Monday began like every day in recruit training begins: getting up nice and early for a dhobi and cleaning the accommodation, before rushing down to the galley to get some breakfast to fuel us up for the day’s events. Our first detail that morning was bottom field phys which was 1 hour 45 minutes of being fatigued and heavy legged. We made our way down to bottom field as a Troop; everyone thinking about how gruelling the session would be. We had 15lbs in our webbing and the session began with a few rope climbs: “To the top, CLIMB!” 12 members of the Troop at a time climbing up the ropes, squeezing their way to the top and after screaming their name from 30ft up the rope, the PTI giving them permission to come back down to the ground. We then completed a timed lap around the assault course before going into the dreaded fireman’s carries – 200m of pain. We then finished the last hour of the session learning regains over the ice cold tank, some lads being unlucky enough to take a plunge after failing to crack the regain. The session concluded and the Troop fell in all out of breath and marched back to the accommodation to get another dhobi, ready for the next detail of the day.
The Troop next fell in ready for an hour swim session at the pool. The session was an hour of team games in the pool with each Section racing each other to see who the best was in front crawl, breast stroke, back stroke and butterfly – each Section was eager not to be beaten! The session finished and the day concluded with a CBRN lecture learning the drills which may save our lives if we were ever to come under a chemical attack. The day finished with Ex BAPTIST RUN looming.
Monday ticked off the list Tuesday came with a long day of lectures…the Troop would be learning about signals and how important communication is within the military. As bad as a day of lectures sounds, the signals part of training was interesting and enjoyable. After our lectures the Troop rushed back to the accommodation with Ex BAPTIST RUN on the mind as we had our first initial part of the exercise to come in ‘figures few’ (imminently). The Troop had to get their personal kit and have it mustered at the drill shed for 1600 to prove we had everything we needed and were ready to deploy on exercise. This muster would be marked and count towards our score for the exercise so everyone was determined to get it right. We had one hour! The Troop ran around like headless chickens laying out their kit and making sure it was immaculate and everything was squared. The inspection came and everyone passed the muster with only a few minor pickup points. Each Section was briefed by their Section Corporal and returned to the accommodation with their kit and finished whatever admin they had to do before getting their head down.
Wednesday: the day of the race. The Troop awoke and began the day like every other however everyone knew this was the day they had been working towards after 13 weeks of training. Ex BAPTIST RUN: the first part of the exercise began with a 4 mile speed march bright and early.
With 21lbs in our webbing and our personal rifle the Troop fell in at the pavilion waiting for the PTI. The PTI arrived and took us for a warm up before we stepped off. Running round in a clockwise rotation the Troop warmed up, heart pumping blood around the body and adrenaline flowing. We then finished the warm up and fell in on the lane ready to begin the speed march. “Troop by the right QUICK march” and the first test began. With the command “Troop prepare to break into double time, double march” the pace increased and the PTI called out the step “LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT… 1,2,3,4”. We moved as a body of men going through the lanes with a crisp sound of boots pounding the floor all in time with each other. Two miles in, everyone was digging deep determined to smash the march knowing it was more than achievable. Fatigued but ready for the next part of the exercise the Troop finished the speed march, brushed ourselves off, and squared ourselves away, returning to the accommodation ready for a quick turn around and deployment to Woodbury Common where the rest of the tests would take place. Stores were loaded and the coach took us to the common where we would set up our harbour location.
