184 Troop diary: Week seven
I had recently joined 184 Troop after recovering from injury. Although I was extremely happy I was able to continue with training, I cannot deny being slightly apprehensive about joining a new Troop, because I had bonded so well with my original one. However, those nerves proved to be of no consequence, as I found my new troop had, in one way or another had been through the same process that I had. They had shared the same challenging times such as foundation and the good ones, such as knowing you’ve made it over a hurdle.
This week we headed out on Exercise Marshall Star, a exercise that introduces practical navigation amongst other things. The previous week had been dedicated to learning how to map read, how to take bearings and grid references, understand the layout of the ground and basically how to find out where the hell you were, without simply making use of Google maps on our smart phones. It was a skill I was thoroughly looking forward to put into practise.
Each section was taken by their Section Corporal to test out what we had learnt in the classroom. The challenge came with sticking to your bearing, regardless of the lie of the land. For my section this involved going straight through gorse bushes, through a river and across a marsh. Needless to say our Corporal was the only one who somehow managed to avoid getting submerged in anyway, despite following the exact same route. I have to say that despite this I couldn’t help but enjoy the satisfaction of leading my section to our checkpoint successfully.
During the exercise we were introduced to range cards that are used on sentry to help each man understand the surrounding scenery that is of interest and that could be used by an enemy to launch an attack. It required us to make an initial drawing of the area; unfortunately I have a severe lack of artistic talent even when it comes to painting by numbers. Hopefully I’m not the first man on sentry too often otherwise no one will have any idea where they are.
Fortunately I was able to redeem myself with target indication, a method of bringing your section’s eyes onto what you can see. I picked up the correct procedure and how to describe where an enemy could be quickly.
This exercise was challenging, and was continuously testing. The main lesson I think that I personally took away from it, is that lessons in the field will never cease, there is always something new to learn and put into practise. The fact that it could save your life and that of those around you is even more ingrained into my mind now than it ever has been.
‘Under the bludgeonings of chance my head is bloody, but unbowed’.