Tag Archives: Hampshire

128 Field Company VRSM Medal and Clasps Awards Ceremony


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Staff Sergeant John O’Callaghan, 44, has been an army reservist for eleven years and is based with 128 Field Company in Hilsea, Portsmouth, part of 103 Battalion REME.   He was awarded his Volunteer Reserve Service Medal for ten years of committed service at a special ceremony presided over by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller.    David is a Tech storeman by trade and deployed to Iraq on OP TELIC in 2010 and on OP OLYMPIC in 2012.  David works full time at the Army Reserve Centre as the Tech Quartermaster

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WO2 Albert Johnson, 55, has been an Army Reservist for 37 years and lives in Clanfield.  He serves in Portsmouth with 128 Field Company part of 103 Battalion REME, and is a Class 1 Vehicle Mechanic by trade.  Albert works for Pall Life Sciences as a manufacturing engineer for bioreactors and chromatography machines for making medicines and juggles this with his reserve commitment.  Albert was awarded the 3rd Clasp to his Volunteer Reserve Service Medal by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller, acknowledging his incredible service and commitment.  He said “Having joined at a very young age, the service has shaped my life both as a soldier and as a civilian.  The benefits are that I’ve always had something to look forward to in my calendar year.  My confidence grew quickly as a reservist and it has given me ambition to better myself in my civilian career, as well as giving me experiences that I would never have had”.

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Sergeant Alan Greatbatch, 52, has been a member of the Army Reserve for 25 years.  He serves in Portsmouth with 128 Field Company part of 103 Battalion REME and is a Class 1 Metalsmith by trade.  Alan was awarded the 2nd Clasp to his Volunteer Reserve Service Medal by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller, acknowledging his incredible service and commitment.  Alan works at the Ministry of Defence in Abbey Wood in Bristol n the Armoured Vehicle Programmes Office as a Logistics specialist.  He said “The Army Reserve has made good use of my skills and knowledge gained as an apprentice and has given me many opportunities.  It has helped me develop my man-management skills, to become a better problem solver and to become more delivery focused”.

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Sergeant John Baverstock, 46, has been a member of the Army Reserve for 19 years and was presented with the 1st Clasp to his Volunteer Reserve Service Medal by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller, acknowledging his service and commitment.  John, who also works full time for the Army Reserve, is a Class 1 Vehicle Mechanic by trade and has spent the past three years, both in the Portsmouth Careers Office and now in the Army Reserve Centre, dealing with new recruits.  Prior to that John deployed to Iraq on OP TELIC in 2004.  He said “Being a Reservist has helped with my fitness.  I’ve gained confidence and have a great social life and life-long friends”.

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Staff Sergeant Ian Parker, 46, has been an Army Reservist since 1995.  Originally a regular army infantry soldier having served in both Northern Ireland and Cyprus, Ian joined the Army Reserve’s Royal Logistics Corps as a petroleum operative and transferred to the REME as a Tech Support Specialist and now fulfils the role of Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS) at the Peronne Road Army Reserve Centre.  A self-employed electrician, Ian was awarded the 2nd Clasp to his Volunteer Reserve Service Medal by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller, for his 21 years of service to the Army Reserve.

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Sergeant Andrew Baxter, 52, has served with the Army Reserve for 29 years. In his civilian life he is an HGV Driver with MTS Cleansing Services.  Andrew who is a recovery mechanic by trade has deployed to Iraq on OP TELIC in 2003/04 and serves with 150 Recovery Company who are now based in Croydon.  Andrew was awarded the 3rd Clasp to his Volunteer Reserve Service Medal by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller, for his long and committed service to the Army Reserve.

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Lance Corporal David Madgwick, 47, is a recovery mechanic by trade and serves with 150 Recovery Company in Croydon.  He has been a member of the Army Reserve for 15 years.  David is an HGV Driver and Crane Operator in his civilan life and deployed on two operational tours to Afghanistan in both 2008/9 and 2011/12.  He said “My experience as a Reservist has given me a more confident outlook as an individual and has given me more understanding of the world, plus more varied employment options.  I got my HGV licence and crane operator certificate through the Reserves.”  David was awarded the Volunteer Reserve Service Medal by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller, to honour his commitment and service to the Army Reserve.

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WO2 Howard Watson, 45, has been a member of the Army Reserve for twenty years.  He joined initially to learn the trade of vehicle mechanic because he was tired of garages telling him his vehicles needed extensive work and didn’t know what they were talking about.  He has since become a Class 1 Vehicle Mechanic and serves with 128 Field Company, part of 103 Battalion REME as the Company Sergeant Major.  In his civilian life, Howard is the National Sales Manager for the UK’s leading provider of occupational health software, Warwick International Computing Systems Ltd.  He said “My company is very supportive of my Reserve Service and I do not think that I would have gained the job I have with them today if it had not been for my army training and discipline.  They pay me for my annual camp commitment, and have signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant.”  Howard has deployed to Iraq on OP TELIC 2 where he ended up running the Light Aid Detachment at the “stadium” in Al Amarah.   In my time with 128 Field Company I have travelled the world and have learnt many life skills”.  He added “I am so much more confident now and am far more time efficient and with the Reserves you are part of a group of diverse individuals with a wide variety of skills”.  Howard was awarded the 2nd Clasp to his Volunteer Reserve Service Medal by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller, to honour his service and commitment to the Army Reserve.

http://www.serfca.org/Reserves/Army-Reserve/REME/128-Field-Company-REME

 

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Army Reserve Open Day


Open Day held at Blighmont Barracks, Southampton

To all those fit 18 – 43 year olds from Southampton who spent Sunday 13 October in the pouring rain, wondering what to do, well you missed a trick.

