserves and is now a member of HMS King Alfred based at Whale Island.  Amie was one of the Officers running the RN Live event at HMS King Alfred during the weekend of 23/24 April, as well as being on hand to chat to the visitors, she was also helping to oversee the first training weekend for a new group of probationary Reservists who have been in the recruiting pipeline for 3 months. This was their first official training day after having been attested, and their first introduction to Drill!


Visitor to the RN Live event held at the weekend at HMS King Alfred, Whale Island in Portsmouth, Jonathan Gregory who lives in Southsea. Jonathan is a trainee health physicist at Alverstoke.

Jonathan joined a group of interested potential recruits at HMS King Alfred and enjoyed the demonstration by Lieutenant Commander Steve Window, Diving Officer, a member of the Royal Naval Reserve Diving Branch who works as a Lecturer at Warsash Maritime Academy.

HMS King Alfred Open Day Part.1

On Saturday the 24 April, members of the public from Portsmouth and the surrounding areas were invited to spend the day finding out what life could be like to be a member of the Royal Naval Reserves.

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Rope Work – Training to tie knots and throw heavy lines which attach to heavier ‘Hawser’ Lines when on board the ship

Members of HMS King Alfred were on hand to talk to potential recruits who were invited along to HMS King Alfred at Whale Island, to attend one of the Royal Navy’s ‘RNR Live’ recruiting events. These events have been organised country wide as part of a Royal Navy national recruitment drive – LIVE LIFE WITHOUT LIMITS.


Able Seaman Steve Court who lives in Ringwood Hampshire joined the Royal Naval Reserve in 2014, and having completed his Phase 1 Royal Naval Reserve Training he is now in the process of taking part in his Phase 11 Trade Training.  Steve is joining the Warfare Branch of the Royal Navy where he will specialise in Navigation, Gunnery, and Seamanship skills, as well as many other disciplines.  Steve said, “I joined in 2014 and really enjoy the challenge and am looking forward the next part of my training.”


Able Seaman Beth Piper from Gosport is still a student studying physical education and sports coaching at Chichester University. Beth who is a local girl from Gosport went to Bay House School and has been with the Royal Naval Reserve for 3 years.
Beth is a member of HMS King Alfred and was on hand to talk to potential recruits who were invited along to HMS King Alfred at Whale Island, to attend one of the Royal Navy’s ‘RNR Live’ recruiting events.

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Senior Housing Officer for Chichester University and Royal Navy Reservist. “I love all the new experiences that being in the Royal Navy Reserves offers.”

Able Seaman Joe Ayres who lives in Chichester has been in the Royal Naval Reserve for 14 Months and passed out from his Phase 1 training in January. Joe is a member of HMS King Alfred and was on hand to talk to potential recruits who were invited along to HMS King Alfred at Whale Island, to attend one of the Royal Navy’s ‘RNR Live’ recruiting events.


7 Rifles live firing Battalion Weekend Pt.3

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Rifleman Paul Ryan from Abingdon in Oxfordshire is a member of A Company 7th Battalion The RIFLES, he is currently serving full time with the Regimental Recruiting Team in Abingdon and is hoping to join the Regular Army as a Rifleman in September.  Paul who is a local lad from Abingdon went to Farringdon County College and has served 18 months as a Reservist.  Paul said, “I am currently waiting for the main board selection this month and if all goes well I hope to start my full time training in September.  Rifleman Ryan was taking part in the Battalion Live Firing Exercise held at Lydd Army Ranges near Hyth in Kent over the weekend 16/17 April 2016.

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Captain Paul Franklin, who lives in Milton Keynes has just been promoted to Captain and taken up the post of Second in Command at Abingdon.  Paul who has been a member of 7RIFLES for 8 years is a veteran of Afghanistan where he served on Operation Herrick 18.  A member of A Company Team 2, his team were runners up just missing the Champion Team prize by a whisker.

He said, “This weekend has been a real tester for us all and a good build up to our next live firing weekend which will be in the Brecon Beacons.”


A Company 7th Battalion the RIFLES are based at the Army Reserve Centre, in Abingdon Oxfordshire.

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7 Rifles live firing Battalion Weekend Pt.2

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Taking part in the weekend live firing Battalion training exercise held at Lydd Army Ranges, near Hythe, Kent.

Major Erik Broderstad, Company Director from Headquarter Company based at Brock Barracks in Reading who has been a Reservist for over 30 years.

Rifleman James Hygate sales manager from Basingstoke, who has been in the Reserves for just a year;  Rifleman Andy Ferguson who lives in Mortimer Reading, is an IT software developer in the finance industry and lives in Basingstoke, and Officer Commanding Headquarter Company Major Paul Smyth, Marketing and PR executive  who works for M&C Saatchi in Soho and lives in Henley on Thames.  The HQ Team were runners up in the ‘China Dragon Cup’ taking part in the Defence Match which involved firing from the Sangar protection area and firing at moving targets from different levels.

Major Smyth said, “The team were great and I am really proud of their achievement.”

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Lance Corporal David O’Keeffe from Twyford has been in the Army Reserves for 5 years.  He is a member of Headquarter Company 7th Battalion The RIFLES which is based at Brock Barracks in Reading.  David said, “My role is section second in command of a Rifle Platoon at Brock Barracks, and being in the Reserves is a different type of experience from my full time job which as a business development director for an asset management fund, is pretty stressful and full on so I find that I can switch off, and enjoy a different type of stress.”

David was taking part in the Battalion Live Firing Exercise held at Lydd Army Ranges near Hyth in Kent over the weekend 16/17 April 2016.

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Lance Corporal Alex Oates who lives on the Botley Road in Oxford is a PHD Student at Oxford university studying history.

Alex who is a veteran of Afghanistan served with the Regulars in 2009 in Helmand Province.  He said, “It has been a great weekend, really full on and the team have been great, I am really proud to have won the Championship shot.”

Alex was taking part in the Battalion Live Firing Exercise held at Lydd Army Ranges near Hyth in Kent over the weekend 16/17 April 2016.

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7 Rifles live firing Battalion Weekend

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The Urban Contact March – One of the weekend Live Firing Exercises held at Lydd Army Ranges during the weekend of the 16/17 April 2016.

Standing or kneeling and firing at a target.  All the scores contributed to the Reservists individual Team scores.

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The Defence Match – using the Sangar and firing at different heights out onto the range.

The final live firing shoot was won by F Company Team 1, 7th Battalion the RIFLES who are based at Davies Street in the West End of London.

One of the weekends Live Firing Exercises held at Lydd Army Ranges during the weekend of the 16/17 April 2016.


Rifleman Matthew Corrigan from Warrick is a Welder and has been a member of 7th Battalion The RIFLES for 3 years; Lance Corporal Si Mitchell from Tanworth works as an outdoor pursuits instructor, working in schools he is qualified to  teach rock climbing, caving, and canoeing.  Si has been in the Reserves for 5 years and is a veteran of Afghanistan;  Lance Corporal Paul Stanton-Humphreys lives in Didcot and works for a Charity based in Oxfordshire.  Paul has been a member of A Company 7th Battalion The RIFLES for 4 years, and Rifleman Danny Mogan from Abingdon who works as a BT Openreach engineer, he has been in the Reserves for 3 years.  The Team from Abingdon were presented with the ‘China Dragon Cup’ for winning the Defence Match firing competition – firing from the Sangar at moving targets and different heights.

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