15th March saw the Upper Sixth depart on their final exercise, ex LAST STAND. After a very welcome chance for a nap on the way to the exercise ground, we were welcomed to Minley (Mindovia) by a quick 1km march to our Forward Operating Base (FOB). There we prepared ourselves for an introductory night in the field, to warm up our memories of fieldcraft; and grab some food and sleep in preparation for a tough few days ahead.
Day 1 saw us through a rotation with the Royal Engineers, where we got chance to talk to several serving personnel from the Geographic Regiment, Dog Section and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD). All stands were very enjoyable, even for those students who are not being sponsored by the Army, as it gave us an interactive insight into the force that we will all work with in our future careers. A highlight for many of us in this rotation was the bridge building, where we used modules to create a bridge that crossed the estuary at Minley Lake. Several of the platoon then crossed over to the other side, considered successful as no-one found themselves soaked through until the sun turned into torrential rain!
That evening, Platoons 1+2 took to the FOB, and 3+4 to the Patrol Base (PB) for a night under bashers. This marked the start of the exercise, and all platoons had the chance to take on recce and fighting patrols (with the aid of blank firing), as well as stags throughout the night; this meant that we had to be able to pack up our kit and be ready to move at any point in case of enemy interference. Day 2 saw the continuation of the exercise, and throughout the day and into the evening there was increased activity from the resident enemies, the ‘Werewolves’, led by the formidable Lt Gen Pedro Schmitt. At 1400, Platoons 1 and 2 moved out to the PB, while Platoons 3 and 4 ambushed the FOB to make a statement to the enemy – it certainly had an impact on their interaction for the rest of the day and evening.
It got very cold as the weekend went on, and with snow settling, it made it harder for the platoons to attack the enemy, but with perseverance and persistence, the enemy were fortunately defeated on the early morning of day 3, meaning that Welbeck students had successfully saved Mindovia.
After a weekend of changed sleeping patterns, and section determination to complete a task, the Upper Sixth students came away tired and accomplished having completed our final exercise at DSFC. We experienced a huge variety of difficult weather conditions, but endured the cold and showed true officer potential when supporting each other throughout the weekend. Many of us were pushed outside our comfort zone, but learnt a lot from the practical teaching and guidance of our Directing Staff.
On behalf of the year, a huge thank you to the military staff for making our last exercise so memorable, and enduring the weather with us. The exercise was very successful, and we will definitely look back with both good memories of what we had learnt and the opportunities we had to put our learning into practical scenarios; as well as the knowledge that we won’t have to endure such cold conditions anytime soon!
Another thanks also to the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme (DTUS) students who supported the exercise as enemy over the weekend, I am sure it was very enjoyable for our old Upper Sixth to find some revenge on us after a year apart!