Daniel Dove, a Corporal serving with C (Cheshire Yeomanry) Sqn QOY based in Chester, has just returned from a five-week long exercise in the jungles of Belize, South America.
Dan, who is 27 and a self-employed painter and decorator and originally from Essex, now lives in Chester and has been an Army Reserve soldier with the QOY for nine years.
South America was a new destination for Dan, who during his time in the Army Reserve has trained in Cyprus, Germany, and Malta and, in 2014, spent 6 months on a UN Operational Peace Keeping tour in Bosnia with Regular Army Regiment The Light Dragoons, who are paired with the QOY, as a Jackal driver.
Dan, who commands and drives the RWMIK Light Cavalry vehicle, is also trained to drive the 6 tonne MAN Support Vehicle (SV). So when a trawl came round for MAN SV drivers to go to Belize to support The Royal Netherlands Marines Corp taking part in Marine Combat Group Jungle Warfare training with the Belize Defence Force, Dan did not hesitate in putting his name forward.
The aim of the exercise is to strengthen defence relationships and cooperation with a key partner nation within the NATO Northern Group of countries by enabling them to conduct Close Country Tropical Environment Training (CCTE) activity in Belize.
Dan’s experience of driving the MAN SV truck was limited to the UK. Flying out to Belize via the Netherlands and Canada, and after a short stop in Price Barracks, they moved out to the Forward Operating Base (FOB), called FOB Augustine, in the jungle.
Daily routine commenced at 5am: PT, shower and then breakfast before commencing work – up to five truck convoys carrying out 8 drops per day, ferrying Dutch Marines and cargo around the jungle. “The roads were bad,” said Dan, “just clay surface, which after rain – and it rained quite a bit – turned very slippery. I learnt a lot from the other Regular Army and Reserve lads from other UK units who were out there with me. They had a bit more driving experience than I had but I now feel confident to drive most places having driven over there.”
Dan went on to describe living conditions at FOB Augustine. “It was pretty basic; we slept in huts but at least had a camp bed and mosquito net. The Dutch Navy did all the cooking and the food was pretty good. We got to see some pretty interesting places including the Mayan ruins close to the Guatemalan border and also plenty of wildlife, most of it with the potential to kill you, especially the snakes, spiders and the odd jaguar. The monkeys seemed friendly enough though! With darkness falling at 7am and an early start each day, most nights we were asleep by 9pm.”
As well as hard work there were rewards, with three days’ Rest and Recuperation (R&R) in Cancun Mexico, “although getting there was another adventure, on an overnight bus,” said Dan.
Dan, who went to Upton-by-Chester High School and West Cheshire College in Handbridge said: “This was one of the best adventures I have had with the Army Reserve to date and I would certainly recommend it.”
Army Reserve soldiers balance their family life and civilian jobs with military training commitments. Not everyone can spare the time to do all Dan has done: 27 days per year is the minimum requirement but there are opportunities to do much more if you wish. Anyone interested in joining the Army Reserve can search Army Jobs online to find their closest Army Reserve unit. Cheshire’s Cavalry are a County unit, raised in 1797 at Tabley and today based at Fox Barracks, Moston, Chester.
For more information about C (Cheshire Yeomanry) Sqn QOY, call 01244 381 050 or visit www.armyjobs.mod.uk