Gun shots fired in Chedworth woods as Royal Wessex Yeomanry trains
GUN shots were fired and flares smoked as Reserves from the Royal Wessex Yeomanry trained in the dark woods of Chedworth.
Around 20 members of the Cirencester-based C Squadron took part in the exercise, honing their skills and working on how to defend themselves in an ambush.
The Territorial Army unit, an armoured regiment based in the Cotswold town's Somerford Road, was given the rare opportunity to train and camp out near its home base.
It was the first chance for the unit to train together since 14 of its members returned from active tour in Afghanistan.
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Trooper Rob 'Akky' Atkins, from Longlevens in Gloucester, spent a year with the regular Army's King Royal Hussars, including six months in the volatile Helmand Province.
The 48-year-old father returned to the Reserves, and his trade as a carpenter, in November.
The Matson rugby player said: "It was a very different type of training to the counter-insurgency work in Helmand.
"But it is good to be able to bring the skills back to the unit and use them to help the unit improve."
Also training was Cheltenham's 19-year-old Trooper Ollie 'Hobbsy' Hobbs.
The University of Gloucestershire criminology student said he hoped to get a full-time job in the Military Police after finishing his degree.
He joined up with the Cirencester Army Cadets when he was 15, and goes to the Reserves' monthly training exercise whenever he can.
The former student of Sir William Romney, near Tetbury, said: "I just really enjoy it and it is something that I want to carry one.
"The variation is what I like about being part of the TA and it has taught me a lot of skills, such as self discipline, which will come in handy in the future.
"I have also experienced a lot of things that others my age have not had the opportunity to.
"This weekend has been really enjoyable and all about basic soldiering skills."
The Reserve unit currently has 56 members, but is hoping to recruit more people, from the ages of 18 to 42.
Anyone interested in joining can pop in the Highfield House TA centre from 10am to 4pm until Friday.
For more information about being a volunteer, contact 01285 868353.