Excerisce Vanguard Shield - Trent Wing Field Craft Camp 2017.
Trent Wing Cadets deployed to Southern England for the second FieldCraft Training Camp. On Saturday 28th May, 38 Cadets supported by 14 Staff set off in the direction of Brunswick Camp, Pirbright to begin training in preparation for a 2 day exercise at Hankley Common.
Day 1 saw the cadets arrive, after battling with the heavy Bank Holiday traffic, with kitting, briefings and initial training take place to assess knowledge and understanding, before being formed into appropriate training tiers. A briefing on Climatic Injuries was hugely important with the temperatures we were experiencing, from Hot and Dry to Cold then back to warm and Humid.
Day 2 saw a move into one of Pirbright's many training areas. For those from the flat open lands of Lincolnshire, the undulating, hilly landscape and tree cover, provided a different training environment for all. The cadets received basic fieldcraft training from Camouflage and Concealment, movement and building 'Basha's for cover, which were certainly put to the test overnight. For those staying out overnight a spectacular thunderstorm and rain showers, certainly put their cover to the test with a 100% success rate for the cadets, but one or two members of staff got a little bit wet. It was also the first introduction to Ration Packs and cooking in the field, with the safe use of cooking equipment.
Day 3, proved to be a soggy start, the rain overnight didn't dissuade any of the cadets in pushing forward to finish their training. A move back to Pirbright Camp came after lunch in time for the evening meal in the mess. Theory training continued into the evening, with cadets bedding down in the spider blocks for the night.
Day 4 saw a mix of complimentary training to assist with their exercise and some visits for variation. 4 Activities took place with Cadets attempting the large Obstacle Course, challenging their physical abilities and team working skills to complete the permitted obstacles. A radio training session with cadets learning or refreshing their knowledge on radio communications took place across the camp, their skills would be essential on the exercise. A basic First Aid refresher was delivered, just in case they needed it for real, but also for the casualty evacuation scenario. The final activity of the day was a visit to Brookwood Military Cemetery, the final resting place of many Commonwealth and American service personnel from WW1 and WW2. It was a poignant reminder of the ultimate sacrifice paid by so many, a visit the cadets treated with the utmost respect and dignity.
After a final check of kit the cadets had free time to relax and prepare for the exercise phase of the week.
Day 5 began with the handover of accommodation back to the camp staff, with the reloading of the vehicles, cleaning of accommodation and return of equipment. One of the permanent units at Pirbright is No1 Battalion of the Welsh Guards. The MT section kindly offered to show the cadets around some of their operational vehicles they use, which proved highly popular, getting a briefing on the vehicles they see on TV in real operations. A huge thank you to the Welsh Guards, for taking the time to speak to the cadets about, what they do and the equipment they use.
The next stop on the events list was the move to Hankley Common. The site is located further south towards Elstead in Surrey and has been made famous for its appearance in many films, more recently as the location of Skyfall House, in the James Bond Movie, Skyfall. The area is a large valley with open heathland and wooded areas, providing a great environment to train and exercise. It is home to the Atlantic Wall, a reconstruction of the Normandy Sea Defences, used to by allied forces to practice for Operation Overlord in 1944.
After arrival 3 members of staff were joined by a member of the Central Training team to complete training on the use of Battle Simulation Sound Devices and Smoke Screen Pyrotechnics, before he conducted a small demonstration exercise with each of the 4 sections. This is a first for Trent wing, and provided a different element of training with the cadets. Due to the current fire risk at Hankley, the planned use of Flares and illumination flares could not take place.
After the demonstration the exercise began with the different sections navigating to their first Harbour area for the night. Once they arrived, they set up their harbour, returning to their ration packs and feeding before settling down for the night, once some additional training had taken place for operating in darkness.
Day 6 continued with the exercise, with various objectives being set, strangely with a Bond Theme to each objective name. The good weather returned and with temperatures of over 25 degrees, the importance of recognising heat related injuries and the understanding of the need to keep hydrated was highlighted well. The cadets clearly listened with no issues and plenty of water re supply taking place. Their recognition skills, comms and movement training was tested by the Directing Staff throughout the exercise with DS Staff playing the role of opposing forces and civilian population, providing movements and activities for each section to report on and assist with.
The final exercise of Day 6 saw a casualty evacuation taking place in darkness, testing the cadets night navigation, communications and practical first aid skills. It also tested the staff's acting abilities, to which one performance is in line for an Oscar.
It was back to their new harbour area for their final night in the field, before completing their final objective in the morning.
Day 7 saw an early wake up with cadets moving to complete their final objective, to get to our own SKYFALL and place laser devices around the compound without being seen, to support friendly forces. Needless to say the cadets completed their objective with all the devices being placed, which completed the exercise.
The road to the DZ Huts saw the four sections of cadets approach, looking slightly tired, but with smiles across their faces, having put their training into action and completing their goals.
The less interesting side of cleaning the camp, packing and travelling home dawned and a frantic few hours culminated in the final parade, before an extended journey home, thanks to the heavy traffic.
All in all the week was a great success, with great teamwork demonstrated by the cadets, consolidating learning from the camp, but also training on their squadrons from core Academic syllabus activities.
The Detachment Commander would like to thank the staff for all their hard work and efforts in making this week a huge success, both during and in preparation for the exercise.
Now onto planning the next week!