Airborne Sappers condition their new arrivals

Soldiers newly posted to Woodbridge’s airborne sappers are being introduced to the rigours of the unit’s role and its history and values.

The Airborne Fundamentals Course run by 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment (23 Para Engr Regt) teaches troops arriving at the unit about the skills and knowledge they need to serve, as both airborne engineers and soldiers. 

Running at Rock Barracks in Woodbridge, Suffolk over five weeks, soldiers learn about the history of airborne forces, and how operational experience shapes how the unit operates and sets the standard of bravery and commitment expected of its soldiers. Practical engineering tasks the troops have been refining include bridging and demolitions, mixed with airborne skills such as how units form up on the drop zone after parachuting into an operation.  

Fitness is also a key element to prepare the soldiers for P Company, which they must complete to demonstrate the physical and mental robustness needed to train as a military parachutist. 

23 Para Engr Regt provides close combat engineering support to 16 Air Assault Brigade, the British Army’s global response force, enabling it to fight, move and live. Its sappers are trained and equipped to deploy by parachute, helicopter or fixed wing aircraft. 

I’ve been learning non-stop since I joined the Army Sapper Fitzmaurice

Warrant Officer Class 1 (RSM) David Hird, 23 Para Engr Regt’s Regimental Sergeant Major, said: “Our role demands soldiers with the self-reliance, robustness and initiative to be able to parachute in on an operation and do whatever is asked of them using the equipment they have brought with them”.  

“This course is about introducing young soldiers who have come to the unit to the particular skills and demands of working as airborne engineers, while teaching them our ethos and the standards we expect them to meet.” 

The troops on the course have been posted to 23 Para Engr Regt after completing their basic training as soldiers and their initial trade training as combat engineers. 

Sapper Frankie Fitzmaurice, 20 of Calverton in Nottinghamshire, said: “I wanted to come to 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment because of the specialist role and the extra challenge of parachuting. I’ve been learning non-stop since I joined the Army, and this course has been a good chance to go back over some of our basic engineering skills, but in more depth and more specific to what I could find myself doing on operations.” 

Sapper Vilisoni Tabuatamata, 26 from Fiji, said: “I joined the Army to set myself a challenge. Understanding and developing the skills needed to work at this unit and do my bit to maintain its standards and proud history, is certainly providing that.”