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Mercians get to work in


the Falklands After arriving in the Falklands over the New Year 2008/9, 1 Platoon of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshires) have wasted no time getting their boots dirty in their rôle as Falkland Islands Roulement Infantry Company (FIRIC).


The Platoon has begun patrolling activities in the Falklands and, with the presence of RFA Largs Bay and various air assets, should be able to provide first class joint Service training. Providing the RIC for the next four months, Major Rob Prentice, OC A Company, said: “The opportunity to come to the Falklands is a fantastic one, not only to prove ourselves on another operation, but also because of the training possibilities. The men are all looking forward to undertaking our patrolling activities and having the opportunity to meet some of the Islanders whom we have heard are very friendly and welcoming.” RIC Operations Officer, Captain Ben Smyth, said: “A Company was last in the Falklands in 2001 and many of our soldiers have extremely fond memories of the tasks and patrols. They remember particularly being made very welcome by the Islanders. We are all looking forward to getting on with our job here and we will live up to our motto, Stand Firm, Strike Hard!”


Different sections are patrolling this week in Dunnose Head, Carcass, Fitzroy and


Salvador and, while they have varied mission objectives, a common theme is to meet camp residents and help out where possible. 3 Section have deployed to Salvador settlement under the command of Cpl Paul Pryce who patrolled there before when he completed a four-month tour with 1 CHESHIRE in 2001. 3 Section were greeted by Nick Pitaluga when they landed by helicopter. Nick is a fifth generation Falklander. He calls himself a stockman but he is clearly a master of many trades as he tackles the varied jobs around Salvador settlement with his wife Annie. Nick has spent time studying in New Zealand and has also worked in the farming industry in UK. He said: “There is pretty much always something to be done. We have long days here, primarily with the stock work, but we also try and get the other little bits and pieces of maintenance done in between runs of shearing. We realise that it is not easy to see all the RICs all the time, but they are very welcome here. Help is always appreciated and it is especially good to meet someone who has been here before. Everybody recognises what the Forces are here for and I would be surprised if anyone in camp is not pleased to see them. Speaking as a farmer, any negative incidents are certainly in the minority.” The RIC helped Nick with a few jobs as soon as they arrived, particularly the heavy work of loading fencing onto a trailer ready for replacement fencing work to begin. Nick estimated that they loaded about three and a half miles (5.6km) of fence, or about two tonnes.


Private Matthew Hulme felt very much at home as he used to farm in Buxton, in Derbyshire. He said: “I came straight from farming work when I joined the Army in September 2006. In the UK, I worked on a hill farm. It was fairly remote and hilly, a bit like this. It was beef and cattle work mostly, with about 60 cows and 400 sheep on about 100 acres [40 hectares]. It is even


more remote here than it was in Derbyshire and I think in some ways the lifestyle is harder. The farmers have the ground and the weather conditions against them for a start.” Cpl Paul Pryce kept a close watch while the work was going on. He explained that all the patrol are from Cheshire, except the signaller who comes from Merseyside: “This is a special skills Section of trained Assault Pioneers. They have done a six-week course where they are taught demolitions, explosive entry, barbed wire skills, trench digging and heavy infantry skills. We have got qualifications in water purification and waste removal as well as concreting and bricklaying so we are really multi-skilled. We are like engineers with an infantry cap badge.” Cpl Pryce is looking forward to his second tour in the Falklands and said that he was glad for the opportunity to come back: “I am looking forward to doing the Close Air Support training with the F3s [Tornado aircraft] but also working around the settlement. I hope we are able to use some of our special skills to help Nick.”


This article was published on the MOD website in January 2009.


1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshires) is the new Falkland Islands Roulement Infantry Company


Private Ellerton on patrol


Soldiers of the 1st Battalion help with loading fence posts in the Salvador settlement


14 October 2009


The Mercian Eagle


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