New chief for Royal Anglians

A DECORATED soldier - who played a key role in one of the most volatile incidents involving the British Army in Iraq - has taken charge of the county regiment, the 1st Battalion of the Royal Anglians.

A DECORATED soldier - who played a key role in one of the most volatile incidents involving the British Army in Iraq - has taken charge of the county regiment, the 1st Battalion of the Royal Anglians.

Lt Col James Woodham, the son of a Norfolk vicar, takes over the key role of commander of The Vikings from Lt Colonel Stuart Carver.

He began as a cadet at the North Walsham Detachment in the mid-1980s and continues to live in the county with his wife and three-year-old son.

The regiment's new top soldier was famously awarded the Military Cross, one of the highest honours in the armed forces, in 2006 after finding himself at the centre of the high profile capture of two British soldiers held in a Basra police station.


You may also want to watch:


The incident followed a shooting, after which the British troops were “illegally detained” by Iraqi police.

According to the Chief of General Staff, Sir Mike Jackson, he: “Led five colleagues without interpreters to negotiate the release of the two arrested British soldiers while surrounded by over 30 armed and angry men.”

Most Read

He was judged to have displayed “the highest level of leadership and composure in extremely tense conditions”.

At the time Lt Col Woodham said he was proud of the honour, but added it had been a privilege to be at the heart of a “huge team effort”.

Lt Col Woodham was commissioned into the Royal Anglians in August 1986. He has served in Ulster, been company commander with the 1st and 2nd battalions of the Royal Anglians and served in Iraq on numerous occasions.

The regiment has played a key role in the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.

Most recently they were hailed as the heroes of Helmand with an array of medals and bravery awards recognising the ferocity of fighting they were involved in last summer in southern Afghanistan.

Six members of the battalion received the Military Cross, five soldiers received a Mention in Despatches and another officer was awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service.

In addition, out of 120 commendations given out among 8,000 troops who served in Helmand last summer, 48 went to the Royal Anglians, including a posthumous award to Pte Chris Gray.

This was one of the most highly decorated periods in their history.

However, this success has also been tainted by tragedy with nine killed in action and more than 120 wounded.

One of Lt Col Woodham's first public engagements as commander was to return to visit the Norfolk Army Cadet Force summer camp last week. This year the county took more than 500 adults and cadets for a two-week stay in Hampshire.

County commandant Col David Hedges hosted visits from a number of senior officers, but described Lt Col Woodham's visit as “a special surprise”.

Col Hedges said: “It was great to see James again after all this time and I hope we will see more of him in the future.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus