2021 Military on Salisbury Plain

The SPTA Newsletter is now available on line.  I hope you find it useful.

 

www.gov.uk/government/publications/salisbury-plain-training-area-spta-newsletter

RAF Puma Flypast - 26.11.21


RAF helicopters are performing a national flypast over England.  These photographs were taken this morning on the East Of Salisbury Plain.  This is an area that the helicopters have spent many hours flying over,  a very common sight for several years. 


The Puma helicopter has completed 50 years of service - and the impressive milestone was marked with a commemorative flypast.


The event saw formation of up to 10 Royal Air Force aircraft leave RAF Benson and fly over some of the Puma Force’s most significant UK locations, including Sandhurst and RAF Shawbury.


RAF Benson explained in a Facebook post: “This includes sites that hold historical significance for the Puma Force as well as those that provide support to delivering current Puma operational capability.”

5 Rifles - 21.11.21


The Rifles is an infantry regiment of the British Army. Formed in 2007, it consists of five Regular battalions and three Reserve battalions, plus a number of companies in other Army Reserve battalions. Each battalion of The Rifles was formerly an individual battalion of one of the two large regiments of the Light Division. Since formation the regiment has been involved in combat operations, first in the later stages of the Iraq War and in the War in Afghanistan.


5 Rifles Bulford


5 RIFLES is based in Bulford, Wiltshire as an Armoured Infantry battalion, equipped with the Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle. As one of the most potent war-fighting infantry battalions, it is a part of the 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade within 3rd (UK) Division.


Having been the last unit in Afghanistan in 2014, it was the first to be deployed in NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia (Operation CABRIT). The Battalion has previously served in Iraq, and has a reputation for being the first in and last out on operations.


As the largest of The Rifles Regular Battalions, 5 RIFLES has supported the other Battalions for overseas exercises in the US, Kenya and Belize, in addition to its own regular training commitments in Canada and the USA.


5 RIFLES is the Regiment’s champion for cross-country and cricket but maintains a host of sports teams including rugby and football. Adventurous Training is also popular, and during the first deployment in Estonia, the Battalion sailed a yacht out to the Baltic from the UK, before returning at the end of Op CABRIT 1.

36 Engineers - 19.11.21


The 36 Engineer Regiment is a regiment of the Corps of Royal Engineers within the British Army. The regiment trace their history back to before World War II as 36 Army Engineer Regiment. The regiment today is a general support engineer regiment provided force support within 12 (Force Support) Engineer Group.


36 Engineer Regiment's predecessor was 36 Army Engineer Regiment which saw service in World War II. There is not much information written about this unit but it is known it was based in Germany when the war ended. In 1949, the regiment moved to Invicta Park Barracks in Maidstone, Kent. 

Bushmaster - 18.11.21


The British Army acquired 24 Bushmasters in April 2008 specifically for use in Iraq to support Task Force Black and United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) operations around Basra. The heavily modified vehicles, known as the Escapade, were used to provide armoured transport for strike teams.


The Australian-built Bushmaster IMV is a fully enclosed and armoured troop carrier, specifically designed to protect against IEDs and mines. It is believed that the Bushmasters were initially earmarked for use by the SAS operating in Iraq. The SAS's role in Iraq was significantly different from the more traditional long range patrols to which the DPV and HMT 400s are more suited. Often working in urban areas, the SAS required an enclosed armoured vehicle to move around in. The Bushmaster's deployment has increased the SAS's interoperability with American forces, who operate similar armoured vehicles. UKSF Bushmasters were later deployed in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.


The IMV's V-shaped hull is designed to deflect the blast of an explosion away from the crew and passenger compartments, greatly increasing their chance of surviving an IED or mine strike. The vehicle's armour protects against shrapnel and can withstand small arms fire up to and including 7.62mm ball. The armoured glass windscreen offers similar levels of protection.


The Bushmaster can accommodate a driver and up to 9 soldiers with provisions for air conditioning, cool drinking water system, personal weapons storage and a communications station. 4 Lockable roof hatches serve as potential firing ports and emergency escape routes.


Gun mounts on 1 front and 2 rear hatches allow for the mounting of light and medium machine guns such as GPMGs as well as 40mm HK GMG grenade launchers or HMGs. UKSF variants of the Bushmaster - known as 'Escapade' - feature a remote weapon system (RWS) which allows for a HMG/GMG to be operated from inside the vehicle. UKSF Escapades are up-armoured, are fitted with bull bars for breaching barricades and wire cutters to protect 'turned out' personnel standing in the hatches, and anti-IED electronic countermeasures. 

 

22 Engineers - 17.11.21

 

These photographs were were taken on the East of Salisbury Plain.


The exercise involved mine clearance with Trojan and bridge laying, using Titans and Unipower vehicles.  There was also a river crossing at a separate location where vehicles were driven through the river.


Vehicles


Titan is an armoured engineer vehicle designed to enable troops and vehicles to cross gaps of up to 60 metres by laying a selection of close support bridges.   Along with Trojan, it gives a common heavy armour fleet, based on the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank chassis.


Titan can carry and lay the current range of in-service close support bridges, providing ground manoeuvre formations with improved capability, giving them greater flexibility.  Improved visibility is achieved by incorporating direct and indirect vision systems including low light, image intensifying and thermal imaging capabilities. The interior, and to some extent the exterior, of the vehicles have been designed around the crew station positions.


Titan has the flexibility to support a wide range of operations, including humanitarian missions.


The Royal Engineer BR-90 family is composed of bridges capable of Close and General Support and the associated wheeled support vehicles.  The bridges are built from interchangeable modular components. 