Once the location was sorted we got our kit together ready for the first series of tests which would include a day of a stalk, map reading stance, observation stance, fire control order stance, target indication stance and a night navigation test. First up was the stalk and map reading stance; 1 and 2 Sections would stalk first while 3 and 4 Sections would do map reading. For the stalk, we had 15 minutes to cam ourselves out in which we would be scored and this would go to our final result. Packing our webbing and helmet full of grass and gorse we raced against the clock to make ourselves blend into the natural surroundings as best we could. After 15 minutes was up we lined out to have our cam judged. Some of us looking like we were on a snipers’ course and others looking like scarecrows we began our stalk, 45 minutes to get within 250m of the OP and hopefully get two shots off unseen to score maximum points. Time went on and some recruits were spotted almost instantly and some weren’t spotted at all: it was a mixed start to the exercise. In the map reading stance each question was given a specific time. First up was a resection in which we had to locate where we were on the map and show our workings out – we had 15 minutes. Then 10 minutes for each of the following questions, some of which included identifying certain things from the ground and locating them on the map and others being to work out distances and bearings to certain things. After the first two tests were completed, the Troop then moved on to the next tests which would be the observation stance (in which we had 15 minutes to find 10 objects in a specific area); a fire control order stance where we would be directed on to a target and we had to show our understanding by naming the type of fire control order: who it was for, what type of fire, and where the target was. Then the target indication stance followed in which we had to direct our Section to a target. These were probably the three easiest tests in which to score well on. The night approached us and the Troop returned to the harbour area after a long day for a wet and some of our rations which would be cooked on our gucci hexi cookers; the Troop talked amongst ourselves discussing how we thought we were getting on with the exercise.
After scranning up we were briefed on the night’s test which would be the night nav. The 31 recruits of 214 Troop would be running around Woodbury Common alone in the dead of night finding their check points and getting back to the harbour area within 2 hours 45 minutes of setting off. Before setting off each recruit would write out their route card describing which check points they had to go to and how they would achieve this (including bearings and distances). We had an hour or so to do this. Once the route cards were finished and marked we got prepared to set off on the nav. The first two recruits would set off one, in a clockwise and one in an anticlockwise direction. Then another two recruits after a two minute interval and so on…the night nav was complete with all of the Troop returning to the harbour full of Woodbury rash from the beloved gorse and a fatigued body from the day/night’s efforts. It was time to get some well-earned head down ready to repeat the same tests all again the following day.
Thursday came and the Troop were up early cracking the morning routine after stand to, 31 recruits flapping around trying to wash and scran as fast as they could in order to lay their kit muster for the morning’s inspection which would also be scored as part of the test to show we could administrate ourselves while out in the field. We laid our kit out in Section sticks after making sure it was to the best standard we possibly could and stood to attention waiting to be inspected. Each Section Corporal would go through each muster with a fine tooth comb not giving us the slightest idea of
how we were doing, making us even more nervous. Once the inspection was finished we packed everything away, good to go for a repeat of Wednesday’s events in the field.
Thursday completed we moved onto Friday, the final day in the field which began with another kit muster and then the 8 mile combat fitness test back to camp. The Troop sorted their kit out so they had 55lbs in their bergans along with their personal rifle. We then waited for the PTI; everyone prepared for two hours of pain and hard work to get this hurdle out of the way. The PTI came and the Troop fell in ready to set off: bergan on and rifle slung, we advanced across the common – probably the most difficult part of the test as your body gets used to the physical effort required, before hitting the roads back to camp where it gets more durable as the ground is more stable and your body has established its rhythm. Seven miles in and everyone recognises the location we’re at and digs deep to complete the final mile to camp. CFT complete the exercise is all but finished: the Troop unload stores and go back to the accommodation to begin a late night cleaning their kit from the exercise ready for the final inspection the next morning.
Saturday comes and the Troop are hanging out from the ex but know they have one final inspection. Kit squared away, the Troop hurry across to the drill shed ready to lay the final kit muster of the exercise to prove they could de-service their kit properly to pick up a few last points towards their final scores. We again lay our kit out in Section sticks and stand to attention ready to be inspected. Once the inspection is passed each recruit packed their kit with a sigh of relief that the exercise was finished but the tension built as we would have to wait until the following week for results. The day concluded with a swim session and an early finish with Phase 2 just around the corner!
Still awaiting the results from the criteria Exercise BAPTIST RUN, week 15 had a very nervous start. With the promise from the training team that we would be given the results later on in the day, all we could do was carry on with the day as normal and try not to think about it.
Monday began with a practical CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) lecture which revolved around the drills we would have to do if we were to come under one of those methods of attack. Still recovering from the horror of being gassed two weeks before, the Troop wasn’t too happy to find out we would be gassed again on Wednesday!
