Regimental Update: August 2017

Summer leave approaches, the Libori festival is in full swing and Oktoberfest is on the horizon. The Regiment is in good spirits and has had a varied time since the last update in March. The majority of the squadrons are currently in camp less a troop from ‘D’ Squadron on Op CABRIT more of which later. The focus remains on Readiness as part of the Vanguard Armoured Infantry Brigade.

After ranges, the QRH Battlegroup consisting of ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘HQ’ Squadrons were stood up to participate in Ex SABER JUNCTION 17 (American spelling before the newspapers started rustling!) at the Joint Multinational Readiness Centre in Hohenfels, Germany from late April to mid-May. The exercise included nearly 4,500 participants from 13 NATO and European partner nations. As such the Battlegroup formed one of the three manoeuvre elements in the 2nd US Cavalry Regiment which is equivalent to a British brigade in size. As a multinational Battlegroup, the QRH also had light and armoured infantry elements from Poland and Italy respectively. It was an excellent opportunity not only to test our interoperability, a priority for the British Army but also to test ourselves against a dedicated OPFOR. The US Army has a fully manned ‘enemy’ unit with real T72 tanks and all manner of Soviet vehicles. Whilst similar to the OPFOR that we routinely play in BATUS, the fact that their primary responsibility is to act as the enemy, year in, year out adds another level of difficulty. This means that the best result a battlegroup has achieved since the centre’s inception was a draw. The Queen’s Royal Hussars made history by winning, despite a truly agile free-thinking enemy who provided an accurate reflection of tactics in Eastern Europe; frequent and targeted jamming, the constant menace of drones and the use of mass Fires as the decisive action.

Concurrently, ‘D’ Sqn has been providing a troop of tanks to the 5 Rifles Battlegroup on Op CABRIT in Estonia. This is known as the Enhanced Force Projection (eFP) which, in essence, seeks to reassure our Estonian NATO allies and deter Russian aggression. Although it is a relatively small deployment, those involved have had an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the Challenger 2’s relevance on the modern battlefield with numerous firepower and capability demonstrations. It is a significant compliment both to the QRH and the tank in general that the infantry are desperate to have the Challenger 2 fighting alongside and supporting them. As I write, another troop from ‘D’ Sqn is beginning to deploy and relieve the troops out there, sharing valuable operational experience throughout the squadron.

Back on camp, the coveted title of The Duke of Edinburgh’s (‘DofE’) Squadron was settled with the final event on St Patrick’s Day. The competition runs over the year and involves a series of challenges: physical, mental and role-specific. Culminating in a 6km stretcher race (won by ‘B’ Sqn), it is always fiercely fought over and has reinvigorated squadron rivalry over the past four years since the idea was restarted. This year saw ‘C’ Sqn retain the title despite stiff challenges from several other squadrons.

The Regiment has also been very active on the sporting front. Across almost every sport the Regiment has picked up an array of silverware. The football team reached the semi-finals of the Cavalry Cup and came 2nd in the BA(G) 6-a-side tournament. Our rugby sevens team has seen international success winning the Utrecht International Beach 7s and finishing as runners-up in the International Hurth 7s. The squad hope to build on strong summer playing in the New York Sevens competition later this year. The cricketers have likewise dominated, winning the BA(G) championship. Perhaps the greatest success however has come in Golf. BA(G) team and individual champions and RAC champions, the team has proved that Golf is no longer the preserve of the LE officer. A round-up of sporting success would not be complete without mentioning Polo. Crowned champions of the Captains’ and Subalterns’ Cup for the first time in almost 10 years, the team is gearing up for a period of domination when it returns to Tidworth in 2019.

The soldiers have also managed to conduct some impressive adventurous training. Recce Troop completed the GR20 in Corsica, a formidable mountainous route that runs from the north to the south of the French island. It is a great example of what the Regiment can do with a bit of imagination and financial support. More recently, 2Lt Siebenaller (AAC) led a team of guys on the Nijmegen March. Not for the faint-hearted, the Hussars marched around 40km each day for 4 days, carrying 10kg plus water.

As highlighted in the last update, the handover of the Commanding Officer from Lt Col Alex Porter to Lt Col Nick Cowley MBE was completed soon after ranges. In addition, the Regiment also learned on the last Command Board that the next Commanding Officer will be Lt Col James Shann in mid-2019. Lt Col Shann led ‘C’ Sqn on Op HERRICK 20 before working on the Army staff in London and is currently a Military Assistant to Commander US Army Europe, Lt Gen Ben Hodges.

With the recent opening of ground close combat roles to women, female officers and soldiers are beginning to appear in the Royal Armoured Corps. With that Lt Leah Bertram will make history as the Regiment’s first female officer. Leah has been the Detachment Commander for the last year and the Regiment is delighted to welcome her as she leads the way for future female QRH soldiers and officers.

After summer leave, the Regiment can look forward to some low-level exercises and then preparation for ranges. 2018 will then see a switch to our ‘other tasks year’ with the Regiment deploying as OPFOR for BATUS as well as on RAAT tasks on Salisbury Plain, where they will act as demonstration troops and train the next generation of young crew commanders.

Tragically, as many will be aware, Cpl Matthew Hatfield died in an accident on ranges with the Royal Tank Regiment. Hattie transferred from the QRH in 2016, where he spent the majority of his career, so he could be closer to his family. He was an outstanding JNCO and his loss is keenly felt by everyone at the QRH. The high attendance at the funeral of both serving and past Hussars was a real testament to his character and a fitting send-off. May he rest in peace.

Finally, this is my last newsletter as I hand over to Major Mark Cubitt who will assume Regimental Second in Command as of summer leave. The officers and soldiers of the Regiment continue to do us proud; they allow the Regiment to achieve great things and build on its successes. It has been a humbling experience.

Major Charlie Haines, Regimental Second in Command

Related topics

  1. A Short History of The Queen’s Royal Hussars