Army Cadets from Shetland spent the school break (27 to 30 May) visiting and training alongside their fellow Cadets from Orkney.
Having travelled south on Friday night there was only time for a welcome brief and organising sleeping arrangements at the Cadet Training Centre in Kirkwall before ‘lights out’ and an early call in the morning for a day packed with activities. The more senior Cadets left for Ramsdale Range after breakfast and, after an impromptu command task involving the recovery of a bogged-in minibus, they were soon firing full-bore weapons on the range.
With no rifle firing ranges remaining on Shetland, this was a great opportunity for Cadets to test their marksmanship skills and all Cadets from Shetland who attempted shooting tests passed at their star level. Bombardiers Jordan Campbell and Iona Middleton both achieved First Class Shot at three star level. Meanwhile the junior Cadets had remained at the Cadet Centre where they fired air rifles and were instructed in various Cadet force syllabus subjects. Once the senior Cadets had cleaned and returned rifles to the armoury in the evening, it was time to put on fresh uniform and parade at St Magnus Cathedral for a group photograph in front of the ‘weeping window’ poppy display.
On Sunday, after packing and loading kit for the ferry trip home, the Shetland Cadets were transported to Ness Battery for an informative visit under the direction of a guide. The Cadets, who are affiliated with the Royal Artillery, took great interest in the visit and the tour finished with a group photo in the Mess Hall which remains almost unchanged since the end of WW2.
The Cadets were then transported to Scapa where they re-joined the Orkney cadets as well as members of the Reserve Forces and Sea Cadets for a chance-of-a-lifetime trip on the Royal Navy’s flagship, HMS Bulwark. Transport to the ship was by Royal Marine landing craft and some of the Cadets were given the opportunity to drive the vessel, not a great experience for some when Bombardier Kieran Thomson manoeuvred it in such a way as to soak those stood at the bow!
Once on board HMS Bulwark the Cadets attended a Service of Remembrance on the flight deck in memory of those who gave their lives 100 years ago at the Battle of Jutland. A tour of the huge ship followed with Cadets getting the opportunity to get their hands on various RN and RM weapons, vehicles and equipment. Meanwhile HMS Bulwark set sail in thick fog for the six-hour journey that would take the ship out of Scapa and around the east of Orkney mainland to Kirkwall. All were well fed and hosted on the trip and arrived back in Kirkwall tired and ready for the trip back north. This was an excellent weekend and thoroughly enjoyed by the 11 Cadets and 5 adults from Shetland and future trips to Orkney are in the diary for next year!
Shetland Independent Cadet Battery ACF meets at Fort Charlotte every Tuesday and Thursday from 6.45pm to 8.45pm. Anyone aged between 12 and 18 is eligible to join and welcome to visit. To find out more go to www.armycadets.com.