Cyprus mission begins for hundreds of Lancashire soldiers

ON THE MOVE: Soldiers from 1 Lancs on a previous medals parade at Catterick
ON THE MOVE: Soldiers from 1 Lancs on a previous medals parade at Catterick
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Hundreds of soldiers have successfully completed the “Herculean effort” of moving to Cyprus.

Soldiers and their families from the first battalion of the Duke of Lancaster Regiment (1 Lancs) have just moved – or are in the process of moving – from Catterick in North Yorkshire to Cyprus to replace the second Yorkshire Regiment (2 Yorks) at Episkopi Garrison.

This is a really unique experience for a battalion nowadays with the army drawing down from Germany overseas postings are few and far between so I think we are very lucky to be on this rotation through Cyprus.

Lt Col George Maund

Lt Col George Maund, commanding officer of 1 Lancs, said: “This is a unique opportunity for his men as overseas postings are becoming a rarity.”

He told Forces TV: “This is a really unique experience for a battalion nowadays with the army drawing down from Germany overseas postings are few and far between so I think we are very lucky to be on this rotation through Cyprus.”

The move is part of the Ministry of Defence’s army rebasing programme that will see all British troops drawdown from Germany by 2020. A spokesman for the army revealed that not all of 1 Lancs – which recruits from across Lancashire – have made the move yet.

He said: “They started moving from Catterick at the end of July and 2 Yorks will have completely moved back to Catterick by the end of August.

“It is all part of the Ministry of Defence’s rebasing programme.

“I think the vast majority of 1 Lancs are in Cyprus already but because of block leave, a lot have not quite gone yet.”

The light role infantry battalion will spend the next three years in Cyprus doing a mix of training and co-surety duties.

During their four year stint in Cyprus 2 Yorks served as the regional standby battalion and some of its soldiers were sent to Northern Iraq as military advisors.

Now one of the 1 Lancs’ tasks – as it was for 2 Yorks – will be to guard UK military installations on the island.

The switch sees 230 families moving back to the UK and it will be the first time in eight years that a Yorkshire regiment has been based in Yorkshire.

Lt Col Maund explained how big the logistical task of transporting more than 750 people and their belongings over to Cyprus was.

He said: “It is a Herculean effort getting houses packed up, barracks packed up, everything freighted, boxed up and ready to unpack as we are arriving. In total I have about 130 -140 families here and therefore that brings our strength – if you would like to call it that – up by another 250 or so people. Altogether we have moved about 750-800 people out here. It has been a significant undertaking.”