Originally designed for Load Class 70 tracked vehicles, the bridges may be crossed by vehicles of up to Load Class 85 under strict safety conditions which accommodates the increase in Load Class of Challenger 2 variants. The bridges have two interconnecting track ways with a 4 meter overall bridge width and 1 meter girder.


The Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle (CRARRV) is a highly evolved armoured vehicle designed to recover and repair damaged tanks on the battlefield.


The vehicle has two winches, main and auxiliary, and an Atlas hydraulically operated crane capable of lifting a complete Challenger 2 power pack.


Trojan is an armoured engineer vehicle designed to open routes through complex battlefield obstacles and clear a path through minefields.  Improved visibility is achieved by incorporating direct and indirect vision devices with low-light, image-intensifying and thermal imaging capabilities. The interior, and to some extent the exterior, of the vehicle has been designed around the crew station positions.  


Trojan has the flexibility to support a wide range of operations, including humanitarian missions.


The Terrier armoured digger is the Army’s most advanced engineering vehicle and it gives the Royal Engineers a state of the art capability that can be used to carry out a variety of tasks both in the UK and on future operations.


Despite weighing 30 tonnes, Terrier is an agile and versatile piece of equipment that can reach speeds of almost 50 mph.


22 Engineers Regiment


Based at Swinton Barracks in Perham Down, near Tidworth, 22 Engineer Regiment provides Engineer Close Support to 1 Mechanized Brigade.


The Regiment consists of the following units:


    * 6 Headquarters and Support Squadron.
    * 3 Armoured Engineer Squadron.
    * 5 Armoured Engineer Squadron.
    * 52 Armoured Engineer Squadron.
    * REME Light Aid Detachment.


Capabilities


Each Armoured Engineer Squadron provides close engineer support with Titan and Trojan Armoured Engineer vehicles and Combat Engineer sections.  More specialised capabilities are held in the Headquarters and Support Squadron, such as Reconnaissance, Design and Survey, Diving and Automotive Bridge Launching Equipment for the General Support Bridge.


Deployments


The Regiment deployed to Iraq on Operation TELIC 4 and more recently TELIC 10, providing engineer support not only to its brigade but also to other coalition troops.  This included force protection in Basra Palace, camp infrastructure in Baghdad and many other tasks.  More recently the Regiment has deployed squadrons to Gibraltar on ceremonial duties, to Belize for trade training and construction tasks, and to Canada for collective training in the Armoured and Counter Insurgency roles.

7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery - 09.11.21


7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7 Para RHA) is a regiment of the Royal Artillery in the British Army.  It, as of 2015 serves in the field artillery role with 16 Air Assault Brigade, and is equipped with the L118 Light Gun.


The Regiment was formed on 27 June 1961 with the re-designation of 33rd Parachute Light Regiment Royal Artillery as 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery. The Regiment first saw action in the middle-east in Kuwait in 1961 and then in Aden in 1963-5 where the Regiment was involved in fierce fighting in the Radfan mountains. The 1970s and 80's saw the Regiment involved in four Northern Ireland tours in the Infantry role as well as a period where they briefly lost their Airborne status and were arms-plotted to Germany until 1984 when they joined newly formed 5th Airborne Brigade and returned to Aldershot.


In 1994 the Regiment deployed to Cyprus as part of the UN mission to patrol the buffer-zone between Cypriot and Turkish forces. This was followed in 1996 and 7 with two Battery deployments to Bosnia as part of the NATO mission and the Kosovo campaign of 1999.


Since the formation of 16 Air Assault Brigade in 1999, 7 Para RHA has been involved in numerous overseas operations. The Sierra Leone campaign in summer 2000 was followed by Op Essential Harvest in Macedonia a year later and then two Batteries deployed to the Kabul area of Afghanistan in early 2002.


On the afternoon of 19 March 2003 7 Para RHA fired the first shots of the Iraq war by any coalition ground forces. The next day they crossed the border in support of the US 1 Marine Expeditionary Force. The Regiment was instrumental in securing the strategic Rumalya oilfields and supporting the MEF in their move north to Nasiriyah.


In late 2003 the Regiment moved from Aldershot to Colchester to join the rest of 16 Air Assault Brigade. 2006 saw the first of the Regiments three tours of Afghanistan. The first of these saw the Regiment play a key role in the break into Helmand province. This tour attracted much public attention and has often been described as the most intense combat fighting since the Korean War of the 1950s. The Regiment returned to Helmand two years later and were again involved in heavy fighting – cumulating in the large scale operation to move a turbine from Kandahar along a heavily mined and fiercely defended road to the Kajaki Dam.[5] 7 Para RHA's final deployment to Afghanistan saw the Regiment's gun groups and Fire Support Teams deploy to central Helmand Province in order to provide offensive support to 16th Air Assault Brigade. They returned to Colchester in April 2011.

 

Megatron - 07.11.21
 
Megatron is the latest generation of British Main Battle Tank (MBT) in the Challenger 2.
 
