11 October 2021

This exercise was our first time going out in the field for the past 18 months due to Covid. It was mainly a refresher weekend, conducted at Bramley Training Area and going back to basics for the NCOs, the ACC (4th Year), and the AIC (5th Year), as they hadn’t done a single exercise or field day before it. It was also my first time being a section commander and leading nine other cadets which I’ve looked forward to doing since going on my Bramley exercise in 4th Year.

We arrived at CCF HQ bright and early at 0715hrs on Sunday 3 October. We conducted a kit check to make sure everyone had the correct kit and equipment that they needed (especially waterproofs!), and also collected packed lunches which we would eat later on in the day. Having done the kit check, we finished loading the minibuses with spare kit and other equipment under the direction of the RLC NCOs. We picked up all of our kit (bergen, webbing and day sack) and made our way to the coaches, loaded it all on, then set off on the 50 minute journey down to Bramley. Most of us caught up on some much needed sleep after the early wake up.

When we arrived at Bramley, we unloaded the coaches and got amongst our sections to check that they were all ok and there were no concerns. We then got ferried in our sections to building E37 in Training Area A where we conducted a final kit check, had lunch and the section commanders went over some weapons handling revision with our sections, with some still to do Weapons Handling Tests. The section commanders were then called by CSM Matthews and the Platoon Commander, Sjt Muller, and given a brief on our first objective. It was to patrol down a grassed path and set up a platoon harbour area which we would live and work out of for the next 24 hours. We put on all our kit and set off on our first patrol. When we got to a certain point, we set up an all-round defense and a recce party consisting of the platoon commander, section commanders plus two from each section split off from the platoon to scout the harbour area. Having done that and leaving Cpl Church with two cadets from 3 section at the harbour, the rest of us went back to the platoon and led them into the harbour area.

After setting up the harbour area we began to go into the work routine of setting up sentries, bashas and getting the harbour fully established. The section commanders were called into the centre by Sjt Muller and given the task of patrolling to a location to find our ration packs for the evening and the following day. Each section had a time they would set off, with my section, 2 section, setting off at 1800hrs. Lt David OA was the staff member with us on a patrol and halfway through initiated a pretend contact which we had to react to, then continued the patrol to our rations and distributed them around the section with the help of my 2IC, Cpl Walton. During the distribution we were contacted again and had to break the contact, then made our way back to the harbour area. This was the section’s first taster of what it would be like to get contacted, even though we were unable to fire blanks during the exercise. Back at the harbour area we began cooking our ration packs, but was interrupted by Capt Edwards who had a surprise for us. We began a patrol as a platoon to the HQ building, Training Base A, thinking that we were being punished because our skills and drills weren’t good enough. However, Sqn Ldr Cottam had bought us all sausage and chips which was excellent and lifted the morale of the platoon, so we ate it eagerly. The section commanders were then given our next set of orders by CSM Matthews, a night time patrol back to the harbour area in the opposite direction we had gone to pick up our rations. Again, the leave times were staggered every 15 minutes for the three sections. The night patrol was much different to during the day as everything looked completely different, and at one point you were only half a metre or so away from the person in front. I managed to not get my section lost and we got back to the harbour area safely and began the night time routine and started night sentries. I got my section to pack away all their kit and begin getting into sleeping bags and going to sleep, while two of them were on sentry duty. With everyone in their sleeping bags and settled down, I myself then began to get ready for bed after checking with the platoon sergeant that everything was done.

In the morning, with some heavy rain in the early hours, we got out of our bashas and began packing our kit away and cooking breakfast with a warm hot chocolate from the ration pack. With the kit away we began reapplying cam cream and getting ready to patrol down to Training Base A to start the days training, which began with a kit packing lesson from Civilian Instructor Aiden Coster, a former member of the CCF from last year and CSjt Hayes-Newington, the Head of Contingent. This taught the ACC and AIC some good tips about how to efficiently pack their kit which they can put into practice in February on our next exercise. After the kit packing lesson we had a lesson on section attacks, individual and pairs fire and manoeuvre under the instruction of the SNCOs. This gave the ACC and AIC an introduction to the types of things they would normally do on exercise when they would have blanks with smoke and lots of shouting. It was a very enjoyable lesson and also gave them the basics which they will build on later on in the future. After that lesson we went back to Training Base A, had some more food and got ready for our next activity run by CSM Matthews, an attack lane on a grassy area next to buildings at Training Base A. This involved a fire team bounding repetitively to attack an enemy force (SNCOs) with shouts going on behind them and being put under a bit of pressure. It was only a few minutes but it was high intensity and very tiring, and one cadet even managed to get a huge rip in his trousers, with the RLC swiftly giving him a new pair. Having done the attack lane, we got some fluids and some food on board and got ready to leave Bramley.