214 Troop then had a bottom field session which involved a timed run through of the assault course ending in timed fireman’s carries and a full regain over the dreaded tank! The majority of the Troop came well within the five minute mark and one recruit came in with an impressive time of 3:13. 31 nervous recruits then lined up at the bottom of the ladders next to the tank: all that was standing between them and the water was their own grip strength! It is best to be at the front, because providing you do the full regain correctly, you get to stand in front of the tank and watch everyone else do it, dry! One of the most entertaining sights on bottom field is being stood in front of the tank dry, watching one of your mates swing back and forward on the rope wondering if they are going to sink or swim, literally!
The day ended even more nervously than it started with everyone stood on the landing awaiting the results. There was a huge sigh of relief when we were told by the Troop Commander that everyone had passed and no one would be going to another Troop.
Tuesday was a lecture-filled day that revolved around signals and patrolling, both skills we would need for our first Phase 2 exercise, especially the newly appointed IC and 2ICs as they would be in control of radio communications to the HQ element of the Troop whilst instructing the rest of the Section on the type of formation they would be patrolling in. For a nod, being sat in a lecture room and not falling asleep is usually a difficult task, however, this lecture was our first insight into Phase 2 and everyone was interested as it involved all the different types of patrolling we would be doing in our careers as Royal Marines.
Still recovering from the horror of our previous CS gas exposure we were all on edge as we marched down to the gas chamber by bottom field. Before we went into the chamber we had a few dry run-throughs of the drills we would perform if there were an actual gas attack. We quickly remembered what we had forgotten from Monday morning as we knew if our drills weren’t perfect, we would be coughing and spluttering again as we were two weeks before. Surprisingly, everyone did the drills as they should and no one was exposed to the gas. Unfortunately, our performance in the CBRN chamber wasn’t up to standard so we spent a while conducting quick changes. A quick change is when we are allotted a certain amount of time to change into a different set of uniform; we weren’t fast enough whilst changing uniform so we spent the majority of the time in the press up position whilst waiting for other members of the Troop to finish getting ready and come down the stairs. The fact our accommodation is on the top two floors of the block did not help us!
Friday was the day that 214 Troop would pass out of Phase 1 and move into Phase 2. There was a very early start as we needed to deep clean the accommodation as we would not be there for the weekend. At 0730 we marched over to the parade ground with our rifles and immaculate uniform to practise for the Arms Drill Pass Out later that day. After the Arms Drill Pass Out we had our Troop presentations, where selected recruits were given their awards for Marksman, Gym Superior, Section IC and 2IC. Other awards included the Most Improved and Best All Round Recruit. The awards were given in front of the training team and presented by our Company Commander. One by one we marched up to the OC to collect our awards, with one recruit collecting four awards, including Best All Round Recruit which was thoroughly deserved.
Everyone was excited for Phase 1 pass out, not just because we were halfway through training; but it also gave us a taste of what is to come. It was a great feeling marching onto the parade square and celebrating how far we had all come. Hopefully, those who marched onto the parade square that day, will be the same as those who march onto the parade square on the 17th June, only this time wearing a different uniform.
After a long weekend and well earned recovery, 214 Tp began the first week in which we could now proudly wear our green belts, indicating that we had passed Phase 1 of training and had now started the ‘gucci’ Phase 2. Monday consisted mostly of lectures, beginning with all recruits sitting a radio signals test in which we would have to demonstrate our competency with the PRC 354 radio system that we will be using during training.
After this we had a captured personnel (CPERS) lecture with the Military Police, who we spoke with about the protocols followed when taking CPERS and the lessons that have been learnt from past experiences. After dinner we received more lectures on observation posts and recce patrols; over the course of the next few days these lessons would be practised in the field.
