- 215 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 23
- This week saw 215 Troop travel to Okehampton Battle Camp for our Adventure Training. An opportunity to relax and bond after the previous weeks arduous work on Ex VIOLENT ENTRY. We arrived at our destination mid afternoon on the Monday, greeted friendly by the head of the following activities we participated in. He briefed us on the week to come and taught us some basic knot tying skills before an early night’s sleep.
- On Tuesday the Troop split into our sections to conduct one element of the training each day: coasteering, mountain biking, and sea kayaking. Coasteering started with a journey to the Torquay coast line, where the Adventure Training leaders took a head on approach to the days challenge. Continuously climbing the rock faces before the rapid descent of jumping into the sea, we navigated our way 700 metres before being presented our first challenge -a traverse- the aim was to secure a rope to get all members across in the quickest time possible. Once the task was completed the day ended with a climb and walk back to our original starting point.
- Day Two of Adventure Training saw 2 Section conduct a 28km cross country mountain bike route, Up and down challenging terrain in increasingly worse and snowy conditions. We were presented with three challenges; first to retrieve and unlock all pieces of the bikes from a marked area of which we could not enter. Next was a time trial to see who could complete a short cross country circuit the fastest, and lastly getting all members of the team and equipment into a lower path from a bridge using what equipment we had.
- The final day of activities meant we were left with sea kayaking as our final element. We followed the coast line tackling rocks and caves to test our skills, before being faced with three further challenges. The first to get the whole team and equipment up and over a rock jeti, then a kilometer all out team effort race for time and finally a capsize and recover drill from our kayaks.
- As with everything there had to be winners, 2 section were for their efforts in securing the fastest times in completing the weeks challenges but the benefits of the week were shared by all. Thoughts were now turned to the long weekend ahead of us where many planned to return home before returning to CTC, motivated to finish the weeks that lay ahead.
We were introduced to the 6 mile speed march route which we would have to complete to earn the famous cap comforter worn by the commandos of WW2. The Troop in front of us were about to do it for real and it was exciting to know we would be there in two weeks. We didn’t do the actual 6 mile route instead we did 1.5 miles out around 10 min/mile pace and then a best effort back and then we were told best effort for 3 miles and everyone got under 22 minutes which our PTI said we had to achieve or there would be more “cheeky phys” but as a whole the Troop performed to the required standard we passed. However, this was just a run through and in a few weeks we will be running the full route with 21lbs and our weapons.
2. We were introduced to the Commando Tests we will have to pass to get our green lids and that was another exciting moment. First up was the Endurance Course which lived up to its name. After the second run through which included 2 miles of tunnels and hills, a 4mile run back to camp followed. The route turned out to be pretty easy to pick up and no one got lost. The draining effects of the Endurance Course was certainly on show as most of us in the Troop were starting to fatigue. We all made it in and no one was lost to injury. Next up was the Tarzan Assault Course with the Commando slide and the 30 foot wall being introduced. Everyone enjoyed the Commando slide and the whole trooped moved at a 100mph the whole afternoon to make a good impression for the PTI’s.
3. Finally we were introduced to another piece of weaponry used by the Corps known as the Light Machine Gun or simply “LMG”, of course the 1st question on everyone’s mind was how much it weighs and what is the best way to carry it. We were put through weapons training by our Section Corporals. We all passed our weapons handling test to a good standard, eventually. We were all looking forward to firing them live next week. All in all it was a demanding and intensive week but that is expected as we enter the latter stages of training but all in all the week was one of the more exciting ones as we were now starting to practice the Commando Tests.
- Troop fallen in three files ready to step of on our 6-mile speed march to mark the start of our Commando Phase of training. With four recent joins from Hunter Company the Troop now stood at 20 strong all ready to complete the final phase of our training programme here at CTCRM.
- Unfortunately, the 6 mile speed march claimed four victims all due to injury and not meeting the required physical standard, the Troop however still remained optimistic after being issued our much awaited cap comforters. The remainder of the day was spent alongside Royal Marine Mountain Leaders where we learnt a variety of new skills on how to conduct a vertical assault, all in preparation for Tuesday, Ex Fixed Ropes, a day on Dartmoor putting into practice all we had learnt and getting hands on skills with climbing equipment used within the Corps.
- Arriving at Dartmoor on Tuesday morning with the weather not in our favour the lads were somewhat nervous for the day ahead, as it is a day that is known on camp to either be one of the best in training or it can become the worst depending on how the Troop reacts to what is needed from the Mountain Leaders. From the start the Troop were too lethargic, however this was soon rectified with a bit of remedial Phys and the threat of a massive body of water close by. As the day progressed so did each individual, grasping all of the vertical assault drills very well. The final serial after a period of rest involved a river crossing with full field kit and an evening serial where we had to conduct the drills in dark before heading back to camp for a quick turnaround for the next working day.
