Sjt Chad Usher (S LVI), Head of Army 2017-18, reports:
With morning, evening and Sunday sessions in addition to the regular Thursday afternoons, the section went into the competition feeling strong and ready for the challenging tasks laid out by 11 Signals and West Midlands Brigade. They would be pitted against some 20 of the best CCF and Army Cadet Force teams from the region.
After sleeping in less than desirable conditions in the old ammo dumps of the Nesscliffe training area and living off army ration packs, the team began the Mil Skills stands on the Saturday with TIBUA (or fighting in built up areas). After successfully clearing a whole compound, the team moved on to the first aid stand with Cpl Pran Poshyanonda and LCpl Lucie Lovick giving a concise and clear assessment and treatment of the casualties involved, along with LCpl Oliver Thomassen executing a swift evacuation of the casualty to the rendezvous. Following this, Cpl Tim Lovick led the team superbly through a mental command task involving accurately portraying a map from memory onto the ground.
The section moved through navigation, observation and casualty evacuation stands to the final stand in daylight hours of section in defence. The team set up a deadly precedent to the other teams by winning this stand outright. A LSW gunner and the section were positioned in a bunker system overlooking a wide section of dead ground, upon which they were attacked by probing infantry units. The defenders successfully managed their limited ammunition, holding off the attack with a steady blanket of fire and clear but aggressive orders that pinned the attackers down in time for the reinforcements to arrive, upon which the section withdrew under the cover of smoke grenades and a base of fire.
At this point in the competition, the Army Section were leading the competition.
Unfortunately a win was not meant to be, however, with the evening military knowledge test presenting several surprising topics.
On Sunday, with the Mil Skills competition complete, the focus turned to the March and Shoot competition. Shrewsbury were the returning champions and had an honour to maintain. Cdt Oliver Taylor and LCpl Archie McKirdy set a rigorous pace at the head of the section, maintaining a speed of 8 kilometres per hour over a 2.2-mile course.
The team had to march – not run or jog – over the distance, carrying weapons and full webbing. So to set the fastest time of the day with a time of 26 minutes 24 seconds was mightily impressive, particularly for a team that was perhaps the youngest Shrewsbury has ever put out.
Following this, the four shooters had to fire the Scorpion rifle. The team shot brilliantly, with Sgt Chad Usher and LCpl George Bramwell both shooting a 27/30 and Cdts Arthur Bramwell and Oliver Taylor both with a 26. The team achieved a fantastic score of 106 out of a HPS of 120.
At the prize-giving, the team were presented with the news that they had retained their title they had won the previous year.
Thanks go to Capt. Farmer and Maj. Stevens, who accompanied the team on the competition, and to Capt. Simper, Sgt Welsh and Mr Chipperton for their help on Thursday afternoons; and the School training team of Lt Col David, Maj. Billington and WO1 Byrne.
Thanks also to Staff Sjts Susy Watts and Jack Lock, the previous two Heads of Section, for providing the building blocks of this year’s team and for the personal help they have given me in offering advice on leadership.
Sjt Chad Usher (S LVI), Head of Army 2017-18