Prince Philip Visits Wattisham

Schoolchildren from Ringshall Primary - who are nearest the army base at the Wattisham Flying Station - have had a chance to meet the Queen's husband.

It was as HRH Prince Philip looked at the work of 7 Air Assault Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).

The Duke visited the unit at Wattisham Flying Station in his capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The unit is responsible for maintaining the Army's helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles, with its 8 Field (Para) Company, based in Colchester, looking after the trucks and armoured vehicles of 16 Air Assault Brigade.

The Duke was shown the vehicles the troops work on, ranging from the Apache attack helicopter - which 7 Air Asslt Bn REME troops are currently supporting on operations in Afghanistan - to the Watchkeeper unmanned air system and Foxhound protected patrol vehicle, representing the next generation of Army equipment.

Another cutting edge vehicle involved in the day was the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car project, which aims to reach a record breaking 1,000 mph. Models of the car were presented to children from Ringshall School who had taken part in a science project organised by 7 Air Asslt Bn REME to build balloon-powered cars inspired by the rocket-propelled Bloodhound.

The British Army is supporting Bloodhound, bringing the technical training and operational experience of REME soldiers to help drive the project towards its three aims of breaking the world land speed record; developing new technologies; and inspiring the country's next generation of scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians.

Corporal Jordan Bridges said: "Prince Philip was very interested and said it was great to know that Bloodhound and REME soldiers were helping to make school science lessons more exciting. This was the first time I've worked with children and I really enjoyed the experience, helping and educating the children about engineering. I was surprised by the level of understanding they had of the problems they encountered, for example friction in the wheels and how to reduce it."

Lance Corporal Andrew Powell said: "Seeing the Bloodhound car, speaking to members of the build team and experiencing the challenges they faced made me think back to why I originally joined the REME as a technician. I hope the children have been inspired in the same way I have been by this project."

The Duke also met soldiers' families at an activity day put on by the unit's welfare team.

Lieutenant Colonel David Batty, Commanding Officer of 7 Air Asslt Bn REME, said: "The visit by His Royal Highness Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh, our Colonel in Chief, has been a great honour for the Battalion. It has allowed the Duke to meet our soldiers and learn about every aspect of the unit's life, from supporting frontline operations in Afghanistan to working with local schools to promote science and technology."

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