Exercise First Encounter Puts Recruits to the Test

Downpours tested the mettle of the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s newest members this week when they left Warwick Camp for an overnight exercise.

The rookie soldiers received fieldcraft lessons at a South Shore training location on Monday before they travelled to Hog Bay Park in Sandys for a night under canvas.

Private Yeshai Burgess, 18, from Devonshire, said: “We were out in the rain all day, so that wasn’t the best, but we had fun.

“We kept soldiering on, making jokes, laughing, keeping everybody in good spirits.

“We didn’t sleep very well at night, it was still a bit cold, damp and windy.

“The experience definitely helped us to bond more; you get closer in tough times.”

Pte Burgess, an actuarial science student at the Bermuda College, said the best thing about his recruit camp has been getting to know the other people taking part.

He is looking forward to developing social and leadership skills as a member of the Regiment, and further improving his drill and weapon-handling abilities.

Private Tyzhae DeSilva, from Sandys, is a former member of the RBR’s Junior Leaders programme and returned to the force as an adult this month.

He said: “The Regiment is like a home to me.”

The 19-year-old added that people in more senior ranks with whom he engaged as a Junior Leader had been “very influential” for him, and appreciates the comradery and discipline of the RBR.

Pte DeSilva noted how the weather during this week’s overnight Exercise First Encounter created demanding conditions for the soldiers.

He said: “It was quite challenging because I’ve never been in a situation where I’m in the rain the whole time that I’m in the bush.

“We started down at the South Shore training area to do some fieldcraft lessons – camouflage and concealment, patrolling, hand signals and firing positions.”

The troops were transported to Hog Bay Park where they set up a harbour before an evening lesson, night-time patrols and sentry duties.

Pte DeSilva also praised the platoon sergeant, Sergeant Nigel Lee, and said: “He’s tough on us but at the end of the day he wants what’s best for us and he wants us to become as good a soldier as he is.”

Fellow recruit Private Nasir Dickinson has so far enjoyed learning how to safely handle the SA80 rifle and realising he can take himself beyond his own mental barriers.

The 20-year-old said: “When I didn’t want to do something, I used to straight-up not do it, but being here has shown me that I can push past that to reach greater heights.”

Reflecting on the overnight expedition, Pte Dickinson said: “The weather was not on our side – it was scattered downpours but in between those it was sprinkles.

“At Hog Bay the mud was so thick you would be walking and then have to force your foot out the mud, as well as having the gear on. It was a lot.”

He added that despite the challenges, the group remained positive: “We kept the spirits high and did what we thought was best.”

The recruits, who started their foundational training package on February 11 and will complete it this Friday, were scheduled to take part in team-building exercises as well as lessons in first aid and communications today.

  • For more information or to join the Royal Bermuda Regiment, visit or call 238-1045