The Challenger 2 TES (Theatre Entry Standard) also nicknamed Megatron is the latest generation of British Main Battle Tank (MBT) in the Challenger 2 family. The design of the Challenger 2 was fully completed by August 1989. The British government selected the Challenger 2 and placed an order worth around £520 million for 127 Challenger 2 MBTs in 1991. Production commenced in 1993 with first production vehicles completed at the Alvis Vickers Leeds facility in 1994. The Challenger 2 MBT was accepted in service with the British Army in 1994. The same year, Alvis Vickers was awarded a second contract by the British MoD for the supply of an additional 259 Challenger 2 MBTs. The Challenger 2 TES Megatron is very similar to the M1 Abrams TUSK (Tank Urban Survival Kit) in terms of protection. The TES system was developed to increase protection of the tank against tandem warheads and IED (Improvised Explosive Device) threats. The Challenger 2 Megatron was presented for the first time to the public in June 2013 at the DVD defense event in Millbrook, United Kingdom. A new version of the Challenger 2 Megatron was unveiled in July 2016 at the Tank Fest in Bovington fitted with a new armour design. This latest version is fitted with a combination of reactive, passive and bar armour providing unique protection against new threats of modern battlefield. The Challenger 2 TES Megatron can be fitted with variable armour depending on the nature of the threats and the type of battlefield where the tank must be deployed.

D Squadron (The Black Pig) - 07.11.21


Returning home from exercise at Copehill Down Village.


The Queen's Royal Hussars (The Queen's Own and Royal Irish) (QRH) is a United Kingdom armoured regiment. It was formed on 1 September 1993 from the amalgamation of the Queen's Own Hussars and the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars. The regiment and its antecedents have been awarded 172 Battle Honours and eight Victoria Crosses. The regiment was based in Sennelager, Germany, until 2019 when it was relocated to Tidworth Camp, England. It is the armoured regiment for 20th Armoured Brigade.


The regiment is equipped with 56 Challenger 2 tanks In addition the Regiment also fields a squadron with a close reconnaissance troop mounted in eight FV107 Scimitars.


·         HQ Squadron
·         A Squadron (The Devil's Children)
·         B (Balaklava) Squadron (reformed as a command and reconnaissance squadron in October 2020, previously

          an armoured squadron)
·         C (Duke of Edinburgh) Squadron
·         D Squadron (The Black Pig)


Dogma and Dublin  (Dublin was renamed recently as was previously Diamond, seen here broken down with Fuel starvation, also seen here on deployment before the name change)

The Queen's Royal Hussars on Exercise B Squadron - 06.11.21


Some of the photographs were taken at the families open day during the exercise and also during a night assault on a target where they can turn night into day with flares etc.


The Queen's Royal Hussars (The Queen's Own and Royal Irish) (QRH) is a United Kingdom armoured regiment. It was formed on 1 September 1993 from the amalgamation of the Queen's Own Hussars and the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars. The regiment and its antecedents have been awarded 172 Battle Honours and eight Victoria Crosses. The regiment was based in Sennelager, Germany, until 2019 when it was relocated to Tidworth Camp, England. It is the armoured regiment for 20th Armoured Brigade.

QRH A Squadron (The Devil's Children) - 05.11.21


Returning home from exercise at Copehill Down Village.


The Queen's Royal Hussars (The Queen's Own and Royal Irish) (QRH) is a United Kingdom armoured regiment. It was formed on 1 September 1993 from the amalgamation of the Queen's Own Hussars and the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars. The regiment and its antecedents have been awarded 172 Battle Honours and eight Victoria Crosses. The regiment was based in Sennelager, Germany, until 2019 when it was relocated to Tidworth Camp, England. It is the armoured regiment for 20th Armoured Brigade.


The regiment is equipped with 56 Challenger 2 tanks In addition the Regiment also fields a squadron with a close reconnaissance troop mounted in eight FV107 Scimitars.


·         HQ Squadron
·         A Squadron (The Devil's Children)
·         B (Balaklava) Squadron (reformed as a command and reconnaissance squadron in October 2020, previously

          an armoured squadron)

·         C (Duke of Edinburgh) Squadron
·         D Squadron (The Black Pig)

26th Regiment Royal Artillery - 22.10.21


Divisional Fires Regiment


26th Regiment Royal Artillery is the Army’s Divisional Fires Regiment.  Equipped with the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) and EXACTOR 2, the new Regiment delivers precision strike munitions out to 84km in support of the Iron Division.


Upgrades to Multiple Launch Rocket Systems Strengthen Deep Fires Capability


Following a recent agreement struck with the United States Department of Defence, we will be embarking on a five-year programme to update our M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS).


The MLRS is a highly mobile automatic system that fires 12 surface-to-surface missiles in less than a minute.


Upgrades will be made to 44 launchers, which are currently in-service, and will include a new armoured cab and upgraded automotive and launch mechanism components.


The upgrades will ensure that the Army’s Land Deep Fires capability remains strong for the next three decades and that the British Army has the technological capability to quickly meet the threats of today and tomorrow.


Taking advantage of the long-standing MLRS collaboration with the US and key allies, work will start on upgrading the first tranche of launchers in March 2022 with the fleet going through production over a four-year period. The upgrades will keep the equipment in service until 2050.


The work will be carried out under an existing production contract with Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control with the work being carried out at Red River Army Depot and Lockheed Martin's facility in Camden, Arkansas.


The UK is also developing UK-specific systems for the new launchers, including Composite Rubber Tracks (CRT), and a vehicle camera and radar system. A new Fire Control System will be developed collaboratively with the US, UK, Italy, and Finland.


The CRT will provide better fuel economy and allow the launcher to travel further, giving greater operational and tactical mobility to support deployed troops in a range of operating environments. A single launcher will be used to fire many payloads.


To ensure soldiers are not outranged, the Army will develop a new extended range missile with MLRS partners, to be fired from the updated launchers, which should be in-service by 2025. The Guided MLRS Extended Range (GMLRS-ER) missile will extend the Army’s reach from 84 to 150km. 


