ARMY reservists from the North-East have made history as part of the British Army's largest ever deployment in a single unit.

About 270 reservists from 7 Rifles and 5 Fusiliers have been mobilised for the British Army’s contribution to the United Nations peacekeeping mission on Cyprus.

It is the army's largest ever deployment of the Army Reserve in a single unit under its own command.

Their first parade as a formed battlegroup saw them swap their regimental berets for the light blue headdress of UN peacekeepers.

The 7 Rifles-led unit will be based at Thetford, in Norfolk, for pre-deployment training, which will see them learn and practice the skills they need to keep the peace on Cyprus’ Green Line.

Lt Col Steve Burton, Commanding Officer of 5 Fusiliers, said: "Our 112 Fusiliers and their comrades from 7 Rifles have made a noble choice to take almost a year out of their busy civilian lives to serve their country.

"It proves what the Army Reserve can do. Yesterday they were builders, bankers, policemen, nurses and actors. From today, and for the next nine months, they are full-time, professional soldiers, playing an equal role in the British Army’s deployments and commitments."

Cpl Tse, an army reserve combat medial technician from Newcastle, said: "Our training in Norfolk will focus on developing us as tactical diplomats: we are not going out there to fight, but to keep the peace.

I am really looking forward to going to Cyprus. Of course I will miss my family but I am excited to go overseas and do something unique.

"My career is protected by law and I will come back having gained new skills as part of what will be a great experience."