London Regiment Sirrah Cup Shooting Match

Saturday 18th February 2017

If anyone reading this wonders why we shoot for the 'Sirrah' Cup each year, then one only has to look to the list of Past Masters and note that it was company founder Stanley Harris (father of PM Derek) who presented the trophy to shoot for, and then spell his name backwards! Derek informs me that originally SIRRAH was registered as a pipe brand in 1914 (as Sirrah Gold Spot Pipes, price 5/-). For many years we fought it out at the old barracks in Battersea but with everything in flux now, that is now longer possible and so it is with great thanks to Major Bob Brown of the London Regiment D Company that we now meet in even more exotic locations than Battersea and the last two matches have taken place in or near Aldershot, a good hour's drive from Town and why it's less convenient for members to view the proceedings - although the invitation still stands to all Liverymen. This year we were asked to present ourselves at Mons Barracks, Aldershot by 09.30 where, having cleared security, Major Brown met the team: Me, Colin Ritchie, Paul Taberer, Adam Bennett, Archie Smith, John Gossage, along with Ellis, the son of the Irish Guards WO in control of the shoot, Alan Beggs, and Clerk Sandra as cheerleader. Whilst waiting in the briefing room, a sort of jerry can containing something the army call "coffee" arrived. It was certainly a unique blend, but I don't think it was of coffee beans.. We were then briefed on the day by, I think, by a Warrant Officer and a Colour Sergeant - ranks, like the coffee, seemed rather opaque to me. We discovered we were in for a real treat: a day on the proper army training simulator using the present service rifle which has been cleverly adapted with gas and lasers so one can shoot (without ear defenders) against a range of targets on large screens. The guns went "bang" and had some recoil. We were also made to observe the correct loading drills with the magazines etc. It's a very clever and expensive bit of kit - the computer can simulate a whole range of scenarios from targets at assorted distances to combat situations where you "kill" the enemy. It also decides how many rounds your gun will be allowed and when you're "empty" you have to change magazines etc. whilst shouting "magazine" and "I'm in" etc. There was also a "game" where a message was given to the far right shooter and it had to be relayed between guns during a combat situation and be repeated by the last gun on the left.. apart from the instruction changing from "right" to "left" halfway down, it was correct.. The morning was spent in practice for us to acclimatise ourselves. By about 12.30 it was time for lunch and Bob had decided we were to be treated to the full experience. Thus it was a truck arrived with jerry cans of some 'range stew', loaves of bread, doughnuts and apples and we tucked into a typical field meal and very tasty it all was too - the army eats well these days it seems.. That all done, we then went back to the briefing room where we were introduced to the regimental team up against us. We were to shoot five different targets, alternating teams... all the targets were live action video types and were huge fun - it took some time to really see what was going on as there was "incoming" fire to cope with, plenty of flashes and explosions and advancing enemy troops or terrorists to flush out of derelict townscapes etc. When this was all done, we were were told to take the air (it had become a very fine day outside) and a glass of juice. During this, Major Brown spoke to the assembled company and I responded with warm thanks for a truly splendid and fun day and had great pleasure in presenting him with a cheque to be spent on his men, together with a box of The Master's Snuff to be shared as needed.. Then the scores... these were complicated as the ratio of hits to rounds used had to be computed. It seems we won the 1st and 3rd rounds, the London's the 2nd and 4th, so it all hinged on the 5th round, and in that they had achieved a 10% better hit rate by using less ammunition, they retained the trophy for the 3rd year in a row! We then repaired back to the training room where we were given a bit of fun - two Glock hand pistols, similarly rigged with sound and ammo etc. were given to us to try our luck in one of the wooded scenarios - only front and back sights and use of both hands.. It was very good fun and even Sandra was given a go which she gamely took up with her bad arm encased in a splint. With the formal proceedings over, the regiment changed into civvies and we popped down the road to buy the Victors a pint in the local - as it was so nice, several of us smoked outside. By 4.45 it was time to go and I said my farewells..Next year we look forward to Ralph joining us as left-handers have no case ejectors to worry about! Take note Ralph and see you there... Thanks to the London Regiment for a great day.