Military Life

Life Inside The Army's New Facilities At Salisbury Plain

Thousands of troops and their families, who began leaving Germany in 2013, are now stationed in Wiltshire.

Forces News has been given access to some of the new British Army facilities on Salisbury Plain.

As the Army Basing Programme comes to a conclusion after seven years, our cameras have been let inside garrisons across the Wiltshire training area to find out how thousands of troops and their families returning from Germany have settled in. 

The last decade has seen a huge shift in where Army units are stationed, with new 'Super Garrisons' created to house the additional personnel.

Among the sites transformed are Tidworth, Larkhill and Bulford.

£1.8bn has been invested in the entire rebasing programme which has seen 1,475 newly built family houses.

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Harrison, Transition Team Basing and Infrastructure, said a lot of thought and planning has gone into creating the infrastructure but also developing "communities for Army families to move to".

Additionally, 4,437 single living spaces have also been built, perhaps the biggest change, with each room coming with ensuite facilities.

Private Charlie Balderstone, 1 Armoured Medical Regiment, said she enjoys Tidworth because of the facilities and the number of regiments at the garrison.

"Even the block next to you could be a different regiment which means although you might not necessarily always converse with them or talk to them, it's just that inclusion [of] the whole Army is being brought together," she said.

It is not just living conditions that have seen a marked improvement.

Troops returning from Germany have also seen new training facilities alongside new accommodation, such as 26 Regiment Royal Artillery's new home at Larkhill Garrison.

After leaving Germany, 26 Regiment Royal Artillery's new headquarters form part of Larkhill Garrison and the Army’s new artillery hub.

Lieutenant Colonel Pete Gentles, Deputy Garrison Commander Larkhill, said their new home is widely regarded as "the best facilities that these regiments have ever had".

"In terms of what they have to work from on a day-to-day basis, it’s second to none across defence," he said.

"In terms of their ability to operate, they are compact, their equipment is to hand and of course the training area is 400m from here."

There have also been 54 workshops and garages, 22 messes, 13 regimental headquarters, 12 gyms and sports pitches, all newly built, as well as 14 road improvement schemes.

The drawdown of troops in Germany and Army reorganisation may have brought about the development, but the Army also realised it needed to offer more to retain personnel.

Lieutenant Joel Hart, Vehicle Platoon Commander, 18 Field, 3 Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, said: "It feels like very much the opportunities are there.

"Both in terms of where they [personnel] can live, what they can do and then what they’re able to do in their free time as well."

British troops began leaving Germany in 2013, with the last field units leaving for the UK last summer.