June 21st 2023

Reserves Day: Lincoln soldier bowled over by opportunities for sporting glory

Pte Benson at Lord's.

In March, Private Jake Benson travelled to Antigua as part of the Royal Logistic Corps’ (RLC) pre-season tour, winning four out of the eight games against local sides. Pte Benson was the leading wicket taker and subsequently named the best bowler for the tour.

In April, he was on the field in Corfu Town for the Army Development Team with some 1,000 spectators watching as his side thrashed the Greek national team on the way to becoming the champions of a festival marking the 200th anniversary of cricket on the island.

And in May, Pte Benson was rewarded with his first Army T20 Inter-Services cap at Lord’s, where he took a wicket off the last ball to win the Armed Forces T20 trophy.

The 2023 season has been one for the memory books, and it’s not even over yet for Pte Benson, a Reservist with 160 (Lincoln) Transport Squadron, part of 150 Regiment RLC.

Pte Benson, who plays cricket for the RLC and the British Army, said: “Sport is one of the main reasons I joined the Army Reserves in 2019. It gives you incredible opportunities that you wouldn’t get outside of the military working environment.

“I’m especially proud of winning the Inter-Services competition at Lord’s. Over the last couple of years I’ve worked very hard at my game and that was a reward for all of the hard work I’ve put in.

“Thrashing Greece in a tournament to mark 200 years of cricket on Corfu was another. They’re not really a cricketing playing nation but, still, it’s nice to say you’ve beaten a national team.”

Reserves Day

The Reserve Forces play a crucial role in national security, from countering security threats, peacekeeping, and humanitarian efforts abroad to supporting communities at home.

Together, the Royal Naval Reserves, Army Reserves, RAF Reserves, and Royal Marines Reserve make up roughly 18% of Britain’s Armed Forces. Each year their contributions are celebrated on Reserves Day, which this year takes place on 21st June.

The 28-year-old, who comes from Lincoln, is an Army driver, ensuring all supplies are delivered to the right location at the right time, no matter how dangerous the environment. As part of his training he acquired his heavy goods vehicle licence, a highly sought after qualification.

A versatile individual, as a civilian he also works as a sports therapist and remotely as a Business Development Manager for the Sports Therapy Association.

Pte Benson

The importance of sport

While sport is a great passion of Pte Benson’s it also has an integral role to play in the military.

He added: “To me, sport promotes a one Army culture because it brings Regulars and Reserves together. I’ve always been someone who just gets on with whoever regardless of background and rank but it promotes that culture.

“More importantly you make fantastic friends, both at Squadron level and across the wider army, because you spend so much time with them. Even though I live up in Lincoln and they live three to four hours away, I spend more time with them then friends closer by because of sport. It grows your friendships.

“Leadership skills are also developed through sport, so many ranks play through cricket and it gives you confidence to speak to them.”

Pte Benson is a bowler and lower order batter for the Army’s first and development teams. He is also vice-captain of the development team and, outside the Army, plays for Lindum Cricket Club in Lincoln, who play in the Lincolnshire ECB Premier League.

By the end of the season, Pte Benson estimates he will have played as many as 70 games of cricket. But there may be more yet, as Pte Benson has ambitions to play for the Inter-Services team in the future too.

He said: “You’ve got to strike a balance between doing the Reserve commitment and playing which, I know it might sound like I haven’t, but I have. I’ve only missed two training weekends all year – one of them I was playing for the RLC in Greece, and the other playing against England Disability.

Sport can be a major commitment but there are also opportunities for people. Just give new activitiesa try, who knows where in the world it will take you.”

Maj Mason, Officer Commanding, 160 (Lincoln) Transport Squadron, added: “The British Army recognises playing sport is key in keeping you fit and healthy but it is also great for your mental health, it helps build self-discipline, determination, confidence and leadership – all elements required to be an all-round soldier in the Army Reserves.

Pte Benson has also gained his HGV license in his role as a driver for the Regiment and deployed to Cyprus last year on his annual continuous training camp. This year he is looking at a possible promotion as well as attending his physical training instructor course.

Although the minimum commitment is 27 days, most people enjoy it so much they spend at least 40 days a year doing their bit for the British Army.”

Use our Reserve Unit Finder to begin your journey today.