6 RAR – Road to winning the Duke of Gloucester Cup and Gold at Cambrian Patrol 18
The Foundation was very proud to support 6 RAR Duke of Gloucester Cup winning team's tour of the Western Front battlefields. Their year long quest achieved amazing results. This is their story.
The year started like any other, with new march-ins finding their feet, platoons establishing their identities and obligatory force preservation training. The new year would also mark a significant milestone for the battalion with the transition from light infantry to mechanisation under Plan Keogh. With this busy start, the battalion would commit over 90% of its personnel to operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan on TGT VII/VIII and FPE 10/11, with TGT VII deploying as early as May. This left elements of SPT Coy, Admin Coy and B Coy to maintain business as usual in a ‘Readying Brigade’.
Under Plan Keogh, B Coy would be tasked with raising the first Mechanised Combat Team for 6 RAR since Vietnam, and contribute a combat team to 2/14 LHR in support of Battlegroup Warfighter, BDE LFX and finally HAMEL, with only a few months to prepare for this enamours task. This required significate commitment from every person in the company to prepare for these exercises, as this was the first time most of the company had ever worked with M113AS4s within a combined arms context.
With Bravo Company heavily consumed with growing a mechanised capability from scratch, a supporting effort was to identify a suitable team to represent 6 RAR at this year’s DoG Cup. Immediately CPL Joshua Conaty and LCPL Sam Evans, among other JNCOs, quickly expressed interest in competing in DoG Cup. Knowing the company’s requirement to ‘the road to HAMEL’, these men were ready to face any challenge to commit a capable team to represent 6 RAR at the competition, even if they were required to participate in the upcoming field exercises.
Straight away, CPL Conaty and LCPL Evans quickly assembled a team from the company with three members coming from support. Once the team was identified, their focus shifted to developing a robust training program to best prepare them for the competition. Shortly after, a back brief to the CO, LTCOL J Bywater, was presented and endorsed to commence training. However, there was one more hurdle, a three month field exercise on the horizon. To give the team the best chance of success, OC B Coy, MAJ J Kamp, had to sacrifice his best section from the upcoming exercises, to allow them to focus on their preparation – the decision was easy, we needed to win DoG Cup!
Now the team had the support from the CO and OC to be excluded from the company’s field training exercises, they could turn their focus to training the section for DoG Cup. Immediately, CPL Conaty and LCPL Evans begun instilling a warrior mindset which permeated through the section and their belief begun to show immediately. This attitude and winning culture set the foundation for the rest of their training and following them into the competition.
The lead up training would have to be done with minimal support or resourcing as the company would be deployed to SWBTA and all resources were consumed by OPGEN requirements for TGT and FPE. This meant they were often required to conduct their own range practices and deliver their own lessons. This was a positive driving force behind their success as they were required to display extreme ownership, and they could only blame themselves for failure to achieve the standard they set.
SGT M Barnes, PTI 7 CB, developed the physical training program for the team and stated ‘outcomes observed as a result of this style of training involved significant improvements of aerobic capacity & muscular strength, leading to improved load carriage, 1500m time trial, and overall event performance. Despite the physiological improvements there were two key takeaways from this preparation; the importance of culture, and use of evidence-based, periodised programming to individualise the approach towards training. A hallmark element defining the success of this program was from the beginning the group set a strong “team-first” culture. This ensured each soldier bought in to the process and strived to optimise their own performance to enable successful team performance. The program itself required individual screening of performance metrics to enable quantifiable training loads to be prescribed. This individualised approach veers from the status quo of regular training programs within Defence, aiming to develop a “one size fits all” broad brush approach towards training. This only strengthens the requirement for the application of evidence-based programming adapted to fit the unique needs of the group and individuals’.
Phase 1: DoG Cup victory
The DoG Cup is the premiere Infantry military skills competition designed to pit the very best sections from across the Royal Australian Regiment, competing for the coveted Duke of Gloucester Cup trophy. The competition tests soldiers across foundation warfighting skills, marksmanship training and physical endurance while under immense fatigue. In 2018, 6 RAR placed first despite the battalion being deployed on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Further results are listed below:
1st place - overall DOG Cup 1st place - RSMs trophy presented to the Section Commander of the winning team (CPL Conaty)
1st place - The Gurkha trophy – Awarded for best overall marksmanship
2nd place - Foundation Warfighting trophy
2nd place - Falling plate shoot trophy
3rd place - LCPL Evans came third place in competition for The Roache Trophy, awarded to the best individual soldier across all teams
6 RAR DoG Cup Team: CPL Joshua Conaty, LCPL Sam Evans, PTE Connor Jones, PTE Andrew Doyle, PTE Dylan Malycha, PTE Nokolaj Helle-Broe, PTE Mitchell Rozynski, PTE Michael Farrer and PTE John Lock
Phase Two: Cambrian Gold
Exercise Cambrian Patrol (Ex CP) 2018 is an international military skills exercise conducted annually in Brecon Beacons, Wales. This year, 137 teams across the British Army, Navy, Air Force, Reserve Forces and 34 International Teams took part in the exercise. Ex CP 18 was conducted from 12 – 21 Oct 18, with the Australian contingent allocated phase six of the exercise, 17 – 19 Oct 18.
