Normandy Company Christmas Camp. 24th-26th November 2017.

26 November 2017

Words and pictures by SSI Peter Russell/Deputy PR Officer/Somerset Army Cadets.

Disco images by Cadet Cpl Joshua Knocker, Cadet Cpl Paris Griffiths and Cadet LCpl Morgan Norley.

Once again Normandy Company enjoyed an outstanding Christmas Camp at Yoxter CTC, only let down by the complete absence of hot water throughout the weekend, due to a boiler fault. As the temperatures hovered around freezing for most of the weekend only the really hardy cadets summoned the courage to have cold showers!

With the absence of the full bore range this year cadets were able to concentrate on their core APC skills, where they gained a massive 220 Subject passes overall, with 1x Basic pass, 7x 1 Star passes and 6x 2 Star passes.

Lessons started immediately the cadets arrived on camp on Friday evening, and with 60 cadets supported by 18 adult instructors the teaching ratio made for light work. Coincidentally with that the adults all had a chance to receive their initial instruction on the new L144A1 Cadet Small Bore Target Rifle .22in from SMI John Murphy.

An early start on a chilly, raw Saturday morning saw the cadets spending their day hard at work, both within the camp complex and on the immediate training area.

An early finish on Saturday, to allow the contract caterers to keep within their normal hours, meant that the traditional formal Christmas Dinner was earlier than usual but no less fun for that. Guests of Normandy Company this year were Col Stephen Bartlett (Commandant), Brig Nick Knudsen (Honorary Colonel), Lt Col Peter Bates RA (our incoming Commandant from April 2018) and SMI Elaine Hunt (our Administration Officer from Bn HQ, without whose largely unsung endeavours very little would happen across the county).

Adult Volunteers, scrubbed, smart and in some cases looking distinctly uncomfortable in suits or mess dress, served the cadets and guests before new recruit Max Brooks, from Midsomer Norton Platoon, in the role of Junior Vice proposed the toasts as clearly and confidently if he had always being doing so. Col Bartlett then made an outstanding speech that emphasised the teamwork, spirit and endeavours that marked Army Cadets out from other activities, praised the PR Team for their efforts in making sure that the efforts of all were publicised and ended up by awarding PI Geraint Horton with his promotion to Serjeant Instructor.

Following this was the traditional disco for the cadets, by now changed into their party gear, before ‘Lights Out’ and a well deserved sleep after the rigours of the day.

As well as being a day of testing Sunday also saw 2Lt Chris Skelton take a party of cadets down the road to Haydon Grange Farm, on the boundary of Yoxter Training Area, to plant trees in association with the Woodland Trust. Normandy Company have so far undertaken two of these planting sessions, first in Wanstrow in 2009 when they planted over 1000 saplings in a morning and a year later, in conjunction with Gibraltar Company, when they planted a similar number at Lodmore Farm just down the road during Cadet 150 - the 150th anniversary year of the formation of the ACF.

Guided by the expertise of Brig (Ret’d) Tony Dalby-Welsh, former CEO of Wessex Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association (WRFCA), the cadets spent two hours digging holes, planting saplings and fitting protective sleeves to the shrubs in decidedly chilly conditions. Over 200 trees were planted and cadets were delighted when it was decided that the area would be formally known as Normandy Copse in honour of their endeavours. There cannot be many cadets who can say that they have made a real difference to the landscape and have their efforts recorded for evermore. In ten years there will be a respectable wood on the site with trees reaching six to twelve feet in height and it will serve as a basha area, not for them unless they rejoin as Adult Instructors, but for their children if they choose to join Army Cadets.

On OC’s Parade Maj Michelle Hall praised the cadets for their hard work and outstanding successes, awarding Star passes to 13 cadets, a Basic pass to one and promoting the following cadets:

Promoted to LCpl: Cdt Matthew Pow (Bath Platoon), Cdt Lewis Stevenson (Bath Platoon), Cdt Adam Allwood (Glastonbury Platoon), Cdt Cailin Davey (Glastonbury Platoon), Cdt Morgan Norley (Paulton Platoon) and Cdt Corey Honan (Midsomer Norton Platoon).

Promoted to Cpl: LCpl Isobel Wylie (Bath Platoon), LCpl Janson Yuen (Bath Platoon) and LCpl Paris Griffiths (Midsomer Norton Platoon).

Maj Michelle Hall was supported by 2Lt Danielle Taylor, 2Lt Chris Skelton, SMI (CSM) Phil Coward, SMI John Murphy, SMI Nigel Levett, AUO Ed Low, SSI Philip Moore, SI Mark Atkinson, SI George Davies-Coward, SI Jack Lobb, SI Rob Evered, SI Dan Temple, SI Kayleigh Dunford, SI Geraint Horton, PI Charlie Ware, PI Stephen Jackson and PI Jamie Dix.