From the Friday evening of the 28th September, to the Sunday morning of the 30th, the Army Detachment ventured into the familiar landscape of Nescliffe Training area to take part in the annual Military Skills Competition run by the XI Signals Brigade.
Under the command of Colour Sgt Arthur Gell, the section of nine Army cadets loaded up and headed by bus to the training area, accompanied by Captain Simper, the adult volunteer who would escort them through the event.
After a night’s sleep in the confines of a bunker, the team embarked on the first of their activities: a command task which involved first locating caches buried throughout a wood, followed by the deciphering of codes to gather information, all undertaken in the darkness of a black-out tent. Special commendation to Jake Ludlam for his efforts in locating hidden codes and keys in the darkness with limited light.
The team’s navigation skills were put to the test as they found several marked points on a map, reaching well-hidden markers throughout Nescliffe, before moving on to a written test that scrutinised their map-reading and navigation skills. Cadet Loumidis proved his skills in navigating as he helped plot out routes across maps, as well as identifying distinct features that would lead the way.
In the Casevac stand, the recruits bombed up their magazines and prepared to fight a pitch battle to recover a wounded casualty. The instructors were amazed by the speed with which the section launched forwards, taking the enemy by storm in a hail of blank fire. In fact, the rapid nature of the encounter was quicker than any other section, leaving them with extra time to wait as the next group was made ready to go. Commendation to Colour Sgt Gell who led his team, as well as Colour Sgt Chad Usher who led Delta section as 2nd-in-Command who gave the furious hail of covering fire that held the enemy at bay.
The team progressed to a task that they had not yet encountered: the Gun Run. The cadets worked hard to move and disassemble a gun and limber, working in a tight team to rapidly disassemble and carry the heavy parts through to be quickly reassembled and pulled through a course. To their credit, they completed it swiftly, earning a great score.
Following on was the First Aid stand, where the cadets worked to secure the aftermath of an accidental grenade detonation. The group worked to treat a shock victim, a gunshot victim and an unconscious casualty. Lance Corporals Oliver Taylor and Ed Craik worked especially hard to secure the unconscious casualty and provide CPR until it was possible to resuscitate them.
After a hearty meal of ration packs and a night’s sleep, the group embarked on their gruelling forced march. Unable to break into a run (apart from a 400-metre stretch) or have less than one foot on the ground at all times, they marched across three miles in 25 minutes. Special commendation to Cpl Alexander Sparks and LCpl Andrew Chan who persevered and stuck it through, leading to a resounding result. This was followed by an air rifle range where the selected shooters tested their skills, to land a result of 3rd in the march and shoot.
The troops were rewarded for their efforts with the gold medal for best CCF team in the overall competition, and bronze in the march and shoot. This was a great result for a team that included cadets on their third consecutive competition.
Congratulations to all who took part, and special thanks to the CCF staff who supported them through their exercise. The efforts of Cpt Simper, Cpt Farmer and Sgt Welsh have been integral to our success.
Colour Sgt Tim Lovick