After the success of the first senior cadet exercise to Longmoor Urban Village last year, fourteen pupils from the Upper Fifth through to the Upper Sixth deployed on Exercise Apollo Venture, a 48-hour battle exercise designed to put pupil’s fieldcraft skills, resilience, and courage to the test.

After arriving at Bramley Training Area, Hampshire, on 26 October 2022, Cadet NCO’s (Non-Commissioned Officers) received lessons in the field on close target reconnaissance patrols, and radio communications in the field before an Orders Group was called and the exercise scenario commenced. The first task was for the two sections to secure rations, water, and a safe harbour to spend the night in. Upon successful location of their supply drop in a crashed Apache helicopter, the sections were ambushed by what proved later to be a persistent enemy force, pushing the sections back to the safety of HQ and setting the cadets up for a nervous first night in the field.

The next 24 hours saw a variety of tasks including a mapping exercise, building searches and reconnaissance patrols, all to gather information which would give them the advantage in seeking out the enemy. Having had their harbour location compromised in the early hours, the sections were again pushed back and sought sanctity in an abandoned hangar to conduct their morning routine. A patrol led by Cadet Corporal Knocker (Lower Sixth) uncovered a map left behind hastily, in an enemy headquarters location which gave the sections intelligence involving an enemy supply route. CSM Pascoal-Reynolds (Upper Sixth) later uncovered another enemy headquarters, heavily defended and with evidence of recent use. CSgt Grob (Upper Sixth) later made the call to set a night ambush, upon which a vehicle containing three members of the enemy force were stopped but unfortunately able to get away – another setback.

The Final Morning. The Final Attack. The past 36 hours had been a tough exposure to Bramley for the St John’s Cadets, however after receiving information uncovering the enemy’s last stand positions, the sections left at dawn in the hope of completing their mission. Funnelled down a narrow defensive lane, the sections led by CSM ten Have (Upper Sixth), and Sgt McDonald (Lower Sixth) navigated tricky obstacles and successfully cleared the enemy positions.

The exercise was fantastic success and enabled cadets to push themselves and evaluate their skills over half term. Congratulations to now Company Sergeant Major (CSM) O’Hanlon (Upper Sixth) and Colour Sergeant (CSgt) Ridgwell (Upper Sixth) on their promotions. Prizes were awarded to Cpl Saville (Lower Sixth), LCpl Incledon (Upper Fifth) and Knocker (Lower Sixth) with the prize for best endeavour over the exercise, given to Cpl Hussey (Lower Sixth).

Major James Hewitt – CCF Contingent Commander