Exercise participants included an eight-person section consisting of a Patrol Commander, a 2IC and six soldiers. Ex CP 18 comprised of a series of military skills stands conducted over 75 – 80km in 48h. The stands assessed this year included; leadership, battle procedure, navigation, fieldcraft, obstacle/river crossing, first aid and casualty (CASEVAC) procedure, communications skills including orders, CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) procedures, SERE (Survive, Evade, Resist, Extract), Artillery Target Procedure, equipment and weapon recognition and patrol reports.
This year 6 RAR achieved a Gold medal. Through inspired leadership and shared belief, the team achieved a feat that had only occurred once before with 2 RAR in 2013.
6 RAR Cambrian Patrol Team: CPL Joshua Conaty, LCPL Sam Evans, PTE Andrew Doyle, PTE Dylan Malycha, PTE Nokolaj Helle-Broe, PTE Mitchell Rozynski, PTE Michael Farrer and PTE John Lock
Phase Three: Battlefield Tours
The team made their first trip to the 1st Australian Division memorial on what was a beautiful sunny afternoon. It’s in a quiet, farming village and we could hear cows and sheep in the distance. Next to the memorial is grassed field where some local children were playing soccer.
Exactly 100 years ago, this place was vastly different. The Battle of Pozieres was a seven week long fight, where Australia would suffer 23,000 casualties, the worst overall toll from a single battle.
It is hugely overwhelming to stand on the same ground as John Leak, Arthur Blackburn, Thomas Cooke, Claude Charles Castleton, Percy Smythe and Albert Jacka. The same gourd these extraordinary men, who we’ve all revered our entire career, have fought on and some died on.
In my hand, I carried beret with the skippy badge shining in the sun. It has significance here. Though it was not till over 30 years later, its motto ‘Duty First’ was born of this sacred ground.
CPL Joshua Conaty
LCPL Evans at the Australian 1st Division Memorial Site at Pozieres.
PTE Rozynski, the youngest member of the Australian Cambrian Patrol Team, laying a wreath at the resting place of Private Percy Linwood, B COY, 52nd Battalion, on behalf of the 6 RAR Association. PTE Linwood was eighteen when he was killed in action during an attack on Mouquet (“Moo-cow” to the diggers) farm. He now lays in Serre Road Cemetery, Beaumont Hamel.
The Battle of Fromelles was the single darkest day, and the bloodiest night, in Australia’s military history. In a single action, the Australian 5th Division saw more casualties than in the Boer, Korean, and Vietnam wars combined: 2,000 dead, with 3,500 wounded or captured. When you stand on the ground and look out over the flat expanse of fertile farmland that it is today, it defies belief.
The Cambrian Patrol team were lucky enough to be able to attend this sobering battlefield on the second day of our battlefield tour in northern France. In a field devoid of any cover stands a memorial: the Australian and French flags flying either side of a monument, a statue. Entitled ‘Cobber’, it depicts SGT Simon Fraser carrying a wounded digger to safety.
Around the shrine, the story of Fromelles is told on placards. On 19 July 1916, commanded by the British General Haking, the Australian 5th Division saw the compound effect of a number of obvious and inexcusable mistakes made by their British hierarchy. The German lines gave them a perfect enfilade position for their guns on either side of no-man’s land; the British orders gave no direction for what was to occur in the unlikely event that the Australian’s took the trenches; the concept of the attack was described later by Australian commander Pompey Elliot as ‘a wretched, hybrid scheme, which might well be termed a tactical abortion’.
The team found this visit to be the most sobering of our tours; to stand in a place so densely soaked in Australian sacrifice is a uniquely reflective experience which I will always remember with a mixture of pride and sadness.
LCPL Sam Evans
Cambrian Patrol at Fromelles Memorial
Many thanks goes to the RAR Foundation and 6 RAR Association who funded the battlefield tours.