Monthly Archives: September 2013

Become a Reservist in the largest regiment in the Infantry


7th Battalion the RIFLES

7 RIFLES is one of the two Territorial Army battalions of The RIFLES and has company locations in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire and London. 7 RIFLES has a proud record of achievements that include recent operational tours to Afghanistan in support of the regular Rifles battalions.

The RIFLES has vacancies for Reservist Riflemen as part of the Territorial Army and can offer a range of opportunities depending on where you live and which of our sub units you join. If you are up for it we can offer you a unique challenge and team spirit difficult to find elsewhere.

A Rifleman on Operations

A Rifleman on Operations

Retired from the Army and looking to keep your hand in as a reservist?

Do you need a change from your normal working life which offers adventure and the opportunity to serve as an equal on operations alongside your regular comrades?

Why not consider a career as a Reservist Rifleman?

See the 7 RIFLES recruiting video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iH2dg9bq2U

Roles of the Battalion

Territorial Army soldiers are paid for the training they attend, which, for 7 RIFLES is every Tuesday evening and two weekends per month with an annual two-week camp that could be overseas.

Roles within the battalion are not restricted to Infantry as we also have

  • Military chefs
  • Combat medics
  • Human resource specialists
  • Vehicle mechanics,
  • Armourers and
  • Bandsmen/women.

All of the support roles including the band are open to females. Training also includes access to sport and adventurous training.

Whats on offer

The RIFLES will offer a place to any man willing to soldier as part of a team and who can meet the standards we set. We ask quite a lot of our Riflemen but that’s because we set our sights high!

We offer

  • Challenging military and adventurous training
  • Teamwork, comradeship and the chance to improve yourself
  • Army rates of pay for each period of training you attend
  • An annual tax free bounty of up to £1,500 if you maintain your skills and attendance to the required levels
  • The opportunity to deploy with Army Formations on operations overseas, if you reach the required standards

What we ask of you – We ask you to attend for training and duties

  • One night per week at your chosen RIFLES location
  • One weekend per month training (and more if you want it); and
  • A two week training camp or specialist career/trade course each year.

We expect you to

  • Get fit and stay fit so that you can pass the Infantry Combat Fitness Test each year
  • Become proficient and capable of passing an annual marksmanship test with the Rifle

Once you are trained to the standard required you may be mobilised to join operations as an Infantry soldier for a period.

The Territorial Army will very shortly be known as the Army Reserves

To get in touch with 7 Rifles visit http://www.serfca.org/en-gb/reservists/ta/bhq7thbattaliontherifles.aspx

To visit 7 Rifles FB page visit https://www.facebook.com/SERFCA#!/pages/7-Rifles/1414444632110393?fref=pb&hc_location=profile_browser

 

 

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On tour with 135 Independent Geographical Squadron Royal Engineers


Thelma in Helmand Province

Hello from Afghanistan!

I am now over 70% of the way through my tour and have just under two months left in theatre. However my return flight is yet to be confirmed so I am not pinning too many hopes on getting home by a particular date! I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support (and food!) that I have received from friends and colleagues so I wanted to provide you all with a bit of an update on what I have been up to. I hope this finds you well.

The arrival of our team out here was staggered over two and a half months with LCpl Wadlow the first to arrive five weeks before me and WO2 Coleman the last to be in post in mid January. During the past couple of months we have beenrotating through R&R, with at least one person out of theatre most of the time.

We are now a complete team for only a few more days before WO2 Coleman goes on R&R, by the end of which Lcpl Wadlow will have finished his tour and his successor will be in place. It’s these milestones that help us keep track of timeas otherwise most days are pretty routine and it can all blur together!

In February I managed to get to Kandahar for a two day visit and to see the Theatre Map Depot where another colleague from my TA unit is working. It was good to catch up with him and to see another base; it is completely different to Bastion which feels really quiet in comparison. Kandahar is based around the airfield and there is a lot more permanent infrastructure there including brick buildings, tarmacked roads and the famous Boardwalk which is an area of shops and restaurants (including TGI Friday’s!) on a raised wooden walkway surrounding a square where they play basket ball etc. It has almost a village green feel to it. Kandahar also has it’s very own tourist attraction in the form of a poo pond where all the waste is deposited and aerates and bubbles away. It is the done thing to go and have your photo taken next to the biohazard sign and I even managed to find a T-shirt advertising the Poo Pond Cafe (I was disappointed not to find the actual cafe though!) Kandahar generally felt a lot more sociable than Bastion as there was definitely a lot more to do outside of work.

