216 Troop – Troop Diary – Weeks 1 and 2 (Foundation Phase)
Upon arrival at CTC we were “greeted” by our Drill Instructor who would be taking us through the first two weeks in the Foundation Block. As a Troop we wearily hauled our luggage from the station to our new home for the next two weeks. The Foundation accommodation block is a 60 bed room which the whole Troop shares. At this stage we do everything together and are encouraged to get to know each other and learn to work together. For myself and many others waking up before 5am or getting three to four hours sleep was a big shock. However, the adrenalin and the environment give you the boost you needed to get up and crack on each day.
The main goal of Foundation is to teach us the how to maintain ourselves and our kit – this is essential before we can move on to further training. During the first day we completed paperwork and attested meaning we had to serve 4 weeks in the Corps. In the first few days we were issued lots of kit and clothing. We were taught how to wash and shave to a high standard and how to wash and iron our clothing to the standards expected of a Royal Marines Recruit.
On day 2 we had a fitness assessment to gauge our fitness level in order to track our progress through training. In the following days we were introduced to the gym and started learning the strict routines of IMF (Initial Military Fitness). The gym (think, school gymnasium not David Lloyds – ) is a very challenging and stressful environment, you are not allowed to itch or fidget and you must either be standing perfectly still or sprinting 100% effort.
Early on we were introduced to the ‘ogin’ or ‘tank’ which is a freezing cold tank of water outside. This was a punishment for some recruits entering the PTI office which we were told not to enter under any circumstances. Despite this, it seems to be a game between the PTIs to lure recruits in so they get a dip in the tank. The humour of our DL and Training Team can be a great moral boost and helps the Troop gel and stay engaged. We quickly started picking up the RM lingo with terms like hoofing (funny/good), honking (disgusting/awful), gen dit (true story) and thredders (Annoyed).
On the Saturday we were introduced to Drill where we all learnt that we are incapable of walking correctly. Slowly, we started to pick it up.
In the second week we completed our first night in the field with Exercise FIRST STEP which happened to be on my birthday. We were once again acquainted with the tank and conducted wet and dry routine for the first time. We got we then had to change into dry clothes to sleep in our bivies, we then had to wake up for sentry and put our wet clothes back on in order to preserve our dry kit. Despite sounding horrible we got our longest nights sleep since starting on this night.
Foundation is a crazy experience . The speed at which everything has to be done, 50 men running around, sleep deprivation, the amount of information we have to take in and the pure shock of our new surroundings was definitely tough to get our heads around at first. Eventually we started to settle in and make friends which made us feel more comfortable and less nervous. The Troop bonded and started working well early.
Despite being nervous and not knowing many people on the train here as a Troop we quickly bonded through the experience and have since made some greater friends. We learnt so much over the two weeks and despite the ups and downs we are thoroughly enjoying our time here.
We are now fully embedded into our six man rooms and morale is sky high. The time we spent in Foundation was hard and we were all looking forward to moving into our new accommodation, the light at the end of the tunnel as we saw it. Everyone is appreciating the better beds, individual plug sockets and last but not least hot showers.
However week three didn’t get off to the best of starts as some of us were late to a briefing. “Let the grot (room) changes begin” said the Corporals. This involves putting everything from our locker into someone else’s locker and repeat. But this was fair and before we knew it, the punishment ended and we were allowed to go on shore leave (go into town). For us, Week 3 is all about the new grots, getting to know our oppo’s (friend’s) better and leaving Foundation.
Also, during Week 3 we did more weapon drills which everyone is a fan of and Royal Marines Close Combat (RMCC). RMCC involves a mixture of martial arts that is best suited for subduing and potentially dispatching the enemy. It was also a good way of building camaraderie amongst us as a Troop, as we were just rough testing our new ninja skills against each other. Week 3 was particularly demanding physically. Sometimes we would have 1 hour and 45mins of IMF (Initial Military Fitness) and then either before or after a 45mins swim session which everyone enjoys.
Another highlight of Week 3 was the Saturday. I don’t know why but the PT staff were in a very good mood. As we walked into the swimming pool, they turned on the music and asked us all to show them our best dance moves. After that we did some team games between us and then we did some jumping and spins off the 3 metre board into the water. One of the scariest moments was doing a swim confidence text which involves falling backwards off the diving board as rigid as a board, and going through the water head first. Some of us however landed on our backs and everyone laughed. Overall, everyone enjoyed Week 3 and even though it feels like we’ve been here forever, it has gone very quickly and we cannot wait to get into Phase 2 of training (which is still 12 weeks away, by the way – )!