CCF Summer Field Day 2019
This year’s Field Day saw our three sections head off to different parts of the West Country to take part in very diverse activities.
The Army section travelled to Yoxter in Somerset, to conduct a field training exercise that tested all aspects of the Army Basic syllabus. This was followed by a short Adventure Training session.
In the field the recruits worked in their 10-man sections with section leaders and 2I/Cs provided by the Junior NCO cadre (JNCOs). They established a hasty harbour before embarking a clearance patrol during the course of which they had to mount a platoon attack against three enemy positions followed by a low light snap ambush on return to the harbour area.
The cadets, living in improvised bashas, had to learn to administer themselves in the field, prepare and carry their equipment effectively and respond to commands in a distracting, disorientating and unfamiliar environment. The battle drills in particular, involving blank ammunition, smoke grenades and parachute illumination flares, really provided a challenging environment. However, much is still learned away from the noise and confusion in the calm periods, and the cadets must attend to their own personal organisation and readiness.
They are led and guided by the JNCOs for whom this acts as the confirmatory exercise in order to be promoted to the Senior NCO cadre in their final year. They have spent the last few months teaching their sections how to conduct the drills required in the calm environment of the flat school fields and then must show leadership and organisational abilities whilst also setting the example by the quality of their own drills. All sections successfully completed the exercise and have passed the Basic syllabus.
One Section, led by Cdt Sgt Morgan Hill-Lamey and Cdt Sgt Tilly Maybery were deemed the best section and Cdt Matthew Osborne the best cadet.
Following the conclusion of the field phase the recruits moved on to the Adventure Training session provided by Mendip Outdoor, where they undertook single-pitch rock climbing or caving. The JNCOs undertook their advanced shooting, test-firing live ammunition on the full-bore 600m range. Five NCOs gained their marksmanship badges by scoring more than 90 from 105 maximum; the rest all achieved a pass. The Army Summer Field Day is a strenuous challenge, both mentally and physically, testing cadets in a demanding environment to put in to practice a years’ worth of training.
Royal Navy Section
The Royal Navy section spent two days exploring the waters around Plymouth from HMS Raleigh's Sea Sense Training centre at Jupiter Point in Torpoint, Cornwall. The cadets spent their time in a variety of sail and power vessels including a 37-foot yacht and a 30 foot fast motor launch. They sailed past Devonport Dockyard, the largest Naval base in Western Europe and also saw the commercial and leisure facilities of this popular maritime city.
On the water they were improving their helming and navigation skills whilst sailing the vessel together as a team. They were able to put into practice the theory learned over the cold winter months. This included why it was important to understand what each of the navigation buoys meant from afar and determine the depth of the water under the boat. The cadets also had the opportunity to improve their rope handling skill, learning to quickly apply the correct knot, hooking a line through a mooring buoy and when coming alongside, to correctly lasso a cleat on a pontoon with a line from the boat at the first attempt.
On our return from Plymouth Sound we had to keep clear of HMS Sutherland (a type 23 frigate) as she departed the River Tamar via a narrow channel with some tight bends – which gave everyone a good view. This also demonstrated that there is more to the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collision at Sea than the often held belief that "power always gives way to sail".
Royal Marines Section
The end of the Summer Term always sees a shift towards outdoor adventure activities for the Royal Marines section. Deploying for Croyde, two days of surfing and rock climbing lay ahead for our cadets.
This year, our sixth form cadets were tasked with planning and delivering the majority of the administration, including organising transport, ordering catering requirements, stores lists and of course, the activity plan itself.
We deployed on the Sunday in variable (wet) weather conditions and once in the area, the group split into two – our Lower Sixth cadets headed into the water for a couple of hours’ surfing in Croyde Bay and the other half, our Fourth Form to test their head for heights at the famous climbing slabs at Baggy Point. There is of course a point to our chosen activity here; the Royal Marines are world leaders in military vertical cliff assault and ascending these sea cliffs offers in a way, some insight into the training undertaken, not only by modern-day commandos, but our forebears from WW2.
With a BBQ and camping night to look forward to at nearby Combas Farm campsite, the cadets were eager to set up camp. Our staff manned the BBQ and there were plenty of subsequent games, organised by Fourth Form cadets Anastasia Woodard and Eleanor Myers that provided an energetic and happy evening of fun.
On Monday morning, with a drastic change in weather, the groups switched activities. The Sixth Form cadets at Baggy Point were given instruction on a ‘Californian’ traversing technique with often quite differing outcomes.
Over the two days, it was incredible to see that with the right guidance and trust in the equipment, mental barriers can be broken through and long-held fears controlled.