Heating finally fixed at Thorney Island base after soldiers left freezing for months

Soldiers of the 16th Regiment Royal Artillery parade at Thorney Island
Soldiers of the 16th Regiment Royal Artillery parade at Thorney Island

Defence chiefs have forked out cash to fix a broken boiler after scores of soldiers were forced to sleep in freezing army barracks for months.

About 60 soldiers based at Thorney Island’s Sergeants’ Mess had been left without heat for eight months.

Fed up soldiers from the 16 Regiment Royal Artillery said they would rather be fighting in Afghanistan than living at an ageing army barracks that has been without heating since last summer.

Just days after the Observer’s sister paper, The News in Portsmouth, revealed the state of the barracks, the situation worsened when the base’s regimental restaurant was closed for two days.

The move left soldiers crammed into the Sergeants’ Mess to eat their meals.

Speaking at the time, an insider – with more than a decade of service in the army – said: “Everyone is just so fed up with things not getting fixed, but there is nowhere to turn when nothing seems to be getting done.’

But army officials on Monday confirmed the restaurant’s closure was in response to the outcry to repair the base’s broken heating system.

A spokesman said: “The hot water and heat is up and running and we’ve installed a new boiler. “The kitchen was unavailable for 48 hours while this work took place.”

The revelation over the condition the soldiers were living in outraged armed forces campaigners.

One soldier, who has been in the military for more than a decade, said at the time the troops were at the end of their tethers.

He said: “They are saying that there is no money left to repair the boiler. “It is disgusting that we pay rent for this – any other landlord would be taken to court.

“The temperature was 4C last night.

“If we were allowed to join a union we would all be on strike. “I would be better off in Afghanistan – at least it was warm there and we were looked after.’

The base is home to hundreds of soldiers from the specialised air defence regiment.

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