Chirnside man powers to victory in field gun event

Royal Navy field gun competition
Royal Navy field gun competition

A FORMER Berwickshire High School student showed his mettle last week as he and his team mates defeated an experienced Royal Navy Team in a prestigious field gun competition.

After completing eight gruelling weeks of physical preparation at the Defence Medical Services Training Group, Dan ‘Spike’ Hughes from Chirnside and his team from Keogh Barracks formed one of the Armed Forces 20 elite Field Gun Crews for the competition at the Navy’s Maritime Welfare School at HMS Collingwood in Hampshire.

And Dan who is in the RAF went back to his barracks a happy boy as the Keogh team picked up some silverware, blasting home three seconds ahead of their nearest competitors.

It’s not the first time Dan has represented the RAF in a sporting event, he has also competed in a wakeboarding event but said the Field Gun competition victory was definitely a memorable one.

He commented: “It was quite simply the most amazing thing I have done in my military career. Being part of this team was brilliant. There is nothing like it and I miss it already.”

Field gunning has its roots in the heroic actions carried out by sailors who manhandled enormous guns and ammunition limbers across the rugged terrain of South Africa during the Boer War in 1899.

When the Boers besieged the British Army garrison at Ladysmith there was only one hope of relief and that was from the guns and sailors of the Royal Navy ships HMS Terrible and HMS Powerful based hundreds of miles away in Durban.

Many of the main armament artillery barrels were removed from their fixed mountings on the warships and converted into mobile field guns and lugged cross country.

Crews competing in last weekend’s competition were required to dismantle and reassemble all of the heavy equipment several times at various points during the run and engage an imaginary enemy in two separate actions with specially adapted shells firing ammunition, all in about 85 seconds.

Although traditionally a Royal Navy activity, crews from both the British Army and the Royal Air Force now compete, and Defence Medical Services Training Group was a unique tri-Service unit, drawing members from staff and students of all ranks from all three services.