Students from Bristol University Officer Training Corps joined soldiers from 7 Armoured Brigade, known as the Desert Rats, in Hohne Garrison, North Germany for their annual Training Camp.
During the two-week camp they took part in a myriad of different challenges and training drills, ranging from assaults on enemy-held buildings to test their ability to operate in built up areas, to planning section attacks as well as continuing to develop their understanding of orders and tactics. All these skills will be needed, should they opt for a career in the Army.
One of the 120 students taking part in the training camp was Officer Cadet Andrew Pring, from Guildford, who is studying aeronautical engineering. Speaking after his part in an attack on the occupied buildings Andrew said: “One of my roles in the University Officer Training Corps (UOTC) is to assist with the running of Waterloo Company and training camps like this enable me to help the junior cadets develop their own leadership skills as well as enhancing my own style of leading.”
The 21-year-old, who has been in the UOTC for three years, previously attended a training camp in Cyprus where he had to deal with the added difficulty of the heat. However, it is not all training, assaults and camps. The UTOC offers the students the chance to try many different adventure training activities and sports they would never have tried or considered before.
As Andrew said: “I am have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to try skiing, sailing and scuba diving in France, Denmark and Malta, so I am getting to experience different countries as well as trying a new activity.” He also added: “The UOTC offers the chance of real responsibility and leadership experience as well as offering a great insight into how the Army does its business. After finishing my degree next year I aim to attend the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.”
Parallel to the building attacks, Officer Cadet Benjamin Wilberforce-Ritchie, 20, from Oxshott was involved in preparing for a section attack where the enemy were hidden in a wooden enclave. He said: “The UOTC is a fantastic arena in which to boost your independence, build your confidence and increase your knowledge of life skills. It is really sociable and you get to make some great friends.”
Benjamin, similarly has tried adventurous training and through it gained a licence in sky diving after attending a course in the south of France. He said: “Had I not been in the UOTC I do not think I would have ever considered sky diving, but it was fantastic. Being in the UOTC provides you with so many openings.” Benjamin is also considering a career in the Army after finishing his studies.
After completing their rigorous training with a Company-led attack on an enemy-held hospital, the students had three days’ down-time for a cultural visit to Hamburg, to try out various water sports or
visit the nearby Bergen-Belsen concentration camp – which many students decided to go to.
Speaking at the end of the camp Commanding Officer (CO) Lieutenant Colonel Ben Tomkins, Rifles, said: ”The Cadets have all been put through their paces using command and control and experienced the leadership and command appointments that could one day become a reality. The camp has been a huge success and the permanent staff has received good positive feedback.”
For Ben the training camp to Germany was particularly poignant as it was to be his last as CO of the University Officer Training Corps and he remarked: “All the Cadets have been amazing, with great careers ahead of them be it civilian or military and I wish them all the very best. It’s a great a way to finish.”
The students are now enjoying their summer holidays before the next year’s training begins in September. Further information on Bristol University Officer Training Corps can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org calling 01985 223800.