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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.

Article Submitted by:-
Cpl Richardson - 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron
25 Mar 02

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