154 Troop Diary – Week 13
Week 13 had in store the three things that make recruits nervous, the CS gas chamber, the dunker drill and throwing live grenades. First off the CS gas chamber; a small hut that we use to practice being exposed to gas wearing our full Chemical Biological Radioactive Nuclear (CBRN) protective equipment. In all honesty, watching each other get exposed to stinging CS Gas through the chamber window was exactly the morale we required on a Monday morning. In groups of eight, in full CBRN suits and respirators we marched into the chamber with the instructor. After the chamber was sufficiently filled with gas we took it in turns to remove our masks, reporting to the instructor with our names and service numbers and requesting permission to leave. This was all carried out with a lung full of gas and eyes wide open. It was hilarious to watch each other try to carry this out whilst retching from the effects. However, the laughter soon stopped when it was your own turn to go, it was uncomfortable to say the least but only temporary. Luckily one of the training team Corporals was on hand with the Troop video camera to catch us as we came spluttering out of the chamber.
Despite having Christmas leave and a week away from the PTI’s on Straigt Point ranges the fitness regime did not hold back. Throughout the week we got straight into several sessions of Bottom Field. It is safe to say that the type of physical activity here is dramatically different from that in the gymnasium that we are used to. It is also fair to say that we all enjoyed it a lot more though. This is the sort of exercise we joined the Royal Marines for, climbing ropes, jumping over walls and crawling through tunnels.
Later in the week we moved to RNAS Yeovilton to carry out helicopter dunker drills in order to be certified to fly in Royal Navy helicopters. This test involved all of us being subjected to the mock helicopter fuselage that was suspended over a swimming pool. Naturally any weaker swimmers were much more nervous about this evolution that anyone else. It was then dunked and rolled into the pool with us inside and we had to correctly escape from the helicopter and back to the surface. This was done a total of four times for each of us and varied its roll and speed with the last one being in total darkness. It sounds far worse than the reality though naturally nerves were tested, particularly in the weaker swimmers but nonetheless everyone passed and enjoyed the assessment and getting to see the naval air squadron.
The troop finished the week with the final evolution on the grenade range on Woodbury Common training area. Having passed the grenade weapons handling tests earlier in the week this was the chance to throw live grenades. After a detailed safety brief on what to do if we dropped a grenade before throwing we were ready to go. We did not know which seemed worst, dropping a grenade or being rugby tackled out of the throwing bay by a Corporal. There turned out to be some impressive throwing arms amongst the Troop and some not so proficient by only just clearing the blast wall which made the instructors as nervous as us. Though none of us will be called up to play for the Royal Marines cricket team any time soon we all had a good day and finished the first week back on a high.
The only thing left to do was to pack kit ready for the long awaited Exercise BAPTIST RUN, the confirmation exercise of Phase 1.