At the Poo Pond, Kandahar

At the Poo Pond, Kandahar

I also managed to get out to Lash Kar Gah for a day a few weeks ago. The city is in the Green Zone, about a twenty minute helicopter flight away from Bastion. I went down to deliver some maps and to meet the Geo Cell that are based there. The flight was by Chinook and I took the opportunity to film it from the window. The loadie saw me with my camera and I thought he was going to tell me to stop filming but instead he invited me to sit up next to the door so I could get a better picture! He then spoke over his mic to the pilot who then flew us low over the town and for the first time I saw normal Afghans going about their daily business. There were people on bikes, in trucks and walking their donkeys. At one point we were so low that the wash from the back of the helicopter was making peoples washing flap up violently around on the washing lines in their compounds. It gave me a very brief glimpse in to the world of the every day Afghan and made me wonder about the challenges they face dealing with the insurgency that are all around that area.

Being stuck on base at Bastion can be frustrating at times and I would love to be able to get out more but the job I do does not warrant it. I can’t complain though; at least the chances of me coming home in one piece are pretty high. The base at Lash is tiny in comparison to Bastion and the perimeter fence is only a mile or so long but it seemed friendly and more relaxed Also there were flowers there – tulips, marigolds and poppies (of course). It was the first time in three months that I’d seen any form of vegetation as opposed to just sand, dust and rocks and it was delightful. We travelled back that night by Merlin helicopter in pitch darkness; they switch the lights off to make it less of a target for anyone aiming an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) at us.

Arriving at Kandahar Airfield

Arriving at Kandahar Airfield

I had my R&R during March and it was great, but over far too quickly. Amazingly the RAF got me back to Brize Norton on schedule and we landed at lunch time on my birthday, which was a lovely birthday present in itself. On the way to Salisbury and within an hour and a half of landing I managed to do a skydive, still in my uniform (we were passing Netheravon Airfield anyway and the sun was shining so I took the opportunity!). I visited my family in Somerset and then I went skiing for a week in Austria, where the snow was fantastic and I treated myself to a new pair of skis with my hard earned army wages! I then just had time to see some friends for dinner in London before driving up to Brize Norton and flying back that same night.

All this was lovely but the dashing around took it’s toll (a rookie mistake I’m told – the more experienced, wiser ones just go home and do nothing!) and I returned to theatre ill with a cold…and then got worse not better! After a week of trying to “griz it out” I eventually dragged myself to the med centre where a doctor listened to my chest, confirmed bronchitis and prescribed 7 days of penicillin and as much rest as work would allow. It took another two weeks to start feeling anywhere near 100% again though and it took me a long while to get back into any kind of routine fitness wise with a lot of ground to make up! Sadly there has been another vigil service to attend for another lad who was shot by a rogue Afghan soldier. He was only the second British soldier to die in the time that I have been here which I believe is an improvement on last year but we are only really at the beginning of the Taliban fighting season so incidents could start to increase again soon. However the move towards the transition of power over to the Afghan Army is continuing apace and they are now in the lead for the majority of operations. This means that there are less of our boys out on the ground doing the actual fighting than previously so hopefully the numbers of deaths and serious injuries should remain low. However it also means that the afghans are the ones taking the brunt of the casualties now as the insurgency are not simply giving up. Every so often we get an IDF attack on the base (Indirect Fire – someone trying to rocket us) The loud bang is preceded by tan alarm as there are instruments which detect incoming fire and we have to don our body armour and helmets and get ourselves to the nearest blast shelter (which are located pretty much everywhere). The last one was at 2am on Sunday night and it was the bang and not the alarm that woke myself and my room mate up (although we’re told it did sound). We had to leave our room and congregate in a shelter at the end of our pod while a register was taken and we waited for further information. Apparently there were six rockets in total and eventually the all clear was sounded and we were allowed back to our beds after about 45 minures. Sunday was the Mujahadeen Victory day and we were told to anticipate some kind of action as it is the day that marks the official beginning of the fighting season for the Taliban so things could get more interesting from now on in!

