Monthly Archives: September 2016

Army Cadet Expedition July 2016, Exercise Kwa-Zulu-Natal

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During the long post GCSE holiday I embarked on the trip of a life time to South Africa with the Army Cadet Force. It had been a long time coming as the initial selection had taken place in early 2015 with the writing of a personal statement detailing our interest and motivation to want to be part of this expedition. From there the entrants were narrowed to down to group of around eighty Army cadets from all walks of life to take part in a weekend selection event, consisting of command tasks and fitness tests. After having taken part in this, the group was further scrutinised and some cadets were turned away. From here we had two separate weeks of training in the Lake District, further honing our self-reliance skills, hiking ability and capacity to work as a group. All this contributed towards the completion of our Summer Mountain Foundation course with daily excursions onto the hills and lessons in nutrition, first aid and emergency casevac procedures. These weeks of training allowed us to form close friendships with our fellow cadets and get to know our instructors which played a vital role when getting through some tough times. At the end of this process we were down to sixty cadets and were divided into two expedition groups of thirty cadets. I ended up in expedition group one with some good mates.

Finally the day for pre-deployment came but it wasn’t without some last minute completion of paperwork and dashes to the shops to complete the lengthy kit list. We were all finally assembled in London going through final checks before leaving for the airport the following afternoon. After almost 24 hours of travel we were on our way to our first destination, Zingela game reserve.

The expedition itself can be broken down into three weeks, the first week being an acclimatisation stage, the second being your choice of one of three excursions; Trekking the Zulu Trail, Trekking through the Drakensberg Mountains and a Kayak trip down the Tugela River all for roughly five days. The third week was rest and recuperation.

The first week was at Zingela Game reserve a four hour bus ride from King Shaka airport in Durban. We spent just under a week working on our bush craft skills ranging from cooking in the bush to tracking wild game. We stayed in a tented camp and with temperatures reaching minus five at night it was a sprint from sleeping bag to outdoor but pleasantly warm showers in the mornings. Despite it being African winter, day time temperatures reached the thirties.

Quite suddenly after a relatively comfortable introduction to the expedition we all began our three separate excursions. I chose the Zulu Trail expedition, a brand new 85 kilometre trail through the Bushveld and Zulu territories following some of the British Army’s tracks from the Anglo-Zulu war. We were to complete it in five days. After an initial trek to visit and stay the night in a Zulu homestead we embarked on the first day. It was a 27 kilometre trek, the first and longest day of the trail. I and a friend were tasked with leading the group that day and managed to complete it in under nine hours. The rest of the trek went very well and I ended up the only one of the group not succumb to blisters.

Before we knew it we had got through the trek and found ourselves in a German Christian retreat in the region of Elandskraal, it was an eerie place as storms rolled in and we said goodbye to the good weather thankful to have escaped trekking in the rain. It was from here that we took part in some Zulu pottery classes, dancing and went on battlefield visits. We visited Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, these were both deeply moving places and held much significance within the Army cadets’ minds. Mid-way through our R&R week we moved location to the Twin streams eco reserve. Here we learnt about the biodiversity and importance of the St Lucia Wetlands. We visited a crocodile sanctuary, the Kruger national park and went on a river cruise.

Finally the day to leave came around all too quickly. After having such an amazing time it was hard for everyone to say goodbye to South Africa and each other.

Cadet Sergeant Alex Harris, Stowe School CCF (Army Section)



Berkshire Cadets come together to compete for the Frost Trophy and Nowell Cup Part.2

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Arborfield ACF Company Sergeant Major Holly Chamberlain took on the role of volunteer casualty as teams taking part in the Frost Trophy and Nowell Cup were tested on their first aid skills. Holly has recently completed a Public Services Course at Reading College and is starting training with Thames Valley Police.

Last year Holly was chosen to be one of four Lord-Lieutenant’s Cadet for 2016.  Cadets support the Lord-Lieutenant for Berkshire in his work during their year of office, accompanying him to royal visits, awards ceremonies, and similar official events. Holly said “Being the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet has been really interesting. I have met the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Edward and have attended a lot of different events.”

