Recently, Cadets from 198 Hinckley Squadron teamed up with Cadets from 2286 Arden Squadron at Gamecock Barracks to take part in Basic Fieldcraft Exercise Feral Mind.
Organised by Sergeant Doug Hibbitt from 198, with the assistance of Flight Sergeant Paul Hartshorn from 2286, and supported by Flight Lieutenant Gill Short from 29F (Rugby) Squadron, Warrant Officer Mike Hibbitt and Flight Sergeant Nick Raske, both also from 198 Squadron, the exercise was geared to teach basic Fieldcraft Skills, cooking, shelter building and basic camouflage and concealment.
Sgt Hibbitt and FS Hartshorn arrived at Bramcote on Friday evening to sort out the accommodation blocks and check out the facilities for the Cadets and Staff and issue rooms. A walk around the exercise area to run through the next day’s activities before dark just to make sure everything was in place ready for the arrival of the cadets the following morning.
Saturday morning started hot and dry so, after a good breakfast, Sgt Hibbitt and FS Hartshorn prepared for our arrival. As we arrived each cadet was issued a ration pack and bottles of water, then up to our rooms to stow away our kit, listen to the weekend’s safety brief and we were eager to start.
After the safety brief we were taken down to the Windbreaks Area, and into the wooded part to prepare and cook lunch. It was very sunny and hot so the shade from the trees was very welcome. Sgt Hibbitt taught us how to set up the hexamine cooker in preparation for cooking the ration pack food, we were then sent off to set up ourselves and cook lunch, which was more delicious than any of us thought. During lunch some of the cadets had set up near an old tree stump which unfortunately turned out to be an underground bee’s nest. One member of Staff got stung once but, one cadet got stung about six times and had to go to hospital with WO Hibbitt as a precaution. After lunch the remaining cadets had a game of Rounder’s and Football with the rest Staff whilst the Sgt Hibbitt tried to find out what was happening with the cadet at hospital. After a check up, and with permission from his doctor and parents, the cadet was able to return to the activity.
After Rounder’s the cadets went to have a go at shelter building with FS Hartshorn. We were split into two teams competing against each other to build a shelter from a load of random poles. Some very interesting shelters were attempted, some successful, some not... In the end we managed to build something to keep our cadet NCO in charge of the teams dry, by now the really hot dry day had turned into a major thunder storm and torrential downpour. Whilst it rained we sat in the Control Tower building and talked about the day so far and what we were going to do for the rest of the day. When the Sun finally came out this was a good time to put some Cam Cream on ready to do the next activity, but not before dinner. Out came the hexamine cookers again and we cooked yet another meal from the ration pack.
After Dinner we split into the two groups again, Red versus Blue, and prepared for the first part of the evening exercise, Missile Capture. The object was to find and capture each other’s missile, hidden in two separate parts of the woods, find the codes to disarm the missile and return it to the control tower, disarmed, before the other team. Each group had to defend their missile as well as capture the other teams and, after some clever tactics, Blue team managed to keep control of their own missile and steal the Red teams missile, getting both back to the Control Tower, being chased by the Red team, and successfully disarmed them both.
The next part of the exercise was that we had to find the Staff in the woods. The Staff set off to conceal themselves somewhere in the woods and the cadets had to go and find them – simple we thought... After about an hour the Staff were still hidden, watching us all the time and following us apparently. In the end FS Hartshorn and FS Raske jumped up out of nowhere to confront us as the whistle went for the end of the exercise. It was a fantastic evening’s exercise.
Back at the accommodation there was a final debrief from the day’s activities over a hot drink, then shower and everyone off to bed, very tired.
Apparently it rained very heavy through the night but none of the cadets really heard it, we must have been that tired, because, when we woke on Sunday morning, although the ground was wet, the weather was quite warm and sunny.
The final activity for the weekend was cooking breakfast and cleaning up the site. After a complete cleanup of both the accommodation block and the Windbreaks Area we returned to the accommodation to collect all our kit ready to go home. Sgt Hibbitt thanked us all for coming, then gave us all a certificate and a Camp photograph and told us that he hoped we all enjoyed ourselves, but most importantly, that we all had learned something to take away with us.
We, the cadets, would like to thank Sgt Hibbitt and FS Hartshorn for setting up the exercise and all the rest of the staff for helping us out with an amazing weekend. So come on Sergeant, we are looking forward to Exercise Feral Mind 2.