209 Troop Recruit Diary Week 1 – Foundation
A long time after stepping into the careers office for the first time, Monday 29th June was the day that the 27 lads of 209 Troop began their training and swore their oath to Her Majesty the Queen.
Arriving at the Commando Training Centre is a daunting experience in itself, a powerful mix of excitement and the slight fear of what the next 32 weeks will hold in store. Our drill corporal was our first encounter with anyone from the training staff here and did little to ease our nerves as he strode up and down the platform ensuring we were smart enough to come into camp.
After an early start the following morning things got properly underway, the day consisted of a Royal Marines fitness test and a swim test as well as a series of lectures from the different departments on camp which served to help us familiarise us with how things work here at Lympstone.
The RM fitness assessment, similar to what we completed on the PRMC, was the first chance we had to prove to the staff that we have the potential to become a Royal Marines Commando, with several of the troop posting strong scores across the different exercises.
One of the biggest shocks has been having to come to terms with the discipline that is required whenever we exercise as a troop in the gym. The rules are very simple, no scratching or fidgeting and no talking which may sound like no serious problem but when you are physically exerting yourself and sweat is beginning to sting your eyes, the temptation is proving to be too much for many.
Despite the relentless pace of life in Foundation, everyone is dealing with it surprisingly well.
The next day consisted of the strict learning how to set out our lockers, followed swiftly by our first inspection from our troop sergeant. The whole troop had individual bits and pieces to sort out before then attending another day of lectures.
Friday of week 1 proved to be the toughest yet, another early start yet again, clean the whole accommodation then off to conduct the 3 mile Battle Fitness Test. The PTI set the pace for the first 1 ½ miles and showed us all the route we had to take. We also ran out as a troop so everyone was together in step and in double-time. We then had a short break and set off individually as fast as we could to get the best time once again. There are some very fit lads in the troop who set off like rockets, whilst the bigger-built lads not far behind showing their determination.
One phys session but then another session in the gym where we were introduced to the ropes and how to climb them properly using the correct technique; some of the lads learnt quicker than others. We were also caught scratching and fidgeting and so were given some extra exercises to focus us.
After finishing in the gym we were quickly rushed off to the swimming pool where the weaker swimmers were near the shallow end and stronger swimmers at the deep end. We then conducted some introductory circuits which included swimming widths underwater and passing a replica rifle around in circles whilst treading water, all of which will make us more confident in the water and prepare us for the Battle Swimming Test we will have to pass in a couple of weeks – more on that at a later date no doubt!
I can’t believe that I forgot to mention the camp circuits which were by far the hardest thing we had to do that day. Basically it involved an all-out sprint around camp (800 metres) – completely exhausting all previous exercises.
As usual later on that evening we had the usual admin to do – ironing, folding, squaring our kit away that we need for the next day etc.
Saturday was the first introduction to drill when we learnt how to prove, salutre officers, how to turn whilst marching and various other basic skills. The main purpose was however, for the drill leader to explain how important the parade square is and how to conduct yourself and show respect to the senior members to get their permission to move on and off the square.
After all the excitement of drill in the morning we had shore leave from 1400 hrs to 2000 hrs, the whole troop went into Exeter to purchase bits and pieces we need for the night out on Bottom Field on Tuesday 30th September.
After we bought what we needed we then went about buying lots of sweets, chocolate, burgers and chips and sat down starting to gel better with each other – getting to know each others’ first name instead of calling each other by our surnames.
The troop is bonding well.
Sunday included a few lectures but ended around 1400 hrs until 2000 hrs when everyone did a bit of admin and chilled at the camp shop and church where you can get tea and biscuits.
We managed to get to bed early and earned a well deserved rest from such a busy and exciting week.
We are all looking forward to next week when we get to go out on our first exercise one night out on the camp’s bottom field.