Tuesday began with an early set of deployment orders on the upcoming exercise. The Troop had to take notes on what was to be expected, key timings, grid references, mission statements, etc. These notes would all have to be memorised, as taking key data/information into the field in note form could be dangerous if caught by the enemy. The briefing gave us all vital info on what to expect, however the point which caught the Troop’s attention was that we would be travelling to Woodbury Common in style, via a RAF Chinook helo. We had experienced how to correctly embark and disembark from a static helo shell, so the thought that we were only a few hours away from the real deal was a huge morale boost. After the usual procedure of loading tents, bergans, rations, etc. from stores, 214 Tp were set to go. Lined up outside the accom in the bright blue sky and sun shine, cam cream was applied as we prepared to leave, however at the last minute the RAF sent the news that we would be unable to fly due to mechanical failure. Although massively disappointed, it did allow us to practise our ‘chuka chuka chuka’ (helo rotar blades) noises at the
back of the coach to Woodbury Common. Once the ‘helo’ had touched down at Woodbury, we instantly found dead ground in which we could tactically bomb up mags in preparation for the ex, whilst the section IC and 2ICs received orders for what was to come. After a small yomp to the harbour area, bergans were set down and under the instruction of our Section Commanders we dry ran through a series of patrol techniques, learning how to overcome obstacles such as crossroads and junctions. We then went into a tactical harbour and prepared ourselves for the night recce. Due to the low visibility (clouds/no moon) night vision equipment was essential to conduct the recce. Many of the lads initially struggled with getting to grips with their ‘broken’ night vision systems. However once the lens covers had been removed, visibility interestingly increased a lot. After a fairly long patrol route, the Sections came across the target: a stationary vehicle, we observed for around 30mins, taking notes on what we saw, before silently moving out and back to the harbour for a well deserved two hour sleep.
‘Learning the hard way’. A fault that has existed within the Troop since almost Day 1 is our lack of urgency. The training team have always reminded us of the importance of time keeping, and unfortunately it appears the message had not fully sunk it. After turning up late for the morning’s first detail, the Troop learned our lesson the hard way on the importance of timekeeping!
Our daily foot checks followed before the day’s activities could begin. Lectures were given on different forms of patrols and we then split off again in our Sections to continue our techniques of how to react should we come under contact during a patrol. After a few hours of patrolling and coming under contact (using blank rounds as opposed to yesterday’s dry run) we returned to the harbour to complete admin and prepare for the night’s patrol. Before setting off we again created models of the area we would be covering: obstacles to expect, terrain, gradients, etc. and ensured that we were all fed and watered before setting off.
After the usual stand to and morning routine was completed, 214 Tp were given a time of 0845 to be at the team tent for morning briefing and foot checks. Not keen on making the same mistake twice in such quick succession, the Tp were ready by the team tent at 0835 (5 mins early for the 5 min rule)! The day consisted of more lectures on the various incidents that a patrol may come across, and again we practised patrols and coming under attack. We then moved off across the common to a familiar woodblock where we had previously spent four days on Ex QUICK COVER; today the ground would be used to create an Observation Post (OP). Conveniently there were multiple pre-dug areas which we could cover to create our night’s accommodation. The next three hours were spent creating and hiding the OP: trying to blend into the surroundings was quite a challenge but all fire teams were able to put up a good effort and create a tactical OP. Between the hours of 1700 and 0600 there was very little to observe, apart from a few headlights, random lone patrols and a group of around 35+ in very high spirits hiking across the low ground. However at 0615 major activity occurred when a militant group complete with prisoner appeared on the high ground. Unfortunately the militants noticed us, and after a quick exit from the OP, we had to fight our way to an emergency rendevous point and away from any further contact.
Once a stop had been called, the Troop were given a quick debrief and returned to the OPs to destroy and remove any signs we were ever there (and pick up items of kit dropped during the hasty move). We then walked back to the team tent and loaded the waiting transport with tents, bergans, etc. There was sadly no room on board for us, and so a 5 mile speed march back to camp was the only option available. After a fairly quick-paced and challenging physical test, upon return to CTCRM, rifles were cleaned and the exercise debrief points were given. As with all exercises there were quite a few pick up points, however all issues are ones that we are capable of overcoming and in general the feedback from the training team was positive. The Troop enjoyed the exercise with the realisation that the ‘gucci’ training we had been promised was now starting to be delivered. 16 weeks down, 16 to go: exactly half way through Royal Marines recruit training!
