Airborne gunners have given Ipswich Town footballers an insight into military life as soldiers join with the club to mark Remembrance.Players visited 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7 Para RHA) at Colchester’s Merville Barracks on November 6. The troops then came to Ipswich’s Portman Road stadium on Saturday to line the centre circle during a minutes’ silence before the Championship match against Watford.
Midfielders Paul Anderson and Jonny Williams and defender Tyrone Mings were shown 7 Para RHA’s equipment, including the 105mm Light Gun, joined troops doing ground training for parachuting and climbed aboard the camp’s Dakota - the aircraft used for Second World War parachute operations.
Tyrone Mings said: “It’s been an interesting experience to come and learn more about the military and understand what they do. It is important that we remember those who have been killed in war."
7 Para RHA has a strong sporting tradition and its football team are the current Royal Artillery League champions.
Team captain Warrant Officer Class 2 Chris Ashurst, 36 from Carlisle, said: “The soldiers killed in war had families and jobs before they were soldiers, particularly those conscripted in the First and Second World War. It is important that we join with the community to mark Remembrance and it will be a proud, but poignant moment, to represent the military during the silence before the match at Portman Road.”
7 Para RHA will have a display of its vehicles and equipment outside Portman Road before the game.
Captain Josh Head, 27 from Ipswich, said: “We are part of the local community and it is only right that we should come out of our barracks to show people who we are and what we do as soldiers. The public has been hugely supportive of the military during recent operations in Afghanistan and it is important that show our appreciation.”
7 Para RHA’s core role is to provide a gun battery ready to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, the British Army’s rapid reaction force.