Paratroopers battle to be the best

Paratroopers have competed against each other to be the best, while celebrating their proud history.

The Bruneval Cup saw the 15 platoons of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) put through paces around Colchester’s Merville Barracks and Middlewick Ranges. The competition saw troops in full battle rig take part in an eight-mile march, a stretcher race, assault course and a two-mile run, finishing with a session on the firing ranges.

The competition honours the Bruneval Raid, the first airborne operation carried out by British troops. In February 1942 troops from the recently-formed 2nd Parachute Battalion jumped into Bruneval, on the northern French coast, and captured equipment and technicians to gain an understanding of German radar technology.

The competition was won by 2 PARA’s Mortar Platoon who were presented with the trophy by Lieutenant Colonel Ollie Kingsbury, 2 PARA’s Commanding Officer.

Team captain Corporal Paul Ruttledge, 31 from Newport, Isle of Wight, said: “The Bruneval Cup is very important to 2 PARA because it celebrates excellence and an important operation in our history. I’m very proud that my platoon won and we have earned bragging rights for the year!

“The competition is about testing all of our infantry skills in one go. It was a lot of hard work on a very hot day and we won because we’re a closeknit platoon that pulls together.”

Lance Corporal Matthew Benge found the final shooting test, carried out straight after a two-mile run, the event’s hardest challenge.

The 24-year-old from Harlow, Essex said: “You’re tired after a long, physical day working at best effort and then you have to compose yourself and concentrate on your shooting skills. The event is all about grit and not giving up when you’re tired – which is what we’re about as paratroopers.”

2 PARA’s core role is to alternate with 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment as the lead unit in the Air Assault Task Force (AATF), which is ready to deploy anywhere in the world to conduct the full range of military operations. 2 PARA is training to take on the AATF role from April 2015, with the unit’s airborne infantry bolstered by artillery, engineers, signallers, medics and logisticians from 16 Air Assault Brigade.

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