Thousands of soldiers flocked to Wiltshire for a huge military training exercise.

Over 1,500 troops were involved in Exercise Wessex Storm, which sees personnel from the army, and sometimes the RAF, swarm the Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA) for two weeks in November.

The operation, one of the largest on the SPTA, aims to provide troops with realistic and varied training focusing on fighting in built-up areas, in woods and forests, and preparing for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear warfare.

This time the exercise was broken down into a week of company-level live fire exercises followed by a two-week field training exercise which took place at different locations across the plain, including Greenlands Farm, Copehill Down, and Imber Village.

Maj Andrew Lucas, of C Company, the Royal Anglian Regiment, said: “Exercise Wessex Storm was a great opportunity.

“We were well supported by the Royal Army of Oman, the Grenadier Guards and small teams from the London Regiment, the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Royal Signals, and the Royal Army Medical Corps.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Exercise Wessex StormExercise Wessex Storm (Image: MOD)

“It was a challenging and rewarding exercise, operating on foot across the whole of Salisbury Plain, often by night and from hasty harbour areas, with expeditionary logistics and a live, thinking enemy.

“Tactical engagement simulation was excellent, and the objectives provided a proper and challenging test for the battle group.”

The exercise, which involved fast-moving vehicles and pyrotechnics, took months of planning by Defence Infrastructure Organisation staff.

This included locating the right training area and managing any conflicts to keep military personnel and the public safe.

WO2 Mark Devlin, training safety marshal for SPTA, said: “Public safety is a key priority for us. When an exercise of this size and complexity takes place we have a responsibility to make sure that the public, as well as our exercising troops, are kept safe.

“We monitor the plain throughout the exercise, and if we come across any members of the public, we tell them that the exercise is taking place, how they might be impacted, and where they can find more information about how and when to access the area safely.”

“Our key message to the public is that the training area can go from calm to combat in an instant. We encourage the public to make use of this beautiful area but to stick to the paths and rights of way, adhere to the signage and red flags, and to go online to the GOV.UK website to find out when and where you can access the area safely.”