This week we visited Royal School of Military Engineering at Minley Manor and Gibraltar Barracks as part of Hart District Council’s Civic Day.
First, a bit about Minley Manor. Raikes Currie, a wealthy banker, bought the estate in the 1840′s and replaced the old manor house in the late 1850′s with one in the style of a French château. The estate was bought by the War Department in 1934 to be part of the Senior Staff College at Camberley. It’s currently home to the administration and the Officers’ Mess of No 3 Royal School of Military Engineering, which will eventually be housed in new premises across the road in Gibraltar Barracks, These are being developed by the Holdfast partnership between the MOD and private contractors, and to partially fund this work Minley Manor will be sold.
Enough background. The main part of the visit was a demonstration of bridge building by soldiers being trained to be combat engineers. [All Royal Engineers attend RSME Minley to complete their Phase 2a training in which they will qualify as a combat engineer. In the 9 week-long course, soldiers will learn combat engineering skills such as how to clear mines, construct bridges and cross water obstacles].
After the demonstrations, we were invited to talk with the soldiers. The soldier I talked with was involved in bomb disposal, and had completed two tours of Afghanistan. Being face to face with courage and bravery is very humbling.