198 Troop Week 6 and 7

Week 06 proved to be a rollercoaster week of emotions for 198 Troop. Following a long weekend spent with our families the Troop had come down with a case of the infamous ‘Lympstone blues’. The train from Exeter St Davids to Exmouth resembled something from India, with hundreds of ‘nods’ all armed with brand new ironing boards and other essentials crammed aboard the train. All over the carriage last minute phone calls to loved ones could be heard. However once we got back to the grots and back into the swing of things morale was soon boosted. This was helped by the customary ‘dit’ spinning session following the weekend, by the sounds of it you would be forgiven for thinking Hugh Heffner had joined the Troop.
The week started with a frosty early morning run before beginning a week full of classroom lectures, mainly covering Map Reading and First Aid. After a few long days in the classroom we were finally getting to grips with how to use a compass.
The highlight of the week was the trip to Straight Point Ranges to fire our weapons for the first time. We had spent so long learning how to carry out the correct drills, strip and assemble and clean the rifle it was a relief to finally use it to fire live rounds. The coaching from the training team paid dividends as everybody’s shooting improved over the course of the day. It finally felt like we were progressing through training as for most of the first few weeks the most dangerous thing we were allowed to handle was an iron. 198 Troop’s Lympstone blues had been cured and we now anticipate deploying into the field next week.

After a typically painful IMF session we made our way to stores to load our supplies for the upcoming Exercise MARSHALL STAR. This is a three and a half day exercise which is designed to introduce the basics of navigation and to build upon the general soldiering and field craft skills we have learnt so far. After erecting the team tent we had on lecture on ‘hasty’ and ‘crash’ moves which are used when the harbour position is attacked; at this point it dawned on us that we were going to be in for very little sleep. We were then taken through a CQB lane to assess our progress with basic soldiering skills.
After a very early start having had very little sleep, we had the usual morning kit muster before continuing with the day’s lectures on target indication, fire control orders and navigation. After last light we were taken on a night navigation exercise supervised by our section commanders. This was our first exposure to actually having to navigate which was challenging given the night time conditions, fortunately the section commanders were on hand to give guidance and advice.
Tuesday began with another kit muster followed by daily exercises with the Troop PTI. This included a run around Woodbury Common combined with circuits on the way round. Fortunately the weather was nice and cold and we were wearing t-shirts so there was no danger of us overheating. We than had to apply cam and put our field craft skills into practice in the form of a stalk. We had 50 minutes to get into a firing position about 200 metres and fire 2 shots without being detected by the spotters, one of which was a trained sniper, talk about a challenge.
At night our navigation skills were again put to the test, being set off individually and having to find our way to 4 checkpoints manned by the training team. Fortunately everybody made it round so we were able to go to sleep without having to search the common for a missing Recruit. On completion of the following morning’s kit inspection we set off for the yomp back to camp and on return it was straight into our Battle Swimming Test (BST) which all but one of us passed.
This was a particularly tiring week with a lot of information to take on board. We were all looking forward to a good night’s sleep but we soon discovered the reality of making sure your kit is in working order before you take care of yourself, resulting in very little sleep, although some us managed to get a quick power nap! We now look forward to a couple of weeks on camp before deploying to Dartmoor on Ex HUNTERS MOON.


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