We started off the week with a few bottom field phys sessions (preparing us for our week 19 crash week which in turn prepares us for our bottom field pass out on week 20) followed by lectures regarding our next field exercise Ex SECOND EMPIRE in week 18. On the Wednesday we moved to Bovington to conduct our Viking (all terrain vehicle) drills which is a key part of training as most Commando units work with Viking Squadron during operations and exercises. We received various lectures on the health and safety, as well as lessons on drills while operating with them, including practical escape drills. After training, we conducted some Troop phys doing a circuit around the stairwell!
We had a quick and explosive bottom field session – pretty gopping as per usual – followed by lectures on Section Attacks and Troop Attacks, teaching us our ‘bread and butter’ as trained ranks within the Royal Marines.
We spent a lot of the day in the lecture room learning more about drills that we would soon use on our next field exercise Ex SECOND EMPIRE, followed by a 2h45 bottom field period with a full run through of bottom field pass out. This involves a lap of the assault course, a 200m fireman’s carry, a regain and a full rope climb. We then enjoyed a honking circuit which lasted for the remainder of the period!
This was a fairly early start for the Troop but morale was high in general as we all knew we were guaranteed 2 hours head down on the coach drive over to Bovington. We were all a bit apprehensive about the Viking drills. On arriving we received briefs on the layout and our accommodation – we would all have individual rooms!!
0600 reveille – nice lay in – after which, we received briefs on the drills conducted by infantry working with Viking. These are called ‘actions on’, and run through various contingency drills to be carried out in a variety of situations. We spent the afternoon with our kit on practising these various drills over and over. Afterwards, we were issued our re-breathers that we would use on our underwater Friday test.
We then had a confidence test with the re-breather to see if we could use it effectively by pulling ourselves under water along a rope while taking the three breaths. On completion, we then moved to Yeovilton – a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm base – where we were to put what we learnt to the test (on dunker drills). But first we had to use the re-breather 3m down as a confidence test, and so the training staff could see our ability to use the mechanism under water with an increased amount of pressure. We then conducted the dunker drills with the Viking underwater escape unit.
We then moved back to Bovington to meet the Viking Squadron to move up to the training area where we would again be tested on the skills and drills we had picked up since we had been down there. On completion, we moved back to Bovington and then onto Lympstone. The Troop thoroughly enjoyed our Viking experience and I think some of us will look at the specialisation when we are in the Corps.
Ah Monday morning… never wanted. Especially as bottom field kick started our week: tired recruits, knowing exactly the pain to come – a horrible feeling. Last thing you want at early o’clock on a Monday morning is bottom field. But we dragged ourselves over and stood to. Awaiting our
PTI’s arrival, preparing ourselves up for the session, we all knew underperformance on bottom field is a quick way to get a harder than usual phys session, ending up in the oggin which no recruit wants. Ever. But as it so happens, we did underperform on bottom field. So we had a good , hard session with an unimpressed PTI glaring at our fatigued bodies darting about bottom field, and coincidentally enough, we ended up in the tank with webbing and rifle! Thredders. Not only that, we had a 5 day exercise to attend in a few hours time. Soaked boots, webbing with a gopping (dirty) rifle rapidly gathering rust… turbo thredders! Not what we wanted!
But on the upside we were heading to Braunton Burrows for the week. Sand dunes littered everywhere. And our lift into Braunton Burrows was by a CH-47 (Chinook). We made our way up to the top field outside of camp and waited for its arrival. Soon enough we heard it coming from miles off. So we got in to a defensive position ready for it to land. Wheels down, the ramp was lowered and after a thumbs up from the loadmaster, our Troop Commander led us on in single file as we peeled off from our defensive positions. Battling through the downdraft was hard enough as well as having your face blasted by the heat of the engine exhausts as you ran on. Once we were seated we took off: one of the coolest moments in training by far! 20 minutes later we touched down, running off at speed and making an all-round defence. Once the Chinook had lifted off, we made our way to the location where we would be staying for the week. We set up our Troop harbour ready to go through the night routine and prepare for what followed the next day.
