A Pinner soldier based in Germany has successfully passed as the top student on his course.
Oliver Snowdon, 26, a Private serving with the 1st Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment in Paderborn, Germany, has successfully passed a mortar cadre and in the process took the honour of the top student on the course.
Over the duration of the cadre, Oliver was tested on and required to pass a number of challenging training objectives that covered all aspects of mortaring and culminated in a weeks live firing package.
Speaking of why he volunteered for the course, Oliver said: “The mortar platoon is often seen as the senior platoon in a Battalion so I thought it would be a great opportunity to test my skills on a different weapons system and broaden my experience.
“It has been a challenging six weeks particularly learning all the different roles expected of a mortar team but I have got a lot out of it.”
As well as demonstrating a high level of mental aptitude, hard work and a focused approach Oliver had to be physically fit and robust to pass the course with one of the tests requiring him to undertake a 8-mile march carrying weight in excess of 50lbs over difficult hilly terrain and then be prepared to undertake a fire mission - a march designed to test the soldier’s teamwork as much as their fitness.
The live firing part of the cadre proved to the most exhilarating part of the course, as the mortar is fired, it travels upwards, too fast to be seen, but then in the distance, you see the impact and explosion, which is followed seconds later by the loud boom.
Talking afterwards, Oliver said: “It is definitely a thrill when you fire the first mortar and very rewarding to see all the training come together and the mortar’s hitting the targets.
“It has been a good cadre so to be selected as the top student is a proud moment if a little surprising.”
Next year, after some well deserved Christmas leave, Oliver will be be taking part in a series of live firing exercises before beginning preparations for a major training deployment on the prairies of Canada.