174 Troop Diary: Week 18
As we boarded the bus for our second exercise of phase 2 the sun was out and the sky was blue. Unfortunately we would have no idea of what was to come. Braunton Burrows on the coast near Barnstaple consisted of numerous sand dunes, puddles and hills. As we would find out throughout the week it is an unforgiving place where our characters would be stripped bare. We should have read the signs when we had to march the final mile of the journey onto the training area as the bus got stuck behind a truck and trailer which had gone off the road due to the previous weeks flooding. Running through unavoidable almost waist deep water on the roads meant that we were wet from the start; a feeling we were going to have to get a lot more used to. For the first couple of days we conducted section attacks, each taking it turns to play the role of IC and 2IC of the section while at night we conducted recce patrols. The weather continued to get worse as the week went on with 80mph winds and hailstones the size of maltesers. We would learn later on that it was the worst storm the UK had experienced for a long time. On the third day while we were out with our sections the call came over the radios to return to HQ where the team tents were. When we got there we found the team tents about to be blown away, poles snapped and pegs uprooted. As a result transport was organised and we loaded up the stores and then marched to RM Chivener, a base 6 miles away. Our training team told us a bus was waiting to pick us up there to head back to Lympstone as the exercise had been cancelled. Unfortunately this was either a cruel joke or the bus didn’t turn up as we ended up bivvying out in the shelter of the camp and re-deploying the next day in calmer with a 6 mile insertion yomp. Throughout the day we conducted a few troop attacks and then harboured up for our last (hopefully forever) night on Broughton Burrows. That night we received orders for a troop attack on a position at first light the next morning. We set off at 0400 and made our way with our bergens. After a successful troop attack it was a quick run back to the car park where the bus was waiting; a definite sight for sore eyes. It had turned out to be a tough week, only 15 of us having completed the whole exercise. It was a week we will remember as one of the toughest in training but one we are all glad to say we had done and completed. For 174 troop, Second Empire really was survive or die…
174 Troop Diary: Week 19
This week consisted of bottom field crash week in preparation for bottom field pass out and GPMG training. Monday began what would promise to be a low week for the troops morale thanks to having to move rooms to get into our new sections, which is always a painfully long process. Crash week was known to the troop to be a hard week through the “Nod vine” and it definitely held up to its reputation. The bottom field sessions were based around pure grit and determination with minimal rest. They were taken in the morning and the troop would do GPMG training in the afternoon. The whole troop caught onto the GPMG training quickly and ended the week with a 25m shoot. Throughout the week the troop had been caught letting the standards of the accommodation and timings slip. Due to these misgivings the troop received further creative punishments, e.g. the troop would have to wear military rig all through the week, not being able to wear civilian clothing at anytime. Overall a tough week for 174 troop, but it was essential that the troop used that extra grit earned and pulled together, knowing that bottom field pass out was the Monday coming.
174 Troop Diary: Week 20
The main focus of the week was Bottom Field pass out, a criteria physically demanding test designed to see if recruits have the physical capability to cope with a battlefield situation. Bottom field pass out consists of a 30 ft rope climb, a timed assault course run, a fireman’s carry and full regain over the tank. All recruits were required to have 21 lbs in their webbing and to carry a rifle slung, for all aspects of the test.
The assault course needed to be completed in less than 5 minutes and the fireman’s carry, which took place over 200 metres, needed to be completed in less than 90 seconds. The 30ft rope climb has no specified time with the only requirement being that you touch the very top of the rope. The Bottom Field Assault course includes various obstacles such as walls to climb over, tunnels to crawl through, cargo nets and monkey bars. At this stage we still had the camera crew filming us for the Channel 4 documentary. This was possibly the crews main focus for our troop as they would be leaving shortly after, so everyone tried to put on a non emotional face and pushed through the demands of the course. The majority of the troop was successful in passing first time however some members took more than one attempt, and would have to do re-run’s on Tuesday and Thursday. During these re runs the rest of the troop would come down and give moral support. By the end of the week we had lost 3 recruits 1 of which due to injury.
On the Monday afternoon we had our first fitting of our dress Blues and Lovats and seeing what we would be wearing on pass out was a bit of a moral boost especially for those who had been unlucky with the first run through. In-between tests and run-throughs the troop attended various CBRN lectures and preparation for a final written and practical test on the Friday. In these tests and lectures we learnt what to do if a harbour position was attacked by a chemical agent, by using a chemical sentry. We learnt the roles of a chemical recce patrol and re-enacted them, and how to locate and identify types of chemical agents. We also took part in some de-contamination drills, what to do if we were under a chemical attack and how to de-contaminate ourselves and our clothes/kit.