The 44 updated launchers will also be able to fire the US’s Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) which has a range of 499km and is expected in-service from 2024.  These weapons will place the British Army at the cutting edge of global deep fires capability, ready to respond to long range air defence and missile threats presented by hostile actors.


MLRS is owned by the Royal Artillery and is operated by 26 Regiment RA from Larkhill, Wiltshire and 101 Regiment RA (Reserves) of Gateshead, Tyne & Wear.

20th Armoured Infantry Brigade - 21.10.21


The Iron Division


3rd (United Kingdom) Division, based at the heart of the British Army on Salisbury Plain, is the only division at continual operational readiness in the UK.


'The Iron Division' is made up of 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade, 12th Armoured Brigade Combat Team, 20th Armoured Brigade Combat Team, 1st Artillery Brigade, 11 Signals Brigade and 101st Logistic Brigade, 7th Air Defence Group and 25 (Close Support) Engineer Group.


The 3rd Division Today


3rd (United Kingdom) Division exists as the United Kingdom’s strategic land warfare asset. 


As such the Division is able to bring to bear the considerable firepower of the British Army and concentrate the force which includes: Reconnaissance, Armoured Cavalry; Armoured and Mechanised Infantry, Aviation, Artillery, Engineers and Logistics; in what is referred to as “the full spectrum” of warfighting capability.


Concentrating on continual combat readiness, 3rd Division stands by to protect the UK, its people and project our influence as a world class Army.


20th Armoured Infantry Brigade


The British Army’s 20th Armoured - The Iron Fist Brigade Combat Team


The British Army’s 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade Combat Team (The Iron Fist) is based in Wing Barracks, Salisbury Plain. It forms part of the 3rd (United Kingdom) Division (The Iron Division), the Army’s primary warfighting force.


Soldiers serving with the Brigade Combat Team proudly wear the insignia of a white mailed fist on a blue background as a symbol of the hard punch that this historic and battle-proven armoured formation can give any enemy. Lethal and Ready for 21st Century warfighting, The Iron Fist will have the privilege of providing the armoured forces held at high readiness to both the UK and NATO from 1 Apr 20.


Infantry Brigade Combat Team


LEAD ARMOURED TASK FORCE (LATF) AND VANGUARD ARMOURED INFANTRY BRIGADE (VAIB)


2020 saw The Iron Fist as the LATF and VAIB; the UK’s leading armoured element on elevated readiness, supporting a rapid deployment to undertake any short notice contingency tasks. The Iron Fist can operate within a UK, US, FR or NATO division for warfighting at scale. It provides the British Army’s best deterrence for the conventional defence of the UK.


Operations and Exercises


The Iron Fist is currently deployed in over 10 countries around the world. Deployments vary in strength from single military advisors to full Combined Arms Battle Groups.


The Iron Fist conducts various training exercises with the most notable being Combined Arms live and dry training at the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS), Canada. Once trained, Battle Groups from The Iron Fist will conduct operations in Estonia as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence initiative; contribute to the UN Peace Keeping Mission in Cyprus; provide a Battle Group to support Operation TORAL in Afghanistan; as well as providing a Company for Public duties at Buckingham Palace; all whilst poised to support UK resilience tasks.


Brigade Combat Team Units

 

  • The Queen's Royal Hussars
  • 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
  •  5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
  •  1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment
  • 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment
  • 5th Battalion The Rifles
  •  7th Battalion The Rifles

249 Squadron - Based in Bulford - 20.10.21


The Queen’s Gurkha Signals (QGS) is a regular unit of the Royal Corps of Signals, one of the combat support arms of the British Army. Together with The Royal Gurkha Rifles, the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers, the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment, the Band of the Royal Gurkha Rifles and the Gurkha Staff and personnel Support they form part of the Brigade of Gurkhas. QGS was formed during The Malayan Emergency to support the 17th Gurkha Division.


The Squadrons

 

The Queen's Gurkha Signals Squadrons located across the UK.
§  246 Squadron - based in York
§  247 Squadron - based in Stafford
§  248 Squadron - based in Stafford
§  249 Squadron - based in Bulford
§  250 Squadron - based in Bramcote

Exercise Iron Storm has been brought to a halt - 15.10.21


Following a 05:00 start Exercise Iron Storm was brought to a halt.  


This was due to a  very serious incident which took place during the morning of this exercise.  (For this reason and as a mark of respect, all of our photography was halted and publications withdrawn and put on hold, until we made sure it would be correct to produce anything).


All the vehicles and crews were stationery, where they were when the incident happened.  It was not known at the time what would happen next.  The exercise was completely abandoned at 19.00.


We later heard that a serving soldier had sadly lost his life in the incident.  Our thoughts are with his Family and Regiment.

 

22 Engineers Regiment Titan Bridge Layer - 14.10.21

 

October will see the largest armoured exercise we have hosted on SPTA for some time. EX IRON STORM will have large numbers of armoured vehicles manoeuvring across all of SPTA both day and night. The various schools and local units will also be training throughout this month. SPTA will be in constant use both day, night and at the weekends in order that users can achieve their training objects.


This is the exercise normally run at BATUS in Canada, this has not happened for 2 years, this year it is using SPTA for 6 weeks starting this weekend.


The Exercise ends on the 23rd October.


We have been out this week to see the build up of equipment, see attached for a few of the sites.


All the pictures attached were taken this week on the East Of Salisbury Plain.


Several armoured units have been at Castle Martin Wales for live firing exercise over  the past 4 weeks.


They arrived back here on Salisbury Plain this week.


