Norfolk-based troops dine on bugs and send smoke signals in back-to-basics exercise
- Credit: Cpl Andy Reid
Norfolk-based soldiers found themselves eating insects and sending smoke signals as part of a survival exercise in the north of England.
About 150 soldiers from the Swanton Morley-based 1st Queen’s Dragoons Guards - known as the Welsh Cavalry - took part in a two-day survival competition in Northumberland to master the basics of staying alive in potentially dangerous situations.
This included prioritising basic needs such as building improvised shelters, finding and cleaning water for drinking, lighting fires and learning how to live off the land.
Captain Charlie Byrd, who ran the exercise, said: “Surviving in a strange environment can be extremely stressful, particularly for our younger soldiers who have only recently joined the regiment and have no previous operational experience.
“Exercises like this will give them the confidence to cope with and adapt to extreme situations.
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“The competition has improved their readiness and effectiveness ahead of any future deployments and given them the opportunity to learn how to cope with stress and work as a team.”
Following initial training, troops were split into teams of four before heading out on a 45km patrol that tested not only the survival skills they had learnt, but also their fitness and stamina.
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Carrying only essential survival equipment, each team had up to 36 hours to complete the patrol, passing six checkpoints and four challenge points along the route.
At each challenge point, there was a survive, evade, resist, extract (SERE) task in which teams put into practice their newly-learnt skills.
Whilst the aim of the training was for the soldiers to take away basic survival skills it was also about teamwork.
Trooper Ewan Haden, from Bridgend in South Wales, who joined the Army just over a year ago, said: “It’s the first time I’ve done a survival exercise.
“It’s been hard on the feet and ankles, but it’s been good to test the theory we’ve learnt.”
The 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards form part of the reconnaissance component of the Desert Rats.
The regiment specialises in seeking out the enemy and understanding how they operate.