After the challenges and excitement of week 5, which included Exercise Quick Cover and Families Day, we had a week on camp preparing for our next exercise in the field. We were introduced to basic map reading and navigational skills by our Troop Commander, basic first aid lessons by the medical team and we conducted our first live firing since we began training.
Map reading was a challenge for some of us in the troop initially, but the Troop Commander and the other lads who found it easier helped out those who struggled. We were introduced to things like bearings, calculating speed, distance and time, 6 digit grid references and how to recognise different symbols on the map. These were intensive lectures but the Troop’s understanding of it grew as the week progressed. We will put these new skills we have learned to the test in next week’s exercise.
Basic first aid lessons were a lot of fun as well as being serious. We were taught the procedures on how to give first aid and how to group casualties according to the severity of their injuries. We also had role plays in which some of us acted as wounded and others as medics. This was the fun bit where we were able to have a laugh as well as learn vital skills that will help save lives.
Lastly, the highlight of the week was our first crack at live firing. We began the day with a run through of how to build up a firing position by the Marksmanship Team. We than preceded to the ranges and everyone had their opportunity to fire their rifles in the prone, sitting, kneeling and standing positions. It was amazing to finally understand how a rifle feels and behaves when firing live ammunition. It was a long and challenging day but equally as rewarding. The whole troop learnt and developed vital skills that will help improve our accuracy and weapon control in the future.
Overall, it was a lecture intensive few days, all in preparation for a challenging 4 day exercise in the field which begins next week. All that we learnt will be put to practice in the challenging environment of Woodbury Common.
Week 7 Diary
Going into week 7 you could sense the nervous anticipation of 190 Troop before deploying on Exercise Marshall Star. The ‘nod vine’ had been buzzing the previous week with what the exercise was going to be like. Horror stories had been shared by other troops with some really enjoying the exercise but most finding it a ‘complete hangout’.
The main aim of the exercise was to put into practice and develop our map reading skills which we had been taught the previous week. Starting off with just some short distance navigation in the day with our section commanders everyone started to realise how important it was to ‘trust your bearing’ and walk straight towards your goal – even if that meant ploughing through kilometre after kilometre of 6 foot high gauze bushes. Needless to say everyone discovered how uncomfortable Woodbury rash could be.
The following night, after some additional wet and dry rehearsal, we were given the chance, in pairs, to put all the navigation we had learnt into practice. Setting off at 2 minute intervals, we were sent off across the common to find a number of checkpoints. Though only having to cover around 3 Km it took everyone around 2 hours to complete the course due to our relative inexperience and the harsh terrain. Luckily though no one got too lost and we all made it back to the team base.
Getting back to CTCRM the next day gave everyone the chance to reflect on what the exercise had been like. The phys had been hard, particularly after little sleep. But everyone learnt a lot and had become considerably more confident with their map reading ability. It also made everyone see that even when there is nothing left in the tank, when all you want is to be dry, warm and in bed, that you can push yourself further and carry on. Something that we are all going to have remember as we get further on in training and onto longer exercises.