191 Troop – training diary -weeks 26/27
Following a week of amphibious training we entered week 26, and so began the Commando phase. The Commando phase has remained almost unchanged since WW2. But to take on this stage of training we had to first earn our cap comforter.
Monday began with an early morning 6-mile speed march. This replicates the 6 miles regularly ran by the original Commandos at Achnercarry in Scotland. Once completed, we received our cap comforter from the Troop Commander and section Corporals. Needless to say this was an amazing feeling, and we were now eager to take on the rest of training.
Tuesday saw 191 troop paying a visit to Foggin Tor for a day with the Mountain Leaders. Foggin Tor is a disused quarry with various granite faces and pools used for climbing and abseiling. We practised all sorts of vertical assault techniques like scaling cliffs in full kit, abseiling, roller haulage (vertical running to expediently scale a cliff) and then put these to the test at night. The most demanding serial was the full kit river crossing. Swimming with your bergen in the freezing February water was not the most enjoyable experience that day, but we laughed it off.
Wednesday 191 troop had our acquaint to the tarzan high obstacles. We were taught the correct techniques and changeovers required to safely and quickly get through. This was enjoyable as it made us realise how close we were to the real tests.
Thursday we were now finally set for Ex FINAL THRUST – the final validation that we had the qualities needed to pass out. A Commando values, above all else, his capacity to remain tactically astute and effective, in austere conditions, no matter how degraded by inclement weather or sleep deprivation he might be. We knew that this was not to be an easy week, but a challenging and rewarding one.
In the early afternoon of Thursday we had finished orders and final preparations for the exercise, we boarded a Sea King helicopter and headed for Bodmin Moor, where we would begin an arduous 7 days. Upon landing we squared ourselves away and began our march to the first troop attack on the objective, which saw all sections working well together and the troop did well here. Everything we had learned and practiced fell into place, and we destroyed the enemy. We harboured up in the area we had fought clear, sending out various patrols and attacks. In the early hours we secured transport to Dartmoor. This was where our yomping legs would be tested. We travelled the whole training area over a few days, with full kit, and carrying out various attacks, ambushes and reconnaissance patrols at each checkpoint. One of the yomps was rightly named ‘killer yomp’ which as the crow flies, was about 11 miles. We however believe we travelled much further. After a final attack led by our Corporals and directed by the Troop Commander we harboured up and were given even more scran and ammunition. We felt as though our bergens couldn’t get any heavier.
We got in the vehicles again for a trip to Plymouth, the weather had changed from the usual snow, sleet and sideways rain that Dartmoor had kindly provided. We boarded the LCVP (landing craft vehicle personnel) and travelled to our ship HMS Brecon. That night the troop got in the Zodiac craft and silently approached a huge cliff which we scaled. Then at the top 2 and 3 sections dealt with the target, as 1 section provided rear support. After, we abseiled down and travelled back to HMS Brecon where we were told to get some head down until morning.
At about 09:00 Wednesday two fire teams were sent via zodiac to find and recce a huge fort for the day. This was important as we needed to gain information for when the rest of the troop arrived about 13 hours later. The troop arrived and we awaited h-hour and the final attack at first light. We snook into the fort Thursday morning, with another section climbing up top to provide fire support for the attack. We could see the enemy when we were inside, they had no idea. The attack went loud, and the fire support opened up with a ripple of machine gun fire. Bit by bit we took the fort and eliminated all enemy. After this “end ex” was called. The troop got to fly back to CTCRM via Chinook helicopter! After that we de-serviced all kit.
Friday we all zero’d our weapons for the endurance course next week