197 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 1
1. 197 Troop began their 32 weeks of Royal Marines Commando training on 17 Nov 14. Many of us had already met whilst congregating at Exeter St David’s railway station, nervous and exited over what our initial experiences of CTCRM would be. It dawned on us that this group of strangers would become very accustomed to each other over the coming weeks and that this was the beginning of many close friendships.
2. The first week has been mainly focused on transition from civilian to military lifestyle. We have learned that attention to detail, early starts and teamwork are paramount to administrative success. Many of the basic husbandry tasks such as ironing, hygiene, washing equipment, folding etc may appear tedious but the importance of disciplined military regime has been explained to us in depth. Even by the end of the first week, our efficiency with personal administration had improved greatly and many of the younger recruits already seem to be transforming rapidly into adults.
3. The Troop has integrated with each other well – mainly through a sense of shared adversity. Morale has also been kept high by the military humour that the training team has introduced us to. Cheerfulness in the face of adversity is a key tenet to our new Troop ethos.
4. All of us arrived under the impression we were physically fit – an illusion which was soon shattered by our initial gym sessions. The intensity of these sessions will only build as we progress towards the Commando course and many of us are now fully aware of the devotion required to physically develop at the necessary rate. The many extra press-ups for mistakes in the gym routine are likely to help this progression and also build our strength of mind!
5. Following a tough start to recruit training, it was a pleasant respite to have a couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday that were free to head into Exeter. This new city will be our escape over the next nine months and it was good to get a chance to quickly recharge before Week Two. The coming week is still focused on husbandry and personal administration but we will also get a basic insight into field-craft – the art of administrating yourself and thriving in austere outdoors conditions.
197 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 2
1. This was our second week learning to implement the basic administrative skills necessary to live and work in a military environment. The week was again spent in Foundation Block where the intensity of training increased allowing us to experience the focus, labour and commitment that will be necessary to succeed at CTCRM. The key to coping with this raised intensity has been to integrate as a Troop and work together to overcome tasks. We have learned to invest heavily in our new friendships and share our workloads.
2. Recruits at CTCRM are often referred to as “nods” – a term that had initially confused us until this week. However, following several intense PT sessions, a vast volume of new information/skills, plus the endless ironing, cleaning, and folding – it quickly became apparent that the term is based on the constant, unrelenting fatigue that recruits experience; causing us to constantly “nod” off. It’s certainly a fair nickname; retaining the knowledge and understanding all that is taught is a constant challenge when as exhausted as we generally are.
3. Tuesday night was the first of many that we will potentially spend in field conditions during our prospective careers. It was designed to give us our first glimpse into the demanding system of wet and dry routine – whereby a soldier will maintain his durability by rapidly changing from soiled, working clothing into the sanctity of dry clothing in order to regenerate and administrate himself. This dry kit must always be maintained to ensure unlimited endurance, so the skill necessitated us becoming familiar with wearing wet/cold clothing in which to work in. Psychologically adjusting to these conditions in order to maintain our effectiveness is essential to developing our robustness over the coming weeks.
4. Having covered many of the skills necessary for personal administration during Week 1, we were able to progress towards some more engaging weapons and field-craft training this week. This included our first few lessons handling the SA80 A2 Assault Rifle – the key component of our new trade. First off, we learned the weapon’s normal safety procedures before progressing into the stripping and assembling of the weapon.
5. The highlight of our week was our first lessons in Royal Marines Close Combat – an unarmed fighting discipline which is specifically designed to immobilise and defeat enemies in close proximity. This week was focused on ground fighting and the ability to fall then defend yourself from your back. It is one of the most enjoyable periods that we currently undertake.
197 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 3
1. We have now been split into our Sections and placed into 6-man accommodation to work together. This allows us to integrate better and establish a more settled routine plus it has increased our sense of identity. This accommodation will house us for the remainder of training so there was a concerted effort this week to deep-clean and set a standard of hygiene/cleanliness that is easier to maintain. Prior to our first major inspection, it had taken us a long time to appreciate the scrupulous level of attention that would be necessary to achieve the necessary standards. This resulted in several remedial inspection re-shows.
2. Week 3 was another demanding week physically and we continue to transition to the intensity and volume of Royal Marine PT. We were often in the gymnasium twice a day, learning the routines that will be tested in the ninth week. We learned the taxing warm-ups and synchronised manoeuvres before developing new skills such as upper-body PT on beams or how to make-fast when climbing a rope – this allows you to fix your position and release your arms.
3. The Troop really enjoyed the weapons training this week, periods taught by our individual Section Commanders. The intensity of revision and practise necessary to build confidence with our rifles cannot be understated – the drills and functioning must become second nature to us. As we progress it is becoming more rewarding to learn the infantry skills of our new trades, whilst the less engaging elements of basic husbandry become more familiar and efficient.
4. Aside from PT and weapons training, we also continued our Parade Drill, where we were issued new barrack dress to administrate. We also developed several new techniques like slow marching.
5. Following a physically and mentally demanding week, we were given a days shore leave on Saturday afternoon and Sunday which allowed us to recuperate and prepare for the coming weeks. Over a sociable drink we reflected on training so far and how demanding but rewarding it has been.