1st Battalion

1st BATTALION

Commanding Officer: Lt Col A R McKay, MBE
Senior Major: Maj E J Paintin
Adjutant: Capt M Dobson
Regimental Sergeant Major: WO1 (RSM) M Howlin

Station: Lille Barracks, Aldershot

Despite having 48 hours notice to effect for NATO and therefore supposedly being left to concentrate on readiness, spring and summer in Lille Barracks has felt as busy as ever. The third Sunday in May was a particularly warm day for Regimental Remembrance Day. As ever, there was a phenomenal turnout and a great opportunity to catch up with all of the associations. It was superb to be joined by the Colonel in his final year of solo public appearances.

The Queen’s Company, having bolstered the Welsh Guards at the start of the year, found themselves back on Salisbury Plain for the end of June and July. This time they were playing enemy for1 Royal Anglian. The brave Guardsmen, Non-Commissioned Officers and Officers of The Sovereign’s Company (The Limerian Freedom Forcesto use their correct title for this exercise) had the opportunity to employ guerrilla tactics on the NATO forces. ‘Playing enemy’ provided an opportunity to look at attacking and defending from an alternative perspective, and provided the opportunity to manoeuvre in unconventional ways. We proved adept at infiltrating enemy forces in the confusion of battle; there were lessons learned on where conventional British tactical or operational weaknesses could be exploited. The Company was also highly effective at disrupting reconnaissance on a number of occasions. Exploitation of captured Royal Anglian intelligence allowed us to ambush and destroy enemy standing patrols, giving us a heartening one-up on them.

Whilst the Queen’s Company was proving to be a thorn in the side of NATO forces at home, Battalion Headquarters, Number Two and Support Company were in Romania with our allies on Exercise Noble Jump Two. The array of uniforms and vehicles was striking. As well as the Albanian, Latvian and Dutch members of our own Battle Group, the congested training area had Romanian, American, Polish, Spanish, Norwegian, Danish and German troops moving around it for the first fortnight in June. It proved to be a fascinating and challenging exercise with the headquarters and companies building on the integration lessons learnt from Albania and Latvia in 2017. It gave battle group headquarters the opportunity to run through a number of planning cycles in the new streamlined and highly mobile headquarters, with the Carpathian Mountains providing a stunning backdrop. The companies ran some excellent independent low-level training packages. This included a great deal of aviation training with our US counterparts. The final attack of the exercise saw the battle group being inserted by Chinooks, with a squadron of Apaches in support on to targets that had been located by British and Norwegian recce.

There was a small amount of time for R&R on completion of the exercise and the distinguished visitors day. This involved a trip to Dracula’s Castle, sports matches and competitions against the other nations and a number of confused Romanian soldiers watching Number Two Company take on the rest of the Battalion and attached arms at cricket!

As soon as the Romanian contingent returned to the UK in July it was straight into preparations for GOC 1 Div's visit and Grenadier Day.  Both were huge successes with the GOC leaving impressed with how the Battalion is going about its current role and training for future taskings. As ever, Grenadier Day was fantastic and provided another occasion to catch up with many of the old and bold and show ourselves off to the local community.

Remaining on NATO readiness has not hampered the continued and numerous sporting endeavours and adventurous training. Lt Chris Wood took a large number of The Queen’s Company on a fantastic multi-activity AT trip to Cyprus in May. Back in the UK, led by the Commanding Officer, the sailing team achieved numerous successes at the Household Division and Army Regattas. In the Devizes to Westminster canoe race the Senior Major and Sergeant Major finished 11th and the Fairley brothers 39th, out of 158 boats. This was a tremendous achievement and led to both teams being called up to Army canoeing trials. At the time of writing we have just returned from Cornwall where 250 members of the battalion undertook Adventurous Training and a battlefield tour of English Civil War sites. The Bn Football team reached the semi-finals of the Army Champions League, losing 3-2 to the eventual winners at Farnborough Town’s ground in front of the rest of the Battalion.

Whilst commitment to readiness continues until 31st December, the remainder of the year will see focus start to switch towards the operational deployments of 2018. In September The Queen’s Company start their pre-deployment training for their tour to Kabul. By the final couple of months of 2017, Battalion Headquarters and Number Two Company will be shifting focus to Iraq and The Inkerman Company to South Sudan. No rest for the wicked!