October 26th, 2006 02:58 EST
Duke of Edinburgh visits British Army
BASRA — His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh made a surprise visit to the British Army in Iraq Sunday.
He was visiting The Queen’s Royal Hussars (QRH) in Basra in his role as the Regiment’s Colonel in Chief.
He offered his praise to the cavalry soldiers, who are only a few weeks away from the end of their six-and-a-half month tour of Iraq.
“It’s a great pleasure to see you here. Everyone at home has been following what has been going on in this part of the world with a great deal of sympathy for those of you at the sharp end, who are trying to do your best to make life civilized and tolerable for the locals. You have done a fantastic job, and I hope you all get home safely and have some well-earned leave,” he said.
It was his first visit to the Regiment since 2002, and his first to British Forces in Iraq.
Following discussions with senior officers he spent a couple of hours in the midday sun talking to troops from the Hussars.
Lance Cpl. Dean Munn, 22, from Redditch, added: “It’s good to see him out here in these hard conditions, taking the time to see us and how we’re doing”.
Maj. Dave Sparks, 46, from Wallasey, Merseyside, whose two sons Aaron and Stephen are also currently serving in the Regiment, told Prince Philip about the role of the Headquarters Squadron in the field, sustaining the Maysaan Province Battle Group whilst deployed forward in the desert near the Iranian border.
“It’s (the Royal visit) given the Regiment a good feeling of pride, and it’s a boost in our last month here. We know that they take an interest and this actually proves it. It’s a very welcome visit, very welcome indeed,” Sparks added.
During his visit Prince Philip promoted five soldiers, presenting them with their new rank slides, before mingling and talking with the remainder of the Regiment.
The Queen’s Royal Hussars have been conducting anti-smuggling patrols along Maysaan Province’s isolated border with Iran. Assisted by the light reconnaissance troops of B Squadron The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, they have made the sand dunes their home.
The troops explained to Prince Philip how they pitch camp every three or four days, remaining highly maneuverable.
The Duke was accompanied on his visit to Basra by the Colonel of the Regiment, Major General Arthur Denaro CBE, who commanded the Regiment during the first Gulf conflict in 1990-91.
The Queen’s Royal Hussars is part of the UK’s 20th Armored Brigade and is due to return home to Sennelager, northern Germany in early November.
The Regiment recruits from Northern Ireland, the West Midlands, Surrey and Sussex, reflecting the historical boundaries of the QRH’s antecedent Regiments.