Military honours for Borders soldiers

Lieutenant Colonel Ben Wrench
Lieutenant Colonel Ben Wrench

The latest list of military operational honours has seen a number of awards going to the Borders’ local regiment the Royal Scots Borderers.

It follows an 18 month period in which the battalion has had units in Afghanistan, suffering three fatalities as well as a number of injuries.

The Battalion deployed to Afghanistan in early March 2010 under 4 Mechanized Brigade on Operation HERRICK 12. Initially deploying as a composite group to form the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team Battle Group (OMLT BG), the battle group, shortly after deployment, restructured and rebranded as the 3/215 Brigade Advisor Group. The Advisor Group now has a number of advisor teams embedded within the Afghan National Army (ANA) across the Helmand Area of Operations (AO).

Waterloo Company, consisting of predominantly A Company, 1 SCOTS, have been seconded to the 1st Battalion, the Duke of Lancaster Regiment Battle Group (1 LANCS BG) to form a ground holding company deployed to Patrol Base (PB) Pimon in the Combined Force (CF) Nad-e Ali AO.

B Company, 1 SCOTS completed their six months with the 3 Rifles Battle Group at PB Wishtan in the CF Sangin AO and on their return they had welcome home marches through Borders towns and Edinburgh, and have since taken over the Royal Guard at Balmoral Castle.

Now back at their Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh they are preparing for another visit to the Afghanistan troublespot next year, tunder new commanding officer, Lt Colonel Ben Wrench.

The commanding officer, a former Edinburgh University student, was commissioned in 1994 and went to the Black Watch following advice from his padre at school in the south of England because he had been in the regiment.

His promotion to Lieutenant Colonel came at the end of last year and he said: “I was delighted. To be given command of any battalion is a great privilege. This is something you aspire to and hope it comes your way.

“I also feel privileged at taking on a battalion which has a fine operational pedigree of its own.”

Having taken over following an operational tour in Afghanistan and the prospect of another tour there next year his soundings appear to show that the soldiers are still in high spirits about it.

But he says he doesn’t really want anyone talking about Afghanistan at the moment and wants to wait until the final training exercise later in the year before they focus in on it.

He said: “You can almost get too tired of something before you’ve got there because you’ve been focusing on it or concentrating on it for too long.”

While acknowledging the honours to his soldiers, he makes the point of paying tribute to the unsung heroes – the families and girl friends left at home, anxious and worrying.

He said: “Without the support of the families, then you don’t have an army, or don’t have the soldiers that will go and do what they are asked to do.”

And he said that what he has been trying to do over the current period is to make sure that soldiers are at home seeing their families before the treadmill of being deployed on operations.