I am Sergeant Ryan Veal. I joined the Army in December 1999 and completed basic training at ATR Pirbright. This was followed by phase 2 of my training during which I was taught my primary trade as a Vehicle Mechanic B at SEME Bordon.
Upon competition of training in Oct 2001, I was posted to 3 Battalion REME (3BN REME) inPaderborn where I deployed straight to Mrkonjic Grad in Bosnia for 6 months with 2 Royal Gurkha Rifles (2RGR). Later in the same assignment at 3 BN REME I also deployed on OP TELIC 1 (the Gulf war in 2003), where I was based at aKuwaitarmy Base close to the Iraq border. I was promoted to Lance Corporal in 2003 and posted to 3 Logistic Support Regiment RLC (3 LSR) based in Abingdon, I deployed back to Iraq for a second tour in 2005 where this time I was based in Shaibah Logistic base just outside of Basra.
I returned to SEME Bordon in February 2005 to complete further training as a vehicle mechanic, which completed my professional qualification. My next assignment was to 7 Transport Regiment RLC (7Tpt Regt RLC) in November 2006. I deployed in 2007 as an acting Corporal to the Contingency Operating Base (COB) in Iraq with 1 Battalion REME (1Bn REME). This was my third tour of Iraq, but this time I was attached to 16 Squadron Tank Transporter Squadron.
Each tour was very different, with vastly different responsibilities. I was promoted to Substantive Corporal in Oct 2007 and returned to Bordon in 2009 to complete my PAAB (Potential Artificer Assessment Board). I was successful and was sent to a three-week artificer maths course at Worthy Down in Wiltshire. The math course is hard and unfortunately I failed my first attempt, but was able to pass the exam next time.
I was posted in May 2010 to 104 Force Support Battalion REME (104 FS BN REME) in Bordon and then immediately to Tidworth. I was promoted to Sergeant in February 2011 and selected for Artificer training on the April 2011 ASCLB (Artificer Course Loading Board) to be course loaded in October 2011.
The first few weeks
I arrived at 10 Training Battalion REME on 10th October and was immediately made aware that I was now part of a training battalion and no longer at a working Field unit. In the afternoon of our first day on course we were to report to 11 Training Battalion REME for ACFC part 1 (Artificer Command and Field Course), (useful tip 1: it is worth having all the required kit packed prior to starting your first day of the artificer course, as once you have started the first day you have no time to pack if you intend to stay at arborfield).
Whilst at the REME Arms School (RAS) we were taught useful memory techniques and other useful tools such as how to take notes. These, it was hoped, would assist us with our course (useful tip 2: The first Wednesday of the course consists of a PFA, pre training is required to ensure your well above pass level as the route FEELS like it is more than the official 1.5 miles).
Whilst at the RAS you will take a trip to DE&S at Abbey Wood; a trip which provides a basic insight into what happens in this mystical world and enables you to speak to some of the individuals that you may be able to call for assistance during and after completion of your artificer course.
The first few weeks have passed and all members of the course have been brought down to earth with the amount of work that is required and what is expected of us whilst at 10 Training Battalion REME. Some members of the course have taken over the role of Platoon sergeant and we are all soon to follow in our responsibilities here in order to complete unit 76 which is a managerial elements of our qualification and a requirement of the course.
The WOs and Sgts mess has welcomed the new course with open arms and many social beverages have been consumed at the course dine in and mess meetings.
As Sgts and future Artificers we are seen as key members of the Battalion and have a major role to play in developing the younger soldiers. Recently some of the course were able to deploy out on a weekend exercise with the juniors to Sennybridge Training Area inWales. There they took part in some sleep deprivation and command tasks spread out approximately 50km around the area, due to the typically extreme adverse weather conditions, various injuries and some logistic issues the exercise was called off during the early hours of the final day.
Overall our first couple of months being part of the unit have been fast paced but enjoyable, none of the above should put any doubt in your mind that returning to Bordon for artificer training is a must!