138 Troop Diary Week 14
14 weeks ago, 59 nervous young men stepped off a train and into the grown up world of Royal Marines Recruit Training. Some had been here before, some had just finished school! Now, after 14 weeks of absorbing as much information as possible, with minimal sleep and interspersed with some honking phys, 42 lads are to be tested on everything they have learnt so far with Exercise Baptist Run.
A feeling of nervousness not dissimilar to that felt 14 weeks previously runs through the troop on Monday morning. Before we embark on Ex Baptist Run, we have a fairly normal day. Kicking off with bottom field and some beastly circuit around the assault course, once again Recruit James ‘Grandad’ Ord is hanging out. The same can’t be said of Recruits Lorian ‘Bezzy’ Kennedy and Tom ‘no shit’ Sherlock who took a headfirst drop off the regain ropes and managed to miss the tank completely.
The afternoon was less of a hangout but the troop lived up to their ‘nod’ nickname whilst fighting off sleep in a CBRN lecture. The tiredness carried through the evening as everyone went to town to get their kit absolutely spankers ready for the official start of the test exercise the following morning. Unfortunately, after some confusion as to when we’d have time to clean, the troop were told they’d lost their weekend just before the 4 mile speed march. Massive respect goes to those recruits who dug out on the speed march despite injuries, showing commando spirit even at this relatively early stage of training.
After a short trip to Woodbury Common, the test field exercise was firmly underway and practice began for all the skills we would be tested on.
The real test began that night with the practice night nav. This proved to be the hardest part of the week for several reasons. Firstly the clag made picking out any features nearly impossible, bearings were key. The biggest challenge though was bringing ourselves to wade through the gorse bushes that, at times, exceeded head height! Ironically for a group of lads training to become amphibious infantrymen the last thing any of us wanted to do was end up in the oggin! Needless to say everyone did.
As with everything we do, there are some good efforts and some that need more practice. Every night there were people that did not make it in before the cut-off time, partly due to the difficult conditions.
The most worrying thing was definitely when Recruit ‘Get to the chopper’ Grove decided to rap on the night nav, take himself two kilometres away and get a round of night golf in before snuggling down on the 9th hole. The rest of the troop proffed massively from this with an all night firework display and an extra hour in bed!
After our lie in and the joy of the morning routine, we all went for another casual stroll through the gorse in search of Recruit Tiger Woods, who diligently returned to camp with a limp.
Come Friday I think it’s fair to say most of the troop were looking forward to the weekend, even if a bit of remedial phys had been promised. Before getting back to camp we had to complete the 8 mile load carry, which was more or less an 8 mile speed march with a brisk pace being set. Again lots of respect goes to the recruits who were hanging out with injuries that manned up and completed what was required.
Friday night was more or less an all night effort with everyone working hard to perfect their de-servicing for the final part of the assessment. Throats went dry and balls shrunk when Sgt Keene instructed us to empty our jackets and put our trainers on.
Extra phys completed, kit squared away in our lockers and the biggest morale boost ever came when Corporal Hague thinned us out for the weekend.
Most of us went ashore and went straight to straight to the pub to celebrate completing the week and the inevitable Grand Slam Wales were going to win. Some team in white played as well but I don’t think anyone really noticed.
Highlights of the evening were, seeing a walrus dressed as Mr T and watching Recruit ‘Twiggy’ Branch trap Mr T’s equally rotund sister!
Overall another week of highs and lows as is the theme throughout training. A hoofing effort from most and genuinely gutted to have lost three top blokes. Good luck to Recruits Grove, Egan and MacKenzie with Hunter Company and the rest of their training.
Numbers have dropped significantly but the men of 138 Troop are moving into phase 2 of training. Onto the good stuff we’re all here to do. Things will get harder but there is no doubt those that are left look forward to the continuing challenge they started 14 weeks previously when they stepping off that train.