On Tuesday the fun began, and the weather was on our side for once: little cloud and hot day. Brilliant. We started off the morning with Section Attacks. 8 men per Section (4 in each fire team). Running up and down sand dunes all day proved to be rather hard work, but fun as we practised flanking the enemy and how it would be conducted in real life situations so paying attention was crucial. Once we had done that for the day we moved into the tactical phase of the exercise; mission briefs were given, and a made up scenario delivered to add realism. We had to recce three enemy positions – one enemy position by each Section. We headed out in our Sections and gathered info on the enemy positions and returned unnoticed. We then collated all the info we had gathered from recces and gave it to our Troop Commander so he could prepare the next part, which would be to attack each position as a Troop, followed by an ambush on the enemy the next day.
This is when stuff started getting interesting: Troop attacks on the enemy locations we previously went to recce. And this time we had actual enemy against us played by trained marines. We set off in single file formation with the intent of instigating a contact with the enemy before attacking their positions. We became wary of our surroundings, knowing the enemy was somewhere out there, waiting for that first round to be sent our way. Guns go off from the hill top… we return rounds. “CONTACT FRONT!” And then our drills kick in and we go through what we had been taught the previous day. One Section giving suppressive fire while the second Section goes around the side to flank them unnoticed, and the third Section as back up if things were to turn sour. Once the enemy were removed, we would repeat this on the next two locations.
Once all the enemy locations were overrun, we moved into a temporary harbour to prepare for the next phase of the mission, the ambush. Briefed up on locations and how it was to be conducted, we waited for the sun to set, then we made our way to the ambush site. With the enemy patrol set to arrive at 2145 we had more than enough time to be ready and in place. Killing group set up, left and right cut offs in place. We were ready. 2145 the enemy patrol came… and left. Why? All bar two lads fell asleep at that crucial moment! It’s fair to say that the training team were beyond annoyed with us. Not our finest moment, it has to be said. We made our way back to the harbour to be given orders for the following morning. We were directed to conduct morning routine and have a good model pit ready by 1000.
Waking up to my poncho frozen and my bergan straps stiff as anything was quite a surprise. I can’t say that I’ve experienced frozen sand either. Anyway, we went about our morning routine and
cracked on with the model pit. Everyone chipped in: a few lads gathered the supplies for it, others scaled it and detailed it, some made food and drinks for us and we rotated sentries. Eventually our Troop Commander appeared about an hour earlier than expected, but we didn’t suspect anything. Though the reason for his standing around watching everything would soon became apparent! Taking us all by complete surprise, some enemy appeared on the sand dunes firing at us. “CONTACT FRONT!” was yelled and we all raised our rifles and started firing. Panic set in as we rushed about destroying the model pit, packing away our kit and making a hasty exit. We conducted a hasty reorg (quick account for all men and kit) out of contact before moving off as a Troop: quite a surprising morning it turned out to be! Thursday became admin day, sorting ourselves out and clearing up the area of ammo that we had fired. And we had fired a hell of a lot! Night came, further recces were done at other locations with our Section Commanders, and info was gathered ready for the Troop orders as 0230.
0230 came. We were up and ready for our orders on how our final Troop Attack would be conducted. Geared up with night vision and laser sights on our weapons, we made our way to the line of departure (position from which the assault is launched) in the pitch black. Formation set, the lead Section was ready to launch the assault. The hour of attack (H Hr) came and we advanced forward with 3 Section leading the attack, bounding forward in their fire teams. Rounds were quickly exchanged and the plan fell into place. Enemy quickly destroyed, we conducted a Troop reorg and made our way out of the area, completing the tactical phase of the exercise on the beach front. All that was left to do was make our way back to the team tent, eat, drink and be ready for a 6 mile load carry. Of course timings were very tight as we had a Merlin helicopter lined up to extract us from the area, so this load carry needed to be done at a decent pace. Indeed it was pretty cheeky as the lads were hanging out after! Nothing much to say on it apart from it’s not the most enjoyable thing we’ve done and it hurts. A lot. On completion of that it was a quick turnaround to make our way to the extraction point.
