Our RFCA is able to contribute small amounts of funding to Adventurous Training or Battlefield Sports that contribute to the wellbeing of the Reserves and Cadets. Two units who were successful in securing some funding for a Battlefield Study Tour from 11th to 14th November are 677 Squadron, 6 Army Air Corps and 678 Squadron 6AAC. A group of almost thirty reservists took a trip to the landing grounds at Arnhem for Remembrance with support from East Anglia RFCA and South East RFCA.
The funding provided by the RFCA contributed to purchasing food on the trip, dubbed Exercise Blue Remember. 677 (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) Squadron headquarters are located at our Army Reserve Centre in Bury St Edmunds, but the Squadron also has reservists training out of our Norwich Army Reserve Centre and Wattisham airfield in Ipswich. The reservists of 677 Squadron are trained to provide ground support for Apache helicopters, including re-arming similarly to 678 (Rifles) Squadron who have a unit that trains out of our Luton Army Reserve Centre.
“This Battlefield Study Tour of the landing grounds of Arnhem afforded us the opportunity to study the harsh realities that faced British soldiers during Operation MARKET GARDEN, arguably the most disastrous airborne operation of WW2,” said 2Lt Seb White, who led the exercise.
Through the application of the Army Leadership Code, Exercise BLUE REMEMBER encouraged the personnel to examine and compare British warfighting in 1944 with modern strategies. For soldiers of the Army Air Corps, this was also a unique opportunity to explore the heritage and origins of the corps in the Glider Pilot Regiment. Members of 6AAC were able to stand on the landing grounds of Geinkel Heath and reflect upon their predecessors’ endeavours in Oosterbeek, and in Arnhem, for the limited few who made it through.
The exercise first retraced the steps of the Glider Pilot Regiment and 1st Parachute Battalion from Geinkel Heath to Oosterbeek. The group visited the site of the original command post in Oosterbeek at the Hartenstein Hotel Airborne Museum. The museum’s collection of artifacts brought the journey to life with personal stories of the soldiers who were there.
On Sunday 13th November, the squadrons were honoured to be invited to lay a wreath during the Remembrance service hosted by the Royal British Legion Holland Branch at the Oosterbeek Cemetery.
In the final phase of the exercise, Service Personnel gathered at Oulde Kerk or ‘Old Church’, the command post from which the bloody last stand of Operation MARKET GARDEN took place, to see the damaged buildings that remain and to reflect on the soldiers who lost their lives.
“All in all, a memorable and informative trip which introduced critical lessons of leadership to our junior soldiers embarking on their army careers, and afforded an opportunity for reflection for the more senior personnel,” concluded 2Lt Seb White.