Royal Engineers spike Navy guns in thrilling finale

HMS COLLINGWOOD held the annual Junior Leaders’ Field Gun Competition on Friday afternoon (July 8), following a successful Seniors’ Challenge which took place at the Fareham-based training establishment’s popular Open Day last Saturday (July 2); drawing thousands of visitors and residents to the event.

As reported earlier this week, the competition is similar to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity Field Gun, but is predominantly aimed at younger crew members aged 16 to 24, who have either only recently joined the Armed Forces or are studying at college.

In addition to the Armed Forces, crews competed from the Sea Cadets and University Technical Colleges (UTC) from across the country as they built on the Team Works; each team entering the competition with little or no prior experience of Field Gun and only had one week to train before the finals this week.

This featured as part of the ‘Junior Leaders’ Challenge, which is the only competition open specifically for new recruits and youths, offering them a chance to work as a team and challenge themselves in a unique setting. It is hoped that the enthusiasm and professionalism gained by the crews will encourage them to take part in the main Royal Navy Field Gun Competition or mentor junior crews in future years.

Played out in front of a large crowd including friends, family, and fellow personnel, it was the Royal Engineers crew that took the Trophy following a thrilling final event in hot temperatures; beating HMS Sultan, HMS Collingwood’s Victory Squadron and UTC Portsmouth.

And Royal Engineers’ crew member Sapper Matt Ward, 20, was delighted at being part of the winning team as he said: “It was amazing to win today. Representing the Corps is fantastic, this is a big deal.”

The UTC Portsmouth crew didn’t go away empty handed as they won the trophy for best UTC crew in the competition, delighting members. Crew member Cayden Guyett-Smith, 17, from Gosport, said: “It’s been amazing, I’ve never done anything like this before. Winning that trophy has left me speechless.”

Fellow crew member Alfred Calvert, also 17, from Portsmouth, said: “It was brilliant. We’d never even seen the kit before Monday and to win that trophy is amazing.”

Captain Catherine Jordan, Commanding Officer HMS Collingwood, said “Junior Leaders is so much more than a competition. Whilst the competition is an inevitable focus, the event is a week-long immense experience for young people, in a Naval environment to learn about themselves, their crew mates and leadership and teamwork skills. This is a unique event that reflects the core ethos of the Services.”

PICTURED: The photographs, Crown copyright and courtesy of Keith Woodland, show the Royal Engineers crew with their trophy; the UTC Portsmouth crew in action; Victory Squadron going great guns and Royal Engineers taking the strain.