You all missed a fantastic open day with the Army Reserve, at Blighmont Barracks, Millbrook Road.

It could not have rained harder but chatting to members of 457 Battery Royal Artillery, with their new Stormer Missile launcher on display, 266 Port Regiment with their amphibious equipment, the Army Medical Services, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and the Military Police, the rain had made their day because “It’s not training if it’s not raining!” so they told us!

Obstacle course set up and ready

Obstacle course set up and ready

The hot news is that the Territorial Army will become the Army Reserve in the new year, so Southampton and Portsmouth Reserve Units stepped up their recruiting machine and came together to kick off the Autumn to  put on one of the South’s largest recruiting events seen in Southampton for some time. The Army is actively recruiting both Regulars and Reservists.

Speaking to Lance Bombardier Jodie from Thorney Island she told us, “It’s about working as a team, the Army and the Army Reserve together, it makes sense.”

A busy entrance to Blighmont

A busy entrance to Blighmont

Supporting the Regular Army with a Reserve force is nothing new, Since 2003 their have been more than 25,000 Reservists mobilisations, fighting alongside their Regular counterparts, so to find out if you like ‘training when it is raining’ – visit www.army.mod.uk

Exercise Cockney Etrangeres


Tech Task

Whilst on annual camp, 135 Geographic Squadron RE was tasked with carrying out a live technical task – to produce orienteering maps of four areas on the island of Jersey in order to practice our core GIS and Data Collection skills. This essentially involved two disciplines in three stages, Data Survey and map production using ARC GIS 10 (Geographic Information Systems).

The first stage involved the GIS team to conduct a desktop study of existing geographic data.  The field computer banks were transported from Ewell to Jersey Field Squadron HQ via MAN trucks and set up as a working Geo cell.  Using existing aerial imagery of the designated orienteering areas, the GIS team interpreted and plotted overlays on top of the imagery according to the international orienteering map standards.  Due to the fact that the imagery was five years old, features, both manmade and natural had to be verified.  Interpretation of the imagery could be incorrect and there was a requirement to go into the area to confirm and gather information.  For example, what looked like a grassy field on the imagery could now in fact be an impenetrable field classed ‘as wooded area’.

The Hon Col Dr Vanessa Lawrence being shown one of the new orienteering maps by SSM Les Hunt

The second stage commenced with the data survey team going into each of the four areas to be mapped to collect data, armed with the image maps compiled by the GIS team.  Each area was recce’d to choose two suitable base station locations which are fixed in position for the duration of the survey.  Their job is to take continual readings from satellites and between each other to make error corrections in position and then transmit these corrections to the roving GPS poles which are used to collect data.  This improves the accuracy of the positions being surveyed.  We found the perfect location for base station one, on the top of the tallest hill above a second world war bunker. Unfortunately this also meant we had to keep traipsing up and down said hill!

Base station two had to be on the other side of the area being surveyed as there were no obvious high points so we had to settle with a sand dune.  The next day we returned to commence the task, only to find that the wind had picked up, so much so that the instrumentation that we had set up on tripod legs blew straight over.  Down we went to the Land Rovers, retrieved the sandbags and shovel and weighted down the tripod legs, having used the convenient abundance of sand from the dunes all around us.  To minimise the likelihood of a passer by stealing our base station survey equipment, we hid all of the survey equipment boxes (used to transport it) within the bunker.  Base station two was assembled and we were off, capturing data.  Two hours in and the satellite signal died; the battery powering the base station antenna had died. We learned our lesson and opted for the bigger battery the next day.  On top of all this, it was raining each morning but by the time base stations were set up, the Jersey sunshine came out for us.

Cpl Carl Presswood setting up on site

Two survey teams worked in conjunction in each area, communicating by radio.  Comms were critical since requirements were updated throughout the day including location of transportation vehicles and logistical challenges; we had to transport people from camp HQ to survey area and vice versa; this used up resource and slowed up the progress of the task in hand.

Second World War bunkers and gun emplacements were a strong theme of interest throughout our data collection and acted as useful markers and interesting history lessons!

A memorable highlight was when the survey team came to the aid of a lady stranded on the beach in her car. Like good Sappers, we safely recovered her vehicle before the incoming tide swamped it.  She turned out to be the daughter of the founder of Butlins but unfortunately we weren’t offered any free accommodation for next year’s camp!

