On the evening of Saturday 26 February, all three CCF platoons were preparing to depart for two days of training at Bramley Training Area. The training area is a former ammunitions depot and is about an hour’s drive away from the School.

For the duration of the weekend, each platoon was led by a Sergeant in Year 13 with oversight from a volunteer adult Platoon Commander, who was then assisted by a Year 12 in assessing and teaching recruits in Year 11. Cadets and teachers both slept as if in the field in an abandoned old warehouse, provided with butane and genuine army rations as well as sleeping equipment which was notoriously hard to pack.

The first day of training focused on lessons, with platoons each securing a Harbour Area at provided locations, rehearsing the quick and efficient placement of each cadet, establishing schedules for duties and a hierarchy of control. 

Before the oncoming torrent of rain, they then built their own secure shelters in pairs using bashers (tarp) secured with tent pegs, bungees, and trees. Year 12 boys were then given an opportunity to teach younger cadets about cooking safely, staying organised and ensuring secure entry/exit and patrol around the harbour area. Year 11 boys also learnt about staying hidden by using camouflage paint and attaching foliage to their uniform but most importantly by altering their behaviour (for example by being conscious of their silhouette). This was all in preparation for an impromptu attack by staff in the evening!

Cadets were then given another chance to apply their new-found knowledge in a night exercise at the end of the day. They were tasked to eavesdrop rambling Year 13 boys on patrol who were armed with floodlights and have to travel to the enemy location and back covertly.

On Sunday, cadets attacked each other as sections (formed of around eight people) and as a platoon (about 30 people). This involved splitting into various teams and commanding each other ad-hoc due to the dynamic nature of a real battle, as well as travelling tactically in various formations to ensure arcs of fire covered all bases. 

They also engaged in Close Quarters Battle (CQB), where cadets attempted to siege a bunker and house efficiently and reducing the loss of life. This involved learning to maintain a more focused grip on the provided airsoft guns, recognising obstacles and traps and marking them with silooms, entering tactically by ‘stacking’, and a crash course on where to aim and with which rates of fire when entering an unsecured room.

All who took part in the scheme left with a renewed sense of accomplishment having spent two nights away from luxuries which otherwise may have been taken for granted. Despite the inclement weather, cadets were engaged and successfully carried out each exercise, making for a productive – as well as fun – weekend.

Many thanks go to the staff, both full-time and volunteer, who worked tirelessly to ensure students were accounted for. Thanks must also go to Year 12, for whom this will have been their final scheme as a cadet. They were required to directly plan attacks and took responsibility for the lower years, who are looking forward to promotion next term.