Week 7 of royal marines training landed as the first week back after a three week break for summer, so it was bound to be a tough week with exercise Marshal Star beginning on Monday afternoon. Monday morning came round in a flash with the troop going straight back into a full gym session to wake us up before we loaded the stores for the exercise. We left camp around 12pm, and arrived on Woodbury eager to get stuck in. Day 1 of the exercise we set up camp and harbour area, as well as doing a day navigation for the first time, however we did it with the corporals so we were kept on the right path as this was in preparation for the night navigation coming in day 2. Day two began with the first kit muster of the new term. After the kit muster we moved onto our day of lectures including stalking. Later on that day we moved onto our first ever stalk. This is when we have to camouflage ourselves and try and get to within 200m of the training team whilst they are trying to find us. The troop as a whole did well on the stalk with most of the troop getting within the firing range and releasing at least one shot. That night we moved onto doing a night navigation without the aid of corporals. Expecting the worst, the training team seemed quite surprised when everyone eventually arrived at the finish.
However, by the night time summer leave was having its effect on some of the troop. Hanging out, for some of the lads sentry was a demanding prospect. This was apparent when we performed a hasty move at 3:30am and both men on one of the sentry’s were partially dozing! Getting back to camp the next morning was a ‘hang out’. This was our first yomp back to camp for some time covering around 5 miles with Bergan, webbing and rifle. Back on camp for Thursday and Friday felt like the ritz compared to the field. The gym was on the way later that day and you could tell we had been in the field as everyone was still finding it difficult to stay awake.
Friday came with high morale ready for the weekend… however a drill inspection nearly caused us to lose it. The run ashore on Saturday night was pretty heavy for the lads with lots of ‘wets going down range’. Sunday was a fairly relaxed day including small bits of admin to help us for the weeks ahead.
The week started early on Monday with rounds by the training team. These are a formidable affair whereby we work all night to ensure that everything has been scrubbed and polished. The training team then arrive and always find the smallest of bits that we miss. However, Monday’s rounds went surprisingly well and proved to be a good start to what was going to be a good week for the troop.
The theme of rounds was to continue throughout Tuesday in anticipation of OC’s rounds first thing Wednesday. This meant that Tuesday night was a propper all-nighter. The lads didn’t ‘get their heads down’ until 3am and then had to get up at 4 to finish off the deep clean. Everyone’s efforts paid off and the OC and CSM were pleased with the troop’s efforts.
On Thursday the day was spent in Stallcombe woods with the ML’s (Mountain Leaders). After hearing the ML’s have a tendency to get ‘quite excited’, we all were equally excited and nervous about a day full of survival techniques and remedial exercise. This mysterious place seemed to have an abundance of natural ‘swimming’ spots which the troop was very keen to avoid! We worked hard and had a good day learning how to build shelters, catch animals and get through the worst survival situations we could find ourselves in, ready for the up and coming ex Hunter’s Moon. This was one of the most enjoyable days of training and the whole troop is looking forward to doing it all for real on exercise.
Friday we had another fitness assessement in the morning. This gave us (and the training team!) a chance to see if our hard work was paying off and our fitness improving. Despite the fatigue of the first 8 weeks of training most of the lads had a good morning, smashing the fitness tests and getting good scores all round. We spent the afternoon on Woodbury Common, doing some orienteering. This was a lot of fun and a good chance to test our navigation skills without any help from the training team. We had 2 hours to complete a 5km route with 6 checkpoints. Obviously the routes that had to be taken were far from comfy tracks, involving marshes, dense wood blocks and thick gorse.
That signalled the end of the week’s training for the troop and we were fortunate enough to have a fairly relaxed weekend. We are taking advantage of as much of these relaxed periods as we can because it is only a matter of time until we find ourselves patrolling around Dartmoor on our weekends.