WEEK 12 DIARY ENTRY
This week we were back at the ranges to carry on live-firing. Each morning we conducted a ‘phys’ session with our troop PTI before preparing the ranges and then firing on them. We started learning how to conduct close-quarter battle (CQB) firing techniques. This is for when you are entering buildings or find yourself in an enclosed space.
On Tuesday evening we had an opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the night vision equipment we will start using in Phase 2. This was to prepare us for a night shoot on Dartmoor, which turned out to be great fun. With our lasers moving about in the night it looked like the local nightclub in Exeter. The best part of this week was that we started firing at moving targets, which is not as easy as it sounds!
All week we were lucky with the weather. Whenever an opportunity arose the troop were quick to get their arms out and touch up on their summer leave tan. There was also an element of excitement as on Friday we left to go to Normandy on our battlefield trip.
We arrived at the British Cemetery shortly after the ferry got in at Caen. It really gets to you the young soldiers that died in battle which was compound when we visited the next stop, Crepón. This is where Company Sergeant Major Stanley E Hollis, won the Victoria Cross. Next stop was Gold Beach where we could still appreciate the port that was made in 12 days, before heading Port en Bessin, 47 Commando’s D-Day victory. Our last stop for the day was the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, a truly vast area
We passed through Carentan to Saint Mere Eglise and then on to Utah beach where we had a troop swim. After refreshing ourselves we went to Saint Marie du Mont and finished at German Cemetry. It was then time to say goodbye to our guide, Smiler, and then back to the Ferry passing by Pegasus Bridge. Before we knew we were back in our rooms on camp anticipating the week ahead.
207 TP DIARY WEEK 13
After returning from our trip to France we got our heads refocused for a hard week of CBRN training, Dunker drills and throwing live grenades.
The first part of the week was to get dressed in our Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) protective clothing. We were then exposed to CS gas, perfect for starting the week. Each Section took it in turns to go through this experience, having to remove our respirators and reporting to the Corporal Instructor breathing in the CS gas before asking to leave.
We have started our Bottom Field assault course training and beforehand were being told that this is what separates the men from the boys. So there was a mixture of anticipation and nerves ahead of our first session, which having now done it, was completely justified.
Later on in the week we went to the grenade range at Woodbury Common Training Area, having passed the grenade handling test earlier. It was now time for the real thing and a moment we had all been waiting for.
Last thing on the list was a visit to RNAS Yeovilton to carry out helicopter dunker drills in order to be certified to fly in Royal Navy Helicopters. This test involved four dunks in the mock helicopter that was suspended (most of the time) over the swimming pool. Each time we were dunked, rolled and carried out the correct procedure to escape safely back to the surface. Every time it was different, faster and the last dunk was in complete darkness (to simulate a crash at night). Now we know what it is like to be in a washing machine at full speed. Everyone passed the assessment and enjoyed the experience getting to see a Merlin helicopter and actually sitting in one.
Finally the week was at its end, only having to prepare for next week’s events for the important Ex BAPTIST RUN our Phase 1 assessment exericse.
207 TP DIARY WEEK 14
After last week’s practice for Ex BAPTIST RUN the real thing was here this week. Ahead of us were a number of criteria tests, successful completion of this would allow us to progress into Phase 2 of training.
The week started with Bottom Field, full of rope climbs, fireman carries and rope regains. This was just what the doctor order and brought the troop straight back to reality after a chilled out weekend.
That afternoon our CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear) lesson was cancelled due to another troop having the lesson and re-booked for next week; having the afternoon to get ready for Ex BAPTIST RUN.
On Tuesday we had a full day of signals lectures. We were taught correct voice procedure, contact reports and sitreps [Situation Reports]. It turns out that there is a certain way to speak on the radio. Imitations of Hollywood movies saying phrases like “copy that” just seem to wind the instructors up.
The night before deploying on the exercise we had our kit inspected outside our accommodation block. Then Wednesday morning started with the 4 mile speed march criteria test followed by going straight out into the field for the 3 day exercise. The exercise itself consisted of static map reading tests, observation stances, delivery of fire control orders, target indication assessments, stalking, camouflage and concealment, night navigation and full field kit inspections each morning. Just as we thought it was over we were informed that we would be conducting an 8 mile loaded march back to camp. After three hard days in the field and all the assessments this dug into our resolve. When we got back to camp we found out that for each evolution we were given a score and then at the end told whether we had passed the exercise.
207 TP DIARY WEEK 15
The Week started off with another early morning down on the Bottom Field with a practical lecture on CBRN [Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear]. Within this lecture we learnt the immediate action drill and the emergency drinking/eating drill for a chemical attack. We started off by learning the immediate action drill which includes the following: stop breathing, close eyes, turn back to wind, remove helmet, open haversack, grasp respirator, place on face, tighten straps purge respirator and shout GAS, GAS, GAS. To purge the respirator you place your hand over the front and blow very hard. This drill has to be practised regularly as in a normal operational setting it must take 9 seconds. Next we moved onto putting on our inner gloves, outer gloves and hood (which our colleagues helped to fit correctly). Then the instructor showed us how to decontaminate our hands, our hood, the outside of the mask/respirator, top of head, inside of respirator and face with a special powder called Fuller’s Earth. Afterwards we carried out the drill ourselves including decontaminating our feet at the end of the drill. Following this the instructor showed us how to fit our water bottles to our respirators via a specially designed straw, we then copied the instructor. The lesson then ended with us being shown what to do in an emergency if our straw was not working correctly and we required a drink.
Following the CBRN lecture we had a gruelling bottom field session full of rope climbing, assault course runs, Fireman’s carries and regain practice. Some of is during the session got very wet as we fell into the tank underneath the regain rope. For the rest of Monday we had signal lectures. This included learning about the radio and how to operate it correctly. As well we learnt how to set up the equipment and check it was working. Also we revisited how to give a contact report and situation report which we learnt the week before.
On Tuesday we had a day full of lectures which could sound tedious but the training team did a fantastic job of making the lectures enjoyable and easy to digest. This was good because the lectures were focussed on tactics required in the field during phase 2, something of high importance to every recruit in the Troop. The lectures covered the organisation of a Troop and a Company, a Troop harbour/how to set one up, patrolling and section formations. During the course of the day we were given a phase 1 quality control assessment which was our chance to give feedback on training so far in order to improve the programme for recruits in the future.
Wednesday then included more lectures which covered battle procedure, law of armed conflict and the NATO sequence of orders. To finish off the Law of Armed Conflict we had a test to check our understanding, we all passed this test. To end the day we had CBRN again, this time we practised the drills we had learnt on Monday in a realistic gas environment. To our joy this meant we got a slight taste of what it would be like to undergo a chemical attack and the wonderful effect of CS gas, which is absolutely awful.
Now we move onto what happened on Thursday which started nervously for some who had their CFT re-runs. A CFT is a vital fitness test which has to be passed in order to move onto Phase 2 but luckily all four recruits showed amazing resilience and passed enabling them to stay with the Troop. Next we had a long drill session to give us the opportunity to practice for our Arms Drill Pass Out the next day. Unfortunately we then had quite a tough swimming circuit which the troop found especially difficult. To further enhance our joy we were then vaccinated, never a pleasant experience.
Friday was then a great day for the Troop. The Troop entered their Arms Drill Pass Out Test with anxiety. However we managed to pass with a score of 136 out of 140 a great effort by the Troop and our Drill Instructor. Following our Drill test was our final Kit inspection of Phase 1 and then the day finished with our Phase 1 Pass Out, where recruits that excelled were rewarded for their achievements. It was a great way to end the week, especially as we now get the weekend off and the opportunity to go home this time.