Double ACF Triumph at Tri-Service Falklands Competition

26 September 2018

The Annual Tri-Service Falklands Competition is a highlight in the Essex Cadet Force Calendar. Founded in 1983 to commemorate the Falklands War by testing the best teams from all three cadet services in skills that would have been used during the conflict. Each of the Cadet services enters their 3 best teams to compete for the much coveted Falklands Trophy. The teams are put through challenges to test teamwork and leadership. The challenges include tasks such as Field Gun Rescue, Command Tasks, Raft Building, River Run, Navigation and Shooting. The last event of the competition is the highly anticipated Missile Run where teams compete against the clock and each other head to head.

This year was a particularly triumphant one for Essex ACF, with two of our teams in the top three. Billericay Detachment came in 3rd place and the overall winners of the Tri-Service Falklands Competition were Chelmsford Detachment. Chelmsford’s Detachment Commander Lieutenant Griffiths expressed his pride in the team for their efforts and thanked the Detachment Instructors for their support. His sentiment was echoed by their Company Commander Major Edwards who said: “It’s a great achievement, well done to the team and those that trained them”.

The presentation ceremony at the competition was made more special this year, when Parachute Regiment Falklands veteran, Mr Gary Juliff, and 16 Air Assault Brigade’s Deputy Chief of Staff attended to award certificates and trophies to the teams.

Every year the organisation of the event is rotated through each of the Cadet Forces. With this year being the turn of Essex ACF we were delighted to welcome Mr Gary Juliff and Major Rob Arter. who joined the somewhat ‘soggy’ cadets on the rainy Sunday afternoon for a well-deserved lunch and chat before the results were announced.

Mr Juliff, himself a former Colchester Army cadet, deployed to the Falklands in 1982 as an 18-year-old with the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, and fought at the Battle of Mount Longdon. The battle cost the Battalion twenty-three dead, including attached personnel, and forty-three wounded. Sergeant Ian McKay was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. Private Richard Absolon was posthumously awarded the Military Medal, and we were proud to have his brother Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Steve Absolon in attendance at the awards ceremony.

In a speech before the winners were announced, Mr Juliff spoke about his own cadet experience and his Parachute Regiment training. He applauded the determination shown by the cadets during the competition, that paid tribute to those who had given their lives or suffered injury in the conflict. In his speech he said “The march across East Falkland is the hardest thing I have ever done. The training and selection process the regiment is famous for made it possible for us to cross the Island at rapid speed considering the weather conditions and the effects of trench foot”.

He then continued with “Since that time I have reflected on the training we had undergone that saw us through the most challenging test a soldier can face and that has not changed over time”.

The paragraph that resonated the most with all of the Cadets present came towards the end of his speech “My preparation for that test did not begin when I joined the regular army. It began right where you are standing now. I was a cadet just like you. I used to come here and take part in training and exercises just like you have just done. That is when I first discovered what it is like to be part of a small team operating together in the field”.

Mr Juliff concluded his heartfelt speech by summing up the hopes of all of the Adult Instructors who worked hard to make the weekend possible. “Take with you the experiences you have gained this weekend. Remember how they have made you feel and take them with you in to the future because you really never know what the future will bring”.