Historic military units from the UK and Canada converged at Royal Air Force Wittering on Tuesday for the annual inter–services competition, the Countess of Wessex Cup.
HMS Daring, 5th Battalion; the Rifles (5 Rifles) and Royal Air Force Wittering all competed for the cup.
Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex is Ship’s Sponsor, Royal Colonel and Honorary Air Commodore of each unit respectively. Unfortunately the team from HMS Daring was unable to compete.
The contest was expanded to include other units with which Her Royal Highness has formal links. The Countess of Wessex is Colonel-in-Chief of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, the Corps of Army Music and the Canadian Army’s Lincoln and Welland Regiment.
Traditionally the competition involves very demanding physical challenges which, on occasion, also test the teams’ problem solving abilities. As in previous years, Her Royal Highness arrived to watch the competition herself.
The tests ranged from working out how to extract a casualty from a car without touching the floor and stretcher race, to a backbreaking physical endurance challenge before moving to the gym for the competition finale.
The visitors from Canada nailed the first challenge and were well ahead of the next nearest team. The Lincoln and Welland regiment is an infantry unit with a history that dates back to 1794 and Her Royal Highness has visited them on three occasions as Colonel in Chief.
Sergeant Jeremy Gamble of the Lincoln and Welland regiment was deeply impressed by how his team had coped with the tests that had been thrown at them, describing their performance as ‘awesome’.
Group Captain Richard Pratley is the Station Commander at RAF Wittering. He said: “These challenges looked seriously tough and we’ve asked a lot from the teams, but they’ve all shown great fighting spirit and properly thrown themselves at the competition.”
After the stretcher race and the physically excruciating endurance event the teams looked exhausted. The day was not done though; press ups, sit ups, exercise bikes, rowing machines and treadmills - all in exhausting succession formed the competition finale.
The members of the team from Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Corps of Nursing had not met each other until the night before the challenge began.
Their Commanding Officer Col Jane Davis said: “Being a corps rather than a regiment, we’re deployed across the whole army. Two of our nurses are newly qualified and we’ve got a real mix in the team. They’ve done brilliantly.”
After a close counting of scores it was apparent that RAF Wittering’s team had emerged victorious. It was a hard fought victory with the Corps of Army Music coming a close second. Group Captain Pratley was, needless to say, very happy with the result.
He said: “All the teams have worked really hard, they can all leave with pride intact – they absolutely gave it everything. Of course, it’s nice to have the competition here and it’s great to win, I am really proud of our team they’re a credit to the station.”