For the recruits of 210 troop, week 7 was consumed in large by deployment on exercise MARSHALL STAR; a navigation by day and night exercise with additional lectures in how to effectively sneak up onto an enemy position (otherwise known as stalking), further development on our sentry positions and the highly anticipated crash move drills. We also had the opportunity to learn more of our Corps history as we welcomed the Royal Marines Association (RMA) to CTC for the weekend.
Exercise MARSHALL STAR, for many, proved very difficult. Prior warning from the training team served to stir up some pre- match nerves but for the most part the Troop looked forward to the challenge with bounds of enthusiasm. It was no wonder that the nerves grew and grew the closer we were to deployment as it was understood that the weather would be taking a drastic turn for the worse throughout the week.
The weather has a strange part to play in the development of a Royal Marines Recruit, too forgiving and it looks like you had it easy however too harsh and you will have a truly miserable time. Fortunately for us the weather was never too bad and as such we were able to wholly concentrate on the lectures of the week. I think I can speak for all when I say the Troop thoroughly enjoyed the stalking test with pretty strong performances all round, however with only one recruit out of the whole Troop successfully firing 2 shots at the target without detection it is clear to see that we need to develop these skills further.
Building up to the exercise we managed to partake in quite a few lectures in how to use our navigation equipment, something that came in use as we broke down into Sections and experienced what it is like to self navigate through various checkpoints with a body of men trusting your decisions. Except from a few little mistakes, some unnecessary walks up and down some steep hills and a few gorse bushes later, all Sections managed to successfully navigate through their route and we feel strong progress has been made.
Carrying on from our skills learnt on how to properly conduct a sentry, we went on to develop our knowledge on what to do should we come under contact from the enemy. Being crash moved is something that most recruits fear as it pulls you un- expectantly from your sleeping bag out into the rain to quickly pack away your kit before moving off to another location. We experienced this a few times on the ex and although it is never ideal to leave a nice warm sleeping bag in truth, it wasn’t really that bad!!
We finished off the exercise with a 5 mile yomp back to camp which again proved difficult. This being said we did receive some positive feedback from the Troop commander regarding our determination and effort levels on the yomp. After returning it was business as usual as we went about cleaning up all our kit ready for inspection.
On Saturday we were able to spend some time assisting with the smooth running of the RMA weekend. This gave us the opportunity to discuss what being a commando is like with people that have gone before us as well as shed light on what the Royal Marine recruits go through today. It is a testament to the mindset and quality of the original commandos as it transpires that through the ages, Royal Marines recruit training has always been of the upmost quality and challenging nature resulting in the constant development of one of the world best fighting forces. In the evening we were invited back to the RMA function to witness the Royal Marines band service that provided a spectacular display of musicianship and quality in what was a great evening.
All in all it has been another great week at CTC for 210 Troop who are now eagerly awaiting the next exercise and perhaps not so much the 4 mile run tomorrow morning…cheerfulness in adversity is a must in Recruit training.
Monday morning kicked off with a set of round with a full kit muster laid on all of our beds, these were to be inspected by the Corporals, who as always were very meticulous on checking every single inch of every piece of kit. This was to set the standard and give pick up points for the further rounds conducted by the Company Sergeant Major (CSM) and the Officer Commanding (Officer Commanding) Chatham Company. As the week progressed ever closer to the rounds on Wednesday there was a mix of different opinions on whether we would pass the rounds and make the grade.
As Wednesday came about the mood in the Troop was frantic, rushing around and making sure every single detail was completed- all the floors were mopped, dusted and applying brasso to the every metal object in sight. As the OC arrives and goes room to room everyone goes over their own mental check lists to see if they have done everything with the creeping thought of ‘have I forgotten something!?’. As the rounds draw to a close and the OC exits the building, what we initially thought was a good inspection for us, was soon greeted with a shout of ‘210 Troop landing!’ – with a hint of anger in the Cpls voice followed by whispers of the words ‘estuary’ which we had previous visited in week 4. As the Troop stood on the landing with a fear of going in the estuary the Troop Sergeant exits the team office, after what seems to feel like an eternity, and a small smile emerges from his face as he says ‘you’ve passed, although with a few pick up points’ the small minor pick up points were obvious and small details we all knew but had thought we had all done quite well considering!
The week then progressed onto a day with the Mountain Leaders (ML’s) who would teach us the essential skills to survive with minimal kit and equipment. This took place at Woodbury Common training area. We had a small 800m dash to the site which they had prepared for us with basic traps and shelters. The day provided masses of information on how to survive which we all have to learn before exercise HUNTERS MOON in week 10 of training.
Friday finished off the week with a RMFA (Royal Marines Fitness Assessment) in the gym with the PTI. This consisted of a bleep, press up, sit up and pull up test to replicate what we had previously done in week one of training. The aim of this evolution is to see what improvements in fitness we had made during the 8 weeks we had spent at CTCRM. This was not a good start to the day as the Troops discipline was not up to standard. The following afternoon was a map teach up at Woodbury common to see if what we had learned in the classroom had been understand and now applied in real time. The Troop enjoyed this and it really helped- putting a gauge on how important map reading was. As the day drew to a close it was time to return to camp in the form of a march with all our kit, covering the same terrain and route we had taken back from Exercise MARSHALL STAR with approximately an extra half a mile added on top.
On completion of this the Troop was lined up in a field to see if we were still combat effective. Unfortunately we weren’t and the drills were not performed to the required standard. We were then debriefed by the Troop Commander who proceeded to tell us we need a lot of work on these drills and we have to take in all advice given by the training team in order to progress at the required rate.
The week was aimed towards Gym Pass Out, with extra Physical Training sessions to bring in the final details that would make the difference between a gym ‘pass’ and gym ‘superior’ score, The week kicked off to a bad start with the Troops discipline lacking in the sessions- nevertheless, the Troop was in high hopes that they would pass on Friday with a good mark. The Troop PTI had the Troop In every evening to work on the small details such as moving around the pullup ‘beam’ for a circuit, using the four corners of the gym and also team games.
The gym session mid- week was the most intense the Troop had undertaken- at least it felt that way! The session was 2 hours long and we had extra sprints for the lack of discipline on the ropes- a few of us were picked up for looking around the gym rather than straight forward.
As Friday arrived we were up bright and early. Everyone took the troops PTI’s advice on breakfast and kept it relatively small to prevent us feeling too bloated on the gym floor and quicker up the ropes! As the Troop entered the gym nerves were high but everyone was focused on doing well and getting a ‘superior pass’. The session ran almost like clock work with a few tiny mistakes and seemed just as hard as the other gym sessions, although the repetitions were considerably lower than what the Troop was use to. This was followed by a swim which consisted of water polo- a bit of a treat for the Troop to reward us for out efforts! Everyone’s morale was high, this was a good end to the week with the training team also been happy with our performance.
This was soon to dimmed with the announcement that the Troop Sergeant would be leaving 210 Tp for another job at HMS RALEIGH. He was presented with a commando dagger plaque as a thank you from the Troop. Overall it has been a good week and we look forward to testing ourselves on Exercise HUNTER’S MOON next week.