Cyprus

Goodbye Cyprus: Surprise Send-Off For The Poachers' Commanding Officer

A farewell with a Mediterranean twist for the Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment.

When 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment head home from Cyprus this month they will be saying goodbye not just to Alexander Barracks but also their Commanding Officer.

In a day of bittersweet celebration, the Poachers staged a traditional send-off ceremony for Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Weston, with an added - top secret - twist.

The Anglians arrived in Cyprus in 2017 – their second posting to the island in five years – and have spent the past two years guarding UK communications assets dotted around the island.

Lt Colonel Weston told Forces News that it has been a busy spell: “Our core role here was doing Cyprus ops, we’ve accomplished that and we’re now the regional standby battalion.

"That means we’ve got to be prepared for everything from non-combatant evacuation to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. It means we’ve had to be flexible and adaptable."

Lt Col Bruce Weston, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment carried to boat at Alexander Barracks.
Lt Col Bruce Weston is carried to his speedboat at Alexander Barracks.

During their time in the Med, the Battalion took part in defence engagement visits to Lebanon and Israel, and were heavily involved in sport, with teams in the Cypriot cricket league and the Aki 10s rugby competition.

The Battalion will now move away, undergoing a transitioning process so complex that they refer to the task spreadsheet as 'The Alan Turing Code' - a reference to the Second World War code-breaker.

After three years in charge, the ceremonies were not quite finished for Colonel Weston as he was carried aloft aboard a specially built throne down to the beach where a speedboat was waiting to whisk him way alongside his wife Katie. 

Following the morning march, the Battalion had arranged for the CO to be carried by chair to a speedboat, riding into the sunset and leaving in suitable style.

Lt Col Bruce Weston, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment leaving Alexander Barracks by speedboat.
CO Weston leaves behind the shores of Dhekelia.

Warrant Officer Class 1 Steve MacTavish, Regimental Sergeant Major, said it was a fitting farewell:  

“I’ve been at this Battalion for 23 years and I think he’s been one of the best Commanding Officers we’ve had.”

The Poachers are now returning to Cottesmore where they will convert to a Light Mechanised Infantry role using the Foxhound vehicle.

Taking their place in Cyprus will be troops from 1st Battalion the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment who are moving from Germany.