201 Troop Week 1 – 4

“It’s only thirty-two weeks lads” was the phrase passing around the dinner table at ‘9 o’clockers’ on the evening of the 9TH of March. This was to be the beginning of Royal Marines Commando training for 201 Troop. Training begins for all recruits in ‘Foundation’ as it is known. Foundation consists of the first two weeks of training spent living together as a troop in a 60 man room – it doesn’t take long before friendships are forged under these conditions. The first evening you are introduced to your troop Drill Leader (DL), he becomes a pertinent character in a recruit’s early life as he is both your mum and your dad. He teaches you the very basic skills and drills required to function as a Royal Marines recruit.

A tradition the Royal Marines has adopted from its naval heritage is cleanliness of the highest standards. Cleaning is an art every Royal Marine must master – whether cleaning his kit, room, weapon or himself. Foundation seeks to instil this passion for sparkling rooms and crisply A4 folded clothes – only perfection is accepted. During the days that followed the Troop’s DL expertly taught us the famous ‘Globe and Laurelling’ (folding clothing to A4 size which is then measured using the Royal Marines’ magazine, the Globe and Laurel). These lessons take place in small instalments throughout the week, combined with lectures and introductory ‘phys’ with our Troop PTI. As the workload increased and sleep became something of the past, laughing at your ‘oppo’s’ nickname given to him by the DL provided some much needed cheerfulness in the face of adversity.

The first weekend arrived and we were ready for a few hours ‘ashore’ in town to relax, phone home and collect any essential kit we were missing. Week two saw the DL’s already exacting standards for our lockers increase – this invariably involved the rearrangement of an individual’s locker and lots of press ups! As the week continued we learned rope climbing, had longer sessions with the PTI and the dreaded camp circuit, a lung bursting sprint around camp in around 3 minutes 15 seconds. The highlight of week two however was our first experience of the field and conducting ‘wet and dry’ routine. This involves becoming completely wet, changing into dry clothes and getting into our sleeping bags. When we are required to get up we then have to take our dry clothes off and put back on our wet clothing, an emotional experience. Overall, morale is high and we are looking forward to the challenges training will bring.


The beginning of week 3 started with the troop torn in terms of morale. We had passed the important inspection the previous Friday meaning we could progress out of the Foundation phase of training. This success resulted in a troop ‘run ashore’ (night out) over the weekend. However, rather than moving into an accommodation block we were to remain in the 60 man Foundation Block whilst our accommodation was being prepared.

We were split into our sections this week which are eight man teams that the military operate in. Each section is led by a corporal who is the Section Commander. At Lympstone they are responsible for our training and assessing our progress. This means they get to know us very well and we soon discover that it is impossible to hide anything from them.

Monday began with a bang as the troop failed to meet timings – something a swift 10 minute ‘phys’ (fitness) session was sure to sort out. We bounced back from our previous tardiness after a group discussion which generally followed the theme “let’s never let them happen again”. The day continued with a ‘cheeky’ (difficult) fitness session and an even harder swim. These are the details we dread to see on the orders that tell us what is happening over the forthcoming day although morale is always high following a hard session.
The week had no major exercises in it, instead we started learning how to operate the SA80 rifle. This helped the troop settle in to life whilst on camp. The problem with this is that the troop starts to become too relaxed, meaning that our previous chat about lateness went out of the window. This culminated in the training team acquainting the troop with the front support place position (press up position). After a brief telling off and a few press ups the message was understood.
Progression through training is steep but enjoyable. One of the highlights of the week was the unarmed combat training we do in the gym. This is where we learn to defend ourselves if things ever get nasty and normally ends in us wrestling each other. Improvements can start to be seen now, particularly on the Parade Ground. No longer are we marching in a manner which lacks any coordination, instead we are starting to look smart as we go about camp.
The week ended with us promising each other that we would need to work harder next week to ensure we don’t encounter any ‘correctional phys’, especially whilst on our next exercise, Ex FIRST STEP.


To start the week off our safety net of having ‘lumi tabs’ were no longer part of our everyday uniform. These are orange tabs which we wear on our uniform that signify that a troop is in foundation.
Week 4 was crammed with lots of weapons training, a weapon handling test to prove our competence, plenty of IMF, field craft lectures and Exercise FIRST STEP, our second night under ponchos. This was our first time outside of camp and we were filled with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. The exercise started smoothly as we loaded up all the equipment required into a 4 ton lorry (known as an SV). We were then transported to a woodblock on Woodbury Common, learning straight away why the common is so integral to Royal Marine training.
The exercise concentrated on teaching us how to administrate ourselves in the field and cooking rations. The night went smoothly with everyone putting the effort in to apply the skills taught to us by the training team. However, the biggest challenge came in the morning when we had to conduct our ‘morning routine’. This is known as the process from waking up to washing and eating in preparation for a morning inspection. We do it so that we learn to keep ourselves clean and hygienic whilst deployed on operations. Although it was an initial shock, the troop managed quite well. There were however warnings of being put on the infamous flank for failing the inspection. This is a place no one wants to be in… This didn’t dampen our morale and we were soon ready for a 4 mile march back to camp. We were carrying 17lbs of weight and can be considered our first ‘yomp’ (weighted march). Not the most enjoyable of tasks and we know the distances are only going to get longer and the weight is only going to get heavier. When we got back to camp we spent the rest of the day cleaning all our kit – a very lengthy process.
Everyone was feeling stiff come Wednesday morning but the troop still managed to conduct a double PT session. It was the thought of being able to impress our families during Families’ Day that motivated us to work hard despite still recovering from being on exercise (known as being ‘in the field’).
Thursday was spent mainly learning and practising weapon drills ahead of our Weapon Handling Test which allows us to go on and use blank rifle rounds on the next exercise. This led to Friday where the majority of the troop were nervous ahead of our first pass or fail assessment. We all applied ourselves (alongside some last minute cramming) to achieve a troop 100% on the Weapon Handling Test. This was a massive boost to morale. As a reward we watched the Pass Out of 189 Troop who had just come to the end of their training. This was a major motivation for the troop and boost to why we are here and want to become Royal Marine Commandos. Although we are at the start of training, the proud faces of those on parade gave us reason to keep pushing through the challenges and show true Commando Spirit.
The end of the week saw us move out of the Foundation Block and into our accommodation for the remainder of our training. We have only just started to settle and are getting used to sharing rooms with three others rather than one large room for all of us. This has helped the troop bond and get to know the other lads in the section.


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