NOISE of gunfire is not unusual in Catterick, after all it is home to the British Army's largest garrison.

However, the noise on Sunday was significantly louder than usual, residents have reported.

What turned out to be a battle simulation on the ranges led one person to exclaim on Facebook: "What the heck is going on? Are we at war?"

An Army spokesperson said: “A battle simulation exercise on Catterick ranges was held over the weekend by a 4th Infantry Brigade training team. These exercises are held on a regular basis and are conducted under the most stringent conditions.

“Two weeks’ notice of the exercise is also given to both Richmondshire District Council and North Yorkshire Police in an effort to make sure the public are made aware of the possibility of noise disturbance.”

Local resident, Les Grant said: "I never knew heavy weapons could be fired here in Catterick. We used to go to Otterburn to fire big guns. The machine guns being fired I am told were 50 calibre so that’s why it was unusually loud.

"It was a bit of a shock hearing the loud bangs at first but as soon as I heard the machine guns open up I knew it was training so it didn’t bother me. It was Sunday, so I can understand some people being a bit frustrated."