101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (EOD&S) is unique in that it’s the only Volunteer Reserve Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search Regiment in the British Army. Recently volunteers from the unit have undertaken several MACA (Military Assistance to Civilian Authority) live search tasks including the assurance of the G7 Summit in St Mawgan, Cornwall, and the Conservative Party’s Annual Conference in Liverpool.
One of the largest venue searches in recent memory was a challenging task with three large venues to assure as safe and strict deadlines to adhere to before Cornwall hosted the G7 Summit. The eyes of the world were watching.
On 5th June, we deployed to RAF St Mawgan with a small advance team to conduct pre-search activity and seals around the venues. RAF St Mawgan is an hour’s drive from St Ives and the two main venues we were responsible for searching – Tregenna Castle and the Carbis Bay Hotel, where most of the G7 delegates were staying and where the Summit events would take place.
Tregenna Castle is a Grade II listed building built in the 1700s. On a 72-acre estate, it has 99 bedrooms and more than 50 self-catering apartments across 14 different “lodges”. This is where President Biden and his team were going to stay.
A key part of our work was to search all 14 lodges and seal them until the American Embassy and Secret Service could take possession of them. This involved an extensive rummage search through homes that had only recently been vacated by the families who live there.
This is where we really started to demonstrate our worth. After completin our initial swabbing for Explosive Particle Detection (EPD), we jumped in as rummage pairs which really sped up the process, especially given the large number of tasks to be conducted, including scanning and sealing fire extinguishers and escorting technicians around site; all very labour-intensive work.
This process was repeated at the second venue, the Carbis Bay Hotel where the actual summit would take place, and the Prime Minister would be staying. And again at the Eden Project, where an event was to be held with the Queen in attendance.
The overall operation was led by Devon & Cornwall Police, with a lot of pressure on their own manpower and search teams. One reason St Ives was chosen was the ease with which it could be shut down to allow for such intensive security operations. It’s much harder to close off large sections of major cities, and far more disruptive. In the middle of a pandemic no one really noticed that this small part of St Ives became a fortress except the people of St Ives themselves.
by LCpl Weir and LCpl Prossor, 101 Engineer Regiment (EOD&S)