Fireman trains soldiers for mission to Somalia

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A fireman from Sheffield has returned safely from a trip to Africa, where he helped to train Ugandan soldiers.

Tommy Pigg, aged 34, who is a part-time soldier, travelled to Uganda with the British Army Reserve.

He was among a team of regular and reserve soldiers from 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment who helped train 1,800 Ugandan People’s Defence Force soldiers due to go into Somalia next year on a peacekeeping mission.

Sgt Pigg, from Woodseats, who works at Central fire station in Sheffield city centre, said: “We don’t want it to be a baptism of fire for them when they get out there.

“There’s gaps in training to plug and we have been bringing everything together and looking at what would make them more rounded and professional when they get on the ground.”

Sgt Pigg was among 28 British soldiers deployed to Singo camp in the south of the country to give two weeks of training.

The troops had to endure tropical rainstorms and temperatures of up to 34 degrees as they delivered combat and counter-insurgency training in rural and urban settings.

They worked alongside soldiers from America, France and Denmark on a range of realistic, intelligence driven exercises.

The Ugandan soldiers were shown how to deal with bombs and defend a convoy from attack, but also how to engage with the local community.

They will put the training into practice when they are deployed as part of the African Union Mission to Somalia.

It is the third time that 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment have delivered training in Uganda.

The aim is to build the capability of the Ugandan People’s Defence Force so they can help bring long-term stability to Somalia.

Sgt Pigg said: “It’s a deployment and it’s well within the capability of the reserves to fulfil this task.

“The fact that we are reserves means that we are bringing a lot of skills to the table from our civilian roles.”

Sgt Pigg, a father-of-three, was joined in Uganda by his Colour Sergeant Gary Walledge, 47, from Barnsley.

Col Sgt Walledge joined the regular army in 1988 and served for 10 years.

He is now in the Army Reserve and works as a postman in civilian life.

His son Kieron Walledge is also a reservist.

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