11 November 2020
BMT pauses to remember at their offices around the world. To mark the date, here are some reflections from a few of our UK employees who served in the Armed Forces.
I served in the Royal Navy as a Weapon Engineer from 1996 until 2012.
I worked with the Iraqi security services in Basra in 2006 - I was seconded to the Army Divisional HQ in the middle of the desert, which as a Junior Naval Officer was as far out of my comfort zone as I could be.
Nonetheless, I felt incredibly privileged to be able to represent my country and work alongside our allies to rebuild a failing country. This mission was the primary objective of the UK military and political machine, which when operating at full force is both incredibly impressive and very humbling.
The photo is me in the back of a Saxon vehicle with a colleague, Maj Alan Crawford (note Desert Rat) and our Iraqi Interpreters (‘Turps’), having just returned from a meeting with the local police. Alan also served during the Falkland’s War as an 18-year-old Infantryman, but that is another story.
We were fortunate to return home to our families, sadly some of our colleagues did not, please take the opportunity this week to think about them and the millions like them.
I served for 19 years in the Royal Navy and my most poignant memory of Remembrance during my career is taking part in the national Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in London in 2014.
After three weeks of training from the State Ceremonial Training team, myself and 120 members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines marched from Wellington Barracks to the Cenotaph, led by the Royal Marines Band. We formed the Royal Guard for the Queen, senior members of the Royal Family and past and present politicians as they led the nation in the Service of Remembrance.
There was a march past of around 10,000 veterans after the Service, taking approximately two hours to make their way past the Cenotaph. It is always good to stop and reflect on the sacrifices of those who have gone before us, and to do so in the presence of The Queen was an experience I'll never forget.
Interesting facts: as well as practicing marching, rifle and sword drill, and standing still for hours on end (yes, it does take practice to stand still with a rifle or sword!) the Royal Navy drill instructors also teach the Royal Guard to sing all five verses of 'O God, Our Help in Ages Past' off by heart. Apparently, the Duke of Edinburgh always comments on the Royal Navy's singing when this hymn is sung during the Service.
Also, as of 2014 the Royal Navy hadn't had a single person faint on parade in 25 years (due to the training at HMS Excellent), while we witnessed several Army and RAF personnel fainting or being removed from the parade... some before the Service had started!
I have so many fabulous memories but my highlight was commanding HMS EXAMPLE and deploying for 12 weeks around the UK and the Baltic, including Sweden, Finland and Russia. Other incredible experiences include escorting the Queen whilst she was cruising around the Scottish isles, and hand delivering her mail, protecting vital oil platforms in the Middle East to ensure the maintenance of the global supply of oil, as well as joining Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield on This Morning to talk about my role in the £3.7 billion project building the Navy’s newest class of 8 brand new warships!
My least favourite memory is finally admitting that even after 17 years in the Navy I still suffered from sea sickness!
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