SWINDON’S Territorial Army squadron is to be disbanded at the end of this month, although the TA will maintain a presence in the town.
As part of the Army 2020 reorganisation, a number of squadrons are being disbanded and consolidated into partner units, including A Squadron of the Royal Yeomanry, based in Swindon.
The liberation of Iraq from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in 2003 was the highest-profile recent battle honour in a history dating back to 1794.
The squadron alsp played a key role in the Second Battle of El Alamein, in 1942 during the Second World War On 1 July A Squadron will cease to exist and will be appropriated into Wessex Yeomanry, based in Dorset.
They will also be retrained from a light covering unit into heavy armour, being tasked with operation of the huge Challenger Two tanks.
A captain within the Territorial Army, who asked not to be named, said no redundancies will be made, and the squadron will remain in Swindon under the umbrella of Wessex Yeomanry.
“They will not be A Squadron any more, and will likely be renumbered,” the captain said. “The Royal Yeomanry in Croydon have just taken on two units from the Royal Mercenary who will be called A Squadron and B Squadron even though they already have an A and B Squadron, so it can be slightly confusing.
“They are going to transfer across with around 90 people, and no one is going to be sacked or made redundant, “They will stay with their unit. They will simply be brought within an even bigger unit.
“The squadron will stay in Swindon, while the headquarters will now be based in Bovington. It is merely a title change, and there is no move in manpower.”
Reservists will be trying out a 72-tonne Challenger tank after they join Wessex Yeomanry at the end of the month.
The captain said: “A Squadron have been in the process of training as a light covering unit. “Under Reserve 2020 they are now moving and being re-badged to Royal Wessex Yeomanry, based in Bovington in Dorset.
“Once they have made the move they will re-role again to heavy armour. “It is completely new training, and they will be going from operating a two-and-a-half tonne armoured Landrover to a 72-tonne tank.
“They will train on the Challenger Two, which is the main British Army tank.”
The squadron will borrow tanks from the Army for their training, but they will not be seen thundering around the streets of Swindon.
“The Yeomanry will not have any Challenger tanks,” the captain said. “Because they are so expensive and require a lot of maintenance, when they deploy they will borrow tanks from the regular army unit for the period of their training, clean them up and bring them back.
“ I remember tanks used to drive up and down Fleet Street and Commercial Road before they pedestrianised a lot of it.
“Seeing a Challenger tank driving down there would be a bit of a shock now and more than a few windows would be shaking.“ Another unitf rom Royal Mercian and Lancastrian will step into the light covering role.