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Royal Engineers give ray of hope as they rebuild lives

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 07, 2013

  • Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel helping deliver aid to the people of Magalumbe, North East Panay

  • Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel are welcomed by the residents of Magalumbe, North East Panay

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A small team of Royal Engineers are helping the people of the Philippines rebuild their lives after the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

A troop of 30 men from 24 Commando Engineer Regiment are onboard HMS Illustrious as she delivers life-sustaining provisions to people in the worst-affected areas.

A part of 3 Commando Brigade, the troop normally provides engineering support to the Royal Marines. However, on this occasion, they are lending their skills to the disaster relief operation.

Skills they have brought to the Philippines include combat engineering, meaning the ability to build showers, provide sanitation, supply electrics and build bridges and tunnels.

They can also quickly spot things that might go unnoticed by the untrained eye but which could become a problem down the line – as a result they can call for long-term engineering skills.

24 Cdo Engr Regt commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ben Campbell-Colquhoun, said: "In humanitarian disaster relief operations, our skills complement those of the Royal Navy very well.

"The Royal Navy has engineering skills in electrics and mechanics, where we have skills in construction and artisan engineering.

"Combine this with the manpower available from the ship and you can form very effective teams on the ground."

24 Cdo Engr Regt are based at Chivenor, North Devon, and due to the nature of the work, each of these soldiers needs to be trained in amphibious warfare alongside the Royal Marines.

Eight Royal Engineers were already onboard HMS Illustrious working with Juliet Company 42 Commando Royal Marines, who had been taking part in an annual deployment, Cougar 13.

When Illustrious powered in to Singapore they were joined by 22 of their colleagues and all of them are now fully integrated with the shore- based working parties in the Philippines.

Helicopter and commando carrier HMS Illustrious arrived in the Philippines earlier this week and took over the aid distribution and assistance role from HMS Daring.

She arrived carrying around 500 tonnes of aid organised by the Department for International Development (DfID) which includes 12,500 blankets, 20,000 candles, 30,000 rice bags, 9,800 tins of sardines, 8,100 tins of vegetables, 17,000 shelter kits, 1,000 jerry cans and 1,900 water carriers.

She has seven helicopters on board to help get the aid quickly into remote areas – three Sea King Mark 4s, one Merlin and three Army Lynx.

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