Former Chichester pupil speaks about fighting in one of the world’s most hostile places

Former Chichester College pupil Jason Owens. Photo credit: Cpl Jamie Peters RLC
Former Chichester College pupil Jason Owens. Photo credit: Cpl Jamie Peters RLC

INFANTRYMEN are putting all their soldiering skills to the test as they learn to fight and survive in one of the world’s most hostile environments.

About 120 troops of the 2nd Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (2PWRR) have been sent to Belize on a tough jungle training mission. Among them is 20-year-old Private Jason Owens, formerly of Chichester.

“It’s been tough, hot and sweaty,” he said. “Yesterday we set off at around 7.30am and had to set off through the jungle.

“We got to where we needed to be and it was only 2.5km, but because it is so tough going out here it took us until 5pm to get there.”

Private Owens’ A Company has been thrown into the climate of Central America to learn how to do battle and keep themselves alive in the impenetrable vegetation.

From finding food and water in the wilderness to creating fire and fighting through the trees, the unit is being put through its paces to drill each soldier in jungle warfare.

The troops are spending each day fighting against intense heat, biting insects and relentless tactical studies – but say the training will leave them prepared for anything.

“It’s tough and challenging and it can be very demanding but it is one of the best environments to train in and it means we can be the best we can be,” said the former Chichester College pupil.

The soldiers, nicknamed the Tigers, are currently fulfilling the role of the British Army’s Regional Standby Battalion 1 – meaning they are at high readiness to deploy anywhere in the Middle East and north Africa.

“This is probably the toughest environment to train in,” said Private Owen, who now lives in Havant. “It’s a really good opportunity for us because exercises like these are 
so rare.”

n More from the Tigers’ Belize mission in next week’s Observer.