August 17th 2020

A year in the life of an Army Reservist

Dan Burton Otturburn group

Bombardier Dan Burton on infantry training at Otterburn with 103 Regiment Royal Artillery

Reservists make up over 19% of the UK Armed Forces, and play a key role in defending the nation at home and abroad. We follow a year in the life of the diverse Reserve training of Bombardier (Bdr) Dan Burton of 103 Regiment Royal Artillery during the year 2019.

Dan Burton firing L118 gun

Dan firing L118 gun

Working alongside their Regular counterparts, Reserves undergo the same training, giving up their spare time to do so.  Here, one of our Army Reserves talks about the breadth of experiences in just one year of being a Reserve.

Bdr Dan Burton is a former Fire Support Team (FST) member from 100 Regiment, whose responsibilities include directing artillery fire and close air support. After 10 years with 100 Regiment, Dan transferred to 210 Battery, 103 Regiment Royal Artillery. Here, he undertook a Level 2 Strike Course, where he learned how to handle a variety of high-tech artillery equipment.

After successfully passing his course, Dan took on the role of ‘layer’,  which involves aiming an artillery piece or turret such as a gun, howitzer or mortar on land, air, or on sea, against surface or aerial targets.

Military skills contribute to civilian success

In his civilian life, Dan is a PhD student at the University of Nottingham, where he recently took part in a competition to develop an Open Source Assistive Device (OPAD) for the disabled.  A former medical student, Dan joined the competition with an idea to develop a device to remind those suffering from the early stages of dementia to do certain tasks.

The University of Nottingham is an Armed Forces Covenant signatory, which means they support the employment, development, and mobilisation of Reserves. This allows a degree of flexibility for Reserves like Dan to be able to undertake their Reserve force training, providing him with an additional 10 days leave.

Dan Burton at the Commonwealth office

Dan at the Commonwealth Office with his employer, the University of Nottingham.

The leadership skills Dan has gained from his Reserves training allowed him to quickly put together and lead a team from different disciplines.  Working as a tight-knit group, they managed to make such good progress, they developed a working prototype that went on to win the competition on the 17th June.

During the year, Dan also took part in vigorous Cambrian Patrol Training over several weekends from January through to August. This provides challenging exercises designed to enhance operational capability. The event is mission-focused and scenario-based, with role players used to enhance the training benefit, ensuring Reserves are meeting the high standards their roles demand in the field.

At the start of July, 103 Regiment took a trip to Normandy, where they travelled throughout the region to research and understand more about the events leading up to D-Day. The unit also visited many war grave cemeteries, to pay their respects to members of the South Notts Hussars and others who lost their lives in World War 2.

Opportunities to travel at home and abroad

In the last two weeks of September, The Regiment’s annual deployment took them to the cold forests of Otterburn, Northumberland, where they completed a variety of different tactical infantry training. Dan led his section in the first phase of a platoon attack, zoning in on a moving enemy.  The second phase of their annual training was a live firing gunnery exercise.  Dan assumed the role of Layer and Firer, and commented: “It was a great exercise for improving our gunnery skills.”

Dan Burton Otterburn

Tactical infantry training at Otterburn

Dan also travelled to South Africa in late October, to take part in a Military Skills competition along with three others from 103 Regiment and around 30 others from the UK. The event was organised by the South African National Defence Force.  In it, each country went head to head in a variety of different events, including an assault course, swimming obstacle race, 10-kilometre boot run, grenade throwing, and pistol and rifle shooting. These events were graded by speed and ability, resulting in a league table with participation from the UK, USA, Germany, Nigeria, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and the hosts, South Africa.

Dan Burton SA Assult course

South African assault course

Finishing his year on a high, Dan had the privilege of taking part in the Royal Salute at Carnarvon Castle in Wales, to mark the birthday of Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales.

2019 was clearly an action packed year for Dan, with some fantastic opportunities for training, travel and personal development. Dan also earnt the coveted Commanding Officer Bronze Award for his efforts. Dan commented: “It was a really fantastic year for me, and I look forward to continuing my training and service with 103 Regiment Royal Artillery.”



Dan Burton Otturburn weapon

Dan handing weapons during training

This training year was pre COVID-19 pandemic, Armed Forces are still recruiting now. If you think you’d enjoy the challenge and opportunities being a Reserve brings, find out more about 103 Regiment Royal Artillery here.

“It was a really fantastic year for me, and I look forward to continuing my training and service with 103 Regiment Royal Artillery,” Bdr Dan Burton.