I thought you might be interested in the latest bulletin
from Y Company First Fusiliers currently on Ex ASKARI STORM in Kenya.
Capt (Retd) A R G Harris
Assistant Regimental Secretary
Y COMPANY GROUP NEWSLETTER
No. 14/1 Exercise ASKARI STORM, Kenya
Hello and welcome to the first Y Company Newsletter typed
in the hot and challenging climate of Kenya. I hope this Newsletter
is useful in providing you with a regular update of what the company
is up to. Our current deployment in Kenya is the first of three overseas
exercises that Y Company will undertake over the next 12 months so expect
a steady flow of these dispatches!
Patrolling from our enhanced harbour area
the razor wire is to keep out inquisitive animals and locals!
As I type, 7 and 9 Platoon are just returning from the local training
area where they have been for 7 days; 8 Platoon returned yesterday.
We now have 36 hours in the relative comfort of Laikipia Air Base before
heading out again on another 9 day exercise. Training out here is hard
work, not least because we are doing battle with the hot weather and
1900m altitude, as well as the array of biting insects, scratching bushes
and bruising terrain. We have had some close encounters with snakes
and spiders but no harm has come to us.
The troops resilience and determination has impressed me; we have
conducted 5 days of company training where we practiced navigation by
night, recce patrols and section attacks. We also enjoyed spectacular
and unspoilt views of Mount Kenya from our harbour area and everyone
saw a good number of giraffes, zebras, camels and elephants. Indeed
at least two sections claim to have been stalked by hyenas on one night-time
exercise. Fortunately that was as close as they got! Our own company
training exercise culminated with a game of football against the locals
from the nearby town. Sadly in spite of our best efforts and a weakened
team, we succumbed to Kinamba FC 4-1.
Fusilier Evans Omane battles locals for possession
7 Platoon operating at night
Since being back in camp, we have continued to keep fit with
regular running sessions. There now appears to be a young contender
to be the fastest man in the Company not something Company Sergeant
Major John Mcowliff will give up easily! In the background, Company
Quartermaster Sergeant Mark Spud Taylor and his team have
taken a break from conducting local safaris (otherwise known as daily
admin runs to FOB SWARA) and they have been busy packing
food, cookers, camp cots and a barbeque onto our company trucks in preparation
for our move up north. The whole Company including our chefs,
mechanics, signallers and medic will be deploying to FOB TWIGA,
an austere operating base in the midst of the Archers Post training
area, for 9-10 days. We will be mounting regular attacks against our
exercise enemy: the Third Battalion, The Rifles, and will
be putting into practice the skills we refreshed earlier in the week.
Whats more, its at least 10 degrees hotter up there so therell
be the added challenge of dealing with the heat.
We will compile another Newsletter whilst operating from FOB TWIGA
ready for sending out at the start of June. In the meantime, please
enjoy this first edition and I wish all of you back home all the very
best and I look forward to getting to know you over the next 2 years.
Major Alex Mills
The week in pictures
8 Platoon post-football with the locals in Kinamba
CQMS Mark Taylor briefs up his CQ party
Lance Corporal Malcolm Captain Carew sports his new attire
Sgt Andrew Chappel, OC 7 Platoon, during platoon night exercises
Kinamba 4-1 Y Company. A brave performance from Y Company in spite
of having 2 men fewer and struggling somewhat in the heat!
Meeting the locals..
Cpl Mike Anderson REME: the classic soldier abroad selfie
Corporal Mike Anderson (REME): We visited Ol Maisor school
whilst the Company played a friendly football match against the local
team. The school caters for children from 4 years old right through
to 16. Mr Peters introduced me to his primary class who were eager to
learn about everything you would expect to see in a UK syllabus. Their
character, spirit, and willingness to learn was inspirational.
Notes from 8 Platoon by Captain Rob Whittle, 8 Platoon Commander
The first 10 or so days here in Kenya have been very fast paced,
and the Fusiliers have responded to with their usual look of absolute
distain and disgust. However, once we deployed into the field and away
from the RAF movement controllers the mood was raised. After a quick
36 hours in camp we deployed on an epic 6 hour infil/safari in the comfort
of the MAN Trucks, where upon reaching our destination (the middle of
nowhere) we set up our home for the next week. A ring of barbed wire
around a few trucks may not sound like much, and it isnt! It did
give the Fusiliers a sense of security however, as much from the locals
as from animals as proven when a certain other platoon commander decided
to demonstrate the effectiveness of the wire by getting himself trapped
requiring the services of one of his young Fusiliers to free
folks, dont try this at home!
The pace of life on exercise was challenging at all levels, with
some members of the company labelling it Y Coy Selection
but for those who are going on an obvious course in the future will
look back on this as excellent preparation, and may find the actual
course a walk in the park now! With some progression we ended the 5
day package with a solid foundation at section level and had operated
as a platoon, at night, with a great deal of success. Both myself and
Sergeant Nick Smith were proud of the effort all the Fusiliers were
putting in. A particular highlight was managing to hide in an LUP (laying
up point) after a night infiltration, so effectively that we couldnt
be found by the OC and CSM, even with an accurate grid reference! After
a long final day of tabbing and lessons we finished the exercise with
a company photo (meaning that they had all passed the cadre!), that
Im sure many readers will get bored of being shown this photo
We then moved on to support B Company, 3 Rifles for 48 hours on their
confirmatory exercise. This again proved to be a busy time with the
whole platoon either involved with attack lanes, or building up positions
in support of B Companys training. After giving the rifles a hard
fight (whilst still screwing the nut!) we then moved back to camp for
36 hours of administration (cleaning weapons, clothing and bodies) before
deploying out again early doors tomorrow. All the members of the platoon
send their regards to their significant others, and have just got back
from the curio shops having bought plenty of souvenirs to take home.
We are looking forward to deploy to Archers Roast (sic) for the next
10 day phase, harassing more Riflemen!
Id like to take this time to say that it is an absolute pleasure
commanding mature Fusiliers of this calibre and that you should be proud
of your son or partner, as he really is earning his pay out here.
8 Platoon quotes of the week
Sgt Nick Smith: This is the worst yoghurt ever.
Capt Rob Whittle: Isnt that jam?
Sgt Nick Smith:
Yes, yes it is.
Fus Tom Peek: But it had the cold, red, lifeless eyes of a killer
(on being questioned as to why he fired a miniflare into the darkness).
Fus Ryan Hodnett: Just fire it, the platoon Sergeant will never
Fus Kristopher Stirling: Boss, didnt you say this exercise
was going to be buckshee?!? (I didnt!)
Fus Annonymous: Fus Hogg; half man half turbo clip.