As we approach Christmas stand down there is much to update you on. We continue to hold readiness to support national priorities in the challenging winter months ahead. And yet have been able to return to a higher level of activity. Stringent Force Health Protection measures are now normal; for example, virtual conferences and socially distanced physical training, once an oddity, are now standard practice.
Within this context we are doing all we can to maintain readiness as an Armoured Cavalry Regiment. We recommenced training carefully and deliberately, with A and B Sqns deploying crews to Stanford, Norfolk, supporting the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst’s final exercise. We were delighted to be able to run Ex OMDURMAN SHIELD, our Troop Test and Regimental reconnaissance competition later in the Summer. Compressed into a long day it challenged us all to deliver and take part in it, not least 4th Troop A Sqn the worthy winners.
We have seen training in Belize – a first for RL. As I write, soldiers from a composite Platoon of A and B Sqn have just returned from a month-long adventure. After an eventful deployment, the Platoon touched down in Belize alongside friends from the RDG and 4 SCOTS only to find a hurricane in full force. This led to a delay in exercising, but they were able to contribute to the local disaster response, demonstrating their adaptability and utility for a range of non-traditional tasks.
In the last month we have returned for mounted sqn-level and Battlegroup Headquarters training on Salisbury Plain, including taking part in Ex CERBERUS. This was the largest Command Post exercise the Division has undertaken in recent years and our relatively new team performed strongly, demonstrating our continued ability in our core role. More importantly Live Firing has recommenced – a difficult skill to practice whilst working from home. The Gunnery Staff have been busy training new gunners and preparing more experienced crews. Three weeks of firing in Castlemartin will be completed before Christmas leave, with a focus on translating technical into tactical gunnery: operating as sections and troops and building confidence in our more junior commanders.
Our recruiting and retention figures are unsurprisingly strong. We have more Lancers in Catterick now than for many years, due to both a massive influx on new recruits (and more to arrive shortly) and a high number of rejoiners and transferees in from other Regiments. Importantly, the Regiment is fit: indeed, we remain the most deployable Regiment in the Division. We are doing everything we can to develop our people. The last month has seen our most recent Potential Non Commissioned Officer cadre which saw 30 young Lancers put through their paces over three testing weeks in Otterburn. The highlight for many was a lecture from the Army Serjeant Major, WO1 Paton, and some words of encouragement from the England Rugby Coach Eddie Jones.
When possible, we have enjoyed showing just how good our people have been. We were glad to welcome our new Commander, Brigadier Sam Humphris MBE to present a range of commendations as well as the OMDURMAN SHIELD to the winning Tp. We were also pleased to welcome home Colonel Marcus Mudd CBE DSO, who presented the latest batch of well-deserved Long Service and Good Conduct medals. We were thrilled to have the Duchess of Cornwall join us, at least virtually, for Tank Tea which continues at full strength, allowing friends and families, Lancers and Veterans time to engage. Finally, we enjoyed the first Webinar, led by the Colonel of the Regiment, to have our chance to update the Lancer community on the Regiment and its future.
I have been impressed with the Lancer spirit to support various great causes through dispersal and beyond. It was great to see the veteran Motorcyclists taking on Lands End to John O’Groats, led by Bernie Winters; Jonny Holloway’s cycle ride, the AGC (SPS) Detachment supporting Chris Brannigan (the Barefoot Soldier) and Cpl Stone running every day of October to support ABF. We were able to pause training on Salisbury Plain on Remembrance Sunday, and to visit the resting places of some of our fallen comrades.