IMG_0931

The future of this country relies on the Afghans being able to run effective operations against the insurgency and it is no secret that huge numbers desert the army every year when they have enough of battle conditions. At the end of next year ISAF (international Security Assitance Force – ie us, the USA etc) support will be withdrawn all bar special forces and small mentoring teams so everyone is feeling the pressure.

The team I work in is training a small group of Afghan soldiers to be geo technicians so they can produce their own mapping. These people however did not grow up with computers so it takes them a long time to grasp even basic concepts so the training objectives are constantly being revised and adjusted to fit in with what is feasible as new challenges come to light. Also they do not have the same levels of discipline and timings are not as key in their culture as in ours so they turn up when they feel like it. The training is all conducted through our interpretor, Abdul, a native Afghani who escaped to Canada with his family when the Russians invaded. He is a lovely man who is very patient and humble and is excellent at his job which he has been doing for three years so has worked with many versions of our team. The other day during a tea break in the training he was interpreting for one of the soldiers who was telling us a little about his life. I always want to ask more but there is never enough time. Here we are enjoying a break in training with the Afghans and partaking in tea and some of the cakes and treats sent by friends and colleagues at both Southwark Council and the City of London.

In other news our team chill out area that we started working on before R&R is now finished – complete with decking and hammocks! My contribution was to source all the materials from around the camp and I managed to acquire decking wood, nails, paint, paint brushes and rope. Lcpl Westhead and WO2 Coleman did the construction work and Lcpl Wadlow added the finishing touches by painting Royal Engineers Crests on the walls. We also acquired a barbeque and have had a couple of Saturday evenings eating al fresco, which has made a pleasant change to the noisy and over crowded chow hall!

Also on the entertainment side of things, every so often there is a CSE show (Combined Services Entertainment) for the troops. Celebrities and entertainers arrive and travel round to the different bases for a few days doing a show in each location. Katie Melua was over here a while ago did a gig outside the NAAFI which was very good and drew quite a big crowd. The comedians who did the warm up act though were probably the highlight for most people as they had the whole audience in stitches. Needless to say the humour was pretty rude and appealed to squaddies of all ranks. In the cookhouse after the show I found I was in the queue next to one of the comedians and he invited me to join him on their table for dinner where I got to meet Katie herself.

For more information please visit http://www.serfca.org/en-gb/reservists/ta/135independentgeographicsquadronre.aspx

Oxfordshire Army Cadet Force Annual Camp 2013


Annual Camp at Nesscliffe Camp

200 Oxfordshire cadets have recently returned from an interesting and enjoyable two week’s Annual Camp at Nesscliffe Camp near Shrewsbury.

It is the site of a war time ammunition depot, the training area is immediately accessible from the camp and has many building that help with training scenarios.

Visitors day to Oxfordshire Annual Camp.

Visitors day to Oxfordshire Annual Camp.

The weather was good, thus the challenge of last year’s Dartmoor micro climate was not repeated. On the first Thursday, 22 visitors came to see the cadets training, including the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Mr John Harwood DL, who presented two cadets, including Cdt RSM McLennan, with their BTEC certificates. Another visitor was Mr Cecil Jeffcoates, a WW2 Veteran who landed in Normandy by glider on 6 June 1966 as part of S Company 2nd Bn Oxf & Bucks Light Infantry, a predecessor of The Rifles. Both much enjoyed their visit.

Mr Cecil Jeffcoates comparing the LSW to the Bren he used to use

Mr Cecil Jeffcoates comparing the LSW to the Bren he used to use

The camp was again run as a Cadre camp and many APC star passes were achieved. The middle weekend saw the exercise phase with all cadres putting into practice the training of the preceding week. The Monday following was ‘chill out’ day, with the cadets visiting a theme park. The majority of the second week was a combination of the Inter-Company Skills Competition and some ‘fun’ activities, e.g. motor biking. The Inter-Company drill competition on the final Thursday saw each of the four companies trying to outshine each other with precision of their drill and smartness of their turn-out. The afternoon heralded the annual prize giving, with Quebec Company acquiring the biggest ‘haul’ of prizes. By Friday tired, yet happy and still cheerful cadets, and adults, were ready for the return trip to Oxfordshire.