The whole battle group were held in a holding area near the Penning’s.


All vehicles, around 300 had to cross the Titan  Engineers bridge, before they were allowed to take part in the Exercise.


The whole Battle group were set up for the week until the Salisbury Plain part of the Exercise started, at 5am on the Friday.

 

Titan is an armoured engineer vehicle designed to enable troops and vehicles to cross gaps of up to 60 metres by laying a selection of close support bridges.   Along with Trojan it gives a common heavy armour fleet based on the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank chassis.


Titan can carry and lay the current range of in-service close support bridges, providing ground manoeuvre formations with improved capability, giving them greater flexibility.


Improved visibility is achieved by incorporating direct and indirect vision systems including low light, image intensifying and thermal imaging capabilities. The interior, and to some extent the exterior, of the vehicles have been designed around the crew station positions.


Titan has the flexibility to support a wide range of operations, including humanitarian missions.


22 Engineers Regiment


Based at Swinton Barracks in Perham Down, near Tidworth, 22 Engineer Regiment provides Engineer Close Support to 1 Mechanized Brigade.


The Regiment consists of the following units:


   * 6 Headquarters and Support Squadron.
   * 3 Armoured Engineer Squadron.
   * 5 Armoured Engineer Squadron.
   * 52 Armoured Engineer Squadron.
   * REME Light Aid Detachment.


Capabilities


Each Armoured Engineer Squadron provides close engineer support with Titan and Trojan Armoured Engineer vehicles and Combat Engineer sections.  More specialised capabilities are held in the Headquarters and Support Squadron, such as Reconnaissance, Design and Survey, Diving and Automotive Bridge Launching Equipment for the General Support Bridge.


Deployments


The Regiment deployed to Iraq on Operation TELIC 4 and more recently TELIC 10, providing engineer support not only to its brigade but also to other coalition troops.  This included force protection in Basra Palace, camp infrastructure in Baghdad and many other tasks.  More recently the Regiment has deployed squadrons to Gibraltar on ceremonial duties, to Belize for trade training and construction tasks, and to Canada for collective training in the Armoured and Counter Insurgency roles.

 

Ex Iron Storm - 13.10.21


All these photographs were taken this week on the East of Salisbury Plain.


Several armoured units have been at Castle Martin, Wales for live firing exercise.  They arrived back here on Salisbury Plain this week.


October will see the largest armoured exercise hosted on SPTA for some time.   EX Iron Storm will have large numbers of armoured vehicles manoeuvring across all of the SPTA both day and night.  The various schools and local units will also be training throughout this month.  SPTA will be in constant use both day, night and at the weekends in order that users can achieve their training objects.


This is the exercise normally run at BATUS in Canada, this has not happened for 2 years, this year it is using SPTA for 6 weeks starting this weekend.


The Exercise ends on the 23rd October.

Ex Aires Storm on Salisbury Plain - 14.09.21 and 16.09.21
 
MAMBA and Fuchs seen on Salisbury Plain.
 
The Mobile Artillery Monitoring Battlefield Radar (or Mobile Artillery Monitoring Battlefield Asset) is a counter-battery radar. It detects enemy artillery projectiles fired by one or more weapons and from their trajectories locates the position of the weapon that fired it. It has a detection range of up to 30 km and can process up-to 100 projectiles simultaneously. It is mounted on a Bandvagn 206 (Bv206) all-terrain vehicle. Five vehicles are operated by the 5th Regiment Royal Artillery.
 
The MAMBA system works by giving advanced warning signals to troops on the front line by detecting incoming hostile fire. It is a highly-mobile weapon locating system, used for tasks including counter-battery missions and fire control, tactically deployed close to the forward line of troops.
 
Based on the calculations produced by MAMBA, priorities are made and directions are provided for effective counterbattery fire. In fire control mode, MAMBA will track the projectiles of own fire and extrapolate the points of impact. In sense and warn mode, extrapolation of points of impact of incoming fire will trigger a timely warning to its own troops.
 
Deliveries of the MAMBA mid-life extension will take place between 2022 and 2023, with the support contract covering 2020 to 2026.
Highland Regiment - RHA Recovery - 14.09.21
 
Highland Regiment AS90 being recovered from the battle ground by RHA Crarrv, going to the FOB for repair.
101st Regiment Royal Artillery - 06.09.21
 
 
“The Geordie and West Riding Gunners” are the Royal Artillery’s Army Reserve unit in the North East of England, and the only Army Reserve unit to hold, maintain and train on the armoured tracked M270, Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).
 
The MLRS is the British Army’s main ‘precision fire’ weapon system, able to engage targets at long ranges with extreme accuracy. Each battery has its own reconnaissance and command sections which control the MLRS movement and firing, as well as the delivery of ammunition. The 3 man MLRS detachment will often operate and move independently, as will the other elements of the of the battery, such as the 2 man ammunition crew.
 
Under the Army 2020 restructuring project the Regiment re-rolled to become a Depth Fires regiment equipped with the fearsome MLRS.  It is now paired with its Regular Army counterpart, 26 Regiment RA, and trains hard to meet the next challenge, supporting both UK and NATO formations.
12th Regiment Royal Artillery - 21.07.21 & 22.07.21
 
The 12th Regiment Royal Artillery are from Thorney Island Barracks and were training on the Plain.
 
The Starstreak High Velocity Missile (HVM) is designed to counter threats from very high performance, low-flying aircraft and fast 'pop up' strikes by helicopter attacks.
 
