When asked how it felt to be one of the first women to be accepted into the Royal Armoured Corps, Corporal Aishlen Taylor was surprisingly abrupt.
The reservist, who has served with the Royal Wessex Yeomanry since January 2016, said, simply: “I don’t know.”
“You don’t want any spotlight on you.
“You just want to be able to get on and do the job because you’re good at it – not just because you’re a female.”
Cpl Taylor admits the British Army is pretty much all she’s known, having spent 11 years in the Royal Military Police.
After leaving regular service, she wasted no time in joining the Reserves – transferring the very next day.
Cpl Taylor went for her current position at a time when women had only just been permitted to apply for the Armoured Corps. What drove her towards tanks?
“My husband is a commander in the Royal Tank Regiment – and, well, I like a challenge.
“I went down for the physical assessment day, passed all of that fine, and was told I was the first female accepted into the Armoured Corps, regs and reserves, at that point.”
Cpl Taylor, who qualified at the same time as LCpl Carrie Waters, was one the first female Reservists to become a CR2 Driver. LCpl Kat Dixon was the first female Reservist to become a CR2 Gunner.
Meanwhile, 2Lt Alexandria Rothwell is currently on her Troop Leaders Course and is set to become the first Female Reservist Troop Leader.
Cpl Taylor has been on three operational tours – one of Iraq, two of Afghanistan – is qualified to drive a Challenger 2, and is about to start her gunnery course.
But her great love of military life is sport, more specifically, powerlifting. She has represented the Army in lifting for the past two years; more recently, appearing for Wales and Great Britain.
This year, she hoisted Best Female Lifter in the Squat category. She said:
“Sport has made me friends for life.
“It helped with mental health issues I was battling when I started. I was suffering with depression, which thankfully I can say I’m now on the other side of.
“Powerlifting has played such a big part in [my recovery]. My coach took me under his wing two years ago, and I will be forever grateful.”
What has life in the Reserves given back to Cpl Taylor?
“The Army now works for me, as such. I get to control a little bit more of my life, which is definitely a bonus. My husband is still serving, and we have a little boy.”
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced in October 2018 that all military roles would become open to women.
It has been three years since ex-Prime Minister David Cameron lifted a ban on females serving in close combat units.
As of 2018, the Royal Armoured Corps had 35 women serving.
Photos Credit: @BSqnLdrRWxY