12 August 2010

Day 10

Day ten saw the team cycle to Merville Barracks, Colchester. En route, with torrential rain and an electric storm slowing the pace, and making cycling dangerous we took cover in Colchester golf club. Showing tremendous, on the spot kindness, we were immediately led into the members area, wearing only our soaking wet lycra, breaking every rule in the dress code. The members were very generous and we ended up being feted and very well looked after. Thank you.

With the rain storm unrelenting, we were soon back on the bikes to ensure that we arrived on time (exactly 15.00) to be greeted by the national press and radio. With some outstanding renditions of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and passing cars turning up their stereos and winding down their windows, the team cycled into the barracks on a high and were met by two hundred of Bens Comrades from 7th Parachute Royal Horse Artillery and the flashing of cameras, lighting up the overcast day. After greeting Ben, a very fast photo shoot and interviews for ITV Anglia, local radio and print journalists so that no one caught pneumonia; we met Sergeant Rudy Fuller. When Ben was lying in the minefield having been blown up, it was Rudy who was first to sprint through the minefield with no regard for his own life in order to save Ben's. An incredible character, Rudy showed us into the best accommodation of the trip, large rooms decked out in Ikea furniture, with en-suites, which after living rough for 9 days was an absolute luxury.

The night really kicked off once we arrived for the BBQ hosted by Bens regiment. Set in what looked like a converted hanger, with the "light guns" having pride of place, the team met Bens comrades. Meeting Bens regiment gave the team a far better understanding of what Ben had undertaken in the army and of the 7th Parachute Royal Horse Artillery. Simply, the 7th Parachute Royal Horse Artillery are trained to parachute into battle with their guns, providing the "punch" with artillery support. We found out nearly everyone and everything in the army has been nicknamed, Bens regiment is no exception, they are known as the "nine mile snipers" due to their incredible accuracy.

We were told the extremes of "P Company" (test to be accepted into the regiment) from the milling (an all out brawl) which might be outlawed due to possible human rights issues, to the log race; all of which enables a soldier the honour of wearing the maroon beret. Bens friends also gave a great insight into Ben, telling us what an outstanding soldier he is and story's of his exploits on tour. The night really gave clarity to the camaraderie within the regiment.

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