Exercise Red Crown - Normandy Battlefield Tour - 21st - 29th August 2010 - Page 1


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The 3WW party with a Polish Sherman tank at Mont Ormel

Thirty cadets and staff from eleven squadrons took part in Exercise ‘Red Crown 2010’; the No.3 Welsh Wing tour of the D-Day landing beaches and battlefields of Normandy.  This was the fourth such tour conducted by the No.3 Welsh Wing Battlefield Tour Team and as in previous years, was hugely successful and enjoyable for cadets and staff alike.
Prior to departing on Exercise ‘Red Crown’, the party met for a training day at the former RAF Station at Carew-Cheriton.  This day was to brief and train the cadets on certain aspects of the camp (such as tent-erection, health & hygiene and the tour itinerary), as well as to teach them something about the history of the Normandy Campaign.  As part of this, they had the chance to meet a Normandy veteran.  The story of the training day can be found here
During the ten day tour the 3WW party, led by Flt Lt Mark Davies and Fg Off Chris Jones, explored very many aspects of the Normandy Campaign of 1944: from the airborne and seaborne landings in the early hours of 6th June that began the campaign, to the concrete bunkers and trenches that once held the German defenders, to the hedgerows and villages in the countryside beyond and finally to the scene of the defeat of the German armies in Normandy.  In addition to learning about the history, the cadets were also able to visit the towns, go shopping, sit in the cafés, eat the food, meet the people and totally immerse themselves in the culture of Normandy and France.  For many, this was their first time in another country and the first time they had attempted to communicate with people whose first language was not English or Welsh!
The camp was based at the beautiful Château de Martragny campsite, just to the east of the city of Bayeux.  During the Normandy Campaign, the Château de Martragny served as the Headquarters and Officers’ Mess for RAF Air Landing Ground B7.  Squadrons of RAF Typhoon and Mustang fighter-bombers operated from the field immediately beyond the present-day campsite.  In present times the château has everything you need in a five-star campsite, including a swimming pool and a café-bar; both of which were very welcome relief at the end of hot and dusty days of exploration.
The exercise name ‘Red Crown’ commemorates the badge worn by members of the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division, which fought its way from Normandy to Germany 1944-45.  The division included a great many men from the communities of No.3 Welsh Wing, a great many of whom lost their lives in Normandy.  Wherever the 3WW tour party went in Normandy, French people would recognise the badge embroidered on our shirts.  Some of the more elderly French people even still remember being liberated by our countrymen wearing that badge in 1944.  The primary objective of Ex ‘Red Crown’ is therefore to commemorate and remember the sacrifice of those men – and their comrades in all the other Allied formations – in the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe.

The ‘Red Crown’: badge of the 53rd (Welsh) Division


Here are some testimonials from participants in Exercise Red Crown 2010______________________________________

“I as a cadet got a greater appreciation of those brave men who laid down their lives 66 years ago.  It brought the reality of it home far better than just reading about it or watching films.  That many of them were my age or even younger makes it even harder to swallow and thus never forgettable.”  Cdt Sgt Lloyd Scott
“The Tour was first class and ticked all of the right boxes for me... I have gained much insight into who was where, doing what and against whom and I would like to single out the guides for the encyclopaedic knowledge they have on the subject.”  WO Graham Moore
“I can definitely say that the two Normandy camps I attended have been the best camps I have ever been on. You and your staff have given me the chance to learn new things that I will be able to pass on to others as well as giving me memories that will last forever.”  Cdt FS Martin Rowland
“I have been boring everyone around me with "NORMANDY" since I arrived back.  I could not fault anything; particularly the way everything was organised.  The more I think about it the more I am impressed. I did not realise how much I have learned in just a week. I only wish I had written down where we went every day, as we went to so many places... It was certainly worth every penny and a lot more... My compliments to you and all the staff... the guides certainly know their stuff and compliment each other with their knowledge. The whole week was brilliant.”  CI Graham Harvey
“…the way that you and your team shared that knowledge with myself and the cadets was memorable and has added a new dimension to my understanding of events which changed the lives of us all… Your planning, organisation and situational leadership style was exceptional and all the events that I attended ran like a ‘Swiss Watch’.  It was clear from the outset that the cadets were thoroughly enjoying themselves and although they came from different squadrons, worked and played together as a team.”  Flt Lt (Ret’d) Andrew Maund
We also had a great deal of positive feedback from the cadets, as well as constructive criticism which will go toward making an even better experience for participants in future battlefield tours:

“Best Camp ever!  Enjoyed the educational part and the company.”

“Very interesting.  I learned a lot of new things that we don’t do in school.”

“Had an awesome time.”

“Everything was great.”

“Very good camp.  My best so far.”

“Please make it a longer camp.”

“Thank you very much for the best camp in my life.”

“Learned loads from camp.  Definitely coming next year.”

“Loved everything but want more sod’s opera and less duties.”

“I had such an awesome time.  I loved it all.”

“Favourite part was going to Pegasus Bridge.”

“Really good fun.”

“Staff were brill.  No need for improvement.”

“Less weather and wasps please!”

“It was epic!”

“More sleep would be nice.”

“Camp was all good.  My best camp ever.”

“Thank you for the whole trip.”

Pending the Wing Commander’s permission, we will again go to Normandy next year, though this time with a very different itinerary in order to keep things interesting for those who have already come with us in previous years.  The provisional dates for ‘Red Crown 2011’ are 13-21 August 2011.  Information packs and application forms will be sent out to all squadrons soon.

We hope you can join us in invading Normandy in 2011!

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Overview and pictures kindly supplied by: Flt Lt Mark Davies OC 1574 (Pembroke) Squadron

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