Epic effort by military personnel raises cash to target cancer

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The personnel from HMNB Clyde who pulled the Field Gun from Cardross to HMNB Clyde on the final leg of the 330-mile journey.

By Gavin Carr

ARMED Forces personnel from charity Military v Cancer reached HM Naval Base Clyde after a gruelling event which saw them pull a one-and-a-half tonne piece of antique artillery 330-miles the length of the country.

The team of Royal Navy submariners, Royal Air Force and Army personnel began the challenge, setting-off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

Since then they have taken turns hauling a Field Gun through North Lincolnshire, Doncaster, North Yorkshire, Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway, South Lanarkshire, Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute, averaging some 22-miles per day.

Organiser of the event, submariner Warrant Officer David Bathgate, was jubilant as they crossed the finish-line at the home of the UK Submarine Service.

“This has been a huge undertaking that could never have come this far if it wasn’t for the determination of our Armed Forces to come together to help defeat cancer,” said David.

“The reception we’ve had from people along the way has been brilliant and the support from the different police forces has been amazing too.

He added:  “Coming across the Erskine Bridge with the gun on the way to Dumbarton was a real highlight for me as the view was spectacular.  The hardest part was probably in North Yorkshire.

“Pulling the gun up and down the hills was exhausting and there was a few people physically sick with the effort.

“What made all the difference was the encouragement we received from members of the public.  Your support made all the difference so thank you.”

Also participating during the final leg were Petty Officers Shaun Gamble and Kevin Laing, both ex-field gun competitors, currently working at HM Naval Base Clyde.

“When we set off from Cardross, people gathered to see us off and there were members of the public wishing us well all along the way.

” There were even people providing regular water-stops, including one outside the Helensburgh and Lomond Civic Centre,” said Kevin.

For Shaun Gamble, pulling the field gun over the finishing line on September 27 was particularly poignant.

“Almost everyone has lost someone to cancer,” he said.  “Eight years ago to the day I lost my mother-in-law to the disease.  Crossing the line and bringing this charity challenge to an end on this day was quite emotional.

“There’s still time to contribute to Military vs Cancer so I’d urge everyone to please help the charity make a difference.”

Military v Cancer was formed in 2018 by Royal Navy submariner Warrant Officer David Bathgate after five of his family members were affected by cancer in an 18-month period.

Determined to do what he could to help others going through the pain his family endured, David enlisted the help of Armed Forces colleagues to raise £100,000 so that many more will survive their battle with the disease.

Money raised by Military vs Cancer will be split evenly between Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK.  The Field Gun pull is thought to have added some £8,000 to the charity’s total.

During the Field Gun pull, 120 personnel from the Royal Navy Submarine Service, 25 from the Army and 75 from the RAF took part, with around 15 to 20 of them taking the load each day.

Units from: HMS Vengeance, HMS Vigilant, HMS Victorious, HMS Vanguard, HMS Anson, RAF Scrampton, RAF Waddington, RAF Leeming, Marine Barracks and RAF Boulmer all participated.

The final leg of the journey, from Cardross to HM Naval Base Clyde, was achieved by personnel from HMS Neptune, the shore establishment at the Clyde Base.

The challenge was inspired by the annual Field Gun competition at HMS Collingwood, itself inspired by the legendary exploits of the Naval Brigade during the Second Boer War.

During the conflict the Brigade offloaded guns from warships HMS Terrible and HMS Powerful and manhandled them over many miles of difficult terrain to come to the aid of the British Army who were besieged at Ladysmith.

Their endeavours helped lift the siege and led to the Naval Brigade being commended by Queen Victoria.

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The Military vs Cancer Field Gun team pass through the gates of HMNB Clyde to reach the finish line.To contribute visit: and search for: Military vs Cancer.  Follow them on Facebook: or Twitter: @milvscancer2018.



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