Mike Cann (87-90F), West Buckland School, the CCF and Me.
Mike Cann (87-90F) shares his memories of happy times in the CCF.
I started as a pupil at West Buckland in the September of 1987 having moved to North Devon with my parents from the North West. I remember one of the attractions from being shown round the school before I started was the CCF.
In these years CCF was compulsory for 3rd year and 4th year pupils (Now Years 9 & 10), having reviewed all the forces, these then being Navy, RAF & Army I decided to join the RAF. However having watched my friends in the Army crawling around in the plantation and returning from their exercises caked in mud and with camouflage sticking out of their hats I quite quickly transferred. The Army at this time were affiliated to the Royal Corps of Transport (RCT).
Within the first few months I developed a real passion for the CCF and the Army Cadets and embraced every aspect of the disciplines for drill, training and the activities that went hand in hand with patrols and exercises. Our first foray away from School was a weekend camp for the Recruits only. Here we practiced Drill and marching and at the end of the weekend we all undertook a passing out parade in front of Captain Riley and under the command of our drill Sergeant Dennis Morgan, fortunately we all passed and became fully fledged Cadets.
CCF was held once a week and at the end of each summer term each force would embark on a week-long camp excursion. Our first in Llangollen Wales was slightly daunting but great fun the next two camps were really great though, as I remember the weather was fantastic. These were in Folkstone and Penhale in Cornwall, which was by far my favorite Camp. During the latter of the two camps we undertook the renowned and infamous night exercises, these were brilliant and were an opportunity for us to put in to practice all the hard work and tactics we had learned throughout our training. By the time we went on the Folkstone Camp I had been promoted to Lance Corporal, and by the time we went to Penhale I was a full Corporal. This I loved as it was great to lead and at the same time encourage all the other cadets to be the best they could be.
I also attended a Summer camp with a good friend of mine from School, Chris Heal. Here we spent two hard weeks at the Fox Gymnasium in Aldershot with the Army Physical Training Corps. They really put us through our paces but Chris & I both completed the course and achieved our crossed swords enabling us to be Cadet physical training instructors.
Other than the camps the pinnacle of the year was the annual inspection, on the last of these during my time at West Buckland I was the delighted to be Drum Major for the Corps of Drums and to orgainse and direct the inter forces march and shoot. I was also very lucky on this day to be awarded the Best All round Cadet of the year, which I was and still am very proud of.
I am so pleased to see that the CCF is still a part of West Buckland School and that the new cadet room will see the best all round cadet boards refurbished and any names missed off added. I never felt that it being compulsory to attend the CCF was a chore, quite the opposite, you will get out of the Cadets exactly what you put in. For those year nine pupils who will be signing up to either the RAF or the Army now and in the future, all I will say is: “Be the best you can be and enjoy the CCF to the full, as I and many others before you have done”.