The missile, which travels at more than three times the speed of sound, uses a system of three dart-like projectiles, allowing multiple hits on the target. HVM can be fired from the shoulder, from a lightweight multiple launcher or from the Stormer armoured vehicle.
6 Armoured Close Support Battalion REME - 05.07.21
 
This is one of the CRARRV crews who have been very helpful with information and also very busy!
 
The British CRARRV aka Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle is built on a Challenger 1 chassis and was developed in the 1980’s to recover damaged Challenger 1 Tanks. The vehicle has remained in British Army service since the introduction of the Challenger 2 and is operated by the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers aka REME.
The King's Royal Hussars - 05.07.21
 
This is the end of exercise after two weeks on the plain day and night,  with other supporting Regiments.  There were three main battle groups in total.
 
The King's Royal Hussars, whose Colonel-in-Chief is HRH Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, KG, KT, GCVO, is a British armoured regiment based in Tidworth, Wiltshire with a long history and great cavalry traditions. 
 
Equipped with the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank and the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (CVR) (Tracked). 
Bridge Laying using the Unipower M-series - 15.06.21
 
Extract from military-com
 
The Unipower M-series range of military trucks was developed by Universal Power Drives in the late 1980s. These high mobility trucks were designed for demanding military applications. Trucks were intended to carry specialized equipment and used as heavy equipment transporters. First production vehicles were completed in 1992. Alvis Plc acquired the company in 1994 and the trucks began to be branded as Alvis Unipower.
 
The Unipower M-series chassis has a payload capacity of 24 000 kg. It was proposed for the British Army as a Palletized Loading Systems (PLS), BR90 bridgelayer, heavy recovery vehicle and fuel tanker.
 
About 190 BR90 bridgelayers and associated bridge section carriers, based on the Unipower M-series trucks were produced. Deliveries of the BR90 commenced in 1997, however other versions received no production orders.
 
An all-metal cab accommodates driver, plus 4 passengers. Cab is equipped with independent heater and air conditioning system. Some vehicles have a roof hatch. A roof-mounted machine gun mount can be fitted if required.
 
The Unipower M-series trucks are powered either by Cummins M380E 11-liter turbocharged diesel engine, developing 375 hp, or Perkins 410Tx 12.2-liter turbocharged diesel engine, 403 hp. Both engines are coupled with automatic gearboxes. In 1997 a new variant of the M-series was introduced, powered by a more powerful Cummins diesel engine, developing 405 hp. The engine is located behind the cab. On the Unipower M-series trucks the first two pairs of wheels are steered. Vehicles are fitted with a central tyre pressure system. The Unipower M-series have a good cross-country mobility. They can follow tracked vehicles in the most difficult terrain.
 
Further development of the M-series was a range of MH-series prime movers. These were heavy duty tank transporters, designed to operate in off-road conditions. These could transport main battle tanks with a maximum weight of 70 t.
 
The MH-6600 (6x6) tractor truck was powered by a Cummins KTA-19 19-liter turbocharged diesel engine, developing 600 hp. The MH-8875 (8x8) was powered by a Cummins QSK-19 turbocharged diesel, developing 750 hp. Both vehicles were fitted with a 5-speed automatic transmissions. A fully loaded tank transporter has a maximum road speed of 85 km/h.
 
These prime movers were equipped with two loading winches. They were used in conjunction with semi-trailers, specially developed by a French Nicolas company. Cabs of these trucks provide seating for driver, plus 5 passengers.
 
A number of MH-6600 6x6 tank transporters with associated semi-trailers have been sold to Oman. The MH-8875 8x8 tank transporter was proposed to the British Army, however the Alvis was eliminated from the bidding process and American Oshkosh M1070 heavy equipment transporter was selected instead.
 
A number of other proposed M-series variants received no production orders. In the late 1990s production of Alvis Unipower military trucks stopped due to the lack of orders. By 2000 the M-series was no longer marketed. In 2004 Alvis company was taken over by BAE Systems.

Bravo River Crossing - 12.06.21

 
During the June exercise Wessex Storm deployed 3 battle groups of approximately 3,000 troops onto SPTA.
 
There were French, Irish, Scots and other nationalities on this exercise.  There was live firing in the West and Centre to support the exercise.
 
The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards on Exercise Wessex Storm.
 
Over 100 of their new vehicles being used on the exercise, moved on roads between Dumfriesshire and Grantham  for the next phase of Ex Wessex Storm.  The convoy overnighted in Grantham Barracks Lincs to give the drivers a break during the journey to Salisbury Plain.
 
The Jackal is a reconnaissance and rapid assault vehicle, which allows troops to be ultra mobile and respond to incidents on the battlefield quickly and with as much protection as that mobility will afford. It can also be used for fire support and convoy protection roles. it has successfully been used on deployment to Afghanistan.
 
Last evening the battle group had to ford the River Avon at Bravo Crossing, the Jackals and Coyote vehicles had little problems crossing the deep water, however, a few Land Rovers found it beyond their limits in places.  The River Avon is a chalk fed river and was deeper than expected for this time of the year.
 
The problem with the Land Rovers was that they were fording in water up to 4 feet deep, plus the bow wave effect making up to 6 feet.  Therefore, the water could penetrate the engines, which can make the engines seize, bend the con rods and valves. 
 
After 20 plus Land Rovers had problems, the Land Rovers were permitted, in the interest of safety, over the bridge.  
Night Attack on Coombe Farm - 30.05.21
 
After hearing the noise of tanks and remembering what they said about moving at 10:00, I went over to Coombe Farm and watched the battle group attack the target in the dark.

