Catterick’s Royal Lancers prepare for Cyprus deployment

The soldiers swap their regimental beret for the distinctive blue of the United Nations.

The Royal Lancers based at Catterick Garrison have been busy preparing for a key role as part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

The regiment, based at Cambrai Lines in Munster Barracks will patrol the buffer zone also known as the Green Line that has divided the Turkish north and the Greek south for over 40 years.

The troops completed their training last week and swapped their regimental berets for the distinctive blue of the United Nations.

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The peacekeeping mission is one of the longest running United Nations missions. The British contribution is known as Op TOSCA.

The buffer zone extends approximately 180km and is divided into three Sectors.

The British soldiers will be responsible for the central part of the buffer zone, known as Sector 2, covering the city of Nicosia.

All have received a cultural briefing to ensure they are fully aware of the history of the tension between the north and south of the Mediterranean island.

The unarmed soldiers will patrol by vehicle, foot or by mountain bike, working to maintain the peace and stability and performing an important liaison role with local people and local authorities.

Among those deploying is Trooper Alex Foster who will be alongside his brother Corporal Tom Foster.

“Tom joined first,” said Alex. “My whole family has been in the Army. My dad is still serving in the Royal Logistic Corps.”


Tom, who has completed eight years’ service, said: “It’s good to have Alex in the Regiment. It’s a nice situation to be in, to be honest – we get to see each other a lot more.

“I’ll be a Section Commander in one of the platoons leading an eight-man section, so I’ll be taking the lads out on patrol. We will be going out in teams of two and three. I’ll be keeping a watching eye over the Troopers and helping them to develop their skills.

“I was a Trooper on my last tour in Afghanistan and was being told what to do by my NCO so this time I’ll be the one showing the Troopers the ropes. I’m looking forward to it.”

Brothers Tom and Alex, right, Foster prepare to deploy to Cyprus.

Also deploying is Trooper Marcus Wilkinson, 18, who joined the Regiment in September having completed his Phase One training at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate and Phase 2 Trade training at Bovington.

He said: “I’m excited but nervous. It will be a good experience and I’ve never done anything like it before.”

Whilst deployed, the soldiers will have the opportunity to take part in adventure training.

Marcus and Tom both plan to try mountain biking and Marcus also hopes to try skydiving. Tom is keen to fit in some rock climbing or diving while his brother, Alex would like to go kayaking.

Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Searby, said: “For some of the 285 soldiers deploying this will be their first operational tour. However, others have completed previous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The training has included developing negotiation, mediation and observation skills so they can report and recognise what constitutes a violation of the existing agreements.

“The role will require tact and professionalism and it will be a unique challenge for all involved.”

The Royal Lancers’ training has been overseen by members of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards who are currently deployed in the role that The Royal Lancers take over next month.