On Monday, 18 July 2011, members of the Royal Artillery’s 29 Commando Regiment gathered at Camp Bastion in Helmand province, to witness the dedication of the first memorial to the Royal Artillery’s fallen gunners.
During the ceremony, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Smith, Commanding Officer of 29 Commando Regiment, read aloud the names of the seventeen Royal Artillery gunners who have lost their lives in Afghanistan; six of whom were from his own regiment.
The battle groups had their own memorials, but there was never one place that collected together all the members of the Royal Artillery who have fallen during the campaign here, so it was right and proper to bring them together in a single place,” said Lt Col Smith.
29 Commando Regiment currently heads Task Force Helmand’s Joint Fires and Targeting Group. They say the greatest tribute to comrades who have died is an improving security situation.
This is 29 Commando Regiment’s third tour in Afghanistan, and some have deployed to Afghanistan five times. Lt Col Smith said:
There is a real sense that our history is very much laid down in Afghanistan.
Regimental Sergeant Major Jamie Powell described, in gunnery terms, how the situation on the ground has improved over the Regiment’s tours in Helmand province:
The amount of ammunition that we’ve fired this year, compared to previous Op HERRICK tours, is absolutely miniscule,” he said. “We have not even reached the two-hundred mark yet. By the end of HERRICK 9, we were over twelve-thousand, so you can see things are getting better.