|Shorncliffe Army Camp|
Shorncliffe Army Camp
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Built for||War Office|
Shorncliffe Army Camp is a large military camp near Cheriton in Kent. Established in 1794, it later served as a staging post for troops destined for the Western Front during the First World War.
The camp was established in 1794 when the British Army bought over 229 acres of land at Shorncliffe; it was then extended in 1796 and 1806.It was at Shorncliffe that in 1803 Sir John Moore trained the Light Division that fought under the Duke of Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars. In 1890 hutted camp facilities were replaced with permanent facilities known as Moore Barracks, Napier Barracks, Ross Barracks, Royal Engineers Barracks (later known as Burgoyne Barracks) and Somerset Barracks. Risborough Barracks were established by 1910.
Shorncliffe was used as a staging post for troops destined for the Western Front during the First World War and in April 1915 a Canadian Training Division was formed there.The Canadian Army Medical Corps had general hospitals based at Shorncliffe from September 1917 to December 1918. The camp at that time composed five unit lines known as Moore Barracks, Napier Barracks, Risborough Barracks, Ross Barracks and Somerset Barracks. On three occasions there were German air raids which killed soldiers on the camp.
During the Second World War Shorncliffe was again used as a staging post and Queen Mary visited the camp in 1939.
From 1967 the camp was home to the Junior Infantryman's Battalion (JIB) and later, the Infantry Junior Leaders Battalion (IJLB) until the dissolution of junior soldier recruitment in 1991.
On 2 April 2013, it was announced that land forming part of Shorncliffe Garrison would be sold to create 1,200 new homes. Proceeds from the sale would be reinvested to provide "better facilities for service men and women". Taylor Wimpey were confirmed as the preferred bidder.
The Royal Gurkha Rifles have been based at Sir John Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe since 2001.2nd (South East) Brigade was also based in Sir John Moore Barracks until January 2015, when it merged with 11th Light Brigade to form 11th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters South East, based at Aldershot Garrison.
In November 2016 Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon announced in the House of Commons that Somerset Barracks is to close.
On 22 September 2020, Napier Barracks began to be used by the Home Office to provide temporary accommodation for asylum seekers.According to a UK Visas & Immigration factsheet titled Contingency Asylum Accommodation Ministry of Defence sites, "The sites are being used to accommodate single, adult male asylum seekers. These are people who have claimed asylum in the United Kingdom, and whose asylum claims are under consideration." The camp is operated by Clearsprings Ready Homes.
On 26 January 2021, in a debate in the House of Commons titled UK Border: Covid Protections, Zarah Sultana said that "One hundred people in the camp—that is, one in four—have tested positive for covid." Home Secretary Priti Patel responded "The reason the base was made available is that in line with Public Health England guidelines, because of coronavirus, we need space for social distancing, which has been absolutely in place."
On 29 January 2021, a building providing accommodation to asylum seekers at Napier Barracks suffered damage as a result of fire. Arrests have been made by Kent Police in connection with a disturbance at the site on the same day.In a tweet, the Home Secretary described the damage and destruction as "deeply offensive to the taxpayers of the country".
The units stationed here during the Napoleonic wars greatly affected military history from this point onward. The light infantry trained at Shorncliffe were a new breed of soldier more akin to the soldiers of the modern British Army than their contemporaries. Using the "Shorncliffe Method", devised by Lt-Col Kenneth Mackenzie, the soldiers were taught to think for themselves and act on initiative. A high proportion of them were literate, which was unusual for the time. Moreover, in an age when many officers received no training, the light infantry officers drilled with the men. Their battlefield tactics were the embryonic emergence of current military manoeuvres, often fighting in skirmish formation ahead of the British main battle line.
In the Victorian era the Redoubt was converted to a dwelling for the camp Commandant. Many of the bricks used in the construction of the house were reused from the original Redoubt building.
In 2011 the camp consisted of Burgoyne Barracks, Sir John Moore Barracks, Napier Barracks, Risborough Barracks and Somerset Barracks.However, as of 2021, all that remains is Sir John Moore Barracks, after the other 4 barracks were sold off.
Below is a list of the units currently, as of March 2021, based at the location.
Community Cadet Forces
The Shorncliffe Military Cemetery serving the camp is also property of the Ministry of Defence. Three Victoria Cross recipients are buried here:
It contains more than 600 Commonwealth war graves from the World Wars.There are 471 from World War I, including more than 300 Canadians, and 6 members of the Chinese Labour Corps. There are buried 81 from World War II, including one unidentified British soldier and a Polish war grave. A screen wall memorial lists 18 Belgian soldiers who were originally buried in a now-demolished mausoleum.
Brigade of Gurkhas is the collective name which refers to all the units in the British Army that are composed of Nepalese Gurkha soldiers. The brigade, which was 3,430 strong as of 1 April 2019, draws its heritage from Gurkha units that originally served in the British Indian Army prior to Indian independence, and prior to that served for the East India Company. The brigade includes infantry, engineering, signal, logistic and training and support units. They are known for their khukuri, a distinctive heavy knife with a curved blade, and have a reputation for being fierce and brave soldiers.
The Gurkhas or Gorkhas with endonym Gorkhali are soldiers native to South Asia of Nepalese nationality recruited for the British Army, Nepalese Army, Indian Army, Gurkha Contingent Singapore, Gurkha Reserve Unit Brunei, UN peacekeeping forces and in war zones around the world. Historically, the terms "Gurkha" and "Gorkhali" were synonymous with "Nepali", which originates from the hill principality Gorkha Kingdom, from which the Kingdom of Nepal expanded under Prithivi Narayan Shah. The name may be traced to the medieval Hindu warrior-saint Guru Gorakhnath who has a historic shrine in Gorkha District. The word itself derived from Go-Raksha, raksha becoming rakha (रखा). Rakhawala means 'protector' and is derived from raksha as well.
The Royal Corps of Signals is one of the combat support arms of the British Army. Signals units are among the first into action, providing the battlefield communications and information systems essential to all operations. Royal Signals units provide the full telecommunications infrastructure for the Army wherever they operate in the world. The Corps has its own engineers, logistics experts and systems operators to run radio and area networks in the field. It is responsible for installing, maintaining and operating all types of telecommunications equipment and information systems, providing command support to commanders and their headquarters, and conducting electronic warfare against enemy communications.
Options for Change was a restructuring of the British Armed Forces in summer 1990 after the end of the Cold War.
The Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) is a rifle regiment of the British Army, forming part of the Brigade of Gurkhas. Unlike other regiments in the British Army, RGR soldiers are recruited from Nepal, which is neither a dependent territory of the United Kingdom nor a member of the Commonwealth.
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Cheriton is a northern suburb of Folkestone in Kent. It is the location of the English terminal of the Channel Tunnel as well as of the major army barracks of Shorncliffe Camp.
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