Army reservists put through their paces

Kingsman David Smith from Lancaster.
Kingsman David Smith from Lancaster.

More than 80 soldiers from the 4th Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment are currently spending two weeks in northern Italy as part of a training exercise for army reservists.

The soldiers are being put through their paces by Italy’s tough 7th Infantry Regiment and 32nd Tank regiment.

The exercise aims to link the training of reservists into that of the UK’s NATO partners and to share best practice across the defence organistaion.

Reporter Laura Wild, who visited the battalion during their training, spoke to one reservist from Lancaster who was swapping the courtroom for open fields.

“I can be on a field weekend one minute and then it is Monday morning and I am in a court room addressing a judge.”

For many of the troops on this training exercise there’s a sense that they leave a double life and many of them do.

Although there’s nothing sinister about it, they all have something, this, in common and people in their civilian jobs don’t always realise what it is all about.

Kingsman David Smith, 27, from Lancaster, works Monday to Friday at Lancaster Magistrates’ Court, then at the weekend and in his spare time he brushes up on his army skills should be called up for duty any time soon.

I spent five minutes or so sat with him as he cleaned his rifle. His ability to multi-task was astounding – he never stopped what he was meant to be doing as we chatted.

As we sat in the bushes next to what was his home for the next two weeks, a basha bed, complete with a mat to lie on, his ration pack and his essentials, he told me he signed up for the “challenge”.

He added: “I work at Lancaster Magistrates’ Court in administration – it is very different. I think a lot of people at work don’t get what it is about.

“I went to Afghanistan for six-and-a-half months in 2010. It was a varied experience, there were really good times and bad times but for the most part I enjoyed it.

“I had a lot of support parcels coming out from friends and family. It is hard to have time away from the people you care about.

“I was lucky. I didn’t lose anybody in my section; we did lose people in the army but in terms of seeing things, I made it my business to not try and see things.

“It is all about getting a good routine. If you have got a good routine it makes being away easier.”

The former Ripley St Thomas student, who has been a reservist for seven years, added: “I am quite proud of my TA roots. The [best things] include the life experiences and the different people you meet.

“The banter with the lads and girls within the sections gets you through a lot. Go for it, there’s lots of varied experiences that you wouldn’t have in civvy street.”