50 Reservists Take Part In Exercise Pinestick

50 reservists from 103 Field Squadron, part of 71 Engineer Regiment, have travelled to Cyprus to take part in Exercise Pinestick. 

50 reservists from 103 Field Squadron, part of 71 Engineer Regiment, have travelled to Cyprus to take part in Exercise Pinestick.

It’s a month-long deployment that sees the Sappers build, fix and renovate a whole range of infrastructure across British Forces Cyprus.

In Akrotiri, the eservists have been working at the air terminal - aiming to spruce up the passenger waiting area.

The Squadron, based in Newcastle, is made up of a range of backgrounds, both civilian and military.

Sergeant Theresa Carroll, a trauma nurse in the civilian world, has very close ties with the military- even beyond her 23 years as a reservist. She said: "I'm married to WO2 Carroll, who's also 103 Squadron and we have two children. 

"My eldest is also in the Squadron, whilst my youngest is an engineer Army Cadet!"

Over in Dhekelia, the Sappers were set three very different tasks - including laying a new road.

Laying the new road at Dhekelia.
Laying the new road at Dhekelia.

The excavator on the site was Lance Corproral Michael Thompson, one of several ex-regulars in the squadron who left the Royal Engineers to become a firefighter after 12 years of service.

Lance Corporal Thompson said:“ I started to miss certain things I didn’t think I would, coming here you keep up the skill set and do the things you used to do, in that respect it’s pretty good and also in the fire service as well there’s transferable skills.”

Major Dom Dias, Officer Commanding 103 Field Squadron believes the exercise has many benefits: "There’s benefit for military here and for us.

"For us it's about practicing our low level engineering skills and really section the troop level, making sure our guys are ready to conduct those skills whether it be in the UK on an exercise like this or on operations as well.”

Personnel doing maintenance work at the toilet block.
Personnel doing maintenance work at the toilet block.

The reservists also had to refurbish a visitor toilet block at a military cemetery at Dhekelia Station.

At Alexander Barracks, the Squadron were building a BBQ for the Royal Anglian Regiment.

Corporal Geoff Bowman said being a reservist is very different to his civilian life.

"This is the complete other end of the spectrum from what I do on a day-to-day basis," he explained.

"The excitement in my job is going to people's officers, being in my car, being at my desk - here, I'm outside, working with my hands.

"I'm doing things that I've learnt how to do being in the reserves."

Corporal Bruno Dos Santos, who moved to the UK from Brazil aged 13, also said being a reserve has given him new opportunities.

"Recently, I just gained teaching qualifications through the Army which I can easily use in a civilian world, as well," the courier driver explained.

103 Field Squadron is part of 71 Engineer Regiment, based at Leuchars in Scotland.