Image of a sapper from 35 Regiment Royal Engineers, processing covid tests at Rochester Cathedral.

The Forth Medway Covid testing centre has been established in the Crypt of Rochester Cathedral. The task of running such an important site has caused the Royal engineers to return to the area some 900 years later.

The Royal Engineers trace their origins back to the military engineers brought to England by William the Conqueror, specifically Bishop Gundulf of Rochester Cathedral, and claim over 900 years of unbroken service to the crown.

Fast forward to 2020 and Military Command (South East) has deployed 175 Armed Forces personnel in the Medway Towns as the Medway Resilience Unit (MRU).

The Military personnel, drawn from a composite of units based on 35 Regiment Royal Engineers, are the vanguard of manning these test centres and are there to initiate the community targeted testing programme in order to help reduce the infection rate within the Medway Towns.

A headquarters consisting of tri service specialists from the British Army Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force have been involved in the planning process for the Medway testing sites, in partnership with Medway Council and DPH, as part of Military Aid to Civilian Authorities request.

35 Engineer Regiment, which is commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Cackett, is an Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search unit based in Carver Barracks, Essex.