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Suspended Animation by WO2 (CSM) Redgrift


When the Battalion was first told about the GRC, I had mixed feelings. Firstly, I was delighted that we would be fully manned in time for future operational deployments but I was also anxious as to which Company would make way for the Gurkhas. When the OC informed me that B Company would be suspended I was not happy, as you might expect, but deep down I had known that it would probably be us since our command team was the most senior in the Battalion and most of us were due to move on shortly. In reality, there were surprisingly few problems facing us once the decision had been made. There were some questions to be resolved, such as what to do with the Company’s property or with its stock of T-shirts and so on. The OC and I agreed that it would be best to get everybody together and inform them of the Company’s predicament which we were able to do during our range week. A number of the soldiers had joined the Company straight from training and remained with it for a number of years, in one case 8 years uninterrupted. In addition, all of the Platoon Sergeants and most of the Corporals had


started their careers with the Company. In spite of this, the news went down better than I had expected and we were soon able to start planning to ensure the smoothest possible transition.


The plan was to re-organise from three into two Platoons, both of them fully up to strength, and then post one each to A and C Companies. This meant that the soldiers would stay together with their friends and commanders, at least to begin with, which would make the move easier all round. We were soon able to give them plenty of notice as to when and where they would be moving and for the movement of their files by the Company Administrator. Whilst this was going on, the CQMS was busy collecting, repairing and storing the Company’s property for safe-keeping in the QM’s stores. As our soldiers began to move to their new locations, so the first Gurkhas started to arrive. As one would expect, they were very professional and courteous and started to settle in straight away. The OC and I were tasked by the CO to assist with their integration into the Battalion and Regiment and we planned, among other things, a week’s live firing and a week-long tactical exercise at Otterburn. It was soon decided that the GRC would be named “G (Tobruk) Company” using a battle


honour shared by both The Royal Gurkha Rifles and The Mercian Regiment.


Although one of our Companies has been placed into suspended animation, the fact is that, when times are hard (in this case with recruiting and retention) we simply have to bite the bullet and accept change. Change has meant the arrival of a fully-manned Company creating a fully manned Battalion. It seems to me that G Company has settled in really well and it is definitely a major asset to the Battalion in terms of operational capability. Apart from anything else, almost 80% of G Company has experience of Operations in Afghanistan and, I suspect, a greater understanding of Afghan culture and language than most 1 MERCIAN soldiers.


It was an honour and a pleasure to be Company Sergeant Major B Company. The morale of the men was always high and their professionalism in general and the way they conducted themselves during some hard times on Op Telic 11 were testament to this. My final point is that, although B Company may be in suspended animation and its property sitting in the QM’s stores, its memory lives on in the heart of every soldier who has had the privilege of calling himself a “blade”.


B Company and G Company O Group on Otterburn The Mercian Eagle October 2009 17


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