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Royal Marines Cadet 2 Katie Kremer from Reading, took a ducking while taking part in the water challenge but once back on dry land she helped her team to complete the task in the fastest time of the day.

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Royal Marines Cadet Sergeant MC1 Caitlin Lobley started her cadet life as a sea cadet but transferred as she felt the Royal Marines were more “outdoorsy.” A year 11 pupil at Hugh Faringdon School, Southcote, Reading, Caitlin hopes to study medicine and to join the Navy as a medic. Caitlin said “I would recommend cadets as a way of making friend for life and experiencing things a bit different from normal life.”

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Cadet Jordan Graham gives the climbing wall the thumbs up. Jordan has been with the Arborfield Detachment for two years. He is following in the footsteps of his brother who is the Regimental Sergeant Major. Jordan’s favourite activity is first aid.

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On behalf of the winning team, Army Cadet Sergeant Monja Danischewsky received the Frost Trophy from Wing Commander Chris Fisher. Monja, who is based with the Cippenham Detachment, has been a cadet for five years and hopes to join the Household Cavalry once he has completed his A Levels.

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The winners of the Frost Trophy celebrate their success! The team included Berkshire Army Cadets from the Witley, Woodley, Cippenham and Arborfield Detachments.

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On behalf of his fellow team members, Ordinary Sea Cadet Peter Talbot accepted the Nowell Cup from Colonel Chris Booth. Peter said “Today has been great fun, although we didn’t know each other at the beginning of the day we have really come together as a team. It is really interesting to meet-up with cadets from the other Services as we all do things differently and can learn from each other.”

Berkshire Cadets come together to compete for the Frost Trophy and Nowell Cup

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Army Cadet Wiktor Konecki, Cippenham Detachment, has been a cadet for three years and plans to join the Army as a member of the Infantry. Wiktor said “Being a cadet is a great confidence builder and a great way of making  friends. I found out about the ACF by watching videos on YouTube, I decided to give it a go and have enjoyed every minute.”

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Sea Cadet William De Guzman hopes that his experiences as a cadet will help him in his ambition to become a Marine. William is based with the Slough Unit and has been a cadet for almost a year.  William said “Being a cadet has given me new experiences and is helping me to prepare for a military career. We have to think outside the box and interact with new people. Annual camp gave us a chance to take part in lots of activities including field craft, camping, and clay pigeon shooting.”

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Hayley Milward, Whitley Detachment, joined the ACF at the beginning of 2016 and said “Being a cadet has really helped with my confidence and we get to do lots of different things. I really enjoy sports and have had the chance to take part in regional and national athletics events. I went on annual camp to Thetford and really enjoyed the clay pigeon shooting.”

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Reading based Royal Marines Cadet Class 2 Finlay Allen was one of several senior cadets providing support to the teams taking part in the Frost Trophy and Nowell Cup. Finlay originally joined the ACF but moved to the Royal Marines because he felt there were more opportunities to experience field craft,  something he really enjoys.

Finlay is currently studying for qualifications in Travel and Tourism, and Resistant Materials. He plans to spend time in the USA working for Camp America and travelling before returning to the UK to train as an officer with the Marines.

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Sea Cadet Kelsy Merritt joined the Slough Unit almost a year ago. Kelsy who lives in Langley and attends Churchmead School, Datchet said “Being a Sea Cadet is great fun. There are lots of opportunities to try new things. We regularly go to Datchet Reservoir for boating activities including sailing and rowing.”

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Army Cadet Jade Bartlett, from the Aborfield Detachment, was taking part in the Frost Trophy for the second time. Jade, who is starting a Health and Social Course at Basingstoke College, has been a cadet for two years said “Taking part in events like this is great fun. It is great to meet different cadets and to take on the challenges.”

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Lance Corporal Kayci Benham and Cadet Andrew Boldoro are not only both members of Witley Detachment, but they are both Year 10 pupils at the local John Madejski Academy. They were teamed up with other Army Cadets as one of the Single Service teams competing for the Frost Trophy, working together on a series of activities including putting their first aid skills to the test.