The competition is the culmination of teams earning their places through their regional Brigade Military Skills competitions, with teams training all year for the event. The RGS team was entered as a last-minute reserve and was one of the youngest and least experienced we have sent to the Competition, composed of two Year 12s and six Year 10s. The following report was written by the Patrol Commander, Cadet Colour Serjeant Matthew Yarwood:
An early start on Saturday morning meant we began the patrol at 06:30. We immediately met the military knowledge test, an emotional experience for so early in the morning. However, quizzes wouldn't be our hardest test that day. With the test out of the way and off to a good start, we moved on to our second stand, the Section Attack. Having sprinted up a steep Welsh hill and taken the enemy position we allowed ourselves a brief moment of self-congratulation. However this would not last long as we were contacted by a second position further up the hill, and then to add insult to injury, another even further up. Safe to say, we took a while to get to our next stand. So on we went through the day, tackling each stand as it presented itself and raking up the kilometres across the rugged Welsh Black Mountains.
By early afternoon and having no time to have a proper meal other than what we could have ‘on the hoof’, we began to flag. However, with the end in sight we pressed on, covering our longest march of just over 8km to reach our final stand at a (literally) blistering pace. Having completed the Range Card tasking, we pressed on with only 20 minutes to cover the last 2km. With time ticking away, we broke into a jog and with our bodies battered and broken, we finally crossed the finish line with six minutes to spare after 12 hours, 24 minutes. We would be the only team to finish the course.
As tough as this had been it was not over yet, as after the relief of a short minibus journey back to the legendary ‘Dixies Corner’ we were back at it. We deployed into a pitch-black woodblock, which would be our home for the night and onto the Orders process for the next day’s Platoon Attacks. After a frantic 40 minutes of model-building and hastily scribbling orders, we began. We delivered our Orders in 35 long minutes, at which point I breathed a sigh of relief and was greeted with some surprising but very welcome news. The soldier who had been unknowingly roped into assessing the Orders described them as “better than most of the guys I work with”! We were delighted but with no time to dwell on it, it was off to bed for the lot of us.
Sunday, the last day. After what felt like a lie in (it was still 05:30hrs), we dragged ourselves out of bed and prepared ourselves for the last big push, the final Section Attack. A short 3km patrol later saw us patrolling slowly across an open field towards the likely enemy positions. We were contacted to our front by machine gun fire, we reacted. Pushing forward to take the position in a whirlwind of shouting, controlled aggression, and gun fire, we had done it, Cambrian was over! But no, as always Brecon had one nasty surprise left in store as the Directing Staff shout “extract the casualty to the helicopter landing zone”. This boiled down to a sickening run with a stretcher weighted with sandbags to the final position. Finally, almost 30 hours after starting, Cambrian was over. All that was left now was the proverbial ‘tea and medals’.
We went into the competition with high hopes but a very realistic understanding of our odds of success. We were overwhelmed to find out that RGS’ 2023 Cadet Cambrian Patrol team was awarded a Gold Medal, meaning we scored at least 75% of points and no less than 65% on any one stand, and incredible achievement in itself. We were over the moon! The surprises weren’t quite over yet though as we also won Best International CCF and scored the highest overall score, something RGS had never done before.
It was an honour and privilege to command the CCP 23 team and it would be remiss of me not to pay tribute to my outstanding teammates, without whom we could not have achieved what we did. The 2023 team was: Cdt CSjt Matthew Yarwood, Cdt Sjt Charlie Booth, Cdt LCpl Amanvir Wassan, Cdt Chris Campbell, Cdt Austin McDade, Cdt Alfie Parker, Cdt Nick Sutton, and Cdt Adam Wetherall.
I also wish to take this opportunity to thank the RGSHW CCF training team, without whom we would not have had the knowledge or skills to succeed. Particular thanks go to the OC, Captain Pettengell, Captain Rose, Lieutenant Geering and our SSI, SMI Barrett.