Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sutton Valence School CCF

Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny is a competition that involves the sending and receiving of serial numbers to as many stations as possible during set times. The set times were the 17th march 10.00 -15.00 and 18th March 10.00-15.00. All of the NRN frequencies are used and there are bonuses for communicating with the same station on multiple frequencies.

The team who competed were, CSM Andy Thomas team Captain, Sgt Oliver Bateman,Cdt William Woodford, Cdt Guy Thomas and Cdt Tom Bennet.

The team set up our radio station the night before the competition using 2x12m Racall masts and a PRC 320 (the HF radio issued to cadet signalling platoons)Using a half length horizontal dipole. With our radio set up, and our call sign issued, we started the exchanging of serials from stations as far as Scotland. The first day looked promising with roughly 30 contacts on day one. The second day started well with a strong clear connection with the other stations and we resumed sending and receiving the serials by the end of the second day the team had made around 40 contacts, the team worked hard with some very good voice procedure from the team as well as some good relaying, special thanks goes must go to the headmaster for his supply of Jaffa Cakes as well as Major Millbery frequent visits with the Signals dog. The team performed very well, building on experiences from previous competitions. SVS  CCF Signals has advanced considerably, notably aided by assistance from Signallers from 70 Gurkha Fd Sqn.

CSM Thomas (Team Captin)

Sutton Valence School North Street, Sutton Valence, Kent ME17 3HL
Tel: +44 (0)1622 845200 Fax: +44 (0)1622 844103

Sutton Valence Preparatory School Church Road, Chart Sutton, Kent. ME17 3RF
Tel: +44 (0)1622 842117 Fax: +44 (0)1622 844201

News from the Front Line (Cont)

Airtpr’s Leo White & Poppy Gosling’s fourth instalment

Apparently we’re halfway through the tour now, it doesn’t seem possible! Time has flown by.

The daily routine is pretty much exactly as I described in the last article, 24 hours on/24 hours off; Working as a sort of intermediate platform between the REME, Pilots, and signals, to make sure that the aircraft remain serviceable and flying. We’ve been quite busy recently, we have just experienced almost a week of horrendous weather – more rain than the country normally sees in a year, biting cold winds that felt like they were hurricane force, and the most amazing lightening storms. Apache’s don’t seem to like the cold anymore than their groundies do! So everyone has had to work harder to keep them in the air.


There have been several events recently that definitely deserve a write up. The first is unfortunately a little bit depressing. As you may have heard in the news, a Gurkha serving with 1 Yorks was fatally wounded out here a few weeks ago. Whenever a soldier dies in theatre, a vigil is held in their honour. Like a remembrance parade, it’s a chance to show respect to the fallen soldier. My team were off shift, so attended LCPL Gurung’s vigil. It was a touching ceremony. All the different representatives formed up, and listened as his best friends, and bosses spoke about him. It was a serious reminder of the fact we are actually in a warzone, sometimes it’s easy to get too comfortable. The ceremony was finished with two loud explosions from the massive  gun behind us. Signalling the start and finish of 2 minutes silence. Giving the soldier the send off from theatre he deserved.

On a more positive note, a few days later we had a CSE show. Basically a group of performers – 2 Comedians, ‘Morale Booster’ dancers and a band – come out to theatre and put on shows for the troops in loads of different locations, all over the country. It was a brilliant night, we went to the open-air show on our 24 hour off shift. The comedians started on stage and were hilarious, they completely woke the crowd up, occasionally taking breaks so that the dancers could perform. Which completely..entertained..the lads. With everyone totally hyped up, the band eventually made it onto the stage. Everyone in the audience ditched their seats and rushed to the stage. At this point, my team were all stood on different tiers of a picnic table, so had a complete overall view of the crowd bouncing, I mean..dancing!?

Maybe 3 songs into the bands set of (really good) covers, the entire crowd turned to crowd surfing. Which is when probably the most traumatic event of my life occurred…

My team knew I didn’t want to stage dive/crowd surf – so towards the end of the set, they snuck up behind me and threw me onto the crowd, who then transported me to the stage expecting me to jump off. Which I did, feeling slightly relieved that the ordeal was over, they would have to put me down now, surely!? I was so wrong, they carried me all over the crowd again, and then dropped me back onto the stage! I honestly thought it was never going to end, but they did finally put me back on the ground, where I stood wondering if I was going to need counselling. Looking back though, it was probably one of the most funny (albeit sober) nights of my life. Everyone arrived on shift the next day completely grinning, and light hearted.

