Wilkinson Sword of Peace

Worth mentioning I believe :wink:

Four units of the Armed Forces have been awarded a Wilkinson Sword of Peace for their distinctive support to civil communities during 2003. A special award goes to the Joint Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group, with RFA Sir Galahad winning the Royal Navy Sword of Peace, 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery awarded the Army Sword of Peace, and RAF Lossiemouth receiving the Royal Air Force Sword of Peace.

Messrs Wilkinson Sword Limited kindly present an annual Sword of Peace to the unit in each of the three Armed Services which is judged to have made the most valuable contribution towards establishing good and friendly relations with a community, whether at home or overseas. In addition, a Special Award has been made available since 1994 for Joint Service units or groupings.

The Joint Force EOD Group, comprising bomb disposal experts from the Royal Navy, Army and RAF, was specifically set up in January 2003 for operations in Iraq. Some of its personnel were among the first Coalition troops to enter the country on 20 March 2003, dealing with a wide range of unexploded munitions including Iraqi booby-traps and mines. Three soldiers from the Group were killed, one of them while clearing munitions from around an Iraqi family's home. A programme of mine awareness briefings were quickly arranged for local communities, particularly school-children. By the end of 2003, the Group had safely disposed of half a million munitions. They receive the 2003 Special Award.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Sir Galahad is also recognised for her humanitarian role during the operations in Iraq. Originally deployed with Royal Marines as part of the Amphibious Task Group, Sir Galahad was allocated the task of taking in the first shipment of humanitarian aid for the Iraqi civilian communities, while fighting was continuing. Laden with emergency supplies, many of them donated by Kuwait, Sir Galahad had to wait for a route to be cleared into Iraq's only deep-water port, Umm Qasr. She was led through a swept minefield by HMS Sandown, and picked her way up the waterway, littered with wrecked v vessels, all the time highly vulnerable to attack. As a result, several hundred tons of aid were delivered to southern Iraq just eight days into the conflict.

3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery achieves the rare distinction of winning the Sword of Peace twice, having previously been recognised for community relations efforts during the troubles in Northern Ireland in 1971. 2003 saw 3RHA providing the heavy artillery support to 1st (UK) Armoured Division, in a classic warfighting role with armoured self-propelled AS90 guns. However, as soon as the initial period of combat operations had passed, the Regiment immediately switched peace support operations in the infantry role, taking over responsibility for the whole of the Al Faw peninsula and the southern Basrah suburbs - 7000 square kilometres and 150,000 people - faced with the task of rebuilding the country after decades of neglect under Saddam and the recent disruption caused by the conflict. Drinking water supplies had to be secured and distributed, schools and community centres rebuilt, electrical generators supplied to hospitals. The Regiment also provided the Governance Team for the whole of Basrah City, some 1.5 million souls, working with local leaders to create the basis for the introduction of democracy and the restoration of essential services.

Within five months of its return from Iraq, 3RHA deployed in November 2003 on United Nations peacekeeping duties in Cyprus, providing reassurance along the Green Line in Nicosia, the last divided capital in the world. It immediately embarked on a programme of bicommunal activities on neutral ground, including art exhibitions and language classes, all aimed at encouraging interaction between the Greek and Turkish communities. Soldiers also delivered humanitarian aid to the isolated and increasingly aged Maronite communities in the north of the island.

RAF Lossiemouth is recognised for its contribution at home in the UK, in Iraq, and in Sierra Leone. The station is home to a Search and Rescue Flight of Sea King helicopters, who flew 196 missions in 2003, saving 197 lives. It is also the homebase for 51 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, which, like 3RHA, rapidly switched from a combat role in Iraq to providing humanitarian relief, averting a serious crisis in the vicinity of Safwan airfield, and providing security for aid convoys in southern Iraq. RAF Lossiemouth has also maintained over several years close links with the Milton Margai School for the Blind in Sierra Leone, after one of its officers served there as a United Nations Observer. Despite the pupils' disabilities, the school has an outstanding choir, and Lossiemouth was able to organise for the children a two-week concert tour of England and Scotland in August 2003, culminating in a performance for over 2,500 people in Westminster Abbey; a once in a lifetime opportunity for some very disadvantaged young people.

Intention to enter for the 2004 Special Awards should be done no later than April 2005.

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