Having fun, making friends Down Under
In July 2023, 20 Army Cadets from Middlesex and NW London Army Cadet Force, together with six adult staff, travelled to New Zealand. There they teamed up with 10 cadets from New Zealand and 11 from Australia and completed a multi-country 14 day exchange programme touring New Zealand and Australia.
The WCI was one of the organisations that provided the funds to make this trip possible.
Captain Tim Raison, the ACF’s International Liaison Officer, said the exercise was a huge success:
“This was a tough exercise in terms of the travelling to get there and a very packed programme that our hosts had worked very hard to generate. The time difference of plus 12 hours from the UK did not help as we effectively changed to working a night shift for 15 days with meals at different times. I can honestly say though that the cadets survived if not thrived on the changes and anything else that got thrown at them.
“The big question that we all have to ask after trips like this is did we achieve the mission which was: To take 26 cadets and adults to New Zealand and Australia to meet New Zealand and Australian Army Cadets and participate in an interesting and challenging 16 day programme whilst making new friends and having fun. I can safely say that we did and that we are already looking forward to 2024 where we will be hosting our fellow cadets from New Zealand and Australia.”
The following quotation from a report written by C/Sgt Ellis-Phillips from 19 Company sums things up:
"Looking back over the last two weeks, a couple days after we landed, I can easily say the exercise has been one of the best things I've done, not only in cadets but in my life and if someone came to me and asked if I wanted to do it all over again next week I would say yes in a heartbeat. The experiences I had the opportunity to partake in are things I could potentially never do again and I will cherish that and I know that every cadet involved in the initiative will look back in the exact same way.
"The most generous support provided by the members of the The Company was really much appreciated as it enabled cadets from 216 to take part in this once in a life time opportunity."
A 14 day adventure – in their own words
After various virtual exchanges over the last three years, 20 Army Cadets from Middlesex and NW London ACF together with 6 CFAV travelled to New Zealand and together with 10 from New Zealand and 11 from Australia finally put boots on the ground during July and completed a multi-country 14 day exchange programme touring New Zealand and Australia.
After seemingly endless flights we arrived in Auckland in the early hours of the morning of 1st July and after a few short hours sleep (four actually) we started with a tour around the city including a trip to the top of the Auckland Sky Tower taking part in a stunning VR ride around it. The following day we visited the RNZN dockyard and museum. The dockyard is home to a variety of schools including the catering school who produced a wonderful lunch. The afternoon was spent visiting the dockyard training facilities and although the sun was out there was a chill wind blowing with very sharp showers.
The following morning after a typically early start (0700) we set off for Waiouru (NZ Army main training base), pausing in the City of Hamilton to meet their local cadets for fish and chips before pushing on to our final destination of the day. At Waiouru we were formally welcomed onto the NZ Army national marae Rongomaraeroa-o-ngā-hau-e-whā in a moving ceremony. That evening we had a private behind scenes tour of the Army Museum and the following morning spent a most enjoyable few hours on the simulator ranges before setting off for Wellington.
In the capital city Wellington we explored the New Zealand National Museum (Te Papa) and had a very enjoyable visit to the WeTA workshops who produce all of the special effects for Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Avatar to name but 3 films. We also paid our respects by taking part in the last post service at Pukeahu National War Memorial where we laid a wreath at the Tomb of the NZ Unknown Warrior. The week finished with a formal dinner at Trentham Camp hosted by a senior NZDF officer who was representing the Chief of Army. There was also time for two 19 Coy cadets to be promoted after dinner as well.
Cadet Adams-Lloyd 21 Coy
“The ANZUK adventure in New Zealand has been nothing short of extraordinary. The memories we've made, the places we've seen, and the bonds we've formed will forever be etched in our hearts. I eagerly await what the next phase in Sydney holds for us!”
It was then off to Australia for a tour that included sightseeing in Sydney (including the Sydney Sky Tower), a lap of Mt Panorama motor racing circuit in the minibuses (no records set) before arriving at Cowra. Here we were hosted by the local unit (200ACU) with both accommodation and a great BBQ. The following morning was spent exploring the breakout by the Japanese POWs in 1944 before visiting the Japanese War Cemetery and laying a wreath. We then moved on to Cootamundra where we were hosted by another local unit (256 ACU) who put us up for the night and provided an excellent BBQ. Both of these visits were a bit like speed dating as our hosts were determined to meet as many of us as possible.
The following day we arrived in Canberra and visited the Parliament House before touring the Defence Force Academy (where we had lunch) and then RMC Duntroon (Sandhurst equivalent) where our host was the Academy Sgt Major. That evening there was a tour up to Mount Ainslie before an early night. The following day started with a box meal breakfast before the cadets showed their creativity and ingenuity on the Leadership Reaction Course (command tasks) where they had to work in integrated teams. We also visited the Australian War Memorial and participated in the Last Post ceremony laying a wreath.
Cdt L/Cpl Windsor (19 Coy)
I loved the last post service and I will remember that experience for the rest of my life.
There was then the first of two endex dinners before we returned to our spartan (but comfortable) accommodation to prepare for the inevitable early morning start!
The following day we visited the Science and Technology museum Questacon and then set off for Sydney and our accommodation at Holsworthy Camp. On arrival in Sydney it was time for a quick shower and change for the endex dinner Mk2. Here the ViP was commander of the NSW Cadet Brigade (Colonel Andrew White) who I hosted and who spent time to talking to all of the adults and cadets as well. As ever the food was delicious and plentiful and after dinner the Colonel presented Commanders coins to three of the cadets (one from each nation) before much to my surprise presenting me with a Commandants commendation. The evening came to close with our New Zealand friends presenting the NZ Cadet Corps Haka. A fitting close to a fantastic trip.
Our new friends from Down Under
Our friends from New Zealand also commented:
"ANZUK 2023 was a fantastic trip because, well you can’t sum up a trip like this in one sentence sir, but if we must it would be because of the eye opening experiences that we in New Zealand may find extraordinary but others find ordinary and to have that kind of group put together is really a way to show each other how different we really are."
"ANZUK 2023 was an amazing trip as it was a privilege to meet cadets from different countries and learn how we operate differently and compare what opportunities are available to each other through our respective cadet organisations."