142 Troop Diary – Week 28
As a new-joiner of 142 Troop after nearly seven months out of mainstream training, the week that awaited me was week 28. A week affectionately known as “cheeky week”, as if to undermine and mock the rigours of four Commando Test run-throughs (two Tarzan/Assault and two Endurance Course) spanning from Wednesday to Saturday in the training programme. The Troop arrived fresh from long-weekend leave, recounting ‘dits’ from Exercise Final Thrust that focussed upon a morale-sapping, windy, rain driven Sunday on Dartmoor in particular. Everyone including the training team seemed welcoming and friendly and I was aided personally by already knowing some recruits from different aspects from my time in Hunter Company.
The week began with a calm and relaxing feel, with only under-slung grenade launcher training to break up the Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday was to be the Troop’s run-through of the Endurance Course. It was treated with a mix of caution and excitement. The whole thing is a ferocious blur, from the horrific suffocation of the ‘sheep dip’, to the knee bashing incurred through the tunnels and ‘smartie tubes’, straight onto running back to camp that takes every bit of energy out of the legs. A ten rounds shoot is conducted at the end at targets 25m away, with a score of six needed to pass. Scores were mixed and varied throughout the Troop. Some passed with ease and some failed by a few minutes. Having done my acquaint to the course some eight months previously, I got geographically disorientated (lost!) and my time is too embarrassing to mention and far out of the 73 minutes needed to pass.
Thursday was to be the Troop’s first crack at the Tarzan/Assault Course. A series of rope obstacles and then a run round bottom field, requiring skill and competence at height, starting with the nostalgic Commando Slide and ending with a climb up the thirty-foot wall. There was however a twist in store. It seems the stress of the previous weeks had caused the whole Troop to do the proverbial ‘epurge’ of all things previously learnt. Therefore the Troop had run-throughs of the Tarzan part of the test in order to acquire the correct technique in ‘changing over’ to each obstacle, in order to make it safer and faster for all concerned come the next day. The Troop, thankfully, had a bit of a rest. Alas! It was the Troop Sergeant’s birthday and his present from him to us was the Tarzan and Endurance Course both on the Friday instead of over the next two days to guarantee us a weekend of rest. If only Carlsberg did Troop Sergeants’.
The full Tarzan/Assault Course was conducted on the Friday morning and again the Troop got varied results but knew what to expect from a thirteen-minute blowout. In the afternoon was the dreaded Endurance Course. Everyone’s times improved dramatically and lads who were outside the time were reminded that there would be another chance next week and the addition of adrenaline on the day. As an individual, it felt great to wake up later than usual on Saturday morning knowing I had completed and passed two Commando tests in a day. As a Troop we all knew half of what to expect in two weeks time and the general manner seemed everyone was confident and prepared for what was standing between them and finally becoming a Royal Marine Commando.