1st Battalion the Mercian Regiment have returned home to their headquarters in Bulford, Wiltshire following an extended period of deployment to Estonia.
After spending four months completing pre-deployment training in Germany, over 300 troops from the infantry regiment spent six months on Op Cabrit, the UK operational engagement to the Baltic state, where British soldiers are leading a multinational battlegroup as part of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP).
“As it is close to Remembrance day we have taken the opportunity to read out the names of all the Mercian soldiers who have fallen since the formation of the regiment." Lieutenant Colonel Dean Canham, Commanding Officer 1st battalion the mercian regiment
Whilst based in Estonia, 1 Mercian Regiment took part in numerous exercises further cementing relations with its NATO partners.
Lieutenant Colonel Dean Canham, Commanding Officer 1 Mercian reflects on the deployment:
“It was a fantastic opportunity, we got to conduct something that is pretty rare, six months working with soldiers from a range of units and nationalities, conducting everything from the lowest level of training right up to Brigade level of operations in an armoured context.”
And he adds, the occasion also gave the regiment a time to reflect:
“As it is close to Remembrance day we have taken the opportunity to read out the names of all the Mercian soldiers who have fallen since the formation of the regiment. This time of year, it is particularly poignant having just returned from operations to remember those individuals.”
“It is nice to stop for a minute, hear their names called out and remember." Warrant Officer Class 2 Mark Sumner, 1st battalion the mercian regiment
WO2 Mark Sumner from Litchfield has been serving for over 19 years. He thought it an appropriate occasion to combine the homecoming parade and pause to remember others:
“We lost quite a few guys from the three battalions that have since merged into the one. It is nice to stop for a minute, hear their names called out and remember. You don’t forget about them.”
The 2016 NATO summit in Warsaw set the conditions for the establishment of an eFP in Estonia, Latvia. Lithuania and Poland to strengthen Euro-Atlantic Security. Around 900 British personnel rotate on a continuous basis alongside Danish, French and host nation Estonian forces.
UK military have maintained a presence in Estonia since 2017. About 800 troops lead simulation exercises to prepare for potential attack. British units also engage with schools and local communities to talk about NATO, their role in the country, and the mission.
For Corporal Andrew Bagshaw from Ellesmere Port this was his first deployment to Estonia:
“It was a good tour and quite challenging, it was a big learning curve for all of us. I found it good working with the Estonians, the Latvians, and other nations to see how they do things. We picked up lots from each other, so overall it was very successful and enjoyable.”
Adds Corporal Bagshaw, who has served for 11 years. It was important to remember others on this day too:
“A lot of the names called out were people I served with. This time of year, I always pay attention to them and my thoughts are always with the fallen. They gave the ultimate sacrifice doing their job to the best of their ability”