- Wednesday was a day full of battle preparation getting everything in one sock before deployment on Exercise Final Thrust (Final Ex).
- Thursday was a day full of anticipation for all members in the Troop as we knew we were all hours away from deploying on our final exercise within training and what is known to be the most challenging. We set off just after our evening meal in a TCV (Troop Carrying Variant of a 6 ton lorry) to Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, for our first tasking of the exercise. This was a night Troop deliberate attack, on a small farm house where the Troop were successful in achieving our main objective in order to continue moving south to clear the enemy from our area of operations within the South West of England.
- After clearing up the area from all our empty shells we had another road move to Oakhampton Camp on Dartmoor where we all knew what was to come as our tasking to clear the enemy south meant we had to travel by foot to achieve this goal in the most covert way us as Royal Marine Recruits know how, YOMP. We were left as a Troop to select our own route to reach our location some 12 km from Oakhampton all carrying full field kit, ammunition and rations to sustain ourselves for 4 days, as well as organic fire support guns such as the GPMG, LMG and ASM warhead. Due to lack of experience and uncertainty amongst the Troop our first yomp ended up being longer than needed as we had poor route selection, however with true nod spirit and using the training we have received we managed to come together and get to our location where we were moved quickly into a secure location not far from our next objective.
- The weather at this stage was perfect for the training team as a large storm had built up making the soldering conditions even more challenging, allowing the training team to see if we could conduct ourselves in the correct way in order to stay sustainable in a field environment with poor weather conditions. Sections were tasked out in small teams to try gain intelligence on the next known enemy location to allow us to conduct a first light attack on a farm complex. This was a fast attack and well executed as we had to quickly organise our lives, including building a large model for a set of orders for our biggest movement on foot for the exercise. “Killer yomp”, aka taking a heavy bag for a nice long walk across the beautiful hilly setting of Dartmoor where there was some rain and hail following us for the entire period on the ground, not to forget the river crossing we conducted. After a good bit of Phys for a short period of roughly 13 hours, the Troop were tired however happy knowing we had gained a massive advantage over the enemy moving into our next tasking which was to finally clear Dartmoor of all enemy pockets. This was achieved by the Troop in good time due to the never say no attitude we learn here in training.
- At this stage of the exercise days began to lead into one another just as it does in this diary entry. The lads always kept the high spirits, always eager to move forward perhaps knowing some hard cover was round the corner kept us all smiling. After confidently knowing we had cleared Dartmoor area of operations from all enemy and an extraction yomp added in at the end just for good measure, we were on a TCV moving forward to the last leg of the exercise in Plymouth.
- On arrival in Plymouth we were pushed into a secure location known as the hanger where the lads were all able to take the opportunity to admin themselves and look after their feet even grab a good few hours of much needed rest in hard cover, but still moving out onto the ground in an amphibious style utilising most assets such as ORC (Offshore Raiding Craft), IRC (Inflatable Raiding Craft) and LCVP (Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel) all variations of what the Royal Marines use when conducting amphibious tasks out on the water. The next morning, we were moved on an LCVP to board HMS Beacon (a Mine Hunter ship) where we spent a day experiencing how it would be to operate from ship, an unforgettable experience for the whole Troop.
- After receiving a full set of Troop orders we embarked on a LCVP and conducted a Troop level beach assault, leading into a vertical assault where we were met by a stronger enemy force at Tregantle Fort however we were successful in achieving our mission and gained good intelligence from the attack finally leading us to the Head Quarters of the enemy we had been combatting.
- With this information at our disposal we moved into a woodblock where we were about to conduct the last few hours of the exercise, again we were pushed out on reconnaissance patrols and set up an observation post to get good eyes on our final attack location known as Objective Gold, Scraesdon Fort.
- This attack would be conducted in daylight to try surprise the enemy and change the pattern of how we conventionally attack. This attack was a long fought battle perhaps due to our lack of manpower clearing the objective was a tough task as the enemy fought back with aggression and good skill. We did however achieve our task of eliminating a high value target and known to be the leader of the enemy force we were tasked to destroy.
- Once our mission was complete, we were swept up by a CH47 (Chinook) which moved us back to camp in true Royal Marine Commando Style.
- Due to the realism of the exercise delivered by the training team each recruit walked away confident to step into 3 Commando Brigade and one-day serve alongside the many Marines that have all undertaken the same feat.
15. Just like the end of every exercise we were back at CTC to clean all our kit and perhaps try to recover, all before our Commando tests which are only just around the corner.