11 Fd Sqn
1983-2006The post-Falklands period was rather quiet for 11 Sqn, especially when compared to the rather frenetic pace of life of the 1970s. With the exception of the following highlights, the Sqn spent the majority of their time in Barracks in Ripon.
In Jan 1983 11 Sqn deployed on Exercise LARCHPOLE, a four month construction exercise in Kenya. Larchpole 83 consisted of the first phase construction of a new Kenyan Army School of Infantry, including a 20 man accommodation block a 400m eight lane Hythe pattern range 3.7kms of high voltage overhead line, and a septic tank
Three years later, 11 Sqn returned to Kenya to improve the facilities at the School of Infantry, on Ex LARCHPOLE 86. This time, an 18 man accommodation block was built; a classroom; a nine room Privates accommodation block, and an 800m stretch of road.
1988 saw the Sqn spend 12 weeks preparing three sites for the British Army Equipment Exhibition in Aldershot. Towards the end of the year, the Sqn completed a tour of the Falkland Islands, where its main role was Damage Repair at Mount Pleasant Airfield. For fighter operations this involved the filling and levelling of bomb craters and then covering them with an aluminium mat. At the same time, repair teams worked around the airfield putting right bomb damage to essential services such as power, fuel and water supplies.
In 1989, a detachment from 11 Sqn spent two weeks on an exchange tour with the Royal Australian Engineers. The majority experienced a week of jungle training, while 1 Tp were to act as enemy on a mechanized exercise with an Australian armoured brigade. The trip was rounded off in style with five days
R&R on the Gold Coast.
In 1993,11 Sqn re-rolled to Armoured Mechanised.
Oct 1993 to Mar 1994 saw 11 Sqn deploy to Bosnia on Op GRAPPLE 3. Operating out of the very remote Redoubt Camp, the Sappers were part of the British military contribution to the UNHCR effort to bring relief to the starving refugees of the three-sided conflict; Muslims, Croats, and Serbs.
Despite pressure to withdraw from the region, British forces played a vital role in bringing aid to the refugees displaced by three years of fighting. 11 Sqn's part in this was to provide the resident infantry battalion in Vitez (the Coldstream Guards at the time) with accommodation, power, water, and ablutions.
The tour was an eventful one, with Spr Hutchinson lucky to survive an accident in which his Iveco medium dump truck slid off a road, coming to a standstill 30m down a steep slope. Unfortunately for Spr Hutchinson, the first people on the scene were members of HVO, the heavily armed local militia, who promptly stole his rifle. This was thankfully recovered, albeit three weeks later, when the eagle-eyed Cpl King spotted the weapon on the dashboard of an HVO vehicle, and arranged for the vehicle's detention so that the weapon could be reclaimed.
The first two months of 1995 saw 11 Sqn in sunnier climes, on Ex PINESTICK, a construction tour in Cyprus. Then, in preparation for its deployment to Bosnia, the last phase of 11 Sqn's training was to replace the old Bailey bridge at Charlie Crossing on Salisbury Plain Training Area.
From Oct-Dec 1995, the Sqn returned to Bosnia on Op GRAPPLE 7. This time, the Sqn were based in Vitez, in a Close Support role. Support Troop was kept extremely busy rebuilding a section of the Vitez - Sipovo road, known as the Komar Bypass, which had been washed away in heavy rains.
When the name of the Operation changed to RESOLUTE at the end of Dec 1995, 11 Sqn remained in situ but changed to a General Support role, which they maintained until Apr 1996.
From Aug to Sep 1996, the Sqn exercised in BATUS, Canada, on MEDICINE MAN 5, playing enemy to the 1 KORBR Battle Group. On their return from adventure training at Trails End Camp in the Rocky Mountains, 1 Tp was tasked to construct a bridge for HM The Queen on the Balmoral Estate. An MLC 30 structure was required to replace the original timber-beamed bridge, so that fire engines and heavy logging vehicles would have full access to the Estate.
The following September, 38 Engr Regt left 51 Fd Sqn manning the fort in Ripon while deployed to Bosnia on Op LODESTAR for a six month tour. One of 11 Sqn's major tasks was to strip out the Bailey bridge next to the new Gordon HGB in Donji Vakuf.
