Army Team makes history
beating the Navy at their own game.
A team of Army engineers
from Wattisham airfield, near Ipswich, Suffolk, made
history at HMS Collingwood on Saturday 18 June 2005 when
they became the first non-Navy team ever to win the
prestigious Royal Navy Field Gun Competition in its
The 18-man crew plus
trainers from 7 Air Assault Battalion, Royal Electrical
and Mechanical Engineers (7 Air Asslt Bn REME) was
"euphoric" after outgunning its hosts and beating 17
other teams to win this prestigious Navy competition,
In a intense final, which
saw the favourites from the earlier heats, Devonport
Naval Base, finish last, the 7th Air Assault Battalion
REME team romped home, with the Navy's Collingwood A
team coming second.
They completed the final
in one minute and twenty-two point three seconds taking
the Brickwood Trophy, a solid silver reproduction of a
12-pound field gun and its crew of 7 sailors.
inter-service rivalry, the Army team was particularly
pleased to have achieved victory in the same year the
Navy celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Battle of
Field Gun Officer Major
Julian Pemberton-Pigott led the challenge. He said the
whole crew were "euphoric" after its success and paid
tribute to the team members.
"In the final
no-one could touch us and we ran home in a blistering
pace. I'm hugely proud of the whole crew for their
dedication, devotion and sheer effort. To win in the
200th anniversary year of Trafalgar is fantastic."
The 7 Air Asslt Bn crew,
part of Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade, was the
first Army team ever to be invited to participate in the
competition when it took part in 2002. Since then
they've learnt quickly and were leading the field going
into the final race in the 2004 competiton, only to
This year the crew had no
such problems. After seven runs, 7 Air Asslt Bn were in
second place going into the final, where the 18 teams
competing were whittled down to the best six. Maj
was more on the Navy crews. They knew full well what we
could do and what we did last year.
"Going into the
final the guys knew exactly what they had to do and the
final sprint back to the finish line was absolutely
immense. When we came in for the final run home we
broke the track record for the last 40 yards in 5.5
watching said three different crews set up for the run
home together and it all went silent as the Army crew
disappeared like it was on fire. The other Field Gun
crews were great with people saying, 'Well done, you
should have won it last year.'"
Commodore Adrian Nance
OBE, Commodore of the Maritime Warfare School and
Commanding Officer of HMS Collingwood said of the event:
"I am delighted
that the Army and RAF were able to take part in this
historic Field Gun Competition again this year. The
fact that the Army won is a reflection of the courage,
stamina and teamwork that is encouraged in all of our
Army should make the most of that winning feeling
because the Navy will be back in force next year!"
Brigadier Ed Butler,
Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said:
"This is great
news and thoroughly well deserved for 7 Air Asslt Bn
after all its hard work. This is an excellent example
of the Brigade's ethos and its ability to rise
successfully to any challenge. Winning the competition
clearly demonstrates the agility and mental and physical
robustness of all my soldiers and officers.
"No doubt 7 Air
Asslt Bn will defend their hard won title next year.
Perhaps in 2006 it should be renamed the Army Field Gun
Devonport's field gun
team achieved the fastest time and managed to obtain 6th
position in the final with a time of one minute and
thirty four point two nine seconds. The 18-stong team
took home the Powerful Trophy for the fastest single run
at one minute and twenty point nine four seconds and the
Powerful Cup for receiving the least amount of penalties
in the competition.
The Devonport team, which
was made up from volunteers around Naval Base, was also
awarded the Powersport Cup for the best aggregate time
over the seven competitions. They also brought home the
Devonport Command Trophy for being the fastest Devonport
crew beating teams from HMS Raleigh, Britannia Royal
Naval College and HMS Seahawk.
Another surprise in the
competition was the Abbey Wood Field Gun Crew's
performance, which was way above expectation as they
eventually ran out as as winners of the Plate 1 final.
The team's First Trainer
Lt Paddy Carbery RN of Abovewater Warfare Systems (AWS
"Abbey Wood are
considered to be the 'non-league' outsiders of Field Gun
due to the difficulties in availability of personnel and
18 teams took part in the
competition that involves moving and firing a field gun
and carriage with the weight equivalent to a small car.
It also includes a series of precision moves including
two wheel changes. Due to safety reasons the obstacles,
traditionally part of the event, have been removed from
The competition was once
part of the Royal Tournament with the objective to haul
a 2,000lb field gun and limber (ammunition case) along
an 85-yard course, fire 6 rounds and return in the
The first competition was
held on 28 August 1907. In 2001 HMS Collingwood set the
present record of 1 minute 18.88 seconds.
originated from an action during the Boer War in 1899
which prevented the British garrison town of Ladysmith
falling to the Boers. As Boer troops advanced an urgent
message was sent requesting that Naval field guns be
rushed to Ladysmith from HMS Powerful which was moored
more than 100 miles away at Durban.
The guns were transported
by train where a Naval Brigade of 280 men unloaded and
manhandled them to the front just in time to check the
advancing Boers. The town was besieged for four months
but held out until its relief in February 1900. The
feat caught the public imagination and the tournament
The final results of the
Filed Gun Competition were as follows:
1st - 7th Air
Assault Battalion REME
2nd - HMS Collingwood A crew
3rd - HMS Heron
4th - HMS Caledonia
5th - HM Naval Base Portsmouth
6th - HM Naval Base Devonport
Though the strength and
stamina of the Forces' crews in the Field Gun
Competition wowed the thousands of spectators who had
travelled from far and wide to HMS Collingwood to
witness this spectacle, an action packed day of
activities were also on offer.
Further attractions at
this year's event were the Raiders Parachute Display
Team who opened the day by literally falling from the
sky in an outstanding display of courage. Other key
events included the displays by the Honda Imps motorbike
team, Goshawks Gymnasts, Tigers Motorcyclists, together
with the Royal Marines Band and the Volunteer Cadet
Corps' very own Field Gun Competition.
With a wide variety of
other stalls, attractions and side-shows, it is hoped
that Collingwood will again be able to make generous
contributions to charities within the local community.