Army Reserve marks new beginning on Isle of Man

October 1, 2015
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Almost half a century after the closure of the island’s last military unit, a new Army Reserve Centre has opened on the Isle of Man.

More than 30 newly recruited Reservists, all Manx men and women, took part in their first parade during a flag-raising ceremony at the premises in Douglas recently.

Former Isle of Man based Royal Artillery soldier William Kneale, 83, and current Royal Artillery soldier Gunner Gareth Young, 33.

Former Isle of Man based Royal Artillery soldier William Kneale, 83, and current Royal Artillery soldier Gunner Gareth Young, 33

The new Reservists signed up following a successful summer recruiting campaign for the Army’s newly branded Reserve Forces on the Isle of Man.

In May this year, with the support of the Manx Government and employers on the island, the Army launched its recruitment initiative, with a view to re-establishing Reserve Forces there. The aim was to create several sub-units of different military trades all under one roof. The Isle of Man Army Reserve Centre offers the chance to work in roles across several trades: Infantry, engineering, artillery, logistics, communications, medicine and even military intelligence.

Brother and sister Liam and Caitlin Dunn were among the new Reservists who took part in the ceremony held at Government Building on Lord Street. Both have joined the island’s Royal Logistics Corps troop.

Caitlin, aged 20 and a store assistant, said: “I’m about to start the training course that will get me qualified as a soldier and then I’ll train in logistics too. I’ve really enjoyed my first few weeks with the unit and I’m looking forward to gaining more skills, like my HGV licence.”

An Isle of Man Reservist undergoes basic life saving training

An Isle of Man Reservist undergoes basic life saving training

Liam, aged 24 and an apprentice railway engineer in civilian life, previously served as a Reservist on the UK mainland. He explained: “I had to travel some distance at weekends to train with my unit there, and it was difficult to arrange the time away from work. So when this opportunity came up I went for it. I’m really glad it’s opened; it’s our home.”

Brig Christopher Coles, Comd 42 Inf Bde & HQ NW, attended the ceremony. He said: “There’s a strong tradition of military service on the Isle of Man. With the expansion of our Reserve forces I feel we’ve got a duty to come here and show people what we do, and the early evidence is there are lots of people here who are willing to serve. The people I’ve met so far are very clear about what they’re signing up to and they each bring that classic ingredient of a Reservist: wider experience.”

Former personnel who served with the island’s last Army unit, which closed in 1968, attended the ceremony to meet their successors and pass on some of their own experiences. William Kneale, 83, did his national service with the island’s artillery unit until 1954 and welcomed the establishment of a modern force there. He said: “It’s fantastic. If ever they are needed, we will now have the Reservists to call on as well as the police and civilian authorities. I’m very pleased to see this happening.”