The Courage Trophy

The London Regiment TA

The Courage Trophy
(Click to enlarge)

The Courage Trophy competition, which is still held at the time of writing is a competition between London TA units, began in 1961 when it was called the Tough Training Competition. By l964 it had become known as the TA Marathon or the Courage Trophy on account of the trophy presented by Courage Brewery. It is a challenging test of physical skills which give a good indication of the level of military expertise in a TA unit. The successes of the Queen’s Surreys in the competition say a great deal about the high standards in both Battalions.

The format of the competition changed little over the years 1961 to 1967. Each unit would enter a team composed of a marching element and an administrative element for the two day event. On the first day the marching element would complete a set-piece march with obstacles or tests along the route while the administrative element were tested in driving, cooking and setting up a camp. Both elements would join up for the evening meal, rest and a night navigation test. The second day usually consisted of shooting, navigation and military skills with a forced march to the finishing point of the competition.

Courage Trophy Competition, 1966

(Click to enlarge)
Courage Trophy Competition, 1966.

Twenty four teams from the Greater London area entered the first competition in September 1961. The start was at Pirbright and the finish sixty miles away at Alexandra Palace; tests included fording a canal, crossing a river in boats, shooting and an assault course. The 3rd Battalion team of Lieutenant Daly, Sgt Levy, LCpl Anderson, Ptes Brooks, Guest, and Luff came third, only 14 points behind the winners.

In the following year 40 teams entered the competition held in March, which took place between Brighton and London. The 3rd Battalion entered 4 teams, one from each Company, of which the D Company team came 6th and B Company 7th.

For the 1963 competition the 3rd Battalion entered 5 teams, one from each Company and one from the Recce Platoon. Again D Company were placed highest, finishing 4th.

The competition of 1964 was the first to be known as the Courage Trophy. The start was at Maidstone from where the marching contingents completed a twelve mile march in 3 hours while the administrative elements were tested in Camp skills. The finish after the second day was at the Duke of Yorks HQ. Fifty teams from London Home Counties and East Anglian District entered this year, making competition fierce; the 3rd Battalion again improved its Position, coming second.

Field Marshal Earl Alexander

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Field Marshal Earl Alexander of Tunis presenting The Chuck Wagon Trophy to Corporal Browning, Recce Platoon 3 Queen’s Surreys. It is believed that this is the only occasion that the winning team of the Courage Trophy has won the Chuck Wagon Trophy.

The number of entries dropped to 31 in 1965, mainly because units were by now concentrating on producing representative rather than Company teams. The first days competition, 20th March, took place around Guildford and Boxhill and included a river crossing. The competition otherwise followed the usual pattern. This year, the Courage Trophy was won by B Company of 4th Queen’s Surreys under 2nd Lieutenant O Bhur with the HQ Company team under Lieutenant RM Arnold coming second.

The success of the 4th Battalion was taken up in 1966 by both Battalions. The competition took place between Biggin Hill and the Duke of York’s HQ where the prizes were presented by Field Marshal Earl Alexander of Tunis. The competition was completely dominated by the Queen’s Surreys, to the confusion of the l0th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, the London Scottish and other London units.

First in the competition and winners of the Courage Trophy was the Recce Platoon of 3rd Queen’s Surreys, consisting of Captain FB Herd, Sgt Nugent, Cpl Browning, Cpl Stubbs, Cpl Dunipace, LCpl Jacobs, LCpl Guest, Pte Penfold, Pte Clemence and Pte Message. Teams from the 4th Battalion came 3rd (HQ Company, Lieutenant Arnold), 5th (A Company) and 6th (C Company). This was a fine achievement in the face of tough competition!


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