194 Troop started week 3 of RM training in high spirits. We had moved over the weekend from the infamous Foundation Block to our new “Grots” A welcome change in pace as we were now living in section rooms of 6-7 men instead of 48. The snoring and other night time noises were diminished exponentially. Our new grot had been left in a bit of a state by the previous residents but we pulled together and had it neat and tidy for inspection Monday.
Week 3 saw the beginning of Weapons Stances where, in our Sections and led by our Section Corporals, we began to learn all about our weapon system, the SA80 Rifle, and how to use it effectively. These lessons consisted of safe handling, stripping and cleaning and the Marksmanship Principles, amongst other things. It was all very interesting for the lads who had not done it before and we all learned a lot about our most important piece of kit.
Our IMF (Initial Military Fitness) sessions were ramping up and we spent lots of time up and down the ropes, doing press ups and sit ups and running around the camp at top speed. The camp circuits are a troop “favourite”. We have about 3:30 to make it all the way around the camp on the main road. It may sound easy but 3:30 of 100% effort is anything but. We have all learned to fear the words from our PTI “When I say go, in your places for Camp Circuits”
Week 3 also brought the start of RMCC (Royal Marine Close Combat) lessons. These lessons teach us the basics of battlefield specific hand to hand fighting. Ideally we will never need to use the techniques taught in these lessons but it is necessary to know them in case we are unable to use our primary or secondary weapons in combat; universally these lessons are enjoyed. No RM Recruit turns down a chance to strut a little bit of physical prowess and the lessons are a good outlet. We have some lads with previous martial arts experience but most of us are new to this and it is always good fun. We all get a kick out of watching the volunteers getting handled by the Instructors as they demo the moves to us. Especially when said volunteers resist a little…
As a troop, we were all looking forward to the beginning of Week 4 and with it, the disposal of our Lumi-Tabs (tapes worn on our shirts to denote we are newbees). While we all disliked these little strips of orange ribbon on our uniforms that identified us as Foundation Nods, we knew that they shielded us (to a degree) from some of our more rookie mistakes around camp (i.e. not saluting when we are supposed to). With their removal, as we were kindly reminded by a DL, it becomes “Open season on 194 Troop”.
Week four…… A busy start to the week for 194 Troop, prepping kit for our first ‘big adventure’ outside of camp. After the wet and dry routine on the bottom field needless to say none of us were looking forward to it.
Three days of weapons handling which to some lads must have felt like three years. For one lad, fingers tapped together to try and refrain from firing with middle finger. On a positive the whole troop learnt a lot, ‘enjoyed’ First Step and all passed the weapons handling test. “Happy with that”
Trying to look forward to week five, training team stand by.
Week 5 commenced with a troop run with our PTI on the Monday morning. The run was at a decent pace which meant no one struggled but by no mean was it a walk in the park especially due to a few niggles some of the troop had picked up. On completion of the run we began to pack up our equipment for our forthcoming 2 ½ day exercise “Quick Cover”. It started with the usual shenanigans of setting up the tent and supplies of the training team by orders of the Sergeant. One of the recruits at this point thought it would be his opportunity to remind the training team that he had forgotten his helmet (one of the most essential and basic items any soldiers will ever need, use and want). For his integrity he was awarded with a therapeutic mud bath which I am sure he was grateful for as everyone knows that mud baths exfoliate the skin.
To emphasise the importance of wet and dry routine, the Troop Commander was generous enough to have arranged an outdoor swimming pool from some guy called “Peter” for our benefit so we can demonstrate that being cold and wet is the highlight of all recruits coming and going through Royal Marines training.
We got to understand the importance of camouflage and concealment from our very own Corporal who happened to be a PW2 sniper so had vast experience in this matter. Camouflage was interesting; it’s like putting as much make up on as a clown but a little more serious/deadly. Taking it off without any alcohol wipes and only a small cloth with luke warm water on the other hand was the most “fun” we had those mornings.
Each morning begins with a full kit muster where our kit is inspected by our Section Commanders. If we pass, then we get to enjoy a nice cup of tea, if we fail on the other hand then the training team go out of their way to arrange extra kit muster training followed by more mud baths and another quick dip in the swimming pool (how nice of them)
The biggest highlight for most of our section on the other hand must have been learning how to “react to incoming enemy fire”. This educated us in Life Saver drills when coming into contact by the enemy. After all, using our rifles and learning such drills was why most of us signed up for.
The end of the week finished on a very bright note indeed. It was Families’ Day which meant we were allocated our very first long weekend, got to see our loved ones and even enjoyed the view of our fellow colleagues’ family members! Although it may be deemed un-tasteful to lust over our friends’ sisters, girlfriends/wives and even mothers, people need to understand that after seeing and showering with nothing but naked guys every single day a bit of female attention was just what the doctor ordered.