Airborne Engineers pass test for Royal guard duties

Soldiers from Suffolk whose usual duties as airborne engineers are building bridges or water purification on the battlefield have passed a test to become the new King’s Guard.

Suffolk Sappers Switch To Ceremonial Stint

23 Parachute Engineer Regiment (23 Para Engr Regt) will undertake a six-week stint of Ceremonial Public Duties which will see them guarding Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, St James’s Palace, and Windsor Castle from late January to March.

The sappers have been training hard for this moment since Christmas.

They have undergone rigorous inspections of their uniform and practised drill sequences under the watchful eyes of ceremonial experts from the Household Division.

Fit For Role

Today’s ‘fit for role’ inspection by the Household Division’s arbiter of standards and excellence, the Brigade Major Lieutenant Colonel James Shaw, was the final check to ensure that they meet the impeccable standard of drill and turnout the role demands.

The 110-strong detachment taking part comes from across the regiment, including troops from Maidstone-based 70 Gurkha Parachute Squadron and reservists from 299 Parachute Engineer Squadron.

Major Peter Dobinson said: “It is a real honour for the Regiment to perform Public Duties in the year that we celebrate our twentieth anniversary.

It is a real honour for the Regiment to perform Public Duties in the year that we celebrate our twentieth anniversary. Everyone is really motivated to put on our best show Major Peter Dobinson,
23 Parachute Engineer Regiment

Ensuring Excellence

Everyone is really motivated to put on our best show, but it has been a steep learning curve to get our ceremonial drill up to the incredibly high standard that is expected. We’ve had long days out on the parade square practising our drill, with boots and buttons to polish in the evening.”

Sapper Tyler Alway grew up in Kesgrave near Ipswich and has been in 23 Para Engr Regt for seven months. 

“This regiment is very focused on its operational role,” the 18-year-old driver said.

“After arriving last summer, I was training for P Company and on exercise to learn the unit’s role and my place in that. To come back after Christmas to train for ceremonial duties has been both a change and a challenge.  

“I’m proud to be doing this very prestigious duty and my family are already planning when they’re going to come up to see me standing guard at the Tower of London.”

I’m proud to be doing this very prestigious duty and my family are already planning when they’re going to come up to see me standing guard at the Tower of London. Sapper Tyler Alway,
23 Parachute Engineer Regiment

Core Role

23 Para Engr Regt’s core role is to provide close combat engineering support to 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, the British Army’s global response forces, enabling it to fight, move and live.

Its sappers are trained and equipped to deploy by parachute, helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft.

Major Dobinson concluded: “Personally, it’s amazing to think that a few months ago I was in Brunei with the same troops working to upgrade helicopter landing sites in the jungle, and now we’re preparing to serve as the King’s Guard in the urban jungle of London!