A few of us have also been on a visit to the American flightline to visit the CH53’s, otherwise known as the ‘Sea Stallions’. We were allowed to jump all over the aircraft and interrogate the US Marines who work with/on them, (whilst trying to persuade them to give us USMC jumpers, and trackie bottoms). It was interesting just to see how a different rotary wing flightline works, and to pose with their weapon systems for ‘ally’ photos.

I should probably start wrapping this up, while I’m writing, I’m missing out on valuable Op Bronze time! (yes, the weather has finally started to warm up, so no more moaning from us-for a few weeks anyway). Catch up with everyone soon!

AirTpr Gosling

For more imnformation about 655 Squadron Army Air Corps contact Capt N Jennings

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wing Kilimanjaro Expedition 2012

Expedition Objectives:

 To taste life in a different culture country and to climb mount Kilimanjaro.

‘Rise above the Rest’ say the Royal Air Force.  Well that’s what the team aspired to do.

Before starting the 6 day ascent up the mountain, the team needed to get used to the local heat and so three days were spent exploring the local culture.  A day on Safari in Arusha National Park revealed some of Africa’s most amazing wildlife, and the need for lots of sunscreen.  Another day spent walking in and around the local villages was truly humbling, meeting families that make the most of everything and greet everyone with ‘Jambo’ and a smile! As for the other acclimatisation day – well the lodge resort had a very nice swimming pool!

So, we’re off to climb the 5,895m high mountain.  Each day was the same but harder than the last, walking in the morning between 4-5 hours to get to the next campsite. We had lunch upon our arrival at camp, followed by an altitude acclimatisation walk in the afternoon.   Dinner was followed by a civilised game of cards, and then bed.   An early rise for breakfast, kit check, then off we went again.

During the six days of ascent, the team walked through every type of eco-system on Earth; from lush rainforest, earthy desert to an arctic peak.   The final assent started at midnight on Thursday 16th February, getting ready in frozen tents, putting on all the required layers to keep out the cold during the 8 hour trek to the summit.  Then off we go “Pol-e Pol-e”, which is Swahili for “Slowly Slowly” – that helps to minimise the risks of Acute Altitude Sickness.  Unfortunately, just short of Gilman’s Point one of the team showed warning signs of the sickness, so was lead down with a guide for safety.  Shortly after the rest of the team reached Gilman’s Point 5,685m, at which point tears of joy and exhaustion were shed by many.  Still 2 hours away from the summit, Uhuru Peak, the low oxygen was having its effect, sometimes taking 6 breaths just to walk another few feet up.  Three more members of the team were affected by altitude sickness and were helped back down the mountain.

Then at 8:40 am, the last remaining 9 members of the team reached the Summit, 5,895m – the highest point in Africa – HURRAH!  Just enough time for the essential photos to be taken before the next challenge begins – the descent. With the achievement made barely sinking in– the team are heading back down, just  3 hours later back in base camp, we had a quick nap and it was then back up for a 5 hour walk down to the next camp.  Here we had a great night’s sleep before an 8 hour walk to get off the mountain.  At this point the exhaustion really hit home and it took every bit of motivation to keep going.  Just wanting to get below the cloud level was the first main aim, but with every metre of descent the air becomes thicker, so luckily everyone received a new lease of life!   Soon we were at the bottom, the same level where we started just 8 days prior.  Then back to the hotel, and sleep! Following a day of rest and recovery at the hotel, was the 9 hours of flying home safe and well.

Then it’s back to life, back to school or work, and of course back on Parade with Cadets.

