Week 26 and 27
Week 26 started with the 6 mile speed march in which those who completed it without falling behind the rest of the Troop received their cap comforter. Out of the 36 recruits participating in the march 11 failed, and only 2 of those 11 passed on subsequent attempts.
Morale in the Troop was high as receiving the Cap Comforter is a milestone in training and it marks just how far you have come. You are into the Commando phase of training which means that there is one final hard push where all the skills and drills you have learnt in the past 26 weeks are tested, not to mention the run throughs of some of the Commando tests which are yet to come.
Another aspect about wearing the cap comforter is that you don’t wear the blue beret anymore and you have to run everywhere around camp. Recruits are also not allowed to drink once in the Commando Phase but for what awaits after another six weeks that is a small price to pay.
On the Tuesday the Troop travelled to Foggin Tor, a day led by the Mountain Leader Section. Everyone knew what was expected and that the ML’s like to dish out remedial phys for anyone that messes up, because of this we all pulled our weight and gave 100% in everything. The previous afternoon we had a lesson by the ML’s on how to fit harnesses, how to cross a river with our bergens and how to conduct a cliff assault. All of this was put into practice at Foggin Tor and anyone who got a drill wrong or forgot to do something was rewarded with a long jump into a pool of mud which immediately saw the offender wait deep in mud followed by washing it off in the lake.
That afternoon we were taught how to ascend up a cliff using ladders, ‘haulage’ and rope. The ladders are very thin cable type things which are quite awkward to use but very effective. The haulage mechanism involves 8 men at the top pulling the load upwards, if a recruit was the load and didn’t get his footing right then it generally ended up with him being dragged over the lip of the cliff in quite a painful situation. Last but not least we practiced descended down a sheer cliff face. We did this with bergens and it was quite daunting going over the edge feeling like the Bergen was going to drag you down but it was secure and once you started to abseil down the adrenaline was sky high. Straight after this we conducted a river crossing across the lake and everybody completed this. We then had a bit of down time to eat some scran and once it was dark we then finished off with a night cliff assault where everything we had been taught was put to the test and everything went well. The MLs were impressed with our efforts.
On Wednesday we had our last chance to prepare for Ex FINAL THRUST. We loaded stores and sorted and packed our own kit ready for a week in the field. In the afternoon we had a lesson on the high obstacle course in preparation for the Tarzan assault course. We did a number of run throughs with kit and without.
Thursday arrived and with that so did three days worth of rations for the field we had to pack into our bergens. On the downside to that once we were deployed so did three days worth of rain which, to our dismay, did not let up once. Our first attack consisted of our four sections clearing a house, my section cleared a building, another gave fire support and the other two sections cleared the ground looking for in depth enemy positions. The attack started our Final Ex off to a good start. The second day we got a coach to Okehampton where we started our insertion yomp. Everyone managed to finish it and Dartmoor didn’t fail to provide disgusting weather and steep, steep Tors. Over the next two days we did a number of sections attacks, harbours, assaults and patrols. On the Saturday everyone was waiting to find out if ‘killer yomp’ lived up to its name. We lost a few lads along the way but once it was over a sigh of relief was had by everyone. On the Sunday we moved to Stonehouse to conduct the Amphibious Phase with the end finally in sight.