King's School Rochester Army Field Day at The Royal Engineer Plant School

Major Steve Short, Contingent Commander at King's School reports on a Field Day at The Royal Engineer Plant School.

King's School Rochester Army Field Day at The Royal Engineer Plant School

27 June 2022

  • Army
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Due to recent covid restrictions the cadets had been denied access to military installations for the last three years. So it was with some anticipation and excitement that we awaited our trip to the Royal Engineer’s Plant School. The school is on the Hoo Peninsula, near Wainscot and is part of the Royal Engineer School of Military Engineering based in Chatham. The Royal Engineer’s Plant School is where the army students are trained in the operational usage of bulldozers, JCBs and forklift trucks amongst other various and wonderful earthmoving vehicles.

We left King’s, on time at 8:30am, and were soon at the School where we were met by Sergeant … who chaperoned us for the day. Once the cadets were donned in high viz. jackets and safety helmets they were led to a vast area of dug up land. Far off in the distance a group of D5 Bulldozers were busy digging a series of large ditches, they would disappear from view and then reemerge, their front blades pushing out yet more earth. We were informed that this particular piece of land is the most dug up area in Europe and as such can never be built on.

Kings 3

The cadets were split into four groups and were organised in a round-robin of four activities. These included placing a metal rod, attached by a rope to the boom of a JCB tractor, into the whole on top of a traffic cone. Another activity involved digging a trench with a JCB and then another JCB was set up to continue digging a rather alarming deep anti-vehicle ditch, the sort defence system used around fortified defences to deter and hold up enemy vehicles and tanks.

Finally, assorted tractors, each designed for a specific task, were lined up and cadets were allowed to closely scrutinise, clamber upon and sit within these vehicles. Thereafter two trainee Sappers eloquently spoke about each vehicle explaining what each of them did and how it worked. At each activity the cadets diligently watched the demonstrations and listened to the instructions from the engineer instructors and then, undaunted, they got on with the tasks. It seems that in order to move large amounts of earth fine motor skills are needed and with some perseverance the cadets adroitly mastered this.

Then the grand finale, two machines, a D5 Bulldozer and a Medium Wheeled Tractor, driven by instructors were set against each other to breach the colossal Anti-vehicle Ditch the cadets had just helped to dig. Due to the nature of each vehicle they used different techniques to accomplish the job. Seeing these beast-like machines swiftly move tonnes of earth was rather exhilarating.

Throughout, the cadets conducted themselves with a high degree of decorum; they were engaged in what the Sappers had to offer and possessed good cheer. Thanks to Major Short for liaising with the Royal Engineers and organising the event but also to Captain Caper, Lieutenant Keep and Captain Unthank for assisting on the day. Of course, thanks must go to Instructors and trainee Sapers at the Royal Engineers Plant School who gave up their time to provide our cadets with an informative, enjoyable and memorable day.