We had to clean up Training Base A, give the rifles a quick clean and load up the minibuses with the kit and equipment from stores before we were able to leave. The cadets quickly got this done with minimal distractions so well done to them. We packed all of our personal kit away then got ferried back to the main building on the training area near the entrance to the camp and waited for the coaches. Once the coaches arrived we loaded them up, and set off back to Abingdon with most of us getting some extra sleep.

However, once back at Abingdon we weren’t finished yet. We unloaded the minibuses at HQ and put everything back into stores, then had to clean and hoover the minibuses which were on loan from the military. Another swift effort from the cadets saw the stores packed away, and with a final quick parade we were allowed to leave. All of the cadets put in a solid effort over the weekend and should be proud of what they have done, so well done to them.

The final thing I would like to say is a big thank you to all of the staff who helped out and ran the exercise, without whom we wouldn’t be able to have exciting opportunities to do things like this. It was a thoroughly enjoyable exercise, and everyone is looking forward to the next one in February which will hopefully be another step up for the ACC and AIC.


Written by Cpl Jamie Firth

Read the report written by Cdt Jake Sharff

We arrived at the training area Sunday morning and strapped on our bags and rifles and split into our sections. We then moved up through the woods in a staggered line, scouting left and right for possible enemies. The section commanders then took two cadets with them to look for a good place to set up camp, whilst the rest of us laid down on our bergens (big bags) with our rifles, spread out across the woods surveying the area. The section commanders returned with a good location to set up camp, so we followed them through trees and bushes to find it. After doing many patrols around the area to make sure that it was a secure position, we split into pairs and started building our bashas (tents) around the camp in a triangle. It was about 1700hrs when everyone finished their bashas, so each section set off in search to secure our ration packs and made our way out onto a road which led us up to an old abandoned building. We stashed the ration packs away into our daysacks and headed back towards the camp when we were contacted by the enemy, everyone shouted contact left and dropped to the floor and spread out across the tree line and crawled forward to try and see if the enemy were still near. After waiting silently to see if there was any movement in the woods we carried on back to the camp.

We were all about to start cooking our ration packs on our hexi cookers when we were called up to the top of training base Alpha and were blessed by Squadron Leader Cottam bringing us warm sausage and chips. After everyone had finished devouring their chips we began the night time patrol back towards camp. It was pitch black and there was only a glimpse of moonlight to guide us through the forest, we walked tightly together to make sure that no one would get lost out in the cold. We arrived back at the camp and manoeuvred through the branches to our bashas as it was time to try and get a tiny bit of sleep. Everyone got into their cosy sleeping bags, but I was on watch first, so went out with my rifle and sat waiting to see if the enemy would attempt a surprise ambush. After my watch duty was done I clambered into my sleeping bag with my rifle and went to sleep, only to be woken up by heavy rain. I was anxious that my basha would cave in but thankfully I had built it strong enough.

The next morning everyone got up and began packing away as well as putting on some food. I tucked into my sausage and beans ration pack which surprisingly wasn’t too bad. Once everyone had completely cleared the camp leaving no trace of us staying we moved out. We arrived at one of the training areas where we practised doing some enemy situations, where half of the section split off and tried getting different angles on the enemy. We did it a few times over to make sure that it was smooth and organised. We then moved back up to the top of training base Alpha where we had a couple of lessons on how to pack our bergens and webbing. Afterwards we began loading up the minibus with all the kit, as well as taking apart and cleaning our rifles before loading them on and heading home.

Overall, it was an amazing experience that I really enjoyed and that I look forward to doing more of in the future.

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