198 TROOP DIARY WEEK 10
Week 10 began after a celebratory weekend following the Troop’s success during Gym Pass Out. The morning consisted of the usual battle preparation for the upcoming Ex HUNTERS MOON, an arduous navigation and survival exercise on Dartmoor. The tension built throughout the morning as stores were loaded and forgotten bits of kit quickly packed away. Finally it was time to leave CTC with a degree of uncertainty as to what lay before us.
The coach journey provided us enough time to snatch a bit of head down – who knew when we were next going to get it, before dropping us at Princetown in the middle of Dartmoor. Fortunately the sun was shining as we set off on our insertion yomp of around 7km, with each leg being led by a different Recruit. As soon as we arrived at the exercise location, we set up a harbour and began immediately preparing route cards for the first night navex. Not only was this a lot colder than during the day, it is a lot more difficult to both navigate and actually walk over when there is no moon. The following day followed a similar pattern, with a longer day navigation of around 10km followed by a night navex where we where in groups of 4 and for the first time, were unaccompanied by the training team. Either through good fortune or learning quicker than we had thought, the whole Troop made it round and we did not have to spend the night searching for a lost callsign on the moor. On the Wednesday we had the chance to further practice our fieldcraft skills in the form of a yomp and a static map stance before setting off on the insertion march into the survival phase which was done with some degree of trepidation, not least when the Commandant and RSM turned up to join in on the yomp.
We finally reached the survival area at around 2330 after 6 hours of yomping to be stripped of all kit and told to build shelters for the night. As a bit of morale, each group of 4 were given a raw potato to sustain them through the night. As we were building the shelters the weather, which had been so good to us so far, finally turned and it started hammering down. This made lighting a fire very difficult and the majority of the Troop spent the night very cold and wet. The next morning the Mountain Leaders came out to inspect our shelters and gave us a demonstration on how to kill, prepare and cook chicken and fish. Whilst this lesson was beneficial, the continuing rain not only soaked us through but made it extremely difficult to reignite our fires when we returned to our shelters. Finally (with a bit of help from the training team) we managed to get our fires lit and spent another uncomfortable night with minimal kit. The next morning we were woken early, told to destroy our shelters and set off on the extraction yomp of about 3km. I don’t think any of us have been happier to see a minibus.
HUNTERS MOON is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, However, I dug deep and found the determination that the training team are trying to install in us and managed to crack on and complete the exercise. The hour long journey back to camp seemed to miraculously only take seconds and we all looked forward to deservicing our kit followed by a much needed long weekend at home.