The Merlin landed and the expected sand blasted in the face. Once aboard, even though the noise was pretty loud, we all crashed out. Six hours sleep in five days would wipe out any recruit! And that concluded week 18 of training and Exercise SECOND EMPIRE. Up next, week 19: crash week…
The week kick started on Saturday with bottom field, the beginning of crash training. Fatigued and nervous 214 Troop entered their first of five crash sessions with open minds not knowing what to expect. Before the first session, however, we had already taken eight casualties with injuries sustained on Exercise SECOND EMPIRE which finished the day before. As the session commenced we had high spirits as most of the Troop were completing the rope climbs, assault course and fireman’s carries from the off. This then led into the main effort of the session, the crash period. Twenty minutes of what can only be described as hell: constant effort over each obstacle, pushing your body to its limits in hope of shaving those vital seconds off each individual’s assault course times. With a chuck up at the end from our PTI we left bottom field with our heads held high leading into the weekend anticipating the rest of the week, slightly saddened by the fact we were Duty Troop the week coming.
The start of the week was slightly more hectic than the Saturday. With crash two slowly approaching the Troop ventured across to stores to get their caps issued for pass out. 214 Troop’s grins flooded stores as glimpses of the end started to appear in sight as we knew in 13 weeks we would be marching onto the drill square with these proudly upon our heads. Lectures took place from then on until our second crash period at 1100. After a gruelling double period we left the bottom field, the majority crawling eagerly to get to the galley and refuel. From then on the day was filled with nominated ranks taking part in functional skills and dentist appointments. However prior to this, driving licenses were taken to enable some of us to gain the necessary provisional
licences should we go straight to Leconsfield on completion of training to get our B, C+E categories.
Lectures started Tuesday with a slow pace as we strived to stay awake as all nods do first thing in the morning. Swiftly afterwards the Troop then had General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) lectures down at the weapons stances. This was more enjoyable as it is always interesting getting hands on and learning about new weapons systems. From this the Troop shifted across to the galley – big mistake. Members of the Troop were then picked up for having muddy boots in the galley, something that should never be done. The result of this from the training team was “stand by” – two words a recruit never wants to hear and only causes flapping as you do not know what punishment is to come. Soon after, crash three started – another hangout. However once again 214 performed well and were rewarded with sport in the gym on completion. A well needed bit of morale in the form of dodgeball and football.
Half way through the week now and crash training was taking its toll. Aching muscle lay still in rebellion waiting for us to hit the snooze buttons. They too must of known what was to come: crash four. Three hours of bottom field, the session we all dreaded had arrived. Going into the session with the promise of an early finish if we “dug out” the troop was raring to go. Biceps burning, triceps burning we heaved ourselves up the ropes along the regain, over the six foot walls until we could barley see past the exhaustion. This paid off with the session finishing nearly an hour early leaving us time to crack on with the remainder of the day’s details. The next detail was a lecture on Operating in Built Up Areas (OBUA), a vital lecture in preparation for Exercise URBAN WARRIOR in week 21. Following on from the day before we then had further lectures down at the stances on the GPMGs, further improving our personal skills and drills.
Thursday was almost a gift to us. A morning of admin. Although easy it was truly welcome as the majority of the Troop were in need of exchanging kit, ranging from contact gloves to some recruits even changing all three sets of PCS (personal clothing system). It gave us a chance to square our kit away in preparation for upcoming exercises like the well anticipated Ex VIOLENT ENTRY which we deploy on as soon as we get back from Easter leave. Finally, crash five, the end. Our bodies thoroughly fatigued, bruised and broken we had chance to get a final practice in before bottom field pass out the following Monday. As always we gave it our all, and the results were encouraging with the majority of the Troop passing, giving us confidence for Monday.
A rest from phys, today was a relief. The week was coming to an end. With the weekend upon us morale was high and was only to be increased. We moved to Straightpoint ranges for the day where we put our GPMG skills into practice using live rounds on the 25m range. The only down side to the day was that we couldn’t shoot more rounds. In the back of our minds however we all knew we were still on “stand by”. The suspense was finally relieved as we were told that because of our poor administration we had to prepare for a full accommodation and locker inspection the following day at 1200. All night and the following morning we worked meticulously on getting the finest details of personal kit and the accommodation spotless. The inspection was a success and the Troop breathed a sigh of relief as we earned our leave cards for the weekend. Crash week complete!!