Page 119 - The Chapka 2016
P. 119

  As we walked off flight ‘SQ 322’ into the renowned Heathrow airport, excitement and the anticipation for a new adventure filled the atmosphere around us. During the wait in customs, we stretched our legs and had time to call our parents back at home to notify them of our safe landing in London. Being greeted by the hosting British cadets at the entrance of the airport, we were without delay, welcomed to the beginning of our two week adventure, which would take us to some of the most significant places in the world, walking in the footsteps of the ANZAC’s and gaining life experience seldom experienced by teenagers.
Primarily, Ex-Lancer Drive was an opportunity for Australian Army Cadets from 203, 204 and 226 ACU to visit the UK, Bel- gium and France, to walk in the footsteps of Australia soldiers from World War 1, to exchange with the British Army Cadet Force and to participate in many unique activities and opportu- nities. It saw 15 cadets from the Sydney region, alongside four Army cadet staff, supervising and effectively planning the trip. Ultimately, Lancer Drive encompassed a memorable experience for all those who participated, and established many new friend- ships through the exchange of British and Australian cadets; an eye-opening experience in Belgium and France and new life les- sons for all of us.
The first day consisted of the group travelling and sightseeing around the city centre of London. Although we were jet lagged from a previous 23 hour flight, this was quickly extinguished by the breathtaking view at the top of the London Eye. The second day was cited as our ‘ceremonial London day’ and was a truly sensational experience. As we groomed ourselves to near perfection, did our ties up and placed our blazers on, we caught the tube (train system) to Wellington Square in which we vis- ited the Australian memorial and New Zealand memorial po- sitioned there to memorialise and commemorate the effort by both these countries armed forces. We also stood at the top of the Wellington Arch and appreciated the stunning view of London. The group then walked to Buckingham Palace in which we at- tended the changing of the guard ceremony.... inside the gates. This was an extremely rare opportunity for us to stand inside
the court yard, witnessing the ceremony while the remainder of the population gazed in excitement outside the gates. This is just one of the many rare opportunities we had during the trip. Furthermore, we visited the prestigious Cavalry & Guards Club, in which we had an elegant lunch and had the opportunity to meet two Australian army officers, working in the UK. We then walked to St James Palace, which is not open to the public. We were able to enter the armed entrance of the Palace and partici- pated in a vast array of activities, such as a practical education of the Queen’s Guard and Royal Fusiliers, entered the Queens personal and favorite Chapel and many more. The cobblestone architecture exemplified the unique nature of London and was breathtaking for all of us.
The remainder of the week saw us travel three hours up north to the Royal Lancers, in which we were taken through the history of the unit, by visiting the Officers’ Mess and the Ser- geants’ Mess, which both explicitly visualised the culture of the British armed forces and its history. Furthermore, we were taken down to their weapons armoury and were taken through weap- ons handling training with a number of weapons including the SA 80 and the Glock, which was thrilling for us. We also inter- acted with their armoured vehicles and tanks, alongside more weapons and equipment. Overall, the visit to the Royal Lancers was a truly awe-inspiring experience and allowed for us to ad- vance our knowledge of military history and weaponry.
Day five was another significant day, which saw us visit the Roy- al Hospital Chelsea in which we met veterans and learnt about the history of the site. We visited the Imperial War Museum and then attended the ceremony of the keys at the Tower of London, which has been a tradition for over 700 years. This again was a rare and truly astonishing experience.
Operation Somme Saunter was the name given to our endeavor in France and Belgium from the 30th September to the 2nd of October. Somme Saunter began with a ferry crossing from Lon- don to France, then a coach ride from France to Belgium. The cold, rainy air pierced our skins as we stepped off the coach onto
Exercise Lancer Drive 2016 – Australian Army Cadet Force

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