HMS Bristol is an ex-service destroyer. Although the Air Training
Corps is primarily associated with RAF activities, HMS Bristol gives
young air cadets the opportunity to see what life in the Royal Navy
is like. The ship, once a fully equipped combat ship, is now an
accommodation training ship. Young people from all 5 cadet services
(Sea Cadet Corps, Air Training Corps, Army Cadets, Marine Cadets,
and Combined Cadet Force) use the facilities that the ship itself
and the surrounding area have to offer.
On my premier visit to HMS Bristol, I had just been promoted ten
days previously. I was shocked to find that when we arrived 3 and
a half hours later than scheduled that I was the only cadet N.C.O
(non-commissioned officer). Even though the officers on my squadron
had found me to be competent enough to be a Corporal, I wasn't really
confident in myself. But all that soon changed.
On the first morning, which was a Saturday, as I visited the training
ship for a weekend we were required to be ready to march to breakfast
at 0630hrs. As I was the senior cadet on the camp, I was responsible
for rounding cadets up and organising them. The mess (where breakfast,
lunch etc is served) is three quarters of a mile away from where
the ship is anchored. This takes around 15 minutes to march to.
We had three quaters of an hour to eat breakfast, once everyone
had finished as a flight we did drill for around 20 minutes until
the base's ensign is called. This is done at sunrise, and everything
that is occurring on the base, i.e. moving vehicles, drill squads,
including indoor activities, stop. This is one Royal Navy tradition
that I personally don't understand, and should I be fortunate to
return then I shall enquire about the meaning of this.
Over the period of the weekend we had the opportunity to visit
many of the surrounding museums, including HMS Victory, which was
Nelson's flagship during the battle of Trafalgar and the ship that
he met his death on. We found out some very interesting yet very
comical facts during the tour of this ship. For example, even though
Nelson had been a seaman for the majority of his life, he didn't
want a sea burial, therefore when he was shot, the sailors on board
the ship pickled his body in a barrel of Brandy. We visited Fort
Nelson, which was a napoleonic fortification that was erected to
protect the south coast from invasion. It was one of a long chain
of fort built along the south coast, when linked together they could
open fire on any of the area between them. We went to the marines
museum, the Royal Navy's equivalent of an infantry, here we learned
how the marines were formed and various other facts about how the
marines are run today. We went onboard a submarine with an ex-service
man who had served on board a submarine. All in all it was a very
interesting weekend. I learned many things and I gained a lot of
experience because I had been forced to think on my own. This, I
think, has enabled me to become the N.C.O that I am today.
I made a lot of friends on this camp, some that I will never forget.
I still remain in contact with some of the cadets that I met on
this camp. Many live as far afield as Rugby or even Harborne. This
just goes to show how the air cadets can broaden your horizons and
enable you to mix with people that otherwise you would have nothing
to do with.
All in all a very good trip, maybe next time there is opening I
will be able to go on the week trip. I would recommend it to anyone.
HMS Bristol type 82 destroyer
Cadet accommodation on HMS Bristol
Below decks on HMS Bristol
HMS Bristol alongside the
RN training facility HMS Excellent.