REME OTC Weekend (February 2011)
On the 18th February 2011 12 Upper Sixth students from Welbeck attended the annual REME UOTC/DTUS weekend which is a competition with a series of field craft and engineering command tasks. The event is aimed at recruiting Officer Cadets from UOTC and DTUS units into the Corps. We were there as an additional guest team having been invited by Captain Sami Phoenix, the event organiser.
After two hours in the minibus we finally made it to Longmoor Training Camp, Hampshire in eager anticipation of a weekend of hard work and socialising with REME Officers. We arrived late on the Friday night and were dropped off directly outside the Sgt's Mess where we got to know the other competitors and the NCOs who were taking us around the stands the next day.
After a much needed breakfast we were out on the training area for a carousel of competition stands, each having relevance to the REME and their various trades. The first was an engineering design competition where we had to make a catapult that would aim a tennis ball to hit different targets. When ours failed to fire further than 2m we decided that we hadn’t got off to the best of starts. Quickly after that though we got to our bread and butter of a command task where we had to construct a retrievable bridge and change a wheel on a Land Rover. Thinking outside the box was perfected here as we were the only team to make a 'drawbridge' style bridge and we were commended on lifting the Land Rover the highest and with the least physical effort of any team that day, all quickly solved under the leadership of Captain, Tom Milton. We came in second overall for the command task. We then went through another couple of stands – these were an interest stand on foreign weapons, giving the guys a chance to pose for photos, and an IED lane showing us just how easy it is to be caught out by IED's. The last stand of the morning was a section attack out the back of a Warrior (armoured personnel carrier) with pyrotechnics and plenty of rounds going down. Everyone was on a high after this energetic and fast paced stand which was scored purely on aggression and hard work.
Next was a field lunch where the REME managed to create a kitchen and dining hall and then break it down again in just 2 hours - it was great to see the Army at work doing just what they are trained to do. The afternoon kicked off with a 3/4 mile stretcher run where everyone dug deep and stayed motivated, and we finished with a respectable time and our heads held high. The next two stands were mechanical recovery tasks, one of which where we got to use a CRARRV (Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle) recovery vehicle and pull a tank up a hill after just putting a couple of things together. It was amazing to be able to do the work that is done every day all over the world by the REME soldiers. We finished the day in 5th place out of 11.
The evening was filled with a trip to one of the more modern Officers Mess within the REME where we had a curry buffet and played mess games. It was a very interesting night and there was lots of fun to be had by all, with Welbeck representing well in the slippery pole game and boat race!
The next morning everyone was up and through breakfast early as we were off to the Gun Run. After a quick 20 minute drill session to blow away any cobwebs we were taken through a dry run of the Gun Run, learning how to go over the rope water crossing without falling in. We also had to carry a model gun with us along the obstacles, hence the name of 'Gun' Run. We started off well, getting over the 12ft wall quickly and then working well as a team to get over the rest of the obstacles.
We finished a respectable 7th overall out of 11 with our heads held high and some good catch ups done. The weekend as a whole was a success and we look forward to the same again next year when we are with our respective University squadrons. Huge thanks go to Ma'am Pervin and Colour Sergeant Kelly who drove us to and from the event and provided much entertainment along the way.
Emily Horswill, Stirling 09E and Tom Milton, Alanbrooke 09E