Engineers 854 - 03.05.21

KRH CRARRV's - 03.02.21


KRH rescue their other Crarrv which was on transit during the exercise and blocks the bridge.

 

 

Copehill Down - Part of Salisbury Plain Training Area - 09.01.21


Extract from Wikipedia


Copehill Down is a Ministry of Defence training facility near Chitterne on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England. It is a 'FIBUA' (Fighting In Built Up Areas) urban warfare and close quarters battle training centre, where exercises and tests are conducted.


The site lies in open ground in the northeast of Chitterne parish, between Chitterne and Tilshead.


The facility was built in 1987 to resemble a German village in Bavaria, to provide troops with a simulated backdrop when training for operations in European theatres including the Cold War, the Balkans and Northern Ireland.


The facility includes a shanty town made up of cargo containers stacked and laid out in rows of tightly packed streets, to provide an additional training area that more closely resembles the Army's operational theatres in Operation Herrick and Operation Telic.


Non-combat access to Copehill Down is generally restricted, however the facility has been used for airsoft wargaming and by historical reenactment societies, which take part in private reenactments of battles.

St Giles Church

Imber - 02.01.21


A small village in Wiltshire called Imber is famously known as the ‘Ghost village’ of the Second World War. During World War II.  Imber residents were evicted with just 47 days notice during World War II, it was then turned into a military facility where soldiers received training for the D-Day landings in Normandy.


Before WWII broke out, Imber’s community consisted of 170 residents. The government had started buying land around the village for a while before, and in the year 1940, the small community of Imber was asked to look for new houses and jobs elsewhere, leaving their village forever. Most of the town was then turned into a military training facility. Soldiers needed intense training prior to the Normandy invasion, due to the crucial nature of the campaign. Training soldiers before the actual invasion turned out to be a wise decision. The Normandy invasion enabled the Allied forces to hit deep into Nazi-controlled territory, eventually forcing them to retreat from France and Belgium.


The training area of Imber was also used later by the Ministry of Defence to train troops operating in Northern Ireland during the IRA crisis. In Northern Ireland, the British army faced a different sort of warfare, which was novel to most of the soldiers. At Imber, soldiers were trained in patrolling a residential area and manoeuvring in case of an ambush or a sniper attack.


The residents of Imber did not resist the military’s orders to move, primarily because they thought they were doing a service for their country at war. Initially, they thought that after the war they were going to come back, but they were never given permission to return.


It was never handed back and to this day remains a training ground for urban warfare. It is open to the public only on selected days. The only residents allowed back are those who have died, to be buried there in the church graveyard. 

 

The following is a copy of the letter sent to tenants to vacate:


For Cottage Tenants holding direct from W.D. [War Department]
W.D. Estate Office,
Durrington,
Wilts.

Dear Sir/Madam


Imber Training Area


Arising out of the decision that increased training facilities are to be made available in the Imber area, I regret to inform you that it is necessary to evacuate the major part of the Department's Imber Estate, including your dwelling.


To this end I enclose you formal notice to quit. The area has to be evacuated and made available for training by Dec 17th. In this connection you will note that the formal notice to quit expires on and it is confirmed that there will be no objection, if it assists you, to your remaining in your dwelling as tenant on sufferance until a date not later than Dec 17th 1943.


It is appreciated that apart from the distress the move will cause you, it must inevitably occasion direct expense for which you have no legal redress against the Department. It is however, desired to assist you in this direction as far as is practicable and equitable, and I am directed to state that the Department is prepared in principle but without prejudice to refund to you reasonable expenses incurred by you in respect of the removal of your furniture to your new home, and the travelling expenses thereto of yourself and members of your family at present living with you. In addition, if you are so unfortunate as not to be able to find alternative accommodation, and it is necessary to remove your furniture to store, the Department will refund the cost of removal to store and reasonable storage charges until you can find another house, or until the Imber area is again open for occupation, whichever is the earlier.


Further the Department is prepared if you so desire to take over from you by valuation, any produce in your garden which you are unable to harvest and take with you, and I shall be glad if you will let me have as soon as possible any claim you wish to make under this head.


Yours faithfully,
A.O. Thorne
Lieutenant. Colonel,
Command Land Agent
Southern Command.

 

Urban Warfare Training Units


Perhaps the most fascinating feature at Imber is this purpose-bult military training area, with simple rectangular houses for training troops in house to house combat. The Uran Warfare units were used to prepare troops for combat in places like Northern Ireland, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.


‘Imberbus’ service running from Warminster to the lost village of Imber


THE annual heritage ‘Imberbus’ service running from Warminster to the lost village of Imber and other isolated locations on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire makes a return in August each year to raise funds for charity.


Imber village, in the middle of Salisbury Plain, was evacuated in 1943 by the Army to allow it to be used as a training area in advance of D-Day.


Other than a few days each year, Imber village has been out of bounds to the public ever since.  The 16th century St Giles's Church, looked after by volunteers with the Churches Conservation Trust, remains and is well worth a visit. 


This most unusual bus service across the Plain not only allows people to get a fascinating and rare glimpse of Imber, it allows a day out visiting Tilshead, Chitterne and the Lavingtons where you can eat and drink in village halls and country pubs.  There’s nothing quite like traversing Salisbury Plain from the top of a red double decker bus.


The use of a combination of historic red London double-deck Routemaster buses and the newer, but no less iconic, wheelchair accessible New Routemasters to take visitors along the route.


The Imberbus event was first run in 2009 as a one-off, however it proved so popular that it has been run every year since then, as it continues to attract lots of attention as well as helping raise money for charity.


