Recently I went to Brunei to cover 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers whilst they were on EXERCISE ULA RAJAH.
This is how it went and what I got up to.
I was travelling with out team leader for the trip Captain Rich Williams who works at HQ Land in Andover as a team leader for one of the Combat Camera Teams (CCT) there. We were to be joined by Sgt Gary Kendall a few days later on the Saturday. We left Heathrow Terminal 4 on the Thursday ready for the 18 hours of travel to our final destination.
After a long flight, a stop off in Dubai and another hours drive to the camp we were staying at we made it to Sittang Camp in Tuttong, Brunei. We would be working from this camp for the next 16 days. Going into the jungle everyday to cover the guys out in the trees.
Our first task was just a bit of a recce to see what we were up against. We tucked our trousers into our jungle boots, whacked on a lot of mosquito repellant and jumped into the Hilux for the 20 minute drive to the edge of the jungle.
We spent the next couple of days covering a few survival lessons. The Jungle warfare instructors were teaching the troops about survival in the jungle from what they can and cant eat or touch. The light was lovely and warm in the jungle clearing giving some nice colours. Other times I struggled with the wight balance due to there being so much green around. The camera was adding too much magenta in Auto WB. I always shoot in raw so it was an easy fix after in Lightroom.
You cant get fresh coconut water like this in the UK
You had to eat the tail end of the ant and spit its head away.
Termites for a few extra calories to your dinner.
The next stage was learning how to start fire using different methods, then killing and cooking your food. Using fire steel and a striker to set a coconut husk alight.
The Jungle Warfare instructor blowing the coconut husk to get it going.
A jungle warfare instructor talks about the different types of wood suitable for fire.
These next few images are graphic so if your squeamish scroll past!
How to gut a fish
Killing, skinning and gutting a chicken
The slaughter, hanging and skinning of a goat ready to be cooked and eaten.
After all this is was time to eat!
On the menu was Goat, chicken, red Snapper, some small unkown fish, rice in bamboo, Ubi Kayu (a root vegetable like sweet potato) and regular potatoes. The selection of meats and veg cooked over an open fire in the jungle.
After spending 3 nights in the trees it was time for the troops to come back into camp for a few days of 'admin'. I went over to where they were staying to get some photos of them turning their kit around.
Rifle cleaning is the first port of call when coming back in off the ground. Once you have cleaned your weapon you can make a start on cleaning yourself!
This is where the guys were sleeping when not in the jungle.
Up nice and early for this tasking. We got up before hand and went for our own run down the beach whilst it was still dark. By the time we came back Y coy were ready to set off to do their own PT on the beach. I grabbed my long lens and got involved.
The water was pretty warm and I struggled to keep my camera above the waves sometimes! This D4 has had its fair share of water though.
A bit of wrestling in the sand.
The guys spent one more night in real beds then it was back into the trees for 9 days straight. 3 days going through patrolling methods, 3 days practicing Close Quarter Battle (CQB) and 3 days doing Close Target Reconnaissance (CTR)
The cam cream had to be thick enough so it would not be removed by the sweat quickly
The amount of kit carried when out on the ground. Roughly 25kg
A quick tab before heading off.
We spent the next few days going in and out of the jungle covering the guys working. This next set of images are from the live firing phase.
I also helped Gaz with his video acting as his second shooter for a small piece he did.
Ammo being loaded into magazines.
Moving into the 'jungle lanes'
This is the new Virtus body armour and helmet.
It can be a struggle to make live ranges seem exciting due to the safety aspects involved. You have to make sure you are not on the front end of a rifle at any point. This leads to most of the shots being 'over the shoulder'
We didn't get to see the patrolling or CTR phase as we where pretty busy with the live firing still and video.
I did get a few portraits and some general shots of the goings on in the trees
Anyone guess what these are used for?
The guys hand washed their clothes when they could
Mushrooms grew in the oddest of places.
A soldier attached from the REME tucks into some instant noodles
The Padre who also got involved in the exercise chats to some of the guys after coming off the ranges
The next task was just to get out and capture what else was going on in the trees. We travelled to a few different locations. While Gaz was doing his video thing I took a few more shots.
Prickly heat can be a problem in the jungle. Especially when only having two sets of uniform to wear. Your wet kit to wear in the day and dry kit to wear in your hammock.
A section commander gives orders before setting off on a patrol
A few shots of the type of terrain and landscape out there.
This was a great little extra number I wanted to capture out there. I was determined to get some photos of a river crossing. I had not seen an up to date one and thought this would be a great opportunity to get it! One of the fusiliers had came across a suitable river that was just the right depth to do it in. It was about 5K's away from our location. We grabbed our kit and went down there.
Here are a few shots of me at work. Another outing trying to keep the D4 out of the water!
Some of the guys stripped off and went for a dip after we had finished in the water.
Another day and another pretty groovy task! This time we were speeding up and down the river outside of camp with the Royal Ghurka Engineers.
Thats about it for the Military side of things in Brunei. Keep an eye out for a blog post about our day trip to the capitol and another about the 35mm film I shot out there.
All else I can say is that I loved it out there. We did some great work and the unit were great to work with. The country itself was amazing and I would love to go back there one day in either a military or civvie context.
Thanks for reading and Stay Safe.