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‘A’ Company FIRIC Tour Dec 08 - Feb 09


by Maj R Prentice In early November 2008, the men of A Company were all asking the same question: “When are we going?” They were referring to the imminent Falkland Islands Roulement Infantry Company (FIRIC) deployment. The reality staring the Company in the face was another Christmas Day away from home with many actually flying on Christmas Eve. Step in the Commanding Officer and the Brigade Commander: a few choice words to the movers and suddenly Christmas was saved. That, however, was not the end of the story; as the Company were due to fall out on Christmas leave, another call came through and the main body were flying again on 24th December. It was stiff upper lip time and doubtless a few choice mutterings as soldiers were driving back to Cheshire for leave. This tale still had one final twist: leave had barely started when another phone call came through to tell us that Christmas was back on and the main body would fly on 28th December. An unlucky advance party departed on 20th December and thus we started a seven week stint in the South Atlantic. Credit goes to those uncomplaining few who spent Christmas Day with the penguins. It was all made enjoyable by Capt Ben Smyth, Lt Mark Berridge and 2Lt Neil Cooke and their more unusual take on Gunfire.


Taking over from Nijmegen Company The Grenadier Guards, the men of A Company wasted no time in getting on with the job.


The Mercian Eagle


For the majority of Infantry Companies on rotation in the Falklands, the programme takes a similar format: a Platoon is stationed in camp on Quick Reaction Force (QRF), a Platoon conducts Section level patrols across the islands and a Platoon is live firing on the ranges. This was followed by two exercises, Ex Cape Bayonet and Ex Cape Petrel. 4 Platoon took over as the QRF for Mount Pleasant Complex (MPC), the main military airbase for the Falklands. 1 and 3 Platoons moved by helicopter to the legendary Onion Range Complex (ORC) to commence their live firing packages. The objective was to train up to Platoon level on a range that has a great deal to offer. Due to the vastness of Onion Range, movement was often conducted by BV206 which gained a reputation very quickly as being the only way to travel although it was not without teething problems. Whoever was


in the rear compartment had to learn very quickly to position himself in order not to be thrown around like a ping-pong ball in a tumble-dryer. Pte Skippy Tyler and Lt Wheeler found out immediately that the ground was often deceiving and what looked at first glance like an innocuous puddle could turn out to be a bog of the thickest mud.


On 1st January 2009, Sgt Carl Beesley and Sgt Satan Muir constructed two bayonet ranges and gave the soldiers a chance to ring in the New Year in a slightly unorthodox way. Few who were there will forget Pte Raul Costa’s war face. Pte Chris Brown’s unintentional Olympic standard belly flop into a puddle of mud was so good that the medic, LCpl Jon Atkinson, had to walk away in order to calm himself down. 4 Platoon took the range further – finishing up with a wash in the river. The ORC period ended a tough march


October 2009 11


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