We are Defence; this is Charles’ story
From scoring a century against a Young England team at Lords Cricket Ground in 1981 to deploying on several emergency response exercises, Charles shares his experience of working in Defence over the last 40 years.
When I was younger, I was in Felsted School’s Combined Cadet Force and found that I enjoyed the introduction into service life to such an extent, that I applied for — and subsequently achieved — a scholarship to Sandhurst. Little did I know then that I would still be working for Defence now, that all three of my children would sign up to the Army and that they’d have been deployed worldwide.
My first role in the Army was in the 22 Locating Battery at Larkhill, working as the Launcher Section Commander of a Drone Troop. At the time this was known as Midge (Military Intelligence & Data Gathering Equipment) and it was my role to recce deployment areas for the launcher and recovery sections, as well as having overall responsibility for local defence.
Over the last 40 years I have deployed worldwide, serving in many different artillery regiments. There were many highlights in that time but being selected to be the UK Exchange Instructor Gunnery in Australia was one of the best! I was very much a ‘steam’ gunner and served where the noise, action and cordite was –on weapons systems including Lt Gun, Abbot, FH70, M109 and AS90.
In 2012, I made the decision to join the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). With all three of my children in the Army, I felt the least I could do is work towards procuring the latest, best and most advanced equipment and weapon systems to keep them and others safe.
My time in Dstl has seen some of my biggest personal successes. I have been part of project teams that have included DE&S, UK and Overseas industry and UK Academia, that have procured several key equipment programmes for the Armed Forces. From conception, research and development, to design, manufacture and being brought into service.
In 2012 I joined the South West Headquarters, as an Army reservist. This has allowed me to carry on where it all started, and work in the Resilience and Integrated Emergency Management / Planning Teams for five counties.
I volunteered to be mobilised for Op OLYMPIC and was part of the team within HQ 43 Wessex Brigade that supported the Weymouth sailing events. After my mobilisation I was selected as the Assistant Joint Regional Liaison Officer. This has seen me deployed as liaison to many local resilience forums during exercises, Explosive Ordnance Disposal operations, the Somerset Levels flooding and Op TEMPERER, as well as several emergency response exercises.
My time in Defence has given me the chance to visit over 70 countries for one week or more. This included being contracted as a Military Advisor and British Team Leader of Afghan role players to deliver a range of training services. This ensured soldiers were sufficiently trained and experienced to operate in the demanding and complex environments encountered on operations.
If there is one thing to take away from my experience, it is that my service and time has meant an awful lot to me. Companionship and teamwork are vital if you are to overcome any challenges to achieve success and this is what I have experienced. All of my colleagues within the Armed Forces and MOD (and in particular Dstl) have been brilliant, loyal, experienced, trustworthy and exceptional and have made my time what it is.
Working here means you are doing something, even as a small cog in a large organisation, to support the people of the UK and the personnel who serve and risk their lives for our security and wellbeing. And if you are looking to be a reservist at the same time as working within Defence, you will be supported in that quest which makes the experience even more worthwhile.