Highs and flows for army reservists

Army reservist Ollie Palphramand from Lancaster.
Army reservist Ollie Palphramand from Lancaster.

A group of army reservists from Lancaster have returned from an expedition in South Africa.

David Smith and John Stockdale both took part in a five day mountaineering expedition, while Ollie Palphramand was on a river rafting trip.

Kingsman Smith, 27, who works for HM Courts and Tribunal Services, was among a group of reservists from Kohima Company, 4th Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (4 LANCS) who undertook the climb in the Drakensberg Mountains.

He was joined by Corporal Stockdale, 53, who in his civilian life is a van driver.

Exercise Northern Dragon Duke took place in the Kwazulu Natal Province and provided an opportunity for the reservists to undertake robust adventure training which was extremely physically and mentally challenging.

David said: “I enjoyed people conquering their own fears and to experience the camaraderie.”

In his eight year career David has served in Afghanistan, Italy and America. John, who has been an army reserve for 30 years, said: “I enjoyed the hiking and seeing the wild baboons and antelopes.”

Meanwhile, Kingsman Palphramand, 30, whose civilian job is with Aggregate Industries, was among a group of reservists who tackled the waters on the Tugela River.

Ollie, who has been an Army reserve for five years, said: “Whitewater rafting enabled me to see Africa from a different perspective as it was far from the tourist trail and I was also able to speak with the locals regarding their customs.”

At the end of the expedition the reservists visited the famous battlefield sites of Rorke’s Drift and Spion Kop before returning home.

The 4 LANCS Infantry company not only includes fighting soldiers but also medics, chefs, training officers and other support staff, most of whom have civilian jobs but give up their spare time to train and serve as Army soldiers.

The officer commanding Kohima Company, Major Nick Kennon, added: “This was an excellent opportunity for soldiers from across the battalion to challenge themselves with tough adventurous training in a foreign country.

“Adventurous training is invaluable to the army as it develops robust soldiers, teamwork and self confidence.”

In recent times Army reserve training has been designed to produce individual soldiers which could slot into regular units on operations, as and when required.

As the military commitment in Afghanistan draws down, Northern Dragon Duke marks a shift back towards developing fully formed deployable units which train more closely with the regular Army.

This better serves the commitment the MOD has made to make more of the talents of reservists; expanding their roles while delivering enhanced training and equipment.

The UK Armed Forces are changing, with greater emphasis being put on the reserve forces.

The aim is that, by 2020, reservists will be a fully integrated component of the ‘Whole Force’ and will routinely deploy as part of all military operations.