My regiment is the 104 Royal Artillery, the Army Reserves’ only Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) Regiment. We’re deployed as radio operators, clerks, drivers and logisticians, and we operate Miniature Unmanned Air Systems (MUAS) Desert Hawk III to support ground operations. Our units are based in Abertillery, Newport, Worcester, Bristol and Plymouth, and it’s our honour to fire Royal Salutes in Cardiff to celebrate Royal birthdays and anniversaries.
26 May 2016 was the 300th anniversary of the Royal Artillery. It was an important day, and to mark such a prestigious occasion, the commemorative Captain General’s baton had been carried on a circumnavigation of the globe. Beginning its journey at the birthplace of the Royal Artillery in Woolwich, the baton crossed 30 countries and five continents around the globe before returning to its regimental home in Larkhill.
And I’m proud to say that our regiment had an important role to play in its journey.
On Saturday 14 May, we – 211 Battery, 104 Regt RA – were presented with the commemorative baton by the regimental mountain bike team, who had cycled from St Davids (the smallest city in Wales) to 211 Battery HQ in Abertillery. This ceremony was the beginning of our leg of journey, which saw us carry the baton through Wales.
On Sunday, we woke up bright and early at 0430hrs. After a hearty cooked breakfast, we made our way to Brecon Beacons, where we prepared to summit Pen-y-Fan – the highest peak in Brecon. It was a beautiful sunny day, with a light breeze – perfect for climbing Pen-y-Fan. I was pleased to see the entire battery complete the climb, showing good grit and determination (after some gentle encouragement).
We hit the summit at approximately 0830hrs. Then, we enjoyed the reading of a vignette by the Gwent and Powys Army Cadet Force, who had accompanied us to the top that morning. Before we began our descent, we took part in some well deserved photo opportunities.
The next stop on our journey was the coal museum at the Rhondda Heritage Park, where the Captain General’s baton was due to be passed to 266 Bty. Here, the Cwm Choir joined us in singing the Welsh national anthem to mark the occasion.
The baton was passed on to the regimental kayaking team who had paddled up the River Taff to the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. From there, they met nine members of the regimental rugby team who ran the baton through the centre of Cardiff to the Ty Llewellyn Army Reserve Centre. This was where extensive preparation and rehearsals where being conducted for the main event of the day.
The sunset ceremony was held at Cardiff City Hall, with 105mm light guns fired alongside a performance of the 1812 overture by the Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh. I’m pleased to say the ceremony was a great success and was executed perfectly.
The beautiful evening drew in a large crowd who appeared to enjoy the event as much as we did. This concluded our journey of Ubique 300. I took great pride in being involved in the commemoration of such a significant milestone in the regiment’s history – we all did.