Page 103 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 103

     Platoon Commanders and Serjeants of D Company; each more crinkled and creased than the last
In September 2018 a group from 5 RIFLES embarked on an adventurous training exercise to Corsica, to what we quickly found out is a beautiful French-speaking island that was once owned by Italy. We landed in a place called Ajaccio, a small airport with lots of people but no one seemed to be in a hurry. The bus driver, and his other passengers, waited incredibly patiently for us to wrestle and fumble ourselves and rucksacks onto the transport to the main town. This confirmed just how chilled out this place was going be.
As we walked through the main town we couldn’t help but notice the architecture and place names, a noticeable reminder that this place was once Italian. During the stroll we quickly came across the beach where the clearest blue water met a thin strip of sand backed by a high sea wall; the hot weather persuaded us it would be rude not to have a swim!
Before too long it was time to dry off and head up to the camp site and to make the most of the showers and the cool evening to eat, knowing we had the next day to look around the local town. Most of us took this opportunity to venture into town and stock up on comfort snacks and drinks, before we headed off into the mountains the day after. We also made the most of the beach again. After a good night’s rest we were up early to pack everything away and walk to the train station to travel to our start point in Vizzavona, where we would be tackling the 90km GR20 across the south of the island.
We quickly realised this wasn’t your average hill walking AT as within about an hour and a half the heavens opened (not that this mattered too much; we were already drenched in sweat) and it didn’t stop until the following morning. This made certain, rocky, areas of the walk a bit difficult and of course I slipped straight on my backside at the first little stream we crossed. This didn’t detract from the abundance of wildlife available along the way as well as the amazing views across valleys and peaks as we climbed. The only time we ever seemed to be heading downhill was on the last stretch as we were approaching one of the campsites, which were normally well-stocked with a small restaurant and some sort of ablutions. There’s something to be said about waking up in the clouds.
Overall the GR20 route was very physically demanding. Once the rain stopped, the weather was lovely but incredibly warm, so we had to make sure we took on plenty of water regularly. Often the route was mentally testing, especially for those of us not so good with heights as, in some places, we were rock climbing with between 22-28kg on our backs. Needless to say, some of us became pretty good friends with whatever bit of solid ground or rock we could find!
The whole challenge was a great experience and memories were made; we all learnt something about ourselves for one reason or another. It was not easy by any stretch and when we finished in the town of Conca everyone was exhausted and glad of a sit-down with a cold Orangina.
LCpl Newman, B Company
the company managed to collar their unprepared opponents during the middle of their admin period and so the feeding frenzy began. Lt Harrison callously went as far as to kill the future Mrs Harrison as she attempted to organise a hasty defence, and consequently the CSS Battlegroup were taken for a walk. The final and most exciting mission was to be the capture and hold of the Salisbury-sized town of Aranli. Lt Van den Berg was leading as his last action in the Company, and he did so valiantly; right up until the moment that he found himself bogged in on the prelim move. An all or nothing plan was hastily created to adapt for this loss, and the CSM (with Padre Nick Adley sitting next to him as deception) lead a bold and speedy attack straight up the middle, forcing himself into the OODA loop of the napping enemy and capturing the town in minutes. The following recapture of Aranli saw violence befitting of a final attack, and precision marksmanship from the Warrior gunners denied multiple enemy vehicles during the break in. The dismounts were also to play an important role in the battle, with well-executed basic skills and drills in the village causing harsh casualties for the attacking B Company, attached to the exercising battlegroup. To the credit of our sister company, they fought through the urban area in textbook fashion.
A post-exercise presentation ceremony saw many members of D Company being recognised for their work, including Cpl Pamplin for achieving the most Warrior kills. Quite rightly the hard work put in by the REME (notably Sgt Jeffery, Cpl Cook and LCpl Platt) throughout all hours of the exercise was also compli- mented by the beaming OPFOR Commanding Officer. Overall Delta Company enjoyed a fantastic couple of months out on the prairie, achieving both of their objectives. Thirty members of the Company stayed out to work as Observer Mentors for Prairie Storm 2, whilst a refreshing switch to light role training is next for the rest of the Riflemen as the Company deploy to Louisiana on Exercise RATTLE- SNAKE in the coming months.
2Lt Andy Rogers

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