Sport was also scheduled in on the Friday morning which sparked up a lot of interest from the troop, a well deserved football match we thought. However when Friday arrived we didn’t have football or anything in the gym, we were marched down to the infamous gate F and by this point we all knew what was going to happen, and sure enough, our PTI met us at the gate and we took part in a (fun) mud run, our third one to date. In this mud run we had a game of rugby and wrote our troop number in the mud which is considered a tradition and right of passage. Come the afternoon once we had cleaned our selves off we went down to take part in the CBRN practical tests which everyone in the troop passed.
174 Troop Diary: Week 21
This week was spent on Exercise Urban Warrior which started with the Modern Urban Combat (MUC) package conducted in the MUC compound on camp. On Monday morning we went down and practiced dry drills which consisted of entering and clearing rooms. The next two days were similar, except we began using simunition rounds to conduct the room clearances. We also used drill grenades to simulate clearing rooms with live grenades. On the Wednesday the police dog handling unit came and showed us how a well trained dog can be used to sniff out the enemy and attack them if required. On the Thursday we deployed to the Caerwent Training Area in Wales for a 1 day field exercise to practice all the MUC training we had been taught throughout the week. The following day we had an 8 mile load carry around the training area. Some of the troop found this challenging and failed to complete it, however the majority of the troop had no problems. After the load carry, we headed off back to Lympstone after an enjoyable and different week of training.
174 Troop Diary: Week 22 & 23
After 2 days spent in North Devo conducting seom relaxed Adventure Training (AT), weeks 22 and 23 were mainly concerned with Exercise Violent Entry, my first exercise with 174 Troop as a re-trooper. It started with a 4 hour coach journey to Sennybridge Training Area in Wales. We had a 10k insertion yomp through the night to a woodblock where we would be harbouring up. The woodblock was over looking Cilieni village which we would later go on to assault as our main objective. Recce patrols and an observation post were sent out to observe and collect important information about the village and a night attack was put into action. Once we had taken and occupied the village we were then tasked with building defences, creating a Forward Operating Base (FOB) from which we could conduct further tasks from. This consisted of each of the three sections making fences, road blocks and Sangar positions. With a tough rotational routine of either patrolling, sentry and or the Quick Reaction Force (QRF), we knew there would be little sleep. After 36 hours in the FOB, we yomped off to set up a new harbour and prepare for an attack on a near by woodblock. Once we had successfully taken the enemy position we dug in for the night and were given orders for an ambush in the early hours of the morning. The ambush location was about 1 km from our position where we laid in wait for an enemy vehicle. The attack was a success and from there we headed off for another long yomp to a position over looking village 1 in the north. At village 1 we conducted another deliberate assault with an Fire Support Group 500m west of the village and 2 assaulting sections with one in reserve. Unfortunately the most tactical route to attack the village was up a river so the troop got a little damp to say the least! After 7 long days the exercise was over and the 4 hour coach journey back to CTC consisted of the troop getting there heads down as soon as the coach started moving!!
174 Troop Diary: Week 24
We started off the week with a 6 mile run in clean fatigue to give us the opportunity to see the route and prepare ourselves for the 6 mile speed march in 2 weeks time. The 6 miler is a criteria test we would all have to pass in order to gain our cap comforters to show that we were in the commando phase of training. Nobody
in the troop had struggled on this run. Later that day we received a de-brief from Ex Violent Entry to see our individual pick up points and where we can all improve.
On the Tuesday of this week we had the Endurance Course acquaint. This was the first time we had touched on the endurance since PRMC so everyone was quite
nervous as memories from PRMC were not the best. The day did not start well as the transport did not turn up which meant we had to march the 4 miles up
to the endurance course on Woodbury Common. This meant we were already fairly tired before we even started course. The endurance course is a cross country course consisting of hills, the sheep dip water tunnel, streams and various tunnels. Eventually we were shown the route of the endurance course, but nothing is ever that simple as every hill we came to you were either fireman’s carrying someone up it or sprinting.
