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JAGS & DC cadets go for gold

Last weekend, four JAGS RAF cadets joined fellow Combined Cadet Force (CCF) members from Dulwich College to take part in the prestigious Cambrian Patrol Exercise.

The team, which featured Year 10s Sofia and Emilia, along with Year 13s Agnes and Polly, were selected to represent the 60 London CCFs.

Congratulations to the team which performed incredibly well and earned a Gold Medal in recognition of their efforts.

Special mention to Polly, who was awarded the Best Commander prize for her leadership, care and attention to detail.

For a full run down of how the weekend unfolded, read Sofia’s round up below: 

For this year’s Cadet Cambrian Patrol we entered what was certainly our youngest team but by no means our weakest. Due to the timings of this year’s patrol, many of our senior cadets were unable to come due to public exams taking place, but this did not stop us!

Ten cadets from Years 10, 12 and 13 trained from January all the way until end of May. Each week, these cadets stayed an extra hour and even longer and extra training sessions were done during lunch hours to complete training in time. The dedication from everyone who attended has been spectacular and the time spent together certainly built a team that trusted and were able to easily rely on each other. This is a team dynamic that will not be forgotten quickly.

We started off the weekend with a gruelling six hour drive filled with some last-minute revision of radio signals and team bonding. As soon as we arrived, it was heads on, and everyone was alert and on best behaviour. We did a stop short of the barn that we would be sleeping in that night to organize our kit and make sure we all arrived looking tactical. Upon arrival our weapons were checked, and we quickly started unpacking all our kit for the inspection. As we all passed with no missing kit the evening was pleasant and dinner was an enjoyable ration pack meal cooked on a gas cooker. While we all began to pack ourselves up for bed and were cleaning our rifles in preparation for the shooting exercises to come, our commander was briefed about Saturday’s events.

  • Saturday

The day began with a 4.45am start filled with birdsong and cadets eager for the day ahead to commence. Our first stand, Section Attack, was certainly a memorable one as we spent almost 90 minutes walking there. We were presented with a field split up by fence lines and three enemy positions which we overcame powerfully as a team. Although the ground was more than littered with stinging nettles, we gave it our all and were congratulated at the end on being the best team the markers had seen so far (though looking back they may have lied to keep our morale high). We quickly moved on to our second and third stands which were Map Reading and Military Knowledge which we managed to complete quickly and efficiently.

By this time, it was around 10am and the severity of the heat was beginning to take a toll on us. We quickly headed over to the rest stand and then through to TIWAF (training in woods and forests). We managed to move tactically through the wood and destroy the enemy somewhat successfully, despite not having previously trained for this event.

During the short marathon to the next stand we encountered an unforeseen problem as one of our team stepped in a marsh and we had to work together to get them out. This moment, although funny in hindsight, was truly one of the hardest throughout the weekend because it was one of the hottest parts of the day, and everyone was starting to become impatient with each other. Nevertheless, we pushed on to our next stand: Kim’s Game, a memory and observation stand. We managed to correctly identify most items and work together using binoculars to spot further camouflaged items hidden in an area. With this stand completed to a satisfactory standard, we swiftly moved to the next checkpoint on our list as by this time, the cut-off point was rapidly approaching. We arrived at First Aid and were briefed before speedily helping casualties of a car crash. Each person was assigned a job, and we successfully evacuated all the casualties safely while maintaining a secure area.

We managed to finish this stand by 6.30pm, but unfortunately, we learned that the cut-off time was 7pm and we were not allowed to continue as it would have been pointless, so we were held at the stand until the minibus came back for us.
As we headed back to the campsite, we learned that no section completed the whole course and that raised our spirits a considerable amount (combined with the vast number of sweets eaten). We arrived back at camp, and we were given a precooked meal which was a relief and then we patrolled out to our campsite. As soon as we stepped foot inside the woods, we began building our model of the map and our Section Commander prepared her Formal Orders for the evening. We all listened attentively, and the instructor mentioned he had never given such a high mark for the competition’s Formal Orders section, which was certainly something for our Section Commander to be proud of. We ended the evening with setting up our bashers (tents) and heading off to bed.

  • Sunday

We enjoyed a later start of 6am which began with the Section Commanders being briefed and everyone else told to be ready by 8am. Naturally, in full tactical style, we went sleepily around cooking breakfast and staying warm for two hours. In good time, we patrolled for the final time with our Bergan rucksacks out to the field and prepared for our second section attack of the weekend, to be done in platoon style. Within seven minutes we had cleared the enemy position, setting the standard. An additional task involved everyone having to evacuate casualties on stretchers for about 700m. As a section we took turns on the stretchers and pushed each other to keep running and this payed off as we were the first back and the most organised by far.

  • Awards ceremony

Truly a nail-biting moment as we waited to find out whether all our hard work had paid off. As our name was called, we all stood to attention, and it was announced that we had completed the competition to a gold standard! We collected our medals and lined up without words in the manner of a true soldier.

I would like to give a special mention to our Section Commander Polly for winning the award for Best Section Commander out of the 170 cadets that attended the weekend and a further mention to everyone else that worked furiously on building their knowledge and getting to senior standard over five months. Well done to all, you did the school proud. And of course, a huge thank you to Scott Swalwell (Dulwich College) who took an extra hour each week to help train us and bestow as much knowledge onto us as possible. We truly could not have done any of it without his inspirational words and continuous support and hope for us.

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