A MAJOR North East Army barracks has been saved from closure in the Defence Ministry’s latest round of cutbacks.
But Albermarle Barracks in west Northumberland will no longer be home to the long-established 39 Regiment Royal Artillery after 2015.
The regiment is to be downsized and transferred to Larkhill in Wiltshire after 20 years at Albermarle.
It will be replaced at Albermarle by the 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, currently based at Caen Barracks in Hohne, Germany, where British military presence is being ended.
Seven military barracks in the UK are to be closed under MoD restructuring, with 16,000 soldiers returning from Germany in the next six months and thousands more pulling out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
A total of 30,000 soldiers are to be relocated, but Albermarle has survived, a decision warmly welcomed in the region. Hexham MP Guy Opperman said: “We are of course sad to see 39 Royal Artillery leaving, but we will be pleased to welcome the 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery.
“The best news is that after a long campaign I am very pleased that the Government has decided to keep open Albermarle and make it home to a new regiment.
“The base will remain home for a regiment and there will be the safeguarding of local civilian jobs.”
Brigadier Greville Bibby, Commander 15 (NE) Brigade, said: “The Basing Plan will inevitably mean disruption for a large number of military personnel and their families, particularly those returning from Germany, but in the long term it will provide them with the certainty of a stable location for the future.
“I am, however, delighted by the news that there will continue to be a very strong presence of regular forces in the North East and Yorkshire which will bring with it considerable investment for the benefit of the military as well as the communities to which we belong.”
The 39 Regiment has a long and proud history since its formation in 1947, serving in the Middle East, Africa, Cyprus and Libya before transferring from Dempsey Barracks in Germany to Albermarle in 1995.
Soldiers from 39 have been deployed in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Kuwait and Iraq, and, since 2007, Afghanistan.
In 2005, the regiment was awarded the Freedom of Northumberland, 250 soldiers marking the honour with a bayonet march through Hexham.
A year earlier, the Welsh Gunners – formerly 22 Regt RA based in Lincolnshire – was disbanded and merged into 39 Regiment at Albermarle.
3rd Regiment RA, formed in 1938, led the Second World War victory parade in Berlin and fired the Victory Salute.