Week 22 was an early start for 156 troop, getting out of bed around 0400 hrs. Instead of anticipating a regular week of blood, sweat and tears at Lympstone, we were pleased to rise out of bed knowing a week of Adventure Training awaits us.
We set off around 0800 hrs to campRMB Chivenor were AT was held.
On arrival the troop was split into 3 sections and each section would do a different activity on each day up till Wednesday. Our first activity was kayaking, which was relaxed day and was great fun, followed by some food then a early night.
Tuesday involved our section doing ‘ExtremeMountain biking’, with great whether I was excited about this for what I thought would be a light bike ride. I couldn’t be more wrong, it involved steep hill climbs and fast furious speeds going down steep narrow tracks, I hated every minute of it!
Tuesday night we had a BBQ with the training team and troop. We had the football on, a few pub challenges etc. It was a great night and the morale couldn’t of been higher – AT is one of the major perks of being in the Corps.
Our final day at the RMB Chivenor was what I was looking forward to the most – Coasteering. Climbing up the rock faces and jumping of cliffs up to 45 ft was the kind of activity that got my adrenalin pumping! We finished the day early so we could get back to camp handy. We got a ‘chuck up’ from the Cpl who running the package, quoting “One of the best troops he’s ever had” which was hoofing!
Thursday started up with a lot of nerves for the members of 156 Tp, with the thought of Ex VIOLENT ENTRY starting in the evening. I was particularly nervous about the yomping involved with a long term lower back twinge to contend with.
After receiving the boss’ orders we finished off packing our kit and set of to Sennybridge, Wales: our drop off point for our insertion yomp.
The insertion yomp went into the early hours of Friday morning and wasn’t as bad as initially thought, it was the first yomp we had had since the introduction of the General Purpose Machine Gun so I was wondering how the gunners were getting on. We set up harbour and after a Section went on recce patrol others built a model for boss’ orders to assault CeiliniVillage.
We assaulted 9 buildings within the village, which was hoofing, and included Close Quarter Combat when doing building clearances. After tactically withdrawing from the village we set off back to our troop harbour before battle-prepping for another attack the next day, when we would occupy the village and set up defences, ready for ‘likely’ attacks from the enemy!
Week 23 Troop Diary
Saturday morning on Ex VIOLENT ENTRY started with a troop deliberate attack on Cellini village. It began as usual with an orders group commencing at 0130 behind a light screen made from ponchos. The intention here was to contain the white light as best as possible to minimise the chance of being seen by the enemy. We were briefed on our route to the objective with the aid of a model pit in general based on a 1:50 000 map. The model would show our route to CelliniVillage as well as the relief of our area of operations, and features such as rivers and tracks. Also included were the RV’s and FRV’s. Once we were familiar with the map in general we moved onto the map in detail which was a more in depth look at our plan on attacking the village.
The attack on the village commenced at first light where we advanced in our sections using our personal weapons, GPMG’s, grenades, and smoke grenades. It was our first chance getting to grips with close quarter battle, and MUC skills that we had been learning the previous week on camp. Within around 30-40 mins we had secured our respective buildings and were holding them in our sections, and section fire teams. Our further tasks for this day were to set up defences for the buildings we wished to hold. It was here that our lessons with the assault engineers proved useful when setting up barbed wire fencing and building sandbag walls. Once defences were in place we moved to begin our working routine involving sentry, admin, and where possible some rest.
On Sunday we learned new skills relative to urban operations and practiced skills already learned. Namely these being patrolling correctly and break contact drills. We also covered vehicle check points and detainee handling. When we were not out patrolling generally we remained in our buildings covering arcs and maintaining sentry routine and radio sentry.
The evening of Sunday was spent yomping to positions to set up OP’s under the cover of darkness in preparation to spend the next 20 hours observing the enemy and logging notes to be relayed by radio back to HQ. This was a first for most of the troop and it proved to be an interesting experience. We used a system where by two men could rest while one maintained eyes on the enemy and relayed messages for a logger to write down, and a third man covered rear security of the OP. This was best opportunity of the exercise to get some rest, when not on working detail within the OP!
The majority of the daylight hours of today were spent in the OP observing the enemy and recording everything we saw. Upon leaving our OP’s we collapsed the position and yomped back to CelliniVillage. This was to be our last night staying in the village as we would be leaving the following day to attack and clear some more compounds in our area of operations. Through the night 1 section was tasked with building the model pit for orders as per previous nights.
Tuesday, began at 0500 where the troop had to take down all the defences that had been put up on Saturday. Followed by a thorough brass sweep of the entire village making sure it was clean and tidy up to a high standard fitting of Royal Marine recruits in week 23 of training.
Once the village had been cleaned we moved onto receive our orders for the day. It would involve yomping to take two compounds within half a mile of each other then inserting into a triangular harbour for the night. The weather on this day was challenging due to the heat and ensuring everyone was hydrated properly was vital. The yomp was also difficult due to the hills on route and the fatigue that was rapidly setting on from a very challenging few days on exercise with very little sleep. Once again we had another orders group for our last and final attack to take place on Wednesday morning.
Our final attack was reached by a 2 hour yomp wearing day sack and webbing, this was appreciated after yomping with bergans for the majority of the exercise and muscles were no doubt starting to ache around the troop. The conditions on route to the FRV were wet and windy and done in darkness. The attack itself began by sections making there way up a river under cover before advancing on the buildings occupied by the enemy. Once again we attacked with the same weapon systems as on Saturday. Another brass sweep of the training area was also required before we were able to get on the bus to return to CTC departing around 1030. As with the conclusion of all exercises, the remainder of the day (and night) when back on camp, was spent cleaning and de-servicing weapons and equipment.
On Thursday we had an inspection of our personal weapons before being ‘thinned out’ around 3pm to enjoy a long weekend’s leave. Overall the exercise was both physically and mentally demanding but also very enjoyable at times, particularly when attacking Cellini village and the other compounds as it was a chance to experience some proper soldiering and put the test the skills we have been learning thus far in training.