Army & Navy living accommodation: ‘Worse than being on the frontline’

keogh barracks

Soldiers at a British Army barracks in Aldershot and sailors at a Royal Navy training establishment in Fareham say they have been living without reliable hot water and heating for almost a year.

One soldier based at Keogh Barracks said conditions are “worse than those on the frontline”.

But it’s not just the army failing to look after it’s people as HMS Collingwood has also had consistent boiler problems meaning there has been no hot water for almost a year. Junior rates have also had to eat off paper plates as there was no funding to replace the broken industrial dish washer.

It highlights a wider problem as the Ministry of Defence struggles to find the money to maintain its vast estate.

Yesterday a defence minister admitted “we need more money” to carry out maintenance and repairs.

More than a hundred soldiers live in Keogh Barracks on the Aldershot base. HMS Collingwood is a much larger establishment housing the Maritime Warfare School and Royal Naval Leadership Academy – up to one third of the Royal Navy can be on short to long term courses there at any one time.

One current solider who wouldn’t give their name told us she’d served on the frontline in Afghanistan living in very simple accommodation and said even that had “better facilities to wash and shower” than her barracks in Aldershot.

“Being back in the UK”, she said, “with no hot water and heating is just a disgrace”.

“Prisoners get treated better than us and we’ve committed no crime”. She says hot water and heating should be “a basic human right”.

Soldiers say they’ve also had to buy their own heaters to keep themselves warm in their room, that ironically costs the MoD more in the long run as it racks up the electricity bill.

Morale at the bases is described as low. Many have contacted us explaining how they are thinking of leaving the Army or Navy because they believe they are not being listened to.

As a temporary solution, the MoD had paid the private contractor Carillion to install generators to provide heating and hot water. However since the firm collapsed last month service personnel claim the generators regularly ran out of fuel leaving them without hot water and heating for days at a time.