Survival Training with 1 Signal Squadron (V)
After arriving Friday night we were told that due to the snow around each of the TA Centres we would be staying at the TA Centre for the night and heading down to Yardley on Saturday morning. Rugby Tp all suffered, trying to survive on booze and a take away. After spending the night in the guard room, all personnel were up at 0700hrs and went about our morning ablutions.
After a quick jog to the local co-op we managed to have a half decent breakfast. We kitted up at boarded for Yardley at around 0900hrs arriving around an hour later. Once there, we had a quick tab from the drop off point to the admin bunker where we were given a brief for the exercise by Sgt Ian Chalmers.
There was a quick fire starting lesson inside the bunker, out of the wind to show how to set up starting a fire using fire steel and a striker against cotton wool and such before adding kindling and larger pieces of fuel. The second lesson was similar but outside, much harder when battling the elements. We were all given a few small wooden blocks and shown how to chop them down into smaller pieces to help start a fire later on. Two methods were shown of how to stack up the kindling and smaller pieces of dry wood to start a fire, the first was like a Jenga stack, 3 or 4 pieces lined up next to each other all facing one way, then the next layer they were all at a 90 degree angle to the previous layer. The second was based around a Tipi tent, three pieces leaning towards each other meeting at the top, kindling in the middle and adding sticks and other fuel on to create a pyramid.
Next was the shelter building lesson, were Cpl Jon Lloyd went over different types of shelters, which way they should face, how to incorporate a fire into your shelter area and so on. Then we were divided up into teams of three, and were set loose in the surrounding area to scout out a shelter location of our own and start our own shelter construction.
Once all the teams had found a location we spent around 2-3 hours constructing a shelter, we were then called over for another lesson, Chicken disposal. We were shown how to make the chicken dizzy/relaxed and then how to kill it by slitting its throat. The survival instructor then showed us how to remove all the feathers by drenching the chicken in boiling water making them easier to pull of the feathers, then how to remove all the insides and divide it up into wings, legs and breast meat.
After a few more hours of finishing touches to our shelters, we started on getting our fires going as it was starting to get dark, and very cold. With the help of a heavy flow tampon, some dead dry grass and the wood we were given to chop up earlier in the day, our group managed to get a fire going fairly quickly and before had quite a decent fire. From here on in there was always one person watching/feeding the fire making sure it didn’t go out. The others were gathering fuel for it to last us through the night. Once a decent supply of wood was gathered and chopped up into manageable pieces, the person watching the fire had boiled an ammo tin of water, two of us went to get our food for the night. We copied what we were shown earlier with regards to the chickens and soon had a decent amount of meat to cook for dinner. Some people boiled the meat in an ammo tin, others fried the meat on the ammo tin lids and others put the chicken on a spit and roasted it. After the chicken was eaten, we went about sorting out stag rotations to watch the fire through the night. Our group did this in 2 hour shifts, which went surprisingly quickly, must be something to do with playing with fire, entertaining…
We got through the night with out the fire dying, all though we did have to gather a bit more fuel throughout the night, surprising how much you need. Everyone was up between 0700-0800hrs and most of the groups were on the hunt for more fuel after the night shift. There were 2 more lessons on the Sunday; the first was methods of gathering water, morning dew, condensation and snow to name a few.
The second was on making signals so you can be rescued. These were divided up into 3 sections, sound and sight, sight was divided into 2 sections, natural and pyrotechnics. After going through various ways of making you heard or seen, there was a box of Mini Flares for us all to have a go with as practice. Shortly after this was end ex. We dismantled our shelters, stubbed out our fires and returned to the Admin Bunker to pack some kit away before tabbing back to the Mini Vans and heading back to our respective TA Centres.
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