Tommy soldier statue, Stadium of Light and Souter Lighthouse to host celebrations to mark 80th anniversary of Army corps with vehicle displays

Iconic locations throughout the North East have been chosen to mark the 80th anniversary of the Royal Armoured Corps.

The Terrace Green in Seaham and its Tommy statue will host one of the displays.
The Terrace Green in Seaham and its Tommy statue will host one of the displays.

On Thursday, the milestone of the RAC will be marked at the Tommy statue on Seaham's Terrace Green, Souter Lighthouse in Whitburn, the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, as well as at the Angel of the North, Bamburgh Castle and Alnwick Castle.

North East-based regiments will display their own armoured vehicles at each site.

The Stadium of Light is one of the North East icons on the tour.

The vehicles will be provided from two regiments based at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire the Light Dragoons, England’s Northern Cavalry, and the Royal Dragoon Guards, Yorkshire’s Cavalry, and The Queen’s Own Yeomanry based at Fenham Barracks in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The vehicles on display at the various locations will include 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 will be on display from sunrise until noon before returning to barracks, with visits to be made at each spot.

There are plans to visit Souter from sunrise until around 8am, then Seaham until 10am and then at the Stadium of Light until noon.

Souter Lighthouse is part of the programme of celebrations.

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

“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.

"So, if you’ve got any questions about the vehicles or a career in the Army please come and have a chat.”

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

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

The Light Dragoons will lead the fanfare of celebrations by stationing their soldiers across the North East.

Soldiers and their vehicles will be in a variety of locations for short periods to take pictures in front of the iconic locations as part of a nationwide plan by HQ RAC to raise the profile of theregiments within our core recruiting areas of which these places are part of.

The Light Dragoons are based in the North of England and recruit from the area

The regiment act as the eyes and ears for the British Army using the JACKAL armoured fighting vehicle.

Created in April 1939 the RAC brought together traditional horse Cavalry and tank regiments of the British Army.

The RAC have 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. These deployments were on the tracked Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance CVR(T) and the newer JACKAL and COYOTE reconnaissance vehicles.

Today the RAC provides the armoured vehicle capability of the British Army – big tanks (Challenger2 Main Battle Tank), little tanks (CVR(T) and the new AJAX vehicles and wheeled scouting vehicles such as JACKAL and COYOTE.

They are constantly deployed with vehicles and on foot in support of operations around the world.