Week 25 –
Week 25 was an immensely enjoyable week for 190 Troop. It was a week spent off camp down at HMS Raleigh – a base just outside of Plymouth where all phase 1 Royal Navy recruits are trained. It was our first chance to see what being ‘amphibious’ was really like, as up to now the closest we’d seen of the sea was looking across it on Exercise Second Empire.
The week started with a 2 day basic sea survival course. Day one was spent learning how to react if you fall overboard at sea and what happens if the call  ‘abandon ‘ ship is issued. After a morning of theory and learning about the kit that comes in a life raft we went down to the pool to practice some scenarios that could happen to us whilst at sea. The second day was spent learning about fires on ships and how to fight them effectively. Again after a morning of theory training we were put into a huge fire simulator to put what we had been taught into practice. This was great fun for all involved and a completely new experience.
Following these two days of mostly theory we got our first chance to get out on the open water with 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines. These Royal Marines who operate all types of landing craft, took us for a day of amphibious training, beginning with capsize drills. Watching everyone attempt to report to the instructors when fully submerged in freezing cold water proved to be highly amusing. After getting back into warm dry kit, we moved onto amphibious landings. This got the troop fired up no end as it reminded us of the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, with all of the troops filing out of the landing craft onto the beach. Once we had this squared away we waited until it got dark to repeat the drills a night and prove that we could do it in all conditions.
We finished the week with a trip to the China Fleet County Club, where we receive discounted use of the facilities. This was a nice relaxing afternoon, where some of the troop spent their time in the steam room and sauna, while other just enjoyed a nice meal. Overall it was a good way to end a hoofing week.
Week 26/27 –
Week 26 started with the 6 mile speed march and everyone was nervous as it meant receiving the coveted cap comforter on completion. We all passed, all though it did take a re-run for one of the lads complete. We were now finally into the Commando phase of training.
Monday afternoon consisted of river crossing training in the tank with the Mountain Leaders. This was in preparation for a day at Foggin Tor on Dartmoor conducting cliff assaults – also known to be a potentially bad experience on the nod vine. However we dug out and it was one of the best days in training so far. We learnt different techniques to climb and abseil on cliffs both with and without our bergans. However, we did lose one of the lads with a broken ankle unfortunately. We thought we’d lost another when he fell off the ropes and split his chin open – he returned a day into Exercise Final Thrust to the surprise of the Troop.
Now that Foggin tor was out of the way, we turned our attention to Ex Final Thrust, the last field exercise in recruit training. Everyone wanted to prove we could have a good exercise after a poor performance on Exercise Violent Entry. We started the exercise on Bodmin Moor, conducting recce patrols and a first light attack before moving to Dartmoor where we would spend the next five days. On the Sunday we set off on our ‘killer yomp’ which took grit and determination to complete nine long hours of discomfort across the snowy Dartmoor hills. To the relief of the troop, no one got injured, despite the tough terrain and weather conditions. After more recce patrols, observation posts and first light attacks we moved to HMS Brecon, a training ship in the Plymouth Sound.
The end of the exercise was in sight, and we had some well needed downtime on the ship to recover and scran up. Some of the lads ate a little too well and ran out of rations before the final attack on Scrasedon Fort. We carried out an amphibious beach assault before setting up harbour near to the Fort. We waited for intelligence from 2 section’s recce patrol before receiving orders at 0400. Finally, we moved into the fort just before first light for a 0700 attack. The final assault was the culmination of everything we’d been taught through training.
Week 26 & 27 was a huge relief to get through and a massive weight off our shoulders – the end is now in sight