Lib­er­at­ing Lochranza ... but it’s all friendly fire

The Arran Banner - - News - Words and pic­tures Colin Smee­ton ed­i­[email protected]­ran­ban­ner.co.uk

Armed com­man­dos on the streets of Lochranza is not some­thing seen ev­ery day.

But early last Thurs­day vil­lagers were awo­ken to the sounds of bangs and flares as Royal Ma­rine Com­man­dos ‘lib­er­ated’ Lochranza. Ex­er­cise Fi­nal Nail was ac­tu­ally the fi­nal as­sessed op­er­a­tion for po­ten­tial young of­fi­cers un­der­tak­ing a gru­elling 15-month course.

The 27 trainee com­mando of­fi­cers, who set up camp at the Or­mi­dale Pav­il­ion in Brod­ick, staged a num­ber of sim­u­lated sce­nar­ios around the is­land, such as cap­tur­ing strate­gic lo­ca­tions, com­mando raids and de­stroy­ing bridges to beach land­ings at Imacher, Slid­dery and Whit­ing Bay be­fore

fin­ish­ing in Lochranza.

The fi­nal hours of train­ing saw a sim­u­lated at­tack on Lochranza Spit and at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions through­out the vil­lage be­fore sun­rise.

This large scale ex­er­cise saw in­tense ac­tiv­ity in­volv­ing blanks be­ing fired, smoke bombs and flares be­ing set off and a num­ber of strate­gic lo­ca­tions through­out the vil­lage be­ing at­tacked and guarded by com­man­dos.

Ma­jor Peter Williams RN, Of­fi­cer In Com­mand of Royal Marines ini­tial of­fi­cer train­ing, said: ‘Thanks to the sup­port from the Ar­ran com­mu­nity, from plan­ning to de­liv­ery, we have been able to pro­vide a chal­leng­ing and re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for the po­ten­tial young of­fi­cers which we would have been un­able to un­der­take else­where.’

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Train­ers and com­man­dos pause for a group pho­to­graph with smoke and Lochranza cas­tle as the dra­matic back­drop.

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Com­mando com­mu­ni­ca­tion – re­cruits share in­tel­li­gence and op­er­a­tional strat­egy at an im­promptu meet­ing.

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At the ready, two com­man­dos set up a de­fen­sive po­si­tion at a strate­gic lo­ca­tion.

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Mil­i­tary Com­bat Ve­hi­cles make an un­usual sight on the Lochranza Spit.

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Armed com­man­dos se­cure the main road and keep a look­out for any po­ten­tial at­tack­ers.

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Aim­ing to­wards the sea the com­man­dos check that their weapons are un­loaded after the mis­sion is com­plete.

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Ma­jor Peter Williams RN, Of­fi­cer In Com­mand of Royal Marines Ini­tial Of­fi­cer Train­ing, stands in front of a CTCRM mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle at the Or­mi­dale Sports Pav­il­ion in Brod­ick.

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Com­man­dos make their way onto the Lochranza Spit to for­tify the area.

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Re­cruits re­trieve one of their two boats used dur­ing the ex­er­cise.

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Com­man­dos re­main con­cealed be­hind bushes while keep­ing a look­out for po­ten­tial in­vaders.

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