For more information contact 01962 890728 or email

Oxfordshire Band & Bugles Concentration

Oxfordshire The Rifles Battalion Army Cadet Force (ACF) hosted a Rifles ACF Band & Bugles concentration from the 12th until 16th February 2012, We had representation from Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, Cornwall & Oxfordshire ACF’s, we broke the concentration in to three wings:

1. Cadet Bugle Majors Wing

2. Bugles Wing

3. Music Wing.

1. Cadet Bugle Majors Wing

This was a Cadet Bugle Majors (BMaj) course designed for Cadet Bugle Majors in post and for potential Cadet Bugle Majors. The course started the week with a visit to Winchester to be instructed by the Senior BMaj of the Rifles Band & Bugles, the rest of the week consisted of Duties of a BMaj, Cane Drill, Rifles Band & Buglers Drill, History of the Rifles and planning the final parade including the marching display, with the top student on the course leading the parade.

2. Bugles Wing

The Bugles wing consisted of Beginner, Intermediate and Advance Buglers the aim of the week was to improve every ones bugling skills aimed from the beginners to the more advanced, learning to play bugle calls, marches, solos, bugle drills and regimental history, on the final parade every bugler was playing marches to the more advanced buglers playing Light Calvary a very difficult bugle piece.

3. Music Wing

This wing was always going to be the challenge, converting musicians in not only learning the regimental marches, but also playing & marching at 140 per min, I must say they did a really fantastic job they learnt two regimental marches and played them both on the final parade. On Wednesday night we had a visit by the Winslow Concert Band who put on a concert for all the Adults & Cadets and invited some of our music cadets to play alongside them with Cadet Serjeant T Finney from Cornwall ACF playing a Cornet Solo.

The week was a great opportunity not only for the Cadets but also the Adults as well, every one left the concentration having learnt a great deal from the week, having two ex-Regular BMajs & ex- Regular & TA Buglers who are now all Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAV) was a great help not only in passing on knowledge but being able to teach the correct drills. We were very fortunate to have a visit on Wednesday by Brig Robin Draper (Hon Col Oxfordshire ACF), Lt Col Mike Neville TO CFM, Maj Tex Carlton CEO CFM & Capt P Wesley Adjt CFM.

To finalise the concentration we had a final parade which incidentally was a great credit to all involved especially the Cdt BMajs who planned the whole parade from start to finish.

Col David Carson Commandant Oxfordshire ACF was kind enough to take the salute and present prizes to the top students on the wings, also in attendance was Maj T Carlton CEO CFM.

For more information contact or visit

Oxford University Officer Training Corps (UOTC) on Ex Spartan Hike

Exercise Spartan Hike – Alpine 7 – 17 January 2012

Exercise Spartan Hike sees the Adventurous Training phrase ‘going out of one’s comfort zone’ and ‘physical courage’ taken to a new level. This year, 7 OCdts and the Adjutant had the pleasure of racing down a series of Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super G and Downhill courses in the French Ski Resort of Serre Chevalier.

With weather and snow conditions perfect the whole week the team were confident of coming away with some silverware. Personally I had no race experience; however I had a lot of all mountain ski experience. This was something that a couple of members of the group did not have, and as complete novices in the sport of skiing OCdts Rebecca Johnson and Hattie Holiday showed no fear in tackling each of the race courses set before them. With 125 competitors we knew the competition would be tough, with TA and Regular regiments coming from the UK and a couple from Germany.

Morale was high in the OUOTC team after winning the team event at the Gunner Championships in Alpe D’Huez; however this was a big step up in competition. Under our inspirational team captain, the Adjutant (Capt Edward Hodgskin), we all went into the first race, the seeding GS, high on confidence. Course inspections in such races are pivotal to understanding where each gate lies and where to get the best line through the course.

Something I have never experienced before is the feeling of standing in the start gate before you are about to go down, the mixture of pure adrenaline, nerves and excitement. This was especially prevalent when it came to the Downhill where you can reach speeds of over 65mph on many sections of the course. In all disciplines as soon as you are out the start gate it takes a bit of time to actually realise where you and what you are doing.

OCdt Matthew Waterston in competition

 There was a real mixture of racers from complete novices to skiers who had done 10 seasons of ski racing. The Team GS saw the OUOTC just come outside the top 3 in 4th place. This was a solid team run, with my 14th place and the other 2 counted skiers, OCdt Gray and Capt Hodgskin, coming in the top 25. The next day saw the Individual GS and a chance to really go for it. This was a longer course to the previous one, far more technical, however some fantastic results were had. OCdt Lilidh Matthews was the top lady, with OCdt Victoria Madeley coming 2nd lady. Special mention must go to OCdt Rebecca Johnson who finished her first race. All of the male skiers including OCdt George Offer came in the top 15, a result that would have got us 2nd place if the team race was on this day! I managed to sneak in the Top 10 with a 7th place, one of my aims pre race.