We then had a best effort run around the course to see what our times were like and nobody was looking forward to going through the tight smartie tube tunnel full of water for a second time. After we were finished we put our 21lb of webbing on and our rifle and conducted a fast paced speed march back to camp. Everyone was
hanging out when we got back from the course and most off the troop said it was the most physically demanding day of training so far, but would definitely prepare us for what is to come. On Wednesday we had our first Tarzan Assualt Course acquaint, getting used to the 30 ft wall and the commando slide. On Thursday we had more of a chilled day consisting of lectures and LMG drills. Friday however was the day of
the 12 mile load carry criteria test that you must pass! Everyone in the troop managed to pass the test, however some found it more challenging than others.
174 Troop Diary: Week 25
Week 25 of recruit training saw 174 Troop deploy on both amphibious training in Plymouth and Embarked Forces Sea Survival training in Portsmouth. Monday morning came and the Troop were up earlier than the norm to board the coach to Plymouth. We arrived in good time with the vast majority of the troop getting their heads down for the entirety of the journey. Our first task given to us by the course instructors was to prove we could rewrite a small motor powered life raft in the event of a capsize. This meant we all were given the privilege of being fully submerged in the training area’s harbour. With the water temperature estimated at around 11 ºC, cold shock set in upon first entering the water. This was pretty amusing to the members of the troop waiting there turn as their colleagues struggled to say their service numbers aloud in order to prove they were good to continue with the drill.
Upon completion the troop quickly showered and changed, and were shown around the various types of landing craft the Royal Marines use when conducting amphibious assaults. After a few safety points the troop embarked on to the Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP) and were leaving the harbour to conduct a moving crossover and several different types of beach assaults from the various landing craft we had been shown. A moving crossover involves an Offshore Raiding Craft (ORC) moving along side the LCVP at speed and allowing the troops onboard the LCVP to crossover to the ORC and then pull away at speed. The beach assaults ranged from a full troop assault from an LCVP to stealthier assaults from the smaller ORC and Zodiac landing crafts. The troop rehearsed these several times from each as we were to come back later and carry them out under the cover of darkness.
With the approach to summer comes longer days and because of this the troop were able to get some down time in one of the camps large hanger, whilst waiting for the sun to go down. Being inside with large heaters above our heads made a welcome change to some of the conditions the troop has faced over the past few months. The troop moved back to the LCVP once dark and carried out the beach assaults from all of the landing craft available as well as completing another crossover at night. Despite spending the day wet the troop thoroughly enjoyed the days training with several recruits coming away considering a possible career in the corps as an LC.
Tuesday was a relatively quiet day with the troop not leaving CTCRM until 1830, this allowed the troop to take part in a bit of extra phys on the top field with the Troop Commander in order to keep our fitness up as well clear any admin they needed to do and prepare for the next two day course of Forces Embarkation and Sea Survival training. The troops accommodation was onboard the HMS Bristol docked at Whale Island Plymouth. For many this was the first time onboard a Naval vessel. The taller amongst us quickly learning it was necessary to duck through the water tight doors. The troop quickly adapted to the cramp living messes below deck and got our heads down.
Wednesday was the first day of sea survival and involved the troop being introduced to life rafts that are stowed onboard vessels and how to operate them. This meant we had to simulate a ship sinking which once again meant being fully submerged in water. Thankfully this was done in a dry suit. The troop enjoyed watching smugly as other members of the Armed Forces got wet and complained about the water temperature.
Thursday was a mixture of classroom presentations and practical assessments on the dangers of fire onboard a ship and the actions taken if a fire is discovered. The practical assessments included the use of fire extinguishers and fire hoses. The assessments culminated in a real time scenario where a fire was discovered and in teams of three we were required to extinguish the fire using the correct drills taught through the day. This concluded our Embarkation and Sea Survival course which everyone in the troop passed. Our final stop in Plymouth before returning to CTCRM was to the Royal Marine Museum which is situated in the grounds of the old Officers’ Mess. This visit allowed the troop to see how the Corps has developed through the years from its birth date to the modern day fighting unit it has become. The Troop thoroughly enjoyed the visit although brief, with all agreeing they would like to return at some point for a longer visit.
Friday was a shorter day with the troop conducting a Light machine gun (LMG) shoot on the ranges in the morning and the cleaning and returning of the weapons in the evening. The troop were thankful of this as we have our six mile speed march early Monday morning which is a must pass test in order to receive our cap comforters.