It  recently raised £13,000 which was split between the Friends of St Giles’s Church and the Royal British Legion.


St Giles Church


Beside the urban warfare units a paved road leads uphill to St Giles Church. The church dates to at least the 13th century, and stands on the site of an earlier Norman church. The super Perpendicular west tower was added in the 15th century. The most interesting feature is a series of medieval wall paintings, including the Weighing of Souls, and the Seven Deadly Sins. On unusual highlight is a painted mural under the tower depicting plain changes for bell-ringers. Think of them as a musical score for bell-ringers. The pain changes mural dates to 1692 and is thought to be the oldest in England. St Giles is a wonderful medieval church and is worth worth a trip to explore on open days. One day in the year it is sure to be open is the closest Sunday to St Giles's Day.

 

Baptist Chapel Burial Ground


Immediately east of The Bell a signposted trail leads across the grass to an overgrown fenced area to the cemetery for the Baptist chapel. The chapel itself stood further up the slope, but was pulled down in the 1970s. Though the cemetery is overgrown, you can wander about and view quite a number of old gravestones. You can also get a very good view of the nearby council houses.


Over half of Imber's residents belonged to the Baptist movement. Until 1833 they had to worship in local houses, but in that year a new chapel was built, for a total cost of £238. In 1858 a school was attached to the chapel. The school had an attendance of twice the Church of England school. It eventually closed in 1895 when state-funded education became the norm.


The Bell


This building was  a pub known as The Bell.

 

Council Houses


The next place to see two large council houses, erected in 1938, just 5 years before the village was deserted. There were originally 8 council houses, but 6 of these were pulled down by the military. 


Nag's Head Cottages


If you carry on east past St Giles Church you will see the Nag's Head Cottages on the opposite side of the road. This set of two semi-detached cottages take their names from the former Nag's Head pub which formerly occupied the property. Records are scanty, but the pub seems to have closed in the early 19th century, and the cottages were used as dwellings after that time.


Imber Court


On the opposite side of the main road from the Bell Inn and the Baptist cemetery you will find high stone walls enclosing Imber Court, a beautiful 17th century manor house, rebuilt in the 18th century. The Court was damaged by fire in 1920 and restored. It was built by the Wadman family, lords of the manor during the 17th and 18th centuries. When the Wadman's sold the Court it was used as an academy for young gentlemen before the Dean family took ownership. The Dean's were lords of the manor throughout the 19th century and owned 3 local farms.


Nothing now remains of the Court's gardens and lawns, and barbed wire along the stone wall belies the elegance of the historic buildings beyond. You can still see traces of an avenue of trees leading to the dog kennels. A lane runs past the Court towards Imber Court Farm, but the lane is closed to visitors.


Seagrams Farm This is one of only six of the remaining original buildings that remain in the village of Imber. The rest of the buildings were destroyed by the Army in the years following their takeover in 1943. Segrams farm has the date 1880 above the door. 

If you have any queries or wish to purchase a photograph, please contact me:

 

+44 7831237759

dcrh@supanet.com

 

If you wish to send a donation to the Alzheimer's Society, you can now click on the link on the Alzheimer's Society page.

Get social with us.

Comments

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  • Eleanor firmstone (Thursday, January 23 20 09:20 am GMT)

    Hi, do you have any information on the steam roller ru7342. We now own the roller and wondered what year this was taken.
    Thanks Eleanor

  • Sarah Mitchell (Wednesday, September 11 19 10:31 pm BST)

    Hi there is a wonderful picture you took of a dear friend of mine on his journey to the gdsf this year. It is in the western daily press dated 22/08/19 Carl Brown roading the Marshall to gdsf. I cannot locate this picture on any website to purchase and was hoping i could purchase through yourself many thanks Sarah

  • John Baines (Friday, April 05 19 03:45 pm BST)

    Have you any photogaphs of James & Crockerills yard in Durrington? Their MD Peter Barber owned the Burrell Scenic Road loco 'Prince of Wales@ and other engines including Burrell roller 'Daffodil'

  • Zoe Read (Saturday, March 02 19 07:08 pm GMT)

    I see you already have dates for this one but I wondered if you would consider adding Purbeck Rally to your event list?
    9th -11th August
    worgret road, wareham, dorset, BH20 6AB
    Raising funds for Forest Holme Hospice Charity & other local causes.

  • Andrew Gray (Wednesday, February 20 19 07:55 pm GMT)

    Is that Mr Dimmer and the train made at Durrington Sec Modern, I started there 1963 and left 1968. Mr Dimmer (Regg) was such a great teacher. Wonderful set of images to treasure. p.s we met today at the Boscombe Down Tornado fly past.

  • Jamie (Saturday, September 01 18 01:39 am BST)

    Hi!

    I am Jamie. One of the coalomen from last weeks steam fair. I know you mentioned taking lots of photos of us and it would be lovely to see them. Please get back to me when you can with prices ect i will most certainly purchase a few! In the meantime i will admire wgat you have on your page here already, hope you enjoyed the show! Speak soon

    Regards
    Jamie

  • Don Russell (Friday, August 17 18 08:51 am BST)

    Hullo, found your site when looking for GDSF info. I was wondering if you had any information regarding engines travelling to the GDSF. I read engines will be raising money for cancer on there journey but I cannot find any info regarding route and timings.Thanks

  • Brian Moore (Saturday, August 04 18 12:40 pm BST)

    Thanks David: Brian

  • Peter Freeman (Thursday, May 10 18 09:56 pm BST)

    Fantastic site, easy to read and great pics! Keep up the good work.

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