The next day saw another Blue Bird day with not a cloud to be had in the sky and the racers ready to tackle the Super G course. This discipline sees fewer gates than the GS, and more speed. The faster the event, the longer the skies are that you use. Again there were some cracking results here with OCdt Madeley winning the 2nd fastest lady medal, and again a good team performance as we came in 3rd. Personally another pleasing day with a 10th place finish. Unfortunately 2 members of our group however took ill; OCdts Matthews and Johnson were unable to ski again and had to take the trip back to the UK. We wish them all the best in their recoveries.

Next we had the Downhill, a discipline that really tests both mental and physical strength. A slight mistake going at speed can have massive ramifications as unfortunately I was to find out. 2 training days for this were given to racers to get used to the huge speeds and pressures that you would face on the course. There are of course very few gates, some steep faces and large rollers to negotiate. The 2nd of the training days was timed and it was good to see where people were placed within the field. Often you can get some inexperienced skiers who have a lot of guts in this event that can do really well. The Downhill race day proper saw everyone very much in the zone pre race. I was buoyed by a 5th place finish the previous day in the training downhill run and very much wanted to give it all for a higher placing. Seeded 1st I left the start gate very much pumped up for a strong run. At the bottom of the first wall however, after feeling great throughout the top section of the course, I was carrying more speed than I thought and caught a lot of air. Unfortunately I lost my balance in the air and came a cropper. To this day I still cannot believe that I did not sustain a serious injury, but the injuries I suffer were enough to put me out of skiing for a month. I managed to get up and finish the course, predominantly on the one ski, and carried on straight to the Medical Centre. I was gutted, simple as. I felt I was really getting into the racing aspect and was getting some really good results. I had qualified well for the Army Championships being held the next valley over the following week, only for that to be swiped away with one bad fall. I don’t regret my aggression in the race one bit as it is such a fine balance between safety and danger in racing, and in order to do well you have to go firmly out that safety zone. The rest of the team however did really well. OCdt Madeley won the Best Lady, one of her pre exercise ambitions, something that would make her father, a previous Army Downhill Champion, very proud indeed. OCdt Gray came in 12th, with the team finishing in 6th.

On the final day it came down to the Slalom. This sees a much shorter course set out with gates very close to each other. This is a very technical discipline that takes utmost concentration throughout. Again it was OCdt Madeley to the fore who picked up her 4th Medal of the week, coming in 2nd lady overall in the individual. Special mention must also go to OCdt Hattie Holiday who came in 53rd position, especially after being seeded nearly 30 places above that, and the fact she had barely skied before the exercise. With a very much depleted team, and only 5 actual skiers remaining, OUOTC managed a 4th place.

Overall the week was such a fantastic experience for all involved. OCdt Madeley came away with the Top Lady for the Alpine Combination, a fantastic achievement. Although not coming away with any silverware, (OUOTC finishing in 4thplace in 4 Div), the team as a whole learnt a lot and really bonded. It was both unfortunate and unlucky with the number of injuries sustained however morale was always kept high,

with the Adjutant fantastic at keeping on top of the nonstop admin. I cannot reiterate enough what a fantastic opportunity this is for anyone involved with OUOTC. Even if you have limited skiing experience it is amazing how quickly you will pick racing up, and how addictive that feeling of adrenaline is as you descend each course.

 I would like to extend both mine and the team’s utmost thanks to all who made this whole Exercise possible. I hope that OCdts in the years to come can have the same fantastic opportunities presented to us in Spartan Hike 2012.

OUOTC Spartan Hike Team 2012:

Capt Edward Hodgskin – Team Captain

OCdt Matthew Waterston

OCdt James Gray

OCdt George Offer

OCdt Victoria Madeley

OCdt Hattie Holiday

OCdt Lilidh Matthews

OCdt Rebecca Johnson

For more information on the OUOTC contact or visit