149 Troop – Week 1
After years of envisaging joining the Royal Marines I didn’t ever think the day would actually come when I would step on the train and leave my old life behind; on June 25th 2012, it did.
Having family in the corps, with a combined experience of nearly 30 years I was well briefed and given invaluable advice in how to approach training. Although I was well aware that it was up to me as an individual to implement this and find my own way through.
I had a long journey down and eventually the assault course and bottom field came into view as the train approached Lympstone. The realisation of what I was about to do dawned on me and the nerves kicked in. After being met by our DL and marched to the infamous foundation block they evaporated and I felt enthused and ready to go. That night we were introduced to our training team and it was immediately apparent we had ‘proffed’. They had an unparalleled wealth of experience from years of services throughout the world and I was eager to tap into that.
The week comprised of various gym sessions, IMF period and the dreaded camp circuits. We had lectures, kit mustering and began our course in becoming Olympic ironers! The foundation block has a reputation for breaking men, mainly due to the fact you must adhere to ridiculous timings and have no personal space or time to yourself. Moreover, the main issue, most lads, me included struggled with was fatigue. You are literally on the go 24/7 and some nights are lucky if you get 2 hours sleep. I now fully appreciate why they call us ‘Nods’! However, I actually wasn’t fazed by foundation, I found it settled me in, bonded the Troop and focussed the mind. You have to accept that it is a game, play by the rules and you’ll succeed.
149 Troop – Week 2
The Troops second week at CTCRM can be best summed up as ‘like week one but more so’. We continued to acclimatise to life at Lympstone and undergo the transformation from civilians to Royal Marines Recruits. This included lots more work on the basics of washing ironing, cleaning and other administration as well as drill and increasingly intense physical training.
Week 2 was also the week we took two small but important steps in some of the most important skills we will learn. The first of these was spending time on the bottom field, to learn some basic field craft including wet and dry routine. Unfortunately what should have been a night under the stars had to be cut short due to a lack of bergans. The second step was the issue of personal weapons and the initial training in there use. This involved learning all of the weapon parts and how to perform NSPs.
Other highlights of the week were close quarters combat, with the energetic Gunnery Sergeant Brown of the USMC. It also included a tough log race between the Troop’s five Sections. At the end of the week we moved out of foundation block and into the accommodation that will be our home for the next 30 weeks. If it hadn’t truly sunk in yet where we were and what we were doing, no one was under any illusions any more.
149 Troop – Week 3
Week 3 started with us in our new accommodation. Six man rooms with your own personal space and locker area. It made such a difference to have your own little area you could call home.
The accommodation is old and tired and needs a lot of upkeep to remain clutter free and clean. Here we applied all the lessons learned from foundation and knew the standards expected of us. Unfortunately, we have, at times struggled to adhere to these high standards of cleanliness. We have been lackadaisical in our attitude at times and we have quite rightly paid the price with extra phys and lost personal time. We must remain disciplined and ensure this attitude does not seep into other areas of training. It has been exasperating at times, we must pull together as a team, together everyone achieves more has never been so prevalent.
The intensity of training has increased remarkably, most notably in the gym. The dreaded camp circuits constantly loom ominously over our heads. We were also introduced to ropes, which I thought I would find straight forward. How wrong was I? It’s a fact at Lympstone that you will struggle with something. Ropes seem to be my nemesis, I cannot seem to grasp the correct techniques and it is very frustrating watching my peers excel. However, I have had great support and am sure it will come.
This week we were introduced to weapons. This has been the most exciting part of training so far. Understanding and getting to grips with loading, unloading, stripping and assembling, function testing etc. has been brilliant. It has given me a better appreciation for what we are training to do and the respect and responsibly which comes with that.
Moreover, this has been made so much easier by having a great section Cpl. Cpl Wordsworth, big, brash and I’m sure Tom Hardy’s body double is a truly exceptional mentor. Through patience and humour he has created a relaxed yet professional atmosphere in which we can absorb all the information given to us and learn quickly.
The week ended with families’ day, a chance to show off some of the things we’d been doing at Lymstone to our families. Unfortunately, all didn’t quite go to plan. We were honestly very poor in our gym and rightly deserved the thrashing our PTI gave to us once the families had left. Drill wasn’t much better, when the DL replaced member of the troop with some of the family members watching, I think we all thought, ‘we should be watching them!’ It was then off for a long weekend and a chance to try and digest the intense and rewarding first 3 weeks of training.
149 Troop – Week 4
This week the Troop ventured out into the field for the first time. As dramatic as that sounds, what exercise First Step actually entailed was a night spent on the nearby Woodbury Common. Here we learnt to administer ourselves in the field, the basics of setting up a harbour and how to mount a sentry. Unfortunately the weather insisted on being persistently pleasant so it was off for a quick dip in ‘Peters Pool’ for the Troop to practice wet and dry.
Whilst the Troop had been steadily improving over the previous weeks, we also made our fair share of mistakes. As a result on Thursday we found ourselves facing the infamous ‘Mud Run’. By the end we were completely cammed out and reminiscent of creatures from the black lagoon but the message had been received load and clear. We needed to up or game, especially since we’d be returning to the field the following week.