RECRUIT DIARY WEEK 12 – 166 TROOP
1. This week was the final week on Straight Point ranges, applying the basic skills we learned last week into the more advanced techniques that we will one day use on Operations. Having passed the basic tests, the training felt more realistic now, with targets popping up a lot closer to you, for which you needed to rapidly orientate and engage. We would also conducted dark shoots, using Night Vision Goggles and infer-red targeting systems (called Laser Light Modules). Much like the way you see Hollywood depict Special Forces clearing buildings: we were able to silently engage targets that were not visible to the naked eye, using a projected laser dot that was only visible to us.
2. Further rifle training this week included firing whilst breathing through a respirator. This is particularly difficult because your vision and breathing is so restricted. Being able to align your sights through the lens of a respirator and build an effective fire position is very difficult and takes much practise. Then came bayonet training – 22 young lads, exhausted and worked into a frenzy to simulate battle conditions before being unleashed upon pillows and dummies to fight through our newly learned hand-to-hand combat skills.
3. Over the following weekend we visited Normandy on a 3 day battlefield Tour. Visiting the museums, cemeteries and various fortifications or beaches of the American and British sectors, you get an overwhelming sense of the magnitude of this undertaking – just how impossible the task seemed looking at the ground and imaging it for yourself. A pertinent highlight was visiting Port en Bessin – a sight of particular significance to Royal Marine Commandos for the incredible feats achieved by 47 Commando on the 6 & 7 June 1944.
4. We individually laid crosses at the grave of a fallen soldier, each with a family, each once in our position as a young British soldier. These were once regular men: teachers, labourers, farmers, butchers, bankers – but each would become capable of irregular feats, incredible gallantry or initiative. It is so important we remember because history isn’t just the means of looking back at what made us, it’s also the indicator of what we wish to become and the guide for directing our future actions.