189 Troop Diary Week 22 & 23
These weeks were split into 2 main areas: Adventure Training (AT) and Exercise Violent Entry and both weeks concluded into a well-earned Christmas leave.
Once we arrived at the adventure training area on the north Devon coast, most recruits were feeling a combination nerves and excitement. Exercise Violent Entry with its reputation for being both physically and technically demanding seemed to loom over everyone, whilst the thought of the Christmas period and break from the training environment was a relieving thought to everyone.
The week kicked off in great style with an introduction to “coasteering”. The first thought the lads had was that a day bumbling around the North Devon coast in the middle of December getting lashed by wind and rain didn’t really sound much different to a normal day out for Royal Marine recruits. However cliff climbing in wet suits with the ocean crashing in, as well as leaping from rock platforms into a 17ft North Atlantic soon livens things up and it turned what could have been an average day into one which was thrilling and exciting for the whole group. Once we had finished the day’s activities we capped the day off with a meal at a nearby pub in a slightly more relaxed atmosphere with both the section commanders and the AT instructors. This again only reinforced the challenge of Ex Violent Entry towering over the group, as everyone assumed the relaxed atmosphere was the calm before the storm.
The following day consisted of a day of mountain biking, this was boundless and exhilarating on the downhill sections, but don’t underestimate the climbing; sometimes the thought of an early bottom field session seemed more appealing than some of those hills! The instructors were great on every aspect of the AT week but the mountain biking duo really stood out as they were educational yet relaxed and trustworthy as some downhill sections were very technical. Because of unfortunate circumstances the transport to the kayaking was cancelled the following day, and we ended up doing a replacement activity of indoor rock climbing which was again surprisingly challenging as the instructors introduced several mini-challenges on the walls, which completely immersed everyone in the activity.
Once the AT aspect of the week had came to a close, it was back to Lympstone for an intense turn around, loading stores and signing out personal equipment needed for the forthcoming exercise. The nerves started to build within the whole group, the additional weight we needed to carry and length of the upcoming yomps increased anxiousness as well as the introduction of the GPMG to an exercise scenario.
Before we knew it we were on the coach to the training area of Sennybridge in South Wales. As a troop this was the first time we had began an exercise from the cover of darkness and it was an intense start, unloading the Bergens and bombing up ammunition. The weather started to make itself known to the lads through sideways rain, cold temperatures and the combined wind-chill factor. It got to the point where we had to move and we started the insertion yomp to the harbour location. We arrived at the training area at 2100 that night and didn’t harbour up until 0400, covering numerous miles toughening terrain in darkness. We lost some recruits through some unfortunate injuries on the way, but as well as being a member of the team your main focus is on not stopping and pushing all the way in. The most important way of getting through Violent Entry for me is to think that the pain WILL end. This can be my only advice to recruits taking on the challenge.
The following day consisted of holding the harbour location, commencing correct harbour routine / drills, carrying out all recces on provided grid locations and gaining the information needed for a potential attack on the built up area. As a troop, the following morning at first light we moved tactically to the FUP where we ditched our Bergens and with fighting order we advanced to our battle positions, described in orders given from the troop boss in the harbour location the night before. The advance to contact was very much MUC orientated as the week previous we were all over the room clearing aspect of urban combat. Once we had secured two houses within the village our challenge throughout the night was to protect and hold our foothold within the village.
189 Troop Diary Week 24
On Monday we had a 6 mile booted run in the morning. This went well and was an opportunity to blow off some of the cobwebs accumulated over Christmas leave. The run was followed by a lesson in the stances on the LMG, of which we would have a weapons handling test on at the end of the week. Everyone was glad to be getting back into the swing of things.
Tuesday saw the troop introduced to the Endurance Course on Woodbury Common. All of us had previous experience with the course from PRMC but it was beneficial to be shown around the course in clean fatigue by the Tp PTI. After we were shown around the course we were given the chance to run through it in sections. Apart from being a hang out and 4 section seemingly deciding to crawl around the course, everyone dug out blind and enjoyed it.
Wednesday was the Tarzan acquaint which saw us attempt the 30 foot wall and the commando slide. Not as physically demanding as the day before and nice to be getting on to the Tarzan section of the assault course. There were a few shocking attempts on the commando slide which provided some laughs but everyone got stuck in and no injuries picked up so another productive day at CTC.
Thursday was a fairly quiet day compared to the rest of the week which gave the troop and their legs a much needed rest before the 12 mile load carry on Friday. The day started with a morning of Drill. I think it’s safe to say the lesson was needed as it has been been a fair while since the troop has done any arms drill. The lesson was spent revising the moves learned up until now and we also learned fixing and replacing bayonets.
A period of swimming was on the timetable but the troop ended up moving kit and equipment around the gymnasium for the PTI’s. Missed out on some chilled out phys but it wasn’t too bad in the end. In the afternoon we went down to the stances to attempt our weapons handling tests for the LMG’s. Everybody passed without too much hassle so that was a very productive serial.
Friday, as previously mentioned, was the 12 mile load carry. It was an early start and we were on the transport for 7. Shortly after arriving at a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, we set off in the dark back to CTC. The pace was relentless and as the day started to become light we started hitting roads which provided a slightly easily terrain to cover. A few hours in and we started to recognise our surroundings. Knowing we were only on the far side of the common at this point helped push us on to the end. It was a tough 4 hours and a couple of lads dropped off but the troop were strong and we all approached the pavilion with our heads held high.
On the whole it was a busy and productive week back at CTC after leave and on the whole the troop did well on the phys, so we go into week 25 full of confidence and intrigue as to what lies ahead.