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Additional Squadron Activities

Once you have completed your Army Reserve basic soldier training you will be eligible to attend a full range of additional activities in the UK or other countries around the world.

Exercise MARKET GARDEN - Arnhem

In September 1944, British and American airborne troops landed behind German lines with the aim of capturing a string of river crossings to allow tanks to thrust across the river Rhine into Germany.

However, strong resistance prevented armoured forces linking up with the 1st Airborne Division at the final bridge at Arnhem. Expecting to be relieved within 48 hours of landing, the paratroopers held out through nine days of brutal street-fighting before withdrawing across the river.

Over 1,500 British soldiers were killed at Arnhem and nearly 6,500 captured, and five Victoria Crosses were awarded.

Mention the word “Arnhem” around any Airborne soldier and he’ll instantly know exactly what you’re talking about, the small town in the Netherlands near to the German border is synonymous with Airborne Forces. It was in Arnhem in mid September of 1944 that the Airborne Forces of Great Britain proved their worth and forever set their name in military history. In September 2014 from the 17th to the 21st the commemorative celebrations took place and yet again British paratroopers have jumped onto fields used 70 years ago by troops taking part in that iconic Second World War airborne operation.

Reservist soldiers from 299 Parachute Squadron were lucky enough to attend this 5 day exercise along side their Regular counterparts from 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment. The exercise was a huge attraction for all and included a comprehensive battlefield tour conducted by ex 9 Parachute Squadron’s former Officer Commanding, Col Freddie Kemp, utilising the Dutch tradition of riding everywhere on bikes! A BBQ was also laid on by the Royal Netherlands Army as well as a visit to the Airborne Museum and a sombre visit to the Airborne War Cemetery at Oosterbeek. Soldiers from 299 Parachute Squadron also took part in the mutli-national parachute drop on the Saturday in front of huge crowds, including more than 50 veterans. The Reservists ‘jumped’ along side paratroops from all the Allied countries involved in the operation in 1944 parachuted onto Ginkel Heide Drop Zone near Arnhem.

Before the descent, a service was held at the Airborne Memorial on Ginkel Heide. The crowds stood in silence as the Last Post was played, echoing across the heathland, before wreaths were laid by both serving soldiers and veterans.

Ex PEGASUS CYCLE

Newcastle RVI – Hull – Wakefield – Gateshead

Staff Sergeant Jones from 3 Troop in Gateshead came up with a charity plan to raise money for the Great North Children’s Hospital at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. His plan was to cycle between all the Troop locations, starting from the Newcastle RVI to Hull, Wakefield and then to 3 Troops location in Gateshead, all in 3 days.

The somewhat ragged looking peloton set off from Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary early on the Friday morning. Destination was 1 Troop in Hull One hundred and forty two miles away.
With an eclectic mix of road bikes, borrowed bikes and a thoroughly unsuitable, yet bomb proof cyclocross machine they made steady progress south.

After arriving in Hull it was time to relax and sort out some serious bike admin prior to the next days ride

The next morning nine riders set off on the 55 miles to Wakefield. This was much easier going, staying together most of the way they made it to Wakefield for a late lunch.

Day three saw them riding more as a team. Two abreast and 6 inches off the next mans back wheel. Major Willcock and Sapper Hartley did the hard work up front while the rest of the team tucked in and enjoyed the draft. A much more efficient and faster way to ride, Not only did they look more professional, but their average speed was up around the 18mph mark.
The Angel of the North had never been such a welcome sight! After a few team photographs it was just down the road to Napier Armoury and the finish line.

The total distance covered over the weekend was an epic 320 miles and the total raised for the Great North Children’s Hospital at Newcastle’s RVI was £4369.75.

Annual camp

Whatever your job, there are many aspects to life in the Squadron, from weekends practicing trade training, infantry skills and parachuting, to sports, adventure training and an active social calendar. Annual Camp is often overseas and is the opportunity for The Squadron to get together and deploy as a unit for a two week period. You will be paid for all the training you do including sports and adventure training.

This is the chance to practice skills learnt on weekends over a longer, more testing period of time and often includes the opportunity to attend foreign Armies' parachute courses, earning the right to wear their parachute wings. The Camp usually ends with a 'Squadron Smoker' - an all-ranks social function.

As an alternative to, or in addition to annual camp, there is the opportunity to attend training courses, usually of two weeks duration, to gain various qualifications. These include promotion courses, watermanship or demolitions safety officer and many others.

The strong 'Airborne ethos' within the Squadron makes for a strong team spirit leading to an active social side to our activities, both formal and informal. There are organised socials throughout the year ranging from fancy dress parties to formal Officers and Sergeants Mess functions.

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