Myself and Cpl Morley were busy ‘pinging; points when to our horror, as we were approaching our base station being guarded by our sergeant we saw him, stripped to the waist, his pale white body glistening like a beacon as he took in the radiant Jersey sun.  Embarrassed by our heckling since he thought no one could see him hidden in the undergrowth, he quickly got his top back on before any more blinded sea gulls fell out of the sky.

Cpl Carl Presswood and Spr Kieran Terry

This tech task was also a training exercise and the time taken to overcome problems rapidly diminished as the team became slicker.  Once all the information was gathered in the form of GPS linked photographs and GPS data points, they were transposed onto computer and read in conjunction with the existing imagery. The time consuming task of creating the correct international orienteering standardised symbology and correctly classifying parcels of land to the ease of movement was a challenge, especially as we had very little experience of using orienteering maps previously. By day five, tensions were rising in our makeshift Geo Cell; French spellings were being scrutinised, debates on whether bunkers were bunkers or gun emplacements got technical and Naafi breaks had been cancelled. However we were kept entertained throughout by the Radio Jersey karaoke by the chefs in the kitchen next door!

Cpl OJ kept morale high in the Geo cell; as an invaluable asset to the team, he also made certain that it was easier to get into FortKnox than locating the files we were working on!

Sergeant Windle kept us motivated and encouraged us, with comments like ……. unrepeatable in print, and “get this kit set up”.

Cpl Presswood took overall command but like all good leaders, he omitted to tell us that the witness marks had not been taken and then flapped when we told him we didn’t have time to cover for him…haha, funny – we sorted him out after letting him sweat.

LCpl Walmsley did a smashing job in creating the orienteering map and then died of shame when the visiting CO pointed out that there was a spelling mistake.

This same CO caught Cpl Presswood and Sgt Windle eating lunch; the exact time when they downed tools for a brew was the exact time that he rocked up in the car park to see them ‘working’ flat out – busted.

Sgt Trepanier (American exchange) did a great job in collecting survey data on vegetation until she found that she had used the wrong base point and she had to do it all again – next time check first

We had all checked that each team had the correct kit before leaving base, and then one team promptly drove off without the booking sheets meaning that they had to write everything up after the days surveying, doh – special. All good learning points for the next time!

By the end of the five day task, we had captured over 2500 GPS points, taken over 400 photographs and successfully produced two orienteering maps to officially handover to the Combined Cadet Force and Jersey Field Squadron. The customers were happy and we had all learned a great deal.

For more information please visit : http://www.serfca.org/en-us/reservists/ta/135independentgeographicsquadronre.aspx

 

HMS King Alfred Reservists sail to victory


Just another day in the Royal Naval Reserve

Sailors from HMS King Alfred achieved success in the Royal Navy Reserve regatta held in Portsmouth harbour. Able Seaman Rachael Asquith from Gosport, with her crew Leading Seaman Liz Grady, sailed their Bosun dinghy into overall second place but won the prize for the highest placed boat sailed by ratings. Rachael beat off stiff competition during the 9 race series in conditions that varied greatly, the later races proving testing for even the most experienced crews.

Another King Alfred crew among the prize winners, AB Alex Snow, won the Novice Cup, for being the highest placed helm that had only learned to sail in the last 18 months; he was ably supported by CPO Ian Chown from HMS President.

HMS King Alfred prize winners, LS Liz Grady and AB Rachael Asquith, celebrate their success

The RNR regatta is held at the Royal Navy Sailing centre on Whale Island each year, the centre runs a fleet of sailing dinghies, teaching Naval personnel and Sea cadet and their families how to sail and handle small RIBs . Units from all over the UK took part from HMS Eaglet in Liverpool to HMS Flying Fox in Bristol. In all there were 16 boats taking part, many with experienced helms and crews, but also some novices.  For 2 of the crews, this was their first weekend ever being in a dinghy, it was “an amazing experience, great fun” one was heard to say.

With 16 boats in the fleet the starts were keenly fought. Start lines always look much longer than they are, with the wind direction constantly varying, one end of the line is almost always favoured, with the strong winds making the starts very lively, there was plenty of white water splashing about, loud shouts of “water”, “Starboard” and a fair number of bumps thrown in.

One boat got accidently “T boned”, which is when one boat crashes straight into the side of the other (ramming in all the movies), causing damage to the rubbing strake which needed to be replaced. Due to the superb skills of the Sailing centre staff; the boat was all fixed and ready to race only an hour after being pulled from the water.

Every leg and mark on the course was keenly fought for, the heavy conditions catching out even the top boats. One boat that had been in second place found itself with its mainsheet wrapped around the first windward mark, the helmsman holding a disconnected rudder, the rest of the fleet then had to navigate their way around this unusual obstacle! A few boats did capsize but in the end every boat much to the credit of the novice sailor’s went on to finish.

The wind strong as it was, produced a great weekend of sailing, there’s nothing like a testing weekend to get the blood going, but then that’s life in the Royal Naval Reserve.

For more information on the Royal Naval Reserve see: http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/Careers/Maritime-Reserves/Royal-Naval-Reserves