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Early 2020 saw us deploy at 0300hrs via coach to Sennelager, Germany. Our task was to be part of Ex GOTHIC PHOENIX for fleet repair and activation in preparation for the Battalion to deploy on GOTHIC DRAGON in March.

Being the third Company in succession to deploy we had a good idea what to expect. However, the reality of the task soon dawned when we got hands on and saw the state of the vehicles. Needless to say, they were not in the best of conditions. Missing vital kit and equipment and having not been maintained since the withdrawal of BFG back to the UK, had left us with a mountain to climb. A further hindrance was the absence of facilities, staff and infrastructure that we normally take for granted, however it didn’t take long to establish. We settled in and essentially imposed our way of doing things upon the long-established peace of LTF(S).

The task itself was routine in our line of work, but due to the condition of the vehicles and previous work carried out we built on the work from our fellow Royal Welshmen and women and started pretty much from scratch. What followed were some long and tiring days. Working with our LAD we firstly identified the best of a bad bunch, what was needed for deployment and achievable to fix given the time we had in which to achieve it. Once this was done, we set about repairing the vehicles, frequently working against the constraints of delivery and availability of parts, along with the beginning of a national pandemic.

As mentioned, there were some long days and solid work put in by the troops for the two weeks. The Tech 2IC spent the majority of the time in front of a computer in a fluorescent lit 6 x 10 foot cell, losing all concept of time and space. Luckily the NAAFI wagon was still running to keep the troops nourished, because as we all know, three square meals are just not enough. Sgt Corrigan however seemed to always dodge the flapjack run and continues to do so to this day!

Having achieved a huge amount during the two weeks we handed over to C Company who did not lift the pace. Due to their immense diligence and effort of all involved we deployed with 17 vehicles for Ex GOTHIC DRAGON with one minor hiccup, a blown bulb! Which was quickly rectified. All this work was to prove futile against the might of COVID-19! Ultimately, we had to leave LTF(S) and return to the UK with a quick handover of a now pristine fleet to some very happy LTF(S) staff. That is where Ex GOTHIC DRAGON ended along with this article.

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