Words & pictures by WO2 (SMI) Peter Russell/County PR Officer
In these difficult times everyone is being asked to put problems aside and work together, and nowhere is it more apparent than in Army Cadets. Due to the current restrictions parents are now being asked to deliver and collect cadets from training areas, not once but twice over the course of a weekend and they have stepped up to the mark and delivered in spades!
Fortunately last weekend the weather was nigh on perfect for Exercise Wessex Warrior, Gibraltar Company’s first company strength Fieldcraft exercise for well over a year. G Coy - Last Out, First In!
Some 80+ cadets and a wide ranging group of adult staff turned the weekend into a resounding success, helped in no small part by obliging parents and brilliant weather. Yoxter Training Area is all too often overlooked when hunting for training areas but it has everything that one could ask for, right on our doorstep. There’s a wonderful selection of woods and coppices that are outside the range safety template, should shooting be booked by civilians or other police or military units, meaning that there is minimal disruption to plans. Access is easy and most activities can be catered for, with G Coy showing everyone the way.
Strip Wood was utilised by the Basic level cadets under the eagle eye of Lt Will Fisher, while East Wood played host to the Laser Tag Rifles that actually improve fieldcraft. We all know that it’s great to have real rifles that go bang, but what many people fail to realise is the enormous amount of paperwork and effort that has to go on behind the scenes, getting the weapons safely to Yoxter, guarding them, providing sufficient blank ammunition for them, cleaning the rifles after the event and then transporting everything back to the armoury. Laser Rifles don’t present any of those issues and come with the real bonus that a strike on a person is signalled by a buzzer. That means that personal camouflage and movement skills can really be honed and polished! There’s no more shouting, “You’re hit!” followed by the response, “No, I’m not!”
It was also great to see former Somerset Adult Volunteer, now Royal Air Force Cpl Zoe Holtby, giving up her precious spare time from her RAF commitments and returning to help out - that’s dedication for you. The field portaloos also surprised everyone, now looking akin to portapotties! Nonetheless adult staff found time to fight over who should have the first go, with SI Libby Bunker winning that dubious honour!
West Wood hosted cadets doing patrolling, range indication and setting up harbour areas from whence they conducted recce patrols out to Centre Wood and Tumbledown and everyone that the author spoke to seemed to be having a really great time. The chance to renew old friendships hitherto conducted by Zoom and to get out into the fresh air and actually DO something with their hard won skills was a great tonic to everyone. The enthusiasm bubbling out of cadets and adults alike had to be felt to be believed. Cadets and adults alike even found time to pose for the inevitable PR shots, for which I owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.
CSM Mark Ball acknowledged the massive debt of gratitude to Parent Power, saying, “A massive shout-out goes to the parents and carers of the Gibraltar Coy Army Cadets who have gone the extra mile this weekend by supporting and ferrying their nippers to and from Yoxter, just above Cheddar. There is no doubt that without this support (because of Covid non-residential restrictions) this fantastic training weekend would not have taken place. Your loved ones have achieved so much due to their commitment and enthusiasm and the support from you and an incredible team of instructors. Once again a massive ‘thank you’ to you all for making the difference in such uncertain times. Now that’s what we call parenting; absolutely brilliant effort one and all.”
Maj Scott Bunker, OC G Coy, closed by offering a, “Huge well done to all Cadets and Adults who made the the Gibraltar Company FTX a massive success. You all worked extremely hard to achieve your training objectives with the sun relentlessly beating down. You all demonstrated tenacious courage in repelling the Wessex Brotherhood and I am sure that your efforts stopped them in their tracks. I am sure they will be part of your ‘cadetting’ in future operations! I can’t wait for the next adventure and I hope to see you all there.”
Swift & Bold!