Parade celebrates Airborne Sappers’ 15th anniversary
A parade through Woodbridge today has celebrated the 15th anniversary of 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment.
The Regiment was cheered through the town as it exercised its Freedom of Woodbridge ‘with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, bands playing and Colours flying’.
Major General Chris Tickell CBE, Chief Royal Engineer and the Regiment’s founding commanding officer, and Mayor of Woodbridge Councillor David Mortimer took the salute with The Band of The Parachute Regiment setting the event to music.
23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, which has been based at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge since 2006, was formed in 2003 for the Iraq War. The airborne sappers have since deployed on three tours of Afghanistan, supported peacekeeping in the Sinai Peninsula and carried out hurricane relief in the Caribbean.
Lieutenant Colonel Simon Carvel, Commanding Officer of 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, said: “It’s a huge privilege for the Regiment to exercise the Freedom of Woodbridge and it has been a wonderful occasion to mark our fifteenth anniversary. We have a wonderful relationship with Woodbridge and draw strength from the public support received today, and every day from the local community.”
Cllr Mortimer said: “Woodbridge has a long connection with the military and we are massively proud to have the soldiers of 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment and their families as part of the town.”
After the parade, Corporal Joe Lovell was presented with a Chief of the General Staff’s Commendation for giving lifesaving first aid to the victim of a stabbing in Ipswich on the night of 7 April 2017.
Cpl Lovell, 29 from Camden, said: “I was heading back from a night out and saw a fight break out in front of me and a young man got stabbed in the neck three times. It was a stressful situation, but my training took over and I just got involved and did what I could to stop his bleeding.”
The award citation stated: “His actions undoubtedly prevented loss of life that night and were in the highest traditions of the Army.”
100 Year Anniversary of the Battle of Amiens
The 8th August 1918 at 0420hrs saw the start of the Allied 100-day offensive that would end trench warfare and subsequently WW1. It was also the first time the Allied forces used a combined arms approach to warfare by incorporating the use of infantry, artillery, tanks and air power.
In commemoration of the battle, D (Cambridgeshire) Company of 1 Royal Anglian represented the British Army by providing the Guard of Honour and parading alongside representatives from France, Canada and Australia.
The Battle of Amiens was arguably the battle that won the First World War. Between 8 – 11 August 1918, during one of the first major battles involving armoured warfare, the Allies advanced eight miles to seize the initiative on the Western Front in a major British/French/ Canadian/Australian offensive. 75,000 men, 500 tanks and nearly 2,000 planes resulted in 27,000 casualties, including 12,000 prisoners.
The initiative on the Western Front passed to the Allies, who never relinquished it. It marked the end of trench warfare, and was the beginning of the ‘Hundred Days’ of Allied victories, leading to the German capitulation on 11 November 1918.
The Duke of Cambridge, the Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson, Lord Ashton, the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter attended the commemoration at Amiens Cathedral, where Prince William and Theresa May gave readings at the service, and laid wreaths to remember the fallen.
THE BRITISH ARMY IN AFGHANISTAN
The Taliban gave safe haven to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, which allowed terrorists to plan and carry out attacks around the world. We joined many other nations in a NATO/ISAF-led military intervention to bring Al-Qaeda’s leaders to justice, remove the Taliban from control in Afghanistan and prevent the country again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists.
WHY WE’RE THERE
The international military campaign has reduced the terrorist threat from this region and helped train a 350,000 strong Afghan National Security Force, which now has security responsibility for Afghanistan’s 30 million citizens.
The process of handing over security to Afghan forces – ‘transition’ – saw the international military’s role change from leading combat operations to training, advising and assisting. This marked a significant milestone for Afghanistan and its people.
It has also enabled UK troop numbers to reduce and combat operations to decrease. Currently there are nearly 1,000 UK troops deployed in Afghanistan.
WHAT WE’RE DOING
The UK and international partners have committed significant resources in Afghanistan to help rebuild and stabilise the country.
Since the drawdown of force elements, British troops are now stationed in Kabul where they take the lead within the Kabul Security Force, a 7 nation organisation which provides vital force protection for UK and coalition advisors who are working with our Afghan partners to increase the capabilities and capacity across the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.
Alongside military activities, the UK has supported a wide range of projects to improve education, healthcare, economic growth and local governance, in Helmand and across the country.
The UK also provides mentors who work in a training and advisory role within the Afghan National Army Officers’ Academy and Infantry Branch School among other Afghan institutions.
These have been made possible by improved security provided by international troops and the Afghan National Security Forces.