Words & pictures by WO2 (SMI) Peter Russell, County Media Officer
The last camp before Christmas is always a special one and the Normandy Company one was eagerly anticipated by everyone. Unusually, N Coy were returning to Rollestone Camp on Salisbury Plain only a month after their previous camp there, following a gap of well over ten years.
Appropriately the festive nature of the camp was reflected in the weather, with overnight temperatures on Friday and Saturday plummeting to -8C, with a thick coating of frost covering everything for much of both days!
Maj Stuart Cumine, OC N Coy, had managed to gather 27 CFAVs and 111 cadets for the camp - slightly less than expected, but something for which he was probably grateful as he had promised that if 120 cadets attended the NAAFI would be free!
Climbing numbers of attendees at camps has been reflected across all four Companies in Somerset and clearly indicates a welcome resurgence in Army Cadets after the dramas of COVID - something mirrored country-wide.
With perfect, although cold weather, much of the ACS training was able to take place outside as well, often being a welcome break from the heat and stuffiness of a classroom. Drill and Turnout shrouded in the breath-exhaled air of early morning, CIS (Communication Information Systems) training, Navigation and Orienteering exercises and First Aid training - particularly CasEvac (Casualty Evacuation) with ‘Phil’ the uncomplaining dummy - all proved to be highly enjoyable and productive, topping up cadets’ star passes left and right.
Of course, with Christmas camps the high point is undoubtedly the traditional dinner followed by the disco. However, this year things were to be slightly different; because of style of cookhouse the traditional method of CFAVs serving cadets was not possible. Some might say that this was better though, as the food was served much faster, therefore staying hot!
After the meal there were awards aplenty, culminating in two promotions; firstly Jack Baker-Chaplin to Cadet CSjt while secondly Cadet Sjt Jacob Hole was appointed Company Serjeant Major - both richly deserved. To finish, the ever popular Capt Eddie ‘Beans’ McGee received a huge tin of gift-wrapped baked beans (and many others besides) to celebrate a minor indiscretion he hoped had been long forgotten!
While the disco was being set up everyone took part in an inter-platoon general knowledge quiz, hosted by the OC, in a room with all the acoustic qualities of a shipyard - which was amusing!
However the highlight of the evening was expected to be the disco, but a hiccup in the booking led to ‘Turnip Ted’ and his eclectic range of prehistoric music providing the entertainment for the evening!
Glossing over that one quickly Sunday was a repeat of the previous day - perfect sunny arctic conditions - in which to accomplish the testing phase of training, leading to successes all round.
Ultimately it was a brilliant weekend for all after a hard year getting back into the routine of life after the traumas of COVID - well done to all for your hard work and good humour.