As the exeat weekend began and the tail lights of the College minibuses receded into the gloom on Friday evening, 18 brave cadets from Year 10 to Year 13 (15 boys and 3 girls) reported to the CCF block. After collecting their webbing, backpacks and rations, they loaded up to head off to Pippingford Park for the best that the CCF syllabus could throw at them.
They arrived in the dark to pre-prepared bashas and got straight down to the business of preparing their own ration pack meal. They were issued weapons and blank ammunition before being briefed on the night ambush task … and so the challenge began.
Exercise STAG CHALLENGE was a voluntary 20-hour field exercise designed to excite, inspire and test the more enthusiastic cadets in fieldcraft under any conditions. The mercury dropped to minus 6 degrees but snow and sleet did nothing to deter these hardy pupils from undertaking advanced fieldcraft including a night ambush, an early morning fighting withdrawal and then a section attack circuit. The exercise culminated in a deliberate attack scenario on one of the bridges on the training area.
Colonel Lamb reflected: "To us this is the equivalent to our 1st XI or 1st XV team taking on the best in the toughest conditions and coming out on top. Anyone can volunteer to take part in these sorts of activities and without a doubt these pupils all came away buzzing from the experience. They also impressed all who worked with them. A big thank you to the Officer Cadets from Southampton University Officer Training Corps who provided extra support, to our SSI and his team who prepared the equipment and to the six College staff who acted as exercise assistants and toughed it out with the cadets."
The next voluntary CCF event will be a range day in March 2016.