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2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, from Kendrew Barracks, Cottesmore, mark Battle of Talavera during UN peacekeeping mission in Mali




Rutland-based soldiers have held their annual commemoration for an historic battle in new surroundings and soaring temperatures.

The 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, known as The Poachers, mark the anniversary of the Battle of Talavera every year.

But this year the group marked the occasion in the searing 40-degree heat of Mali, instead of the cooler climes of their Kendrew Barracks base, in Cottesmore.

The battalion deployed to Mali in June to join the UN's three-year peacekeeping mission. Photo: MoD
The battalion deployed to Mali in June to join the UN's three-year peacekeeping mission. Photo: MoD

They deployed to West Africa in June as the UK Long Range Reconnaissance Group (UK LRRG), part of UN peacekeeping operations in Mali.

The battle took place on July 27, 1809 in Spain where the Duke of Wellington's forces clashed with the Napoleonic French during the Peninsula War.

For its actions on the day, the 48th Foot (Northamptonshire Regiment) were nicknamed the Heroes of Talavera.

Colours on parade. Photo: MoD
Colours on parade. Photo: MoD

This year, Talavera was commemorated by a formal parade, followed by an Olympic Games where British soldiers competed against partner nations in events ranging from a 100m sprint to tug of war.

The UK LRRG is eight months into a three-year commitment as UN peacekeepers in Mali.

Patrols have been made up to 28 days at a time in some of the harshest conditions the British Army has operated in for years.

A long way from home - sitting out a dust storm. Photo: MoD
A long way from home - sitting out a dust storm. Photo: MoD

Intense heat regularly reaches 50 degrees, capped by dramatic sandstorms, intense thunderstorms and torrential rain.

“The ground is very demanding on the vehicles and is one of the biggest challenges we face out here," said Sgt Wallis.

The group can travel to hard-to-reach places not often visited by other UN units.

A sunset patrol in Jackal armoured vehicles. Photo: MoD
A sunset patrol in Jackal armoured vehicles. Photo: MoD

On its most recent patrol of Gao, in eastern Mali, they clocked up more than 1,000km.

“The locals are very friendly and welcoming," said Lieutenant Bremridge.

"They just seem pleased to see us, especially in the places that the UN don’t ordinarily patrol due to the distances from UN bases.”

A 300-strong group of The Poachers are on duty in Mali. Photo: MoD
A 300-strong group of The Poachers are on duty in Mali. Photo: MoD

The UN mission in Mali began in 2013, but coincided with the rise of terrorist groups Al- Qaeda and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

They are fighting each other for greater influence within the region while pursued by the French who have conducted counter-terrorist operations in Mali since 2014.

The battalion commanding officer addresses the troops on Talavera Day. Photo: MoD
The battalion commanding officer addresses the troops on Talavera Day. Photo: MoD
The battalion commanding officer addresses the troops on Talavera Day. Photo: MoD
The battalion commanding officer addresses the troops on Talavera Day. Photo: MoD
Flying the flag on a special day in regiment history. Photo: MoD
Flying the flag on a special day in regiment history. Photo: MoD
The Talavera Day 'Olympic' tug of war
The Talavera Day 'Olympic' tug of war


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