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Guns at the ready at Needham for event

PUBLISHED: 00:15 02 June 2002 | UPDATED: 15:27 03 March 2010

SOLDIERS from 7 Air Assault Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (7 Battallion REME), based at Wattisham Airfield, Suffolk, will be practising at Needham Market's golden jubilee for the prestigious Navy Field Gun competition.

SOLDIERS from 7 Air Assault Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (7 Battallion REME), based at Wattisham Airfield, Suffolk, will be practising at Needham Market's golden jubilee for the prestigious Navy Field Gun competition.

The competition, which takes place at HMS Collingwood, Fareham, Hampshire on June 15, involves teams of 18 men running with a gun and equipment weighing more than a ton over 170 yards, dismantling, reassembling and firing the gun. The gun and equipment weighs 2,500lbs and each of the four wheels weighs 120lbs. Traditionally fiercely contested by the Royal Navy, the 7 Battalion REME Team is the first ever army team to take part in the competition and one of 18 teams competing this year.

Lieutenant Al Parmenter, Royal Navy exchange officer with 7 Battalion REME and one of the team organisers said: "We're allowed to train for two months prior to the competition. We spend one month concentrating on the physical aspects and one month practising with the gun.

"We're only allowed one run-through practice before the main competition on June 15, so we're looking forward to rehearsing for the big day at the Needham Market Jubilee celebrations on Monday.

"We won't be performing at full speed on Monday, as we will be running on grass, rather than tarmac as in the competition. We'll be making a series of runs in the afternoon and we hope that the crowd find it entertaining and exciting.

"The soldiers taking part in the competition are very grateful to Youngs and Company, Brewers, for their sponsorship."

The Navy Field Gun Day is the only competition of its kind in the country and has been running for 95 years. The dismantling, reassembling and firing techniques are supposed to simulate how guns would have been used and fired during the Boer War at the relief of Ladysmith in 1899. The winners are awarded the Brickwood Trophy.

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