201 TRIANING DIARY WEEK 6
Week 6 is designed to get the troop ready for Ex MARSHALL STAR. In preparation for this we conducted all our map reading lectures and also started learning first aid. The first aid had lots of practical elements in it to ensure we understood how to treat a casualty in the street. This then progressed on to how to treat a battlefield casualty with injuries such as bullet wounds, broken limbs and catastrophic bleeding. Not only was this all very interesting, it drove home to us the realities of what could be expected of us and what we may witness whilst on the battlefield. To create some measure of reality and pressure to some of the situations we had to conduct a small amount of exercise to get our blood pumping. It did seem a little odd however to be running on the spot, doing some press ups and burpees before you could treat the casualty.
Although some of the troop had done a considerable amount of navigation before they joined the Royal Marines, others had never seen a compass before. For this reason our navigation lectures started from the very start and steadily built up as the week progressed. It began with being able to take a bearing using a compass. By the end we were able to tell what types of feature the contours were depicting on the map. This was all in preparation for our navigation exercise later on in training where being able to tell how high and steep a hill is becomes a main factor in selecting a route. We all seem to be under the impression, however, that no matter how high or steep it is, we will still be going up it!
Among the lectures was the ‘Unthinking Moment’, a stark wake up to the realities and consequences of poor weapon handling which can result in what is known as a negligent discharge. This is when you fire your weapon unintentionally. This could even end up harming one of your ‘oppos’. This was ahead of our introduction to firing the SA80 rifle.
Wednesday was a day to remember as it was the first time for many to fire what are known as live rounds. After ‘dry’ firing, which is practicing the position and hold of the weapon without any rounds we were allowed onto the range. The reason why we spent so long pretending to fire rounds was evident. The time spent getting used to handling the weapon alleviated much ‘flapping’ (panicking) when it came to actually firing the weapon. This was extremely enjoyable and on the whole the troop produced respectable results that hopefully we will carry over on to our Straight Point package.
201 TRIANING DIARY WEEK 7
We started the week with a ‘yomp’ out to Exercise Marshall Star which is a three night exercise on Woodbury Common.
On the first night we had a demonstration on how far noise and light can travel at night. It was really quite surprising to see just how far away noises can be heard and explains why the Training Team have been so strict about discipline when we are in the troop harbour. After the demo we then started to set up our own harbour whilst making the minimum amount of sound and without light. After we had put up our ponchos it was time for some ‘head down’ (sleep) and, of course, a bit of sentry duty.
At first light the following morning (0545!!!) the troop was packing away their ponchos ready for ‘stand-to’. This is when the troop packs all their kit away and forms a 360 degree defensive position for a set amount of time. This is done at first light and last light as these are the most likely times the enemy will attack. We then had until 0800 to conduct our morning routine and a full kit muster laid out ready for inspection. In the afternoon we were taught how to conduct fire control orders and target indications. These are commands given when the patrol comes under effective enemy fire. They are designed to let everyone know where the enemy is and the fire control order is issued by the Section Commander as he decides how best to return fire. We then started preparing ourselves for the night navigation taking place that evening.
Tuesday’s night navigation was conducted within our sections alongside our Section Corporals. This allowed us to ask any questions or clarify queries before our own night navigation exercise on Wednesday. Once we had returned to the harbour we continued to ‘get in it’ (get in our sleeping bags) and carry out the same morning routine again.
On Wednesday the troop conducted a stalk. Once given a start position and a target some 800m away, the aim is to individually get as close as possible to the target, or within a 300m range, fire our weapons and see if we can be seen. The target area has at least 2 spotters looking out for us. The emphasis here is on good camouflage and selecting the best route towards the target. This is thoroughly enjoyable and harder than it looks.
Wednesday night we definitely put our map reading skills into practise as we conducted a night navigation course in pairs. We were to meet a member of the Training Team at each checkpoint and had 2 hours to complete the exercise. Once we had finished we established our harbour only to be shortly woken up by the ‘enemy’ contacting our harbour. We then had to hastily move to another location and re-establish the harbour. The exercise ended with a 4 mile march back to camp. Morale was high by this point because we all knew we were about to go on Easter Leave for 2 weeks the following day.
201 TRAINING DIARY WEEK 8
Week 8 saw 201 Troop return from 2 weeks of much appreciated Easter Leave. This week was largely a lecture week spent on camp, similar to week 6, which was looked upon fondly during our subsequent stint on Dartmoor.
The fine weather brought out the Summer drill rig for our first interval drill period of the new term. This was in preparation for our interval drill passout on Wednesday. The opportunity to put some work in on our drill boots was adhered to by most of the troop, although scotchbrite wire brushes and sylvet polishing cloths have been confused in some instances.
Our PTI was adamant he would counter the effects Easter Leave had had on us. His training programme misled us into thinking that a ‘relaxing’ 4 mile run was on the cards. Instead it turned out to be a 3 mile sprint in which all our timings were noted and passed on to our Training Team. A fantastic way to get back into the swing of things…
On Tuesday we had a refresher in Royal Marines Close Combat (RMCC) training where we were taught how to defend ourselves without a weapon. Following this we began our First Aid training in the lecture rooms. Wednesday brought with it Company Commander’s Rounds (inspection). The meant the evening before was fairly sleepless as every floor, window, boot, mess tin, magazine, clasp knife, towel, laptop charger, hand basin, banister, lavatory, fingernail, roof tile, bayonet and eye socket would be polished, brassoed, bulled, scrubbed, bleached, sanded down, dissolved, set fire to, shouted at or simply discarded completely. The excuse “I was never issued one” was used to good effect, however it doesn’t work when trying to hide the entire contents of your locker. The hard work paid off and the Company Commander and Sergeant Major were content with what they saw. The afternoon continued to be a success as the troop completed their interval drill on the Parade Ground, allowing us to progress onto arms drill.
Thursday saw an introduction to survival training with the camp’s Mountain Leader section. We made the short trip to Stallcombe Wood where we spent the day being introduced to various components of our upcoming survival exercise. This enjoyable day out of camp saw the troop get to grips with fire lighting, shelter building, trap laying (any residents of Exton have the sincere apologies of the troop if their pets are caught due to overzealous recruits honing their new skills in the local area…). We were also taught survival navigation and timekeeping as well as survival tin contents and interesting items of cutlery.
On Friday the troop conducted a repeat of the Royal Marine Fitness Assessment which we completed on our second day. This allows our instructors to highlight any shortcomings in our physical performance and effort. The afternoon continued with an enjoyable time orienteering around Woodbury Common. This gave us the opportunity to fine tune our map reading skills in the safety of daylight. Thankfully no one had to conduct the lost procedure or utilise their survival tins, a sure sign that we are progressing.