We go on various trips some of which are weekend camps such as Wing Training Weekend, which gives us the opportunity to attend development courses:
- Methods of instruction
Other fieldcraft camps are one week long, these include:
- Operation Hunter
Finally there are a variety of annual camps where we visit RAF stations like RAF Brize Norton and RAF Waddington. On these camps we take part in activities & trips associated with the station, as well as drill, sports and even flying and gliding.
Fun at Easter Camp( 2016): RAF Honington
On Saturday the 9th of April myself, Cpl Hutchins and Sgt Shaw set off by coach, along with other cadets and staff from across the wing, to RAF Honington for Greater Manchester wing’s annual Easter camp. As RAF Honington is in Suffolk the journey lasted around 4 hours but the time passed quickly with sing-alongs and conversations with new friends. We arrived at around 1 o’clock and, without even being given enough time to unpack, we were asked to perform a series of quick-changes into our different uniforms to check for missing pieces of kit and ensure that we were all able to make a good first impression on the RAF personnel at the base. As we were staying at RAF Barnham, a satellite station of RAF Honington, we had to travel by coach in the afternoon for our initial brief on our stay at the RAF station and dinner. We learnt during the brief about the role of RAF Honington within the RAF and particularly about the RAF regiment whose headquarters are based at RAF Honington. We also heard about the activities we would be participating in and were first introduced to the staff who would be taking care of us for the duration of the camp. When this was over we returned to RAF Barnham for some icebreakers where we were able to learn a little bit more about our fellow cadets.
On Sunday we were woken up at the relatively late time of 8 o’clock and set off on a day trip to the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. We were able to get up close and personal with many different aircraft, both new and old, and experience life during WWII as well as being able to walk through a hangar containing many different restoration projects currently being undertaken at the museum. One of the biggest highlights however had to have been the walk-around tour we were able to experience around the exterior of one of 17 known remaining Lancaster bombers left in the world. We were told about the role of the Lancaster during the war, particularly about the Dambusters raid of May 1943. We were also able to examine original pieces of equipment and try on uniform worn by the different members of the crew of the Lancaster. When we returned to the base the staff gave us the first task of the inter-flight competition, to design within our flights a flying object made of an assortment of materials (the materials being a piece of plastic tarp, a selection of different sized sticks, some string and some cello tape). Each team was allowed to make as many different contraptions as they could from the materials and each was timed to see how long it could stay in the air. The different ideas ranged from makeshift kites and balloons to a ball of plastic and cello tape thrown as high into the air as possible. In the end A Flight (my flight) won, beating B Flight by around 40 seconds.
On Monday morning we visited RAF Honington’s tracking department. We first received a presentation on the history of tracking and it’s uses during different situations in different environments, such as jungle vs. desert. We then took part in three different activities as part of our inter-flight competition; the first was an inference task where we had to examine a sand pit and try and determine what situation had caused the imprints that could be seen in the sand, the second was a take on the classic scavenger hunt where we were shown 10 different objects used during warfare and then had to identify where they were hidden in the landscape created by the tracking team and the third was a memory task where we were shown a mannequin dressed in military clothing and then had to answer a series of questions about the different aspects of the scene. Overall it was a very interesting experience that taught us a lot about what it’s really like to be involved in ground warfare. In the afternoon we met 2 squadron, the RAF Regiment’s parachute squadron, where we were shown many of the different pieces of technology that the RAF regiment used. This included guns, computers and vehicles and some of us were even allowed to try on the parachutes used by 2 squadron. When this was over we returned to RAF Barnham and took part in another round of the inter-flight competition, this time a strength test where members of the opposite flights were pitted against each other and attempted to knock each to the floor in various ways. Both sides put up a good fight but in the end B Flight were triumphant.
Tuesday was a day that was fully dedicated to fieldcraft. We were each given a 24-hour ration pack for meals and were led through a series of activities by members of 2 squadron who we had met the day before. In the morning we were shown different ways of camouflaging both ourselves and pieces of our equipment and ways of improvising shelter using the environment around us. After lunch from our ration packs we moved on to the more physical aspects of the day; ways of moving across open environments without detection by the enemy and this led to another task in the inter-flight competition. We took part in a race to see which flight could use the skills learnt to move through the environment as quickly as possible, although it was a close race B-Flight came out on top. After this we learnt about communication in the field and protocol when it came to dealing with medical emergencies for both civilians and fellow soldiers. We were also shown an interactive demonstration of patrolling across an open environment and how threats from the enemy were dealt with. Some of us were then allowed to try and copy some of the skills that we had seen using the prop guns that 2 squadron had brought with them. The activities themselves were very enjoyable but unfortunately the weather had been against us and so by the end of the day we were all soaked through, however this didn’t dampen the spirit created by such a good day.
On Wednesday we were given even more of an insight into the different careers within the RAF from two of RAF Honington’s recruitment officers. They also led us through some basic team-building exercises to allow some of the quieter cadets the opportunity to take on a leadership role. After this we visited the RAF regiment heritage centre which documents the regiment’s history as well as being home to many artifacts from the different conflicts that the regiment was a part of. This was one of the main highlights of the trip due to the fact that after the tour we were allowed to interact with the different weapons and vehicles, virtually nothing was out of bounds. After this we were given a lecture on the RAF Force Protection units, which are also based at RAF Honington. We then returned to RAF Barnham for an evening game of rounders between the two flights, which A Flight ended up winning by a large margin.
On Thursday morning we travelled to a local boarding school for a morning of swimming where I was able to earn my Gold swimming proficiency, which I was very proud of. We then visited RAF Honington’s fire department where we were told more about the different branches of the RAF as well as being able to quiz our instructors on their personal careers in the RAF. We also received talks from the dog-handling section of the RAF police and from RAF Honington’s social media officer who informed us about safety online as well as how to ensure both the RAF and the ATC are well represented both on and off-line, especially during the ATC’s 75th anniversary this year.
On Friday we travelled to RAF Honington for our camp picture, followed by the drill competition, which was judged by one of the commanding officers of the Queen’s Colour Squadron, the RAF’s drill squadron. Both drill teams gave their all, A Flight had a more complex sequence but this impacted the slickness of the drill and therefore B Flight were given the win due to their unbeatable timing. After this the cadets had the choice of two activities for their final exercise at RAF Honington; indoor rock climbing and indoor sports or visiting the DCCT (Dismounted Close Combat Trainer). Those who chose the DCCT were able to improve their firing skills on a computerised firing range and those who chose the indoor activities were able to test their agility and team-work skills, guiding each other up the walls and keeping the safety ropes taught for each other. The evening of our final day was spent at the end of camp disco where the winners of the inter-flight competition were announced as well as the awards for Best Cadet, Best NCO and Best First Timer on Camp and the traditional paper plate awards which this year included Camp Rambo and Camp Scaredy Cat. I was immensely proud to be given the award for Best NCO by the staff, which was a big privilege and was also triumphant along with the rest of A Flight in the inter-flight competition. It had been a very close competition but we had just edged it with our superior inspection scores and as a prize we each received an official RAF regiment shoulder flash.
Saturday had finally rolled around and it time to return back up North to Manchester. Overall the camp was an amazing experience, which provided me with many new skills and memories. I would recommend it to any cadet who has the chance to attend in the future, as they really are once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
By Cpl Morrison.