Souter Lighthouse, Seaham’s Tommy and the Stadium of Light provide stunning backdrop to Royal Armoured Corps 80th anniversary celebrations

Royal Armoured Corps 80th anniversary at Tommy. From left Sgt Craig Metcalfe, Lcpl Dominic Ezard and Tpr Dan Wheatley
Royal Armoured Corps 80th anniversary at Tommy. From left Sgt Craig Metcalfe, Lcpl Dominic Ezard and Tpr Dan Wheatley

Iconic locations across Wearside, South Tyneside and East Durham have been marking the 80th anniversary of the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC).

Souter Lighthouse, Seaham’s Tommy statue and the Stadium of Light were among venues across the region at which North East based regiments displayed their armoured vehicles.

Royal Armoured Corps 80th anniversary at Tommy. From left Sgt Craig Metcalfe, Lcpl Dominic Ezard and Tpr Dan Wheatley

Royal Armoured Corps 80th anniversary at Tommy. From left Sgt Craig Metcalfe, Lcpl Dominic Ezard and Tpr Dan Wheatley

The vehicles were provided from the Light Dragoons and the Royal Dragoon Guards, both based at Catterick, and The Queen’s Own Yeomanry, based at Fenham Barracks in Newcastle.

They included the Jackal reconnaissance vehicle, which is designed to protect personnel from roadside bomb explosions, the Panther protected patrol vehicle and the weapons mounted installation kit Land Rover, which is a highly mobile fire support and force protection vehicle.

The vehicles were on display from sunrise until midday before returning to barracks.

Major Noel Claydon-Swales, Second in Command, The Light Dragoons says: “As a Cavalry Officer and a reconnaissance solider I’m delighted that the Light Dragoons are leading the RAC celebrations.

It’s remarkable the contribution the RAC has made to UK defence and history over its 80 years and as a Regiment the Light Dragoons are excited to be able to show off our vehicles and soldiers all across the North East, which is our traditional home.

Major Noel Claydon-Swales

“It’s remarkable the contribution the RAC has made to UK defence and history over its 80 years and as a Regiment the Light Dragoons are excited to be able to show off our vehicles and soldiers all across the North East, which is our traditional home.”

Regimental Sergeant Major Bobbie Buchan, from Sunderland, said: “As soldiers, we love to get out and talk to the public about what it is we do.

“I’ve been a Light Dragoon for 21 years and I’ve loved every moment of it.”

There have been many changes to the RAC over 80 years, both in terms of equipment and soldiers.

Royal Armoured Corps 80th anniversary at Souter Lighthouse.

Royal Armoured Corps 80th anniversary at Souter Lighthouse.

Traditionally the Regiments which make-up the RAC were men-only but the Light Dragoons welcomed its first female Officer in 2018.

Created in April 1939, the RAC brought together traditional horse Cavalry and tank regiments of the British Army, and has been involved in nearly all ground-based operations since the Second World War.

In 2017 and 2018 the Light Dragoons deployed soldiers and vehicles to Poland as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP), as well as Kosovo in 2014, and Iraq and Afghanistan prior to that.

Today the RAC provides the armoured vehicle capability of the British Army – with both large and small tanks and big tanks and wheeled scouting vehicles.

Royal Armoured Corps 80th anniversary at Souter Lighthouse. From left Sgt Paul Hartin, Lcpl Dominic Ezard, Tpr Adam Rogan, Tpr Dan Wheatley and Sgt Craig Metcalfe

Royal Armoured Corps 80th anniversary at Souter Lighthouse. From left Sgt Paul Hartin, Lcpl Dominic Ezard, Tpr Adam Rogan, Tpr Dan Wheatley and Sgt Craig Metcalfe

Royal Armoured Corps 80th anniversary at Stadium of Light. From left Lcpl Domonic Ezard, Sgt Craig Metcalfe and Tpr Dan Wheatley

Royal Armoured Corps 80th anniversary at Stadium of Light. From left Lcpl Domonic Ezard, Sgt Craig Metcalfe and Tpr Dan Wheatley

Royal Armoured Corps 80th anniversary at Stadium of Light. From left Sgt Craig Metcalfe, Tpr Dan Wheatley and Lcpl Dominc Ezard

Royal Armoured Corps 80th anniversary at Stadium of Light. From left Sgt Craig Metcalfe, Tpr Dan Wheatley and Lcpl Dominc Ezard