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is always busy. Mrs Gail Willis, our Battalion Typist, regularly keeps the Adjutant on his toes with Part 1 Orders but, more recently, has taken on the responsibility of Courses Clerk in the absence of Cpl Dean Atkinson who is on an individual deployment trawl. On arrival in Holywood, we took on the responsibility of the Palace Barracks Officers’ Mess as well as our own; Mrs Maureen Madden has made sure that the Regimental Accountant, Sgt Cunniff, has some extra fingers to work out the Mess Bills on a monthly basis.


Individuals move on and our own Detachment is no exception. Having moved over to the Province, a number of individuals have moved with even more arriving to make the Detachment almost fully manned. From the top, we said goodbye to the RAO, Capt Aisling Lyford, to RMAS and, in her place, we welcomed Capt Ellie Guest from 1 GREN GDS. In addition to a new RAO, our SPS Det Comd was replaced. After so many years, it was hard to remember when he did arrive but we finally said farewell to Capt Jeff Lee. Jeff moved off to be SPS Det Comd at 30 Sig Regt and we received Capt Kirk (you have the comm) Reynolds. Other changes have included the RAOWO saying goodbye to WO2 Ronnie Bickers-Haggard to RASU and hello to WO2 Sam Mayne from HQ 2 Bde. The FSA, SSgt Kev Grove, moved on promotion to 1 SCOTS and we said hello to SSgt Buzz Fanning from HQ 2 Div. Sgt Kelly Sharratt decided that motherhood was the way ahead and gave birth to little Aiden. Currently enjoying some well earned leave, we welcomed Sgt Ben Lake as the SSA as her replacement. We also said farewell to Cpl Delaney (2 PWRR), Cpl Holmes (12 Mech Bde), LCpl Mercer (1 ADSR), LCpl Yeko and Pte Mensah both on discharge. In their place, we welcomed Cpl Jenny Powell, Cpl Maria King and Cpl Dean Atkinson. Great was the influx of new talent from Worthy Down and we welcomed LCpl Macleod (on transfer from RLC), Ptes Bell, Kirby, Colley, Burns and Parsk. Making an immediate impact within the Battalion, Pte Colley showed that SPS can mix it with the best of them and represented the Detachment and Battalion in triathlon and canoeing. Both she and Pte Parsk have also represented the Bn in the Northern Ireland Cross Country League. More success followed with Pte Bell promoted deservedly to LCpl for her work in C and B Companies.


Socially, the Detachment has been very active; after an extremely successful annual SPS inspection, the RAO decided to try and kill everyone off with her own home made chilli, copious quantities of Sambuca and Tequila and we all got dressed up for a Mexican theme night and hosted the HQ 19 Brigade SPS team. With the various moves above, there have been a number of leaving functions, all of which were fitting send offs to our outgoing team members. We could not let this opportunity pass us by without mentioning one leaving function in particular at which SSgt Buzz Fanning, our FSA, was mistaken for a gay porn star whilst down town – no more needs to be said on this subject! Sgt Cunniff has also left to become a member of the top ten percent of the Corps who instruct at Worthy Down. The night was marked with an Oscars style evening with some very keenly fought categories: results are now subject to a code of secrecy and all but one photograph had been confiscated as the popular magazine, Vogue, have bought the exclusive rights to all pictures from the evening. The most keenly fought category was “The Greatest Dancer” and culminated in a dance-off between Sgt Cunniff sporting a very fetching little black tightly-fitting figure-hugging outfit and Cpl Powell donning a very eye opening pink tutu. This rounded off a great evening, memory of which will no doubt stay with some for a very long time, or at least until they finish therapy!


Mercians Remember


Napoleonic Battle Victory To commemorate the famous battle at the Spanish fortress of Badajoz where one officer’s remarkable courage led to victory, soldiers of 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment raised a Peninsular War British officer’s jacket alongside the Union Flag in Afghanistan. The soldiers stood in Camp Shorabak in Helmand Province on Monday 6 April 2009 to watch the raising of the scarlet jacket to honour 2Lt William Macpherson and the handful of men from 3rd Battalion The 45th Regiment who stormed the fortress despite fanatical resistance by the French defenders: Lt Macpherson raised his jacket on the flag pole of the fortress because the Colours were not with him.


Dressed in their modern desert combat kit, the soldiers stood to attention as Sergeant Charlie Raisbeck and Drummer Cameron Jowett hauled up a replica of the jacket worn by 2/ Lt MacPherson in April 1812 to remember all the men from the 45th, a predecessor of 2 MERCIAN, who were involved in the operation. The unbroken line of tradition is of huge significance to the ‘Forty-fifth’s’ 21st Century descendents as the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Banton, explained: “Unlike many other large modern regiments, The Mercians still recruit regionally, preserving our links with the community and a heritage which, in the case of 2 MERCIAN, stretches back through The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters, the Nottinghamshire Regiment and back to the 45th. Wherever we are in the world and whatever we are doing, we commemorate this battle honour.”


The Battalion is providing an operational mentoring and liaison team (OMLT) to train Afghan soldiers, vital work, of which Lt Col Banton is fiercely proud: “This is the most important thing the British Army is doing in Helmand,” he said. “If we can enable the Afghans to provide their own security, we will be able to leave Afghanistan. The ANA, the Afghan National Army, is one of the truly national institutions. All ethnic groups are represented and mixed to ensure a cultural and ethnic balance, and the army is seen as an institution of the national government, and even-handed.” In Helmand, the Afghan ‘Warriors’ - as ANA soldiers are known - have already become proficient enough to operate on their own in counter- insurgency operations and the OMLT are now helping them master artillery, combat engineering, as well as a full suite of state-of-the-art western infantry weapons that would have astonished the sword-wielding Lt Macpherson and his musket- armed redcoats.


The SPS Detachment at the Oscars Awards Night The Mercian Eagle


Hoisting the red jacket


October 2009 45


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