The Sqn was based at the Gornji Vakuf Precision Factory, from which they completed a multitude of varied tasks: 1 Tp built a rebro site at the top of a mountain; 3 Tp conducted an instructional build of a Mabey johnson bridge for the benefit of the Romanian and Hungarian engineer contingents, and Sp Tp constructed a new helipad alongside the comms site at Velika Gomila, to name but a few.
OP TELIC 2. After the war-fighting phase, known as Op TELIC the main business of normalisation within Iraq began. 11 Sqn played a pivotal role firstly providing force protection of the troops that would be stationed in Iraq to aid its recovery and secondly for the re-instatement and improvements of essential services. Force Protection tasks ranged from the emplacement of HescoBastion as well as improvements to the living standards of the resident troops within theatre. The major effort was with the work on the civilian infrastructure most notably with the water supply and sewage systems. This dealt with both drinking water and "grey" water that has been used for domestic purposes. The majority of the work was not done to repair damage that had been incurred on Op TELIC, but in repairing the years of neglect by Saddam Hussein's Baath party regime. Crucial recces were carried out for future tasks that were carried out on subsequent operations in particular for the reverse-osmosis water purification plants. The Squadron performed incredibly well in the desert heat and the hostile post-conflict environment. A real sense of achievement was gained by all those who were involved as the locals were able to see and feel the differences to their standard of living.
Ex OAKAPPLE 04 Kenya. Shortly after the return from Iraq Ex OAKAPPLE, an exercise in support of the British Army Training Unit (Kenya) was undertaken between 23 Feb - 7 Apr 04. The exercise was based around a Sqn(-) deployment, and broke down into the following discreet engineer tasks:
• The construction of an accommodation block for health care workers, to include the construction of a water tower to supply piped water to the new building.
• The construction of two bridges, one for pedestrians and one for vehicles.
• The construction of a bush airstrip to serve the health care centre.
Ex KINGFISHER GLEN 05. This was a large Sqn(-) deployment to BaUater in Scotland working on the Queen's Balmoral estate. The tasks revolved around the construction of three separate bridges in and around the Balmoral estate. Each task site was run and managed by a Troop Commander, with a Staff Sergeant in charge of the build. Support Troop carried out a separate set of plant tasks for the Gruniard Estate which had lent 20000 acres of its private land for dismounted infantry and Special Forces training. In return for this loan the MACC task was generated to upgrade a series of tracks to allow future access to the river for anglers, increasing the potential for revenue generation in the future. The topography and geography of the area yielded significant problems, especially with the harsh weather conditions. Both tasks were very challenging, at all levels, but incredibly rewarding for both the local community as well as the
Military Construction Force that built them.
Ex LOYAL LEDGER 06. This was the largest peace-time deployment of troops on the UK mainland for a long time based between a former Naval ammunition compound in Caerwent, Stanford Training Area in Norfolk and Salisbury Plain. The Squadron in a more General Support role, rather than its traditional Close Support role was tasked with force protection and infrastructure support tasks. At Caerwent, as on Op TELIC 2 HESCO-BASTION loomed large on the horizon, literally as what is thought to be the UK's largest HESCO construction was built by the Squadron as part of the force protection measure. The Squadron's plant operators stepped up to the mark as the public order and riot scenarios ramped up towards a crescendo, which was quickly diffused by an aggressive strike into the rioters' barriers by the Combat Engineer Tractors of the Squadron. On STANTA 2Tp was in Sp of the Queen's Royal Lancers Battle
group and undertook close and general support roles, using search and combat engineering. A difficult communications link was made between the two dispersed areas allowing the Squadron to be skilfully controlled by Captain Mike McCarthy, squadron second-in-command, for this incredible deployment.
When the exercise moved to Salisbury Plain the Squadron seamlessly re-rolled into its more close support role, poised to do any tasked that were required. The main role was for the movement of the General Support Bridge to cross the River Berril.
In 2005, 11 Sqn deployed in support of its affiliated Battle Groups, 1 Devon and Dorset's and 1 King's, on Exercise WESSEX WARRIOR/DRUID'S DANCE on Salisbury Plain Training Area.
ll Field Squadron Royal Engineers
11 Field Squadron, Royal Engineers provides Engineer Support to 19 Light Brigade. Recently changing from an Mechanized Brigade the squadron has found it's self facing many changes,The squadron's current home is in Ripon, North Yorkshire. Recent operations include Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq. As well as a number of
exercises including Cyprus, Kenya and of late members of the squadron deployed to Belize.