March & Shoot award for College CCF
This year the CCF Army Section summer camp was held at Longmoor Camp in Hampshire.
Monday was spent on the training area, undertaking blank-firing training in three fieldcraft disciplines: Platoon Harbour Drills, House Clearance, and Anti-Ambush Drills. The house clearance was particularly interesting to the College cadets who were well aware that this must have been a bread-and-butter occurrence for British troops while serving in Afghanistan. On Tuesday they were again out on the training area, this time for an interest day on survival techniques. The morning was spent receiving instruction and demonstrations on the priorities in a survival situation: water, fire, food and shelter. Light relief was provided when when of the College cadets was tasked with cooking an “egg banjo” in the field. In the afternoon, the boys split into two teams to build shelters using only the available natural materials and the ubiquitous army green string. Wednesday saw the cadets take their turn on the Longmoor ranges. They began on an Electronic Target Range, where targets pop up and fall when hit, firing at 100, 200 and 300 metres, using a SUSAT sight which gives a magnification of 4 times. This was followed by clay pigeon shooting with a shotgun, which most of the College cadets were trying for the first time. The afternoon was spent on a Dismounted Close Combat Trainer, an expensive bit of kit that uses video game technology to simulate a range shoot and allows coaches to closely analyse weapons handling skills and diagnose shooting weaknesses. Here, only Hugh Gordon was a good enough shot to achieve 100% on any of the practices. They finished the day with a 25m shoot with the familiar .22 calibre No. 8 rifles.
Competitions day on the Thursday saw the College enter a team of eight in the March & Shoot competition, provide extras for the filming of a promotional video, and take part in a challenge competition of ten challenges where it was very gratifying to see excellent teamwork from the cadets in support of each other’s efforts – whether sorting coloured balls within a time limit, lobbing “grenades”, crawling beneath a wire, or arranging the pieces of an oversized jigsaw puzzle. The whole Camp paraded after lunch for the announcement of winners – Eastbourne College was awarded coveted first place in the March & Shoot.
The tactical exercise began mid-afternoon on Thursday, with the Section deploying onto a small training area of heathland and woods where their mission was to establish a harbour from which to conduct patrols to reconnoitre the area, dominate the ground, deny the enemy freedom of movement, and locate and destroy the enemy. Corporal Sandys-Renton’s experience and confidence came to the fore here: he gave a good set of formal orders and led the Section very well on an extended night-time reconnaissance patrol. In the morning he and Lance Corporal Sam Cunningham put in a probing attack on the enemy position discovered the previous night, before ending the action with a snap ambush to finish off the enemy. In addition, the boys had slept in bashas of their own construction and cooked for themselves from ration packs. Everyone was very grateful to Sgt Green (an adult instructor with Oxfordshire ACF who was supporting the Camp), who acted as a memorable enemy and – eventually – consented to “die” in the face of superior firepower.
The final action of the camp on the Saturday was a contingent promotions parade. The five Year 10 College cadets were all promoted to Lance Corporal: Oscar Booth, Hugh Gordon, Sammi McClure, Charlie Meek and Tom Tasharrofi. Harry Beeching was promoted to Corporal, and the contingent bade farewell to Sam Cunningham and Guy Whittaker, presenting each with a small gift. Our senior cadet was Corporal Guy Sandys-Renton. All week he ensured the cadets paraded in the right place at the right time with the correct dress and equipment, and he proved effective in leadership in the field; it is expected that he will play a lead role in A Company next year, where a prompt promotion to Sergeant is likely. Thanks are due to Captain Martin and Second Lieutenant Hayward for accompanying the trip.