From beats to bombs: Honorary colonel Jools Holland visits Carver Barracks

COMPOSER, pianist, bandleader and broadcaster Jools Holland has added a military position to his list of titles.

He accepted an invitation to become the Honorary Colonel of 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) based at Carver Barracks, Wimbish.

Mr Holland was invited to take on the role as a result of his close ties with Rochester, the home of the one of regiment’s reserve squadrons: 221 Field Squadron (EOD).

Last week saw Col Holland visit Carver Barracks to meet the soldiers of 21 Field Squadron (EOD), who are only weeks away from deploying to Afghanistan.

Whilst there, he received a tour of the barracks and watched an advanced search demonstration before being put to the test himself. He also tried on the body armour and kit the soldiers will wear on a daily basis whilst serving on Op Herrick, then presented long service and good conduct medals to seven soldiers.

Eight-five soldiers from 21 Squadron will deploy on Op Herrick over the next few weeks to form part of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Search Task Force. Based at the forefront of the fight against deadly improvised explosive devices (IED) in Afghanistan, the role of the task force is not for the faint hearted.

Working in teams the task force provides the main capabilities: high risk search, improvised explosive device disposal (IEDD) and conventional munitions disposal (CMD), plus other specialist capabilities all of whom, when combined as counter-IED teams, are responsible for finding and disposing of all IEDs and explosive ordnance within Helmand Province.

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21 Squadron will form part of the search teams that are out on the ground in Helmand Province every day of the year searching for IEDs in the most dangerous areas, which are then removed or destroyed by the EOD operators.

Col Jools Holland said: “I cannot stress how impressed I am with the incredible skill levels of all the people here; how they have both a positive attitude and incredible level of concentration and observation that the training they have had has given them. It is a privilege and an honour to be part of it today.”

Commanding officer, Lt Col Simon Stockley, Royal Engineers, said: “All the soldiers were pleased to welcome Col Jools to the Barracks.

“The whole regiment is thrilled that he has accepted the role of honorary colonel and it was a real boost for the soldiers of 21 Squadron to meet him. They all appreciated the time he had taken to visit them and wish them well.”

He added: “The search role demands the highest standards of professionalism, dedication and skill. Our soldiers are honest, bright, motivated people who have been supremely well prepared for what lays ahead.

“On behalf of the regiment, we wish 21 Field Squadron (EOD) a safe and speedy tour and look forward to welcoming them home soon.”

101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (EOD) comprises three regular bomb disposal squadrons: 22 (HQ & Support) Squadron (EOD), 17 Field Squadron (EOD) and 21 Field Squadron (EOD) and two reserve squadrons: 221 Field Squadron(EOD) based in Catford and Rochester and 579 Field Squadron (EOD) based at Tunbridge Wells, Reigate and Brighton.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the work of the regiment can vist or call 0800 2346 101.