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News > Alumni News > Joe Bagnall (OI 2018-20) Completes His 44 Week, Military Course

Joe Bagnall (OI 2018-20) Completes His 44 Week, Military Course

Joe Bagnall (OI 2018-20) may only be 21 years old but he has packed a lot in since his A Levels.
11 Sep 2023
Alumni News

Joe intended going to university after his exams but instead he opted for a gap year, planning to work a ski season. This didn’t work out due to Covid and Brexit however, Joe wasn’t deterred and whilst working on a building site to pay his way he was accepted into the Cambridge University Officer Training Corps. He wasn't one of their students however he held his army officer selection board pass.

Joe then decided to take a second gap year which saw him travelling and volunteering for two months in South Africa. For a  spell he came back to the UK, working as an Amazon driver before taking off on an adventure with two friends. They took part in the Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile drive to Georgia and back via Europe and Scandinavia.

On his return to England, Joe joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, an army leadership course consisting of a mixture of military skills, physical training and a range of academic subjects spread over 44 weeks. This was broken down into three terms, juniors, intermediates and seniors. Joe said, “It was very fast paced but I had plenty of fun along the way with a very good group of people, ranging from university graduates and none, and an age range of 19 to 30, with the majority being around 23 years”.

“We first learnt to be a soldier, this was during the first five weeks when we were confined to camp, this was a busy period with 18-hour days being the norm. However I didn’t mind this as we all bonded well together and had a laugh, it reminded me of being at Ipswich School with a good sense of comradery and fun.”

Joe then had the opportunity to go home for a well earned weekend off. During the latter part of the first term the group started to learn more about complex manoeuvres and got to understand the role of being a platoon commander. The junior term culminated in a week- long exercise in Thetford. 

The intermediate term involved a lot of time in the field and some academic work where the focus was on leadership, war studies, behaviour sciences and international relations. Joe commented, “ We then had the regimental selection boards, this is where you interview with your top two choices of regiment, it’s a stressful week and quite daunting but it wasn’t that bad and despite the myths the interviews are not a grilling but more of a conversation. We then spent a lot of time marching up and down the square as at the end of that term we paraded in-front of his Majesty King Charles III”.

The final senior term passed very quickly and ended with a two week exercise in Germany involving helicopters and armoured vehicles.

Joe returned to the UK ready for his commissioning parade in front of his friends and family. This was followed by a black tie ball where Joe and his colleagues wore their regimental dress for the very first time.

Out of a company of 80 officer cadets ten didn’t finish due to a combination of injuries, discipline and not wanting to be there. The injured received rehabilitation at Sandhurst before slotting into other intakes. 

Joe is currently on his phase two training in Brecon, Wales, which is a four month course where he will train specifically for the role of an Infantry Platoon Commander. Joe will then join the rest of the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment in Lincolnshire where he will take command of a platoon of 30 infantry soldiers, delivering training to the UK’s allies.

Talking about his time at Ipswich School Joe said, “I very much enjoyed my two years at the School. It was an extremely welcoming place which I felt I had been part of for years even though I only joined for 6th Form. Socialising with friends was the best bit and it’s the camaraderie that I enjoy most in the army too.”

Well done Joe!


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