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Half Term CCF Exercises

Ex Recruit Thunder I and Ex WINTER’S BITE VI provided plenty of challenges for St Benedict's CCF Cadets and NCOs, at Pirbright Army Training Centre over half term.

St Benedict's CCF Ex Recruit Thunder
St Benedict's CCF Ex Recruit Thunder I, Pirbright

Congratulations to the 35 Recruits (mostly in Year 9, from St Benedict's and Cardinal Wiseman School) who completed Ex RECRUIT THUNDER I, and to the 36 NCOs and Cadets (also from both schools) who attended Ex WINTER’S BITE VI, the hardest exercise which our CCF conducts.

St Benedict's CCF Ex Recruit Thunder
St Benedict's CCF Ex Recruit Thunder I

Ex RECRUIT THUNDER I was a very challenging introduction to living in the field, with two nights sleeping in the open air. Everyone learned a great deal about themselves and the other Recruits in their sections, and we are proud of the way in which they stayed positive and enthusiastic under adverse conditions.

I thoroughly enjoyed my whole time on this exercise. This was the first time I was able to blank fire the L98A2 Cadet Rifle, which was the main highlight of my CCF career so far. I also enjoyed the lesson on how to optimise your night vision and operate tactically by night and day.

The thing that struck me was that we learned so many things in just 48 hours, which I would definitely not be able to do at school on a Monday evening. I also liked the way we were allowed to do things by ourselves, which helped us become more independent, therefore helping us in other parts of our lives."

Manan G (Year 9)

On the basis of this exercise these Recruits have passed two modules of their CCF (Army) Basic Proficiency: Basic Expedition & Exercise, & Basic Fieldcraft. This means that they are eligible to wear their Basic Fieldcraft qualification badge, and have also achieved their Half Red Star qualification badge. These were presented at parade on Mon 21 Feb.

St Benedict's CCF
St Benedict's CCF Ex Recruit Thunder I

Firing blanks was fun and I really enjoyed the long march through the woods. I think everyone did a good job on instructing, and I learned new things while I was there."

Hannah A (Year 9), Cardinal Wiseman
​ St Benedict's CCF
Ex Winter's Bite VI: recce patrol

Ex WINTER’S BITE VI took place over three days and two nights, in the February cold and rain. Activities included setting up platoon harbours (and moving them when necessary), fighting patrols, recce patrols, observation posts, ambushes, section attacks, and night navigation, all whilst under unpredictable threat of attack from the seniors, acting as insurgents of the Stoney Castle Underground Movement. We were impressed by their determination and good humour.

Many of those who took part had already passed their CCF (Army) Advanced Proficiency fieldcraft module, with a further seven Cadets achieving it on this exercise. They therefore earned the right to wear their Advanced Infantry badge, which was presented at the next parade (Mon 21 Feb).

​ St Benedict's CCF
​ Ex Winter's Bite VI

This was an absolutely fantastic exercise; really challenging and mentally stimulating. 2nd Lieutenant Hutchinson (OP 2012) was absolutely fantastic at making sure that we were all OK and giving advice on what to do. The general concept and the adrenaline rush of setting up an effective ambush were most enjoyable, and I enjoyed the pairs fire and manoeuvre on the second day’s fighting patrol. The weather absolutely chucking it down made the experience slightly too uncomfortable, as our warm kit got wet and it was practically impossible to change into clean clothing without it also getting wet – this made for an uncomfortable last day."

Cdt Dhru B (Year 10)
​ St Benedict's CCF
Ex Winter's Bite VI: snap ambush

I think this was my favourite exercise so far, and I enjoyed every single activity. I especially loved firing our rifles with blanks. The only thing I struggled with was carrying my bergen for three days straight. It was such fun, especially being able to be our Section second-in-command. I loved helping our Section commander and having the role of making sure everything was going well. Even though I could've done a better job taking over my Delta fire team during our section attack, it was still a delightful experience and I am proud to have learned how to lead and take over a firing team. However, it was quite hard to make everyone listen to me - especially when I had to create the rota for everyone's sentry duty, and some people disagreed with their position in the list! Nevertheless, in the end, it went all well, and through supporting each other during the cold nights we spent a wonderful time together.

I think that from this exercise I will have the best memories ever. I talked to a lot of people that I rarely talk to; I gained a lot of confidence through the experience of being a 2IC; and I had a delightful time firing rifles for three successive days.

Everyone did an amazing job creating this exercise. Thanks to each Section’s IC and 2IC, to LCpl Jenkins, Sgt McFadzean, 2Lt Hutchinson, 2Lt Nonoo, Capt Spivey, Sgt Instr Sadiq, Sgt Instr Fenlon, and Capt Hullis. Even at the hardest times - such as when it was pouring with rain or when everyone was exhausted - we were all supported by our instructors. Every single one of them made this event less stressful and amazing.

Dmr Amelia C (Year 10) Cardinal Wiseman

I loved the night recce patrols, and I found it fun having a secret meeting with the enemy leader. The rain was, I guess, a problem, but that was a minor setback. Although it was pretty rainy, it was still a really fun exercise and, in a strange sort of way, I miss it.


Cdt Jamie W (Year 10


  • St Benedict’s School CCF was founded in 1930 and has been in continuous existence since
  • Each year group is named after old boys of St Benedict's and Cardinal Wiseman 
  • St Benedict's CCF wears the cap badge of the Corps of Royal Engineers (their affiliated unit is 135 Geographical Squadron, 42 Regiment RE, based in Ewell)  
  • Teeling (Recruit) Troop is named after Luke and Ambrose Teeling, killed in September 1914 and November 1918 - St Benedict's first and last casualties in the Great War
  • Wilding Troop is named after Pat Wilding, Head Boy of St Benedict's in 1942, killed in action in Italy in 1944
  • Casey Troop is named after Chris Casey, a former pupil of Cardinal Wiseman School, killed in Iraq while serving with 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, in April 2007
  • Ward (HQ) Troop is named after Old Priorian Lt-Col Stephen Ward OBE, MC (Royal Engineers) died in Burma in May 1945
  • The CCF exists in some 365 independent and maintained schools throughout the country


Tagged  Senior  Leadership