187 Troop Week 17

The Monday of week 17 was an enjoyable one as 187 troop had signals at 0800 which consisted of visiting ten checkpoints around camp and messaging back to HQ that the checkpoint had been reached, this was the last lesson of signals we would be doing before embarking on exercise Second Empire and we were all to show that we were capable of using the signals kit issued as it is crucial. The following detail of that morning was an even more exciting and pleasant one as we were detailed to be outside the tailoring workshop at 1300 to have our blues and lovats fitted, the lads of 187 looked around at each other with excitement and hope that maybe in fifteen weeks everyone would be wearing their blues and ready to march out on to the drill square in front of their families as King Squad. The day then finished with a lecture on fighting patrols as this would also be used in the next exercise.
Tuesday consisted of a double bottom field session at 0800, this was a AMF (advanced military fitness) run through with eighteen pounds and a rifle. The ready of the day was again on lectures that would be put in to practice on exercise Second Empire such as troop ambushes and troop deliberate attack. The remainder of the day was focused on packing kit and store for Viking drills the following morning.
We left for Bovington early Wednesday morning, the coach took the troop an hour and a half to get there and moral was lifted when the lads received there bag rats which contained chocolate muffins and mars bars. We arrived and were to dump our kit and bag for the rest of the weeks in our accommodation, the troop were extremely happy with the accommodation as it was single rooms which was rare for us! The rest of the day revolved around our safety lectures on the Vikings and how to use our re-breathers for the following events the next day.
On Thursday morning the lads of 187 troop ate morning scran and then took their swimming kit to the swimming pool on the camp at Bovington. This is where we were first tested using our re-breathers; we did a number of tests and exercises from holding our breath under the water using the re-breathers to pulling ourselves along the ropes at the bottom of the pool with the re-breather on. The pool was only shallow so this was no problem we were told, the situation changes when you go deeper as we were to find out that afternoon. Some of the lads worried for a few recruits as they were finding it more difficult to use than others.
That afternoon we arrived at the facility in Yeovil that was to put our re-breather skills to the test and to see if we could complete the Viking dunker drills correctly. Everyone got changed and out by the pool side with their re-breathers ready. The first exercise was the same as ones we has already done previously that morning but this time 3 metres down where the pressure is increased, the exercise was to pull yourself across 4 connecting diagonal ropes at the bottom of the pool efficiently using your re-breather. All but one of the lads from 187 were able to complete this, this individual was a very liked member of the troop and all the lads watching on the pool side were in shock and moral dropped, but still we had to carry on with the day. 187 troop were then to complete the dunker drills of the Viking. Seven recruits were to enter the simulator being suspended above the pool, the simulator was to drop in to the water, lights off and then rotated upside down. The objective was for all recruits to use their re-breathers and all exit the simulator via one hole, all recruits passed this part of the exercise. The talking point of the day had to be when one recruit couldn’t find the exit hole to leave the simulator, this caused him to panic and pull on his life jacket cord while still in the simulator. The safety plan was immediately executed by the instructors and the whole simulator was out of the water in a matter of seconds leaving only an embarrassed member of the troop left inside requiring a re teach on the correct procedure for exiting the simulator. This event was not funny at the time and was rather scary but the recruit being the paddy he is found some way to laugh about it that evening.
The last day found 187 troop using and applying everything we had been taught and actually going in a real life Viking vehicle. We started the morning doing our embarkation and disembarkation drills from the Viking, eight of us with kit in the back of a Viking. We were shocked to find that soldiers had heard of spending up to two days in the back of the vehicles when out on patrol. The rest of the day saw us actually being sat in the back of one and driving into water when the Viking showed us that it can stay buoyant, for a vehicle that weighs up to fifteen tonnes it was impressive. All in all a good week for 187 troop.


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