A soldier from Kent has just been promoted to the rank of Sergeant – nothing out of the ordinary normally, but when it is the country’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson who steps forward to hand you your stripes – well, it lends itself to being something a bit more special.
The Prime Minister had been visiting troops currently stationed at Tapa in Estonia as part of the UK’s Enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup – there to provide reassurance to the Baltic states and deter any aggressive posture from their Russian neighbours.
Corporal, now Sergeant, Paul Croucher (28) from Seabrook, Hythe currently serves with 1 Royal Tank Regiment where he is, or rather was the Reconnaissance Troop Corporal he’ll now become its Sergeant.
Paul hails from a family with very strong Kent connections, five generations of Crouchers have lived in Hythe. Many of them have served in the British Army; his uncle, Mark Bentley joined the Royal Signals and over 37 years of service worked his way up from being a basic Private soldier to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel; his grandfather, Harry Croucher was a Paratrooper who took part in the D-Day Landings parachuting into Caen in 1944.
Speaking of his promotion Paul said, “It was as much a total shock to me as it was for Boris.” He didn’t know it at the time, but his Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Simon Worth had handed the Prime Minister the sergeant stripes. Paul went on to explain, “He turned to me and said ‘Ah Corporal Croucher I have something here for you – well done newly promoted Sergeant Croucher.”
When the PM handed over the new rank slide and shook hands there was a barrage of camera flashes from the press and film crews jostled to get the shot – hopefully Paul’s mates at the New Fountain Pub back home will have got to see the coverage of his ‘special day’.