In the midst of a terrible storm on 1st of November 1967, Cadet Christopher Pyemont arrived at the door of Okehampton solicitor Frank Woodward.
At 5 o’clock that morning, a group of Army Cadets were dispatched to Dartmoor on a day-long orienteering training exercise. A storm was raging outside and, by the time Cadet Pyemont arrived at Frank Woodward’s door at 10:35pm, it was pitch black. Cadet Pyemont had crossed the river Taw without the aid of a torch in order to seek help for his fellow cadets, Thompson and Kalani, the latter of whom was a Kenyan cadet who had sustained an injury to his leg on their trek.
Soon, a search party of officers, led by Frank Woodward, were dispatched to moor in an attempt to find the missing cadets. At around 1 o’clock in the morning, they finally found Thompson and Kalani. However, due to the uneven terrain and the exhaustion of the other cadets, the search party struggled to carry the injured Harrison Gideon Kalani back to the village.
More help was sent for. But by the time they reached the party, Cadet Kalani had already passed away.
The stretcher, with Cadet Kalani strapped to it, was transported urgently across the river, while the other cadets followed Mr. Woodward the long way across the footbridge.
It appears that a second cadet later died from the exhaustion of the ordeal. The Daily Express, in citing the Coroner’s response to the Army’s ‘negligence’ to provide adequate supplies to the training cadets, also reports the death of a Nigerian Cadet:
The patrol on which Gabriel Tarkumbul Ugba, a 28 year-old Nigerian died, had only one torch between three men to read their map and instructions. ‘The whereabouts of any individual would have been much easier to find and a great saving of time would no doubt have resulted’ said the coroner. ‘In spite of the weather, the clothing issued was not waterproof and no spare equipment, sleeping bag, tent, or shelter was carried. Furthermore, when the casualty showed signs of stress, every effort was made to urge him on. It is said to be impossible to over-emphasise the importance of not forcing a casualty to bash on. Physical exhaustion in cold kills quickly. I can only hope that full instructions will now be given to all concerned with exercises on Dartmoor and those taking part will be suitably attired and sensibly equipped.’
Daily Express, 21.11.1967