146 TROOP – WEEK 13 TRAINING DIARY
CBRN, ‘dunker drills’, grenade throwing and fast roping, week 13 was easily my favourite week of training so far. It was however going to be a very long week for 146 Troop with summer leave on the horizon. We had worked a full weekend, which consisted of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) training. By far my least favourite exercise yet! The Troop was apprehensive from the start because we have heard bad things on the ‘Nod vine’ about being gassed. After a gallant struggle to get into our suits, we were ready for the challenge. In groups of 8 we entered the gas chamber in high spirits, we left the chamber as broken individuals. Within two minutes we were exposed to CS gas. Each recruit removed their respirator and were welcomed by a harsh burning sensation, rapidly voyaging around our lungs. To leave the chamber we clearly had to address the CBRN instructor with our name and number. As we got outside the burning sensation was extremely painful. Many recruits enjoyed the experience and coped admirably, but I like many others coped miserably.
Also during the week the Troop had our first taste of signals or otherwise known as ‘comms’ training, 80% of which was in the lecture room. We learnt all about the different types of radios and how to assemble and use them. All recruits were enthusiastic about these lessons because in phase 2 of training all this equipment is used frequently on exercise. Midway through the week we headed for the grenade range on Woodbury Common training area, our first taste of live grenades. Everyone was nervous but also very excited. Each recruit threw two grenades over a wall onto a target 20-25m away. Thankfully everyone came out of the exercise unscathed and content with how things went. Early in the week the Troop Commander had promised us we would have a helicopter ride back from the grenade range, however not everyone believed this, but to our amazement we did. Troop morale was sky high after the ‘helo’ ride, just what we needed before summer leave, and a great experience for everyone.
On Thursday we headed to Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) in Yeovilton to undertake helicopter ‘dunker drills’. The weaker swimmers in the Troop had not been looking forward to this exercise but by the end everyone loved it. The training consisted of a replica helicopter being submerged in water while doing a 180 degree turn. The most nerve wracking part was the final ‘dunking’ in complete darkness. Each time we were submerged we had to hold our breath for a maximum of 35 seconds while escaping through one of the windows in the ‘helo’. After we had finished dunker drills we were escorted across CHF to conduct fast roping. This was a great adrenaline rush which all the Troop enjoyed. Making your way down a 30ft rope at high speed is a huge source of morale to any budding Royal Marine. Personally this is why I chose the Royal Marines, to feel a great buzz.
Throughout the week everyone in Troop was very apprehensive about week because it was the last week before summer leave. I like many others believed it was going to be the hardest and toughest. In reality week 13 was by far our best week so far. Ideally all recruits left for summer leave in high spirits, looking forward to returning to Lympstone in September to tackle Exercise ‘BAPTIST RUN’.