For nmore information on Cadets please visit http://www.serfca.org/en-gb/cadets.aspx

Sword of Honour awarded at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst


Ex Army Cadet considered best

Every year ex-ACF cadets attend the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and pass out as Officers in the British Army. There are 3 pass out parades each year and at each parade the cadet considered best overall by the Commandant is awarded The Sword of Honour. On the 9th August 2013 222 cadets passed out as Army Officers with 2Lt Peter Gornall, an ex cadet from Hampshire and Isle of Wight ACF, presented The Sword of Honour by The Countess of Wessex.

2Lt Peter Gornall who was a cadet in A Company at Fleet and Church Crookham detachment joined the ACF when he was aged 12 with a friend who suggested it would be a good idea. At 16 he decided that a military career was what he wanted. Peter said “having done some time with the cadets it confirmed that it was a job I would enjoy and gave me the motivation to attempt Westbury for an Army Scholarship. My father doing a Short Service Commission in the 15/19th King’s Royal Hussars also played a part and I always knew I wanted to be an officer as it was always leadership that I enjoyed and the opportunity to lead a troop of soldiers is the ultimate challenge and responsibility.’

2Lt Peter Gornall presented The Sword of Honour by The Countess of Wessex.

2Lt Peter Gornall presented The Sword of Honour by The Countess of Wessex.

In 2007 Peter attended Westbury and qualified for an Army scholarship which he recommends to anyone else considering an Army Officer career “it’s a fantastic support through college and university and allows you to go on some excellent trips in the summer breaks. In my opinion the sooner you start engaging with the regiments or corps you hope to join the better and this allows you to look at areas that you might be interested in pursuing.” Peter commissioned into the The King’s Royal Hussars and following the next stage of his training, the RAC Troop Leaders Course in Bovington, will assume command of four Challenger 2 tanks and a troop of soldiers in March next year. He will then be qualified to lead his first Troop well and he hopes attend an operational tour.

Describing Officer training as challenging Peter said “the lack of sleep and pace of life through junior term is relentless and operating with little to no sleep on exercise added a challenging element and is something you certainly get better at with time. However the opportunity to lead your peers when in command appointment and receive feedback from the best staff that the British Army has to offer is very rewarding. It is also great fun living in a platoon of 30 Officer Cadets. The experiences you go through as a group certainly produces some friends you will stay in touch with for the rest of your life.”

Asked how he felt about being awarded the sword of Honour Peter said “It certainly was a surprise! You don’t know that you’re in contention until the final exercise in Scotland and the Commandant keeps his cards close to his chest until 10 days before commissioning. I am incredibly grateful and hugely honoured to be awarded this prestigious prize.”

In his final year in the ACF Peter was the Lord Lieutenant Cadet for Hampshire as well as cadet RSM which was his proudest achievement.  He said “being in the ACF gave me an early taste of leadership and I learnt a great deal that has helped me in both military and civilian spheres. I am incredibly grateful to all the staff that volunteered their time to instruct us.”

For more information on the Cadets as an Adult Instructor or Cadet please visit http://www.serfca.org/en-gb/cadets.aspx

 

Hastings Sea Cadets wins Burgee award 2013


TS Hastings Sea Cadets are
continuing to fly the flag high

The Cadets and Adult Volunteers of TS Hastings Sea Cadets are continuing to fly the flag high for Hastings and have again won the Burgee for 2013. an overall ‘Efficiency ‘score which currently stands at 0-59% (No award), 60-74% Pennant and finally 75%+ Burgee.

With over 60 Children from Hastings, St Leonards, Bexhill and Battle – Hastings Sea Cadets and Royal Marine Cadets are proving to continue to be one of the Flagship Units in Southern Area Region, a Unit which delivers at the highest level . New Cadets are always most welcome to come along.

Please feel welcome to come down and meet us during parade times Tuesday and Friday evenings 1900-2100

TS Hastings Sea Cadets

TS Hastings Sea Cadets

Sea Cadets are for youth aged 10-18 years. The aim of the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC) is to help young people towards responsible adulthood and to encourage them to reach their potential by developing valuable personal attributes and high standards of conduct, using a nautical theme based on the customs and traditions of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines.

Further details and information can be found at http://www.sea-cadets.org/hastings/home.aspx or check out our Facebook page for all the up to date information https://www.facebook.com/SeaCadetsHastings