201 TRIANING DIARY WEEK 9
During week 9 201 Troop undertook a lot of criteria tests, including the first aid exam and the infamous Gym Passout (it only became apparent later why it was so infamous!).
At the beginning of the week we conducted a series of lectures preparing us for our first aid exam. We learnt about controlling an emergency situation, assessing casualties and how to communicate to emergency services. Our lectures then moved on to learning about dealing with casualties, types of injury and how to treat them.
In between the first aid lectures we had several ‘phys’ sessions to sharpen our gym routine after having two very enjoyable weeks off over Easter. One of these sessions was an amusing circuit in the pool. We had to perform our gym routine in the pool, including having to leap-frog over each other. As far as ‘phys’ goes this was very enjoyable and a good boost to morale before our assessment.
The night before Gym Passout we were taken to the gym for a final debrief and rehearsal. It was at this point those who had earned a nomination as Gym Superior found out who they were. There were five in total and each would wear a red vest during the assessment. They would need to show that they are the fittest in the troop, maintaining the highest of standards. If they didn’t they would not be awarded it.
The whole troop was feeling the nerves the morning of the passout, preparing and stretching off in their rooms. We entered the gym at an unbelievable speed, fired up and ready to succeed. We began with the warm up followed by the ‘liveners’. We were all buzzing, concentrating on maintaining an immaculate body position. We then moved onto the ropes, probably the troop’s strongest part. These are 30ft ropes which lead up to the roof of the gym. We completed three full climbs including a make-fast which is when we stop half-way up the rope, clamp our feet to it and let go with our arms. After ropes came the camp circuit. Once we had finished our lap of camp we then moved back into the gym for the main sequence. Starting to fatigue, the troop carried on working hard and we went straight onto the beam sequence where we did nearly every single type of pull-up known. On completion of the beam sequence we went straight into sprints (after another camp circuit!) and we knew that we were approaching the end of the session. Thinking we had finished we then had three more rope climbs to complete! These were ‘cheeky’ climbs whereby climb halfway, do three pull-ups and then climb to the top. When we got to the bottom we then had to climb straight back up without letting our feet touch the ground. Most of the troop managed to complete all the climbs, allowing us some bonus marks on the assessment.
Overall our hard work paid off as the whole troop passed and are now preparing to go onto the Bottom Field…
201 TRIANING DIARY WEEK 10
Week 10. Hunter’s Moon. Survival Exercise. Nervous anticipation! The rumour mill at CTCRM had been churning and great tales of woe had been passed along the grape vine. The way I saw it, it turned out to be quite the bonding experience for 201 Troop.
The coach arrived on Monday morning and we stowed our dauntingly heavy kit on board, clambered into our seats and tried to sleep during the journey to the infamous Dartmoor, a place of mythical status amongst young recruits. On arrival at our starting location (next to a pub car park, such a warm and inviting atmosphere that we were going to be denied for the week) we collected our kit, applied camouflage and set off on our insertion ‘yomp’ (march) in our sections. ‘Yomping’ can’t really be explained in words, it’s just best to be avoided at all costs
A few kilometres and navigational detours later we arrived at our home for the next few days. It seemed quite idyllic, a small cottage in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately that was for the Training Team, not for us. We had the luxury of putting up ponchos and writing navigational route cards, experiencing the full spectrum of Dartmoor’s schizophrenic weather system. A sunny day soon turned into a cold wind bringing hail with it, appearing from nowhere. This would typically be followed by light rain before returning back to sunlight. Once we had something to eat and had planned our route for that night’s navigation exercise we stepped off into the wilds of Dartmoor (in the dark!). Somehow everyone made it back and we then set up our harbour position and got some sleep, if you were lucky.
Tuesday morning was soon upon us and the much loved morning routine and kit muster awaited us. There is something humorous about being topless in the cold of Dartmoor hacking at your face with a cheap, disposable razor. Kit musters are a strange process. One must empty the entire contents of their Bergen, daysack and webbing onto a poncho and have it inspected with a fine toothcomb by your Section Corporal, hoping it doesn’t rain and create rust on your rifle (an instant fail!). We then prepared ourselves for another day of navigating around Dartmoor in preparation for the second night navigation exercise without the assistance of our Section Corporal. Before it became dark we were given a demonstration of the pyrotechnics we use and we all had a go firing miniflares into the sky. This is basically a budget firework display to assist in our safety if we become consumed by the moor.
Wednesday came around and the troop was split into two. One half conducted another stalk whilst the other carried out a static map stance. This is when we are based on an area of the moor and have to work out where we are on the map. We are then asked a series of questions based on our position and the locations of features around us. Once the troop had had a go at each we then carried on with our extraction ‘yomp’ leading into the survival phase. On arrival in Gideligh Woods we were given a short brief before building our shelters in the fading light. Although everyone was tired, the prospect of sleeping next to a warm fire and sheltered from the elements was very appealing.
Awaking on Thursday morning not to an alarm and morning routine but to a warm fire and the sun shining on us was a pleasant change. The only thing we had to concentrate on doing was keeping the fire alight and collecting water from the nearby stream. Then there was the arrival of the feared Mountain Leaders… However, this time we weren’t going to have to run anywhere but instead learn what local greens we could eat and how to prepare fish and chickens for eating. We were shown how to gut them and how best to cook them with what we had. The rest of the day we continued to kill, gut and eat our meat and collect endless amounts of firewood.
The following morning was an early start as we collapsed our shelters and marched to a rendezvous point. Unsure what to expect and constantly hungry we arrived at what was to be our pick up point back to camp. Not only did this raise spirits but a cooked breakfast waiting for us as well meant that morale was ‘toppers’.