Germany

Royal Artillery Battery Says Farewell... For Now

26 Regiment's 16 Battery is expected to be reactivated with brand new weapons systems in the mid-2020s.

A Royal Artillery Battery that is part of 26 Regiment has said 'goodbye' at a parade in the German city of Gütersloh before being put into what is known as suspended animation or deactivated.

The unit's 16 Battery traces its history back to 1779, and is expected to be reactivated in the mid-2020s with a brand new weapons system.

The regiment's Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Kieran Sheldon said:

“16 Battery are being placed into suspended animation rather than disbanding.

"There is a plan in the middle of the 2020s around 2024 when we develop a new capability for the British Army and enhance some of our deep fire capabilities as part of a divisional fires regiment.

"16 Battery will rejoin 26 Regiment to operate land precision strike."

16 Battery in Germany 121218 CREDIT BFBS
'Once a Sandham's man, he's always a Sandham's Man’ is the Regiment's motto.

In its 239-year history, 16 Battery has participated in nearly every British Army campaign; the Battery fired the first rounds against Napoleon's forces at Waterloo and it was there that it got the name 'Sandham's Company' – in honour of its commander, Captain Charles Freeman Sandham.

He also famously campaigned for veterans of the battle to be cared for in later life.

“We've got a motto in Sandham's,” explained Sergeant Mike Cole.

"‘Once a Sandham's man, he's always a Sandham's Man’ and that's just prevalent throughout veterans and the guys serving that's probably my lasting memory of the Battery – yes."

The Battery's story also features two World Wars, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

In 2003 the Gunners hit the headlines after being petrol bombed while patrolling the streets of Basra and only last summer 16 Battery was in Estonia.

There it operated as part of the first British-led NATO Battlegroup in the Baltic States.

For Major Chris Billups there will not be any more missions commanding his Battery.

16 Battery 121218 CREDIT BFBS

“It's a difficult feeling because we still want to put our heart and soul into today, the parade, sending the Battery to sleep in good order.

"But we've got one eye focussed on the future making sure we have the right soldiers, the right equipment and everything ready for when we do come back.”

Gunner Oliver Day says he will miss his time in Germany:

“We've all got on pretty well to be fair. The Battery does getting to know each other over the years, especially being in Germany because it's not like the UK.

"People can't go home every weekend so out here we get to know each other quite a lot better."

The inspecting officer at this farewell parade is Lieutenant General Stuart Skeates; he once commanded 26 Regiment which 16 Battery personnel will continue to be part of.

Lieutenant General Stuart Skeates 121218 CREDIT BFBS
Lieutenant General Stuart Skeates inspects the troops.

The unit is now transforming into the British Army's new Divisional Deep Fires Regiment.

"That is an incredibly important role for the future way in which the British Army is able to confront the threats that we face today.

"And all of the men and women that you saw on parade here in Sandham's Company will be part of that future."

16 Battery has been deactivated once before, in the 19th century.

It is expected to return to duty sometime in the 2020s.