Soldiers march into Suffolk

HUNDREDS of soldiers marched into their new £80 million purpose-built Suffolk barracks today - determined to play a big role in the community.The arrival of 600 troops this month should provide a huge boost for shops and businesses in the area as it brings back to life the old Woodbridge Airfield.

HUNDREDS of soldiers marched into their new £80 million purpose-built Suffolk barracks today - determined to play a big role in the community.

The arrival of 600 troops this month should provide a huge boost for shops and businesses in the area as it brings back to life the old Woodbridge Airfield.

Today the first 160 soldiers from 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault), part of the Royal Engineers, began moving into the Army's flagship new Rock Barracks.

The base will provide single en-suite accommodation for all the regiment's 600 personnel.

Previously its four squadrons have been split across four sites - 9 Parachute Squadron RE in Aldershot, 51 Parachute Squadron RE in Ripon, North Yorkshire, 12 (Nova Scotia) Headquarters Squadron (Air Assault) in Waterbeach, and 61 Field Support Squadron (Air Assault) in Maidstone.

The first sappers moving in are those of the 61 Field Support Squadron.

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Squadron commanding officer Major Richard Green said: “The men are very much looking forward to benefiting from the superb facilities and the new style accommodation, which will be a significant improvement on current conditions.”

Three full-sized sports pitches, an all weather floodlit Astroturf pitch, a climbing wall, assault course, 30m rifle range and a gym containing squash courts, weights and cardio vascular suites are all available at the barracks.

Regimental Quartermaster, Lieutenant Colonel Mick Berrill, who has been overseeing the move, said: “Rock Barracks is one of the finest barracks I have seen - the facilities we have here are first class”.

The base will not become fully operational until October when around 160 soldiers from the regiment serving with 16 Air Assault Brigade in Afghanistan return to take up residence at their new home.

Regiment commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ian Hutchison, said he wanted to bring down any fences between the military and civilian communities at the airfield to build one strong community.

He said: “We are very much looking forward to coming to Woodbridge and playing a full part in local community activities.

“I am sure that we will build an excellent relationship with all of our neighbours on Sutton Heath and in the surrounding area.”

The regiment was formed in 2003 to support the 16 Air Assault Brigade part of a fast reaction task force supporting Britain's defence commitments. Its wartime duties include building bridges, blowing up infrastructure providing engineering support and deploying military divers.

WEBLINK: www.army.mod.uk

Are you looking forward to the Army taking over Woodbridge air base? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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