A NEWLY qualified soldier from Bovington was catapulted straight into one of Europe’s largest military exercises this year. 

William Ferguson, a Second Lieutenant with The Light Dragoons (LD) took on the crucial role of troop leader on Exercise Spring Storm in Estonia.  

The 25-year-old was part of one of two LD squadrons taking part in the NATO exercise to fend off any potential Russian attack. 

Speaking in Estonia, William said: “We began with an integration package with our Polish and Danish partners, and this saw us attacking them in their defensive positions.

Bournemouth Echo: Second Lieutenant William FergusonSecond Lieutenant William Ferguson (Image: Ministry of Defence)

"We moved through obstacles, across rivers and through to an advance, clearing through the terrain we had in front of us. 

“We then swapped around, so we screened their advance and looked to delay and defend against them.” 

The exercise saw 14,000 land, sea and air personnel from 11 NATO countries carry out training scenarios in the second half of May. 

“Not many troop leaders get to do that straight out of the door as early as week two and I’m extremely fortunate to do so,” he added. 

“At first, I was a bit nervous. There are quite a few new people looking up to me now.

Bournemouth Echo: Tanks on trainingTanks on training (Image: Ministry of Defence)

“I have a group of 12 who I’m in charge of and it’s a lot of responsibility but everyone has been extremely welcoming and are there to help me along so we can all get the most out of this exercise and I can get the most from my troops.” 

William, who attended Bristol University, said he decided to join the army halfway through his engineering degree when he discovered he was “more a people person than a numbers person”. 

He added: “My cousin and uncle have served, one currently, the other previously, and they suggested it would be a fantastic place for me.  

“The people you get to work with, the places you get to go and the way it challenges you, both mentally and physically, were things that made me think it was definitely a place I could work.”