John attends a briefing for Members of Parliament from the Eastern Area by the Commanding Officer and soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment.
The Regiment has a long and distinguished history and is comprised of the former county Regiments from across East Anglia. However, its strong links with individual counties remain and C Company of the 1st Battalion draws its recruits from Essex. Its commander told us proudly that the Anglians are the best recruited regiment in the army and the 1st Battalion the best recruited within it.
Recently the Regiment has seen action in both Iraq and Afghanistan and sadly incurred casualties in both conflicts. However, we also heard of the achievements of the British Army in both countries which often get too little public recognition. In Iraq, the regiment has done two tours in Basra. During the first in 2006, they were subject to constant attack and in three months fired over 32,000 rifle rounds. When they returned for a second tour last year, their role was to support the Iraqi Army which has now taken over security. In three months, they did not fire a single rifle round. It is a success story which deserves to be told and offers some hope that Iraq can now begin a new chapter as a democratic and peaceful country.
The 1st Battalion spent 6 months in Afghanistan in 2007. We were told that the intensity of the conflict took every one by surprise and sadly 9 members of the Battalion lost their lives. I talked to one Private from Braintree who had served there. He told me that conditions were not too bad – that he had at least been able to shower every day. However, he had also lost a friend and seen others injured. His quiet professionalism and courage were enormously impressive and typical of that displayed by all those who we spoke to. We should never forget the fantastic job that our armed forces do. They continue to deserve our total support