This is my report on the four days I spent down at RAF Barnham doing the RAF Regiment Work Experience course. RAF Barnham is now used mainly as a training camp by the RAF. It is closely linked to RAF Honington which is just down the road and is one of the RAF Regiment's main training facilities.
Monday 15 th February 2010
I arrived there two hours earlier than all of the other cadets ( I was little worried at being the first there but the course staff greeted in the normal fashion, with the offer of a cup of tea ), I was sat there for about an hour before a next cadet turned up. The rest were picked up from the train station by coach. There were 40 cadets on the course, from ATC squadrons all over the country. We introduced ourselves, got our bed spaces, put our kit in there (I was in a room with 13 other people and we all were talking in the space of about 5 minutes) After another cup of tea we all went to the Health and Safety brief and were issued with kit such as coveralls and a numbered bib so they could record our scores during the week. We were given a brief outline of the course and what was expected of us. Went back to our rooms for the night, and got our kit unpacked. Then I relaxed with the others in my room
Tuesday 16 TH February 2010
We all woke up at 6am and got showered, and ready for the day ahead. We had a full English breakfast which was delicious; they certainly didn't want us to be hungry. After breakfast we were bussed over to RAF Honnington, to get a talk about the basic roles within the Regiment. These included Sniper Corps, a Para Squadron, the Queen's Colour Squadron and field squadrons. They then spent some time going into detail about what training we'd go through if we did apply to join the RAF Regiment. It was really interesting and useful and we didn't get too much, ‘Death by Power Point'! Then we went over to the accommodation the potential Gunners stayed in when they did their training. They were extremely high quality with open rooms to encourage a team feeling. Afterwards we picked up our lunch packs which were aright compared to the others ones I have tried, there was plenty there, apparently to keep our strength up – we'd need it! Then it was off to the gym to do the RAF's basic fitness which included the Bleep test and lots of press ups and sit ups. We were pushed up to our limits and beyond. It was really hard at times to keep going but I was really pleased to be able to keep going until the session ended. After that we quickly got changed into our swimming kit and got a quick shower, and then were straight off to the pool to do the basic swim test, which I had already but thought I'd keep quiet as the PT instructors were waiting for any excuse to give us more press ups! When we'd finished in the pool we changed into our coveralls to do something called Battle PT which I soon found out was probably the hardest PE lesson I'll ever do. It included leopard crawling, log runs, tire flips and then more of the same, you could give up whenever you wanted but I knew if I did I'd regret it, so we all pushed ourselves to the limits in order to impress our extremely un-impressible instructors. When they finally let us go, we all had a shower and went back to the accommodation to get changed into civvies for tea. All that exercise had given all of us enormous appetites; the catering staff had their work cut out that evening! After being briefed on what would be happening the next day and what kit we would need we were allowed free time till ‘lights out.' We all, slept soundly.
Wednesday 17 th February 2010
We got up at 6am again, had a shower and packed our day sacks with the things we would need for the day's exercises. Then it was over to the briefing room to have a weapon's brief. Then we went over to the assault course which was a little harder than I expected but I really did enjoyed it , apart from the nine foot wall which caused me some trouble. I kept trying and almost did it. I'm determined to do it next time though! Afterwards, we had a shower and then back to the briefing room to have a much appreciated lunch. After lunch we went over to the DCCT range to have an hour or two on there. Unfortunately we weren't able to fire the SA80's as they had run out of gas! I did get a photo of myself with one though! Then we had even more food, before going back to the briefing room so we could prepare a presentation about the RAF regiment. We paired up and picked any subject to do it on. I worked with a cadet from Scotland ; we chose to do it on the falling rocks display. Having given recruiting presentations at school definitely came in handy at this point, I wasn't too nervous! We had free time for the rest of the evening until it was lights out. We were all asleep slightly earlier this time as the course was beginning to take its toll on us all.
Thursday 18 TH February 2010
Six o'clock came around all too soon the next morning. We got up, breakfasted and then went out on a day's Green exercise. We had sniper observation point training, camouflage and concealment training and were given training on how to move when coming under fire. This was brilliant as we were able to practice what we'd learned by moving down gullies and dodging behind various obstacles. It gave us real insight into how the troops would move when under enemy fire. After the exercise finished it was back to shower and more food! I don't think I've ever been so glad to eat. We then had to give the presentations we'd prepared the night before. The instructors gave us feedback on the day's exercise and on our presentations. We then went back to our rooms and started to pack up our things ready for the last day. It was good to think that we'd survived the course and things were very relaxed. It didn't take most of us long to get to sleep though.
Friday the 19 th February, was the last morning. After breakfast we packed the remainder of our kit, handed over the kit that had been issued to us and then assembled to be given final feedback and the scores of our PT tests. The general consensus was that most of us needed to work on our fitness, with a few exceptions – I was really pleased to be one of those exceptions.
The course disbanded at about half past nine and we then went home.
I really enjoyed the four days with the Regiment; I would do it again and would definitely recommend any cadet to have a go at it. It gave me a real insight into the sort of training that anyone wanting to join